Dedicated vs shared server


#1

Hello,
I am the webmaster for a small community college considering changing web hosts. DreamHost was recommended to me, and I am pleased to see the user forums and support wiki (something my old company doesn’t have). I have two questions:

  1. How do you all like DH?
  2. I am not sure whether or not we need a dedicated server. I don’t want or need to do any special server configuration. The only reason I would get a dedicated server would be to isolate us from other users crashing the server with bad code (something I have been guilty of…once…oops). Plus, we need to make sure our mail server does not get viewed as spam by the filters out there so that our students can receive email from our website.

What do you all suggest?
Thanks


#2
  1. i’m happy with them, but i let others say :wink:

  2. if you have bad code, you can’t crash the server, there are protection to cut off bas scripts, besides, a script can’t take 100% of the cpu, everything is managed to works well.
    You don’t really notice other users.


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#3
  1. I have been hosted by DreamHost for 3 years, and I have been delighted with the service.

  2. That depends a little bit on what your needs are. If your community college has a web-related program that may involve students building websites and whatnot, a dedicated server may be worth considering. Email shouldn’t be a problem at all unless you are planning to send out mass-mailers. If necessary, you can switch to sending your email through your ISP’s own SMTP server. My gut feeling tells me that the shared hosting environment will be fine from you.

If you don’t mind me asking, what community college and where?


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#4

Hi, welcome to the forum. :slight_smile:

1… I’ve had some sites hosted on DreamHost for around 2 years. I would rate my overall experience at DreamHost as very good to excellent. DreamHost has experienced a few major network problems during this period, mostly in the last year, but the impact on my particular server hasn’t been too dramatic.

2… If I were you, I’d try shared hosting first, as it is significantly cheaper than a dedicated box. You can always move to a dedicated box later if things don’t work out.

Mark


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#5

Thanks for the feedback. We occasionally do send mass mailings to students who have requested info. But maybe I can use one of the mailing programs offered w/ the hosting account.

I don’t want to hurt my current webhost’s feelings, so I’d better not say :slight_smile:


#6

[quote]Thanks for the feedback. We occasionally do send mass mailings to students who have requested info. But maybe I can use one of the mailing programs offered w/ the hosting account.

I don’t want to hurt my current webhost’s feelings, so I’d better not say :)[/quote]
DreamHost offers an announcement list system to take care of mass mailings. You can also send emails out in batches so as not to go over the hourly limit.

I was asking about the college only because I’m a web design instructor, and always on the lookout for useful contacts :slight_smile: . I’m one of the sysops of the DreamHost Wiki (me).


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#7

Some community colleges are non-profit organizations. DreamHost offers free hosting to such organizations.


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#8

Are the students going to develop scripts as part of classroom activities or are they mostly going to host blogs and such?

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#9

I think you will be fine with DH hosting. The non-profit educational discount should be pleasant for you as well.

Also,
The announcement list should work perfectly for sending out your mailings. There is also an option to create mailing lists for student participation. You won’t regret it.

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#10

I think you have already collected enough informations.

As for a small community, you can start witha shared server first. Your neighbors on the same server won’t crash the server but to just share resources. If you feel the server is overloaded, you can send an alert to DH support and they will manage your server well. You do not need to move to dedicated server unless you require a lot of bandwidth and resources.

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#11

Thanks for everyone’s advice about starting w/ shared servers, and the possible discount for nonprofits. I had a followup question:

I am wondering…if we are developing up our new site on a web server using just an i.p. address, i.e. we haven’t transferred the domain yet, will the search engines pick us up?

For a variety of reasons I’d rather use a webhost as our development platform rather than a local box, but don’t want our site made public until we’re ready.

Thanks,


#12

You will need some kind of domain (or sub-domain) to actually host the site here on DreamHost. You do not have to transfer the domain registration, you can simply configure the domain to point at the DreamHost name servers and leave it registered at your current registrar, or if there is some reason why you can not use this domain just yet, you can make use of a free dreamhosters.com sub-domain.

As for accessing the site by IP address; This can’t really be done unless you purchase a unique IP address, as the IP addresses normally allocated to domains and sub-domains are shared among customers and there may be dozens of sites on a particular IP address. There is a method, involving the modification of your computers ‘hosts’ file, to map a domain name to the (shared) IP address allocated to your site, but this would only work on those systems where you have made the required changes to the ‘hosts’ file.

If you simply wish to prevent the search engines, or anyone else, from accessing the site while it is in development, there are easier methods. Probably the easiest method would be to create a simple .htaccess file limiting access to your own IP address (or IP address block). You can also easily configure username/password access for your site, or parts of the site, using the .htaccess file.

Mark


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#13

Let’s say I use the lensmantestsite.dreamhosters.com method to access lensman.org that I am constructing at DreamHost but for which I have the old site at another host.
Practically speaking, unless I link to lensmantestsite.dreamhosters.com from an indexed site or submit it to the search engines, this site will never be found or indexed by anyone.

Note that this is not an ironclad guarantee like preventing access via htaccess. Also note that the HOSTS file method outlined by Raz is a bit more “secure” (in the practical sense).

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#14

Not true. I bet you I can crash or severely DoS a DH server if I really tried. Forkbombs would be possible, and you can just hog up all the I/O and CPU in the world if you so please. Memory exhaustion is possible, too. Of course, DH will most likely just issue a swift killall and account suspension once they get on the server, so it’s really not something you’ll see regularly.


#15

ALWAYS assume that if it’s accessible without a password or other security mechanisms in place, it is public and will be picked up. Yes, google does index IP-based hosts. If they don’t get the URL from anywhere you may be in the clear, but really, who’s to say that nobody will ever mention the URL in IRC chat that is logged on the web and indexed by Google ? Or in the referer logs of websites you link to, which are analyzed, put online, and accessible to Google ? :wink:

Use .htaccess and password protection, at the very least. You can also use HTTPS (if you get a dedicated IP) so that communication between you and DH is encrypted, should you not trust your network operators.