Managed vs Unmanaged Dedicated Server Hosting

Posted on by Jerry Vasquez | Updated:
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Did you know a company’s choice in web hosting infrastructure has effects on their site’s performance and brand perception?

Online services such as email, website, and eCommerce hosting are critical for practically any business operating in this day and age, but they all rely on servers to be constantly operational. Determining which server hosting is right for business objectives can have a major impact on the web hosting experience as a whole.

Businesses can choose between unmanaged and managed dedicated server hosting plans, and while costs are important, the right solution is always based on an informed decision, instead of solely on cost upfront. It is vital for companies to understand that an ill-advised server plan will ultimately cost them even more money than initially budgeted.

Enterprises generally prefer dedicated server hosting plans, as they can achieve close to 100 percent uptime with performance efficiency and dependability, only without breaking the bank.”

Hosting companies provide two types of dedicated server solutions for their customers: unmanaged and managed, and to make a decision between them, it is important to understand the key differences between the two options.

managed dedicated servers in action

What are Dedicated Servers?

Before we get into discussing unmanaged and managed dedicated servers, it is important to understand what dedicated servers actually are. Dedicated servers are remote servers assigned to an organization that are deployed, hosted, and often managed by a hosting company.

Companies that deploy dedicated servers generally do so because they have high traffic levels and are looking for a reliable server that will ensure top speed and performance, robust security to protect data and infrastructure, regular hardware maintenance, and performance monitoring.

Dedicated servers deliver more flexibility and control than shared servers, so they can be completely customizable to each organization’s needs. There is no specific number of websites that can be hosted on a dedicated server; it depends on the amount of resources required.

Dedicated Servers can also easily be upgraded and have resources added if necessary.

Take control over your hosting environment

What Kinds of Services Can Be Added to a Dedicated Server For Robust Performance?

Essential hosting services for a dedicated server can include:

What are Unmanaged Dedicated Servers?

Unmanaged dedicated servers are an option for companies who want to be in complete control and fully responsible for their hosting servers and software.”

This can be a cheaper option for companies with the human resources and expertise they want to apply to server management because the hosting company will only be responsible for ensuring that the infrastructure runs smoothly from a hardware perspective.

Many tasks fall on the organization’s plate, including installing scripts, keeping on top of all updates and related compatibility issues, security risk mitigation, and attack containment. Lax server security opens up infrastructure vulnerabilities that will compromise business operations and expose the company to data breaches in the long run.

What are Managed Dedicated Servers?

Unlike unmanaged dedicated servers and just as the name suggests, managed dedicated servers fall under the full responsibility of the hosting company that hires engineers to monitor, configure, and handle the servers.

Businesses that choose managed dedicated servers do not want to bother with daily server administration because they find it too demanding and time consuming for their available resources.

Companies that choose managed hosting usually do not have to deal with any hardware, performance, monitoring, or security headaches.”

Web hosting companies also deliver locked-down security through their managed dedicated server plans by regularly updating and monitoring malware detection, DDoS protection, and taking care of automated data backups, and operating system hardening.

Compared to unmanaged dedicated servers, managed dedicated server options tend to deliver the highest level of performance and security through real-time traffic monitoring, and power and network uptime.

They can be fully customizable and built to order with Linux or Windows. Even for managed dedicated servers, plans can vary between self-managed, core managed, and fully managed.

Managed dedicated server solutions are a great option for companies that want to sleep well at night and that operate multi-user apps, databases of any kind, SaaS, virtualization, resellers, high traffic sites, and multiple websites.

Key differences between managed vs unmanaged dedicated servers

Key Differences Between Unmanaged and Managed Dedicated Servers

Managed dedicated servers come with full support; companies do not need to allocate a lot of their own technical knowledge to server management because the hosting company will do all the work and can be contacted at any time to deliver support. The hosting company will take care of all components, any server reboots and will ensure everything runs smoothly from a maintenance point of view so that clients can focus their time and manpower on more important business-critical activities.

Unmanaged dedicated servers can have a significantly lower sticker price and deliver complete control and freedom for the client, but they also involve much more work on the customers’ end.

Not only does the organization have to install scripts, the operating system, control panel, and hardware by itself, but it will have to personally take care of configuration, security, and network and hardware maintenance. For companies that do not have this capacity, or are taking resources away from more important business functions, unmanaged dedicated servers can wind up being significantly more expensive throughout the life-cycle of the service.

On a managed dedicated server plan, the hosting company can decide to replace all components and take care of the entire infrastructure. However, on an unmanaged dedicated server, the web host is no longer responsible for maintaining the control panel, nor for security vulnerabilities installed by the client. Any extra tech support request sent to the hosting company will result in extra charges and the hosting company cannot be held accountable for malfunctions or breaches caused by poor self-management.

Companies should choose the best plan according to how comfortable they are with the idea of managing their own servers and on how much expertise they have in fixing software glitches, security patching, and installing libraries or a multi-management control panel such as Plesk, cPanel, or InterWorx.

From an all-round financial point of view considering the total cost of ownership, dedicated hosting is very easy to operate and a significantly better option for organizations that don’t want to get their hands dirty daily with server management as a core business function.”

Choosing the best server option depends on the individual business, its internal capacity, and technical requirements.

Need Help with Server Management? Learn Why Outsourcing Managed Web Services is Better for Your Business.

Dedicated Server Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Managed Dedicated Server?


What is an Unmanaged Dedicated Server?


What is the Difference Between Managed and Unmanaged Dedicated Servers?


What is the Advantage of a Managed Dedicated Server?


Is a Managed or Unmanaged Dedicated Server a Better Option for my Business?

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About the Author

Jerry Vasquez

A self-professed pirate captain with two decades of leadership experience, Jerry has led teams from 60+ cooks and chefs to 16 networking engineers. He brings those years of experience to his current role as Product Manager at Liquid Web, focusing on networking and security products. When not working or sleeping, Jerry can usually be found eating and having a good conversation with good people.

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