Whether you have been on shared hosting or VPS hosting plan for years now and are needing to expand, or your are deploying an enterprise class application that requires a robust hosting solution, a dedicated server is likely your best bet.
The most important thing to understand about a dedicated server is that you are essentially renting a full computer. Just like a full computer, the dedicated server will have only the applications on it that you put on it. In most cases, if you want something to be installed on a dedicated server, you will either have to do it yourself, or pay to have it done. Often times many people order a dedicated server only to find it is a bare Windows or Linux Server, with no other software.
Dedicated servers use hardware that is a little different than that of a desktop computer or laptop. A server will use a special type of RAM or memory called ECC RAM. The difference between ECC RAM and RAM is that ECC Ram will actually check for errors, and correct. Regular RAM is setup to simply fail if it sees an error. The result of this will be an application error, or in some cases a Windows Blue Screen Error. An ECC RAM module would attempt to correct this error, or simply report it if correction isn’t possible.
A dedicated server will also use RAID controllers, Gigabit Ethernet ports, and standard on board video. RAID controllers are used to create RAID arrays. RAID arrays are special and sometimes complex arrangements of hard drives with the purpose being to either create a solution to backup data or achieve greater performance. Both backup and performance can be obtained with a RAID array, however neither will be as potent as they would be if you built the RAID array for one over the other. Gigabit Ethernet ports are used to connection the systems to very fast switches. Gigabit Ethernet ports will operate at 1000gb/s in ideal conditions. However, these conditions are quite impossible to obtain with today’s technology, resulting in a transfer speed that is probably more about 20% of the maximum. On board video is used to preserve system memory and resources.
A dedicated server is going to be a substantial jump from a shared hosting plan, and planning should be done to ensure that the server will be properly managed. If an inexperienced administrator or user does something wrong on a dedicated server and it becomes unusable, there is going to be a fee to reformat that server. If you were to do the same thing on a shared hosting account, they could simply re-create your account in a matter of seconds, and restore a backup. The level of risk goes up with a dedicated server, making this type of server not ideal for new administrators or for those who are looking for their first hosting solution.