Whether you’re looking to increase performance for a business or a video game, leveraging a dedicated server can drastically improve your user experience. That being said, there a multiple options for setting up a personalized server, and it can be difficult to understand all the differences between one type of server or another. The goal of this article is to help you gain valuable insight on what those options are, particularly evaluating the pros and cons of using a bare-metal server.
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What is Bare-metal?
Let’s start by defining what a bare-metal server is. As the name suggests, bare-metal is the physical manifestation of a server. The pieces that you or I can touch create the base for a secure and stable infrastructure that is easily accessible. In contrast to bare-metal servers, we have virtual servers. These are servers that, while at their root also stem back to a metal server, are created in virtual environments.
A server is just a computer that serves information to other computers, so an easy way to visualize this is to think of a bare-metal server as a physical server you can touch, while a virtual server exists in a cloud somewhere along with other virtual servers that all feedback to a bare-metal server elsewhere. That’s a drastic oversimplification, but it gets the main idea across.
These multiple virtual servers are hosted via a hypervisor, computer hardware, firmware, or software that creates and runs virtual machines. While they may share the same physical root server, their environments are usually isolated from one another. That being said there are still impacts that can spillover from a “noisy neighbor” virtual server, which is where bare-metal servers come in. A bare-metal server is a single-tenant environment, meaning that the server’s resources are dedicated entirely to just one client.
Pros of Bare-metal Servers:
As we just mentioned above, a bare-metal server is dedicated entirely to you the single client, so there’s never any worry of other clients burdening your resources or overshadowing you. Any server that you pay for exists directly at the physical level and is solely for your benefit. To see the real value in this, consider a shared hosting plan where multiple sites pool their money together to prop up one server. If one of the sites begins to gain a lot of foot traffic, it will become more resource-intensive and dimmish the performance of other sites sharing the same server. By using a bare-metal server you can sidestep this problem altogether and keep your performance predictable.
Another pro for using a bare-metal server is that you get root access to everything. If your server is virtual, that means it exists on top of a hypervisor that sits on top of the physical hardware a server demands. The hypervisor distributes this physical hardware to the virtual environments, but you the user do not have direct access to the root server that exists under the hypervisor. With a bare-metal setup on the other hand you have full access to the architecture and can create your platform exactly as you see fit. Bare-metal is a lot like owning your own house; you can knock down/put up any walls you want and don’t have to worry about impeding on neighbors.
High performance goes hand in hand with bare-metal since there is no middle man to worry about. A dedicated server can handle a larger workload than a similar virtual machine, making it the best hosting option for users who need top-tier performance. They can also be easier to manage since they’re located in a data center. Most providers offer numerous options to customize your bare-metal server so that it will meet your needs exactly.
Cons of Bare-metal Servers:
One key disadvantage to bare-metal servers is scalability. They offer a great solution when your demands are relatively constant, but it can be more burdensome to scale up a physical server than to redirect more resources with a hypervisor. For this reason, if you plan on seeing drastic swings in your user traffic a virtual server may fit your needs better.
Another limitation of bare-metal is that it tends to be more expensive. Since your site is the server’s sole client, it bears the full cost of operation. If your business is relatively small or you’re just looking to get things started up quickly, a bare-metal server may be more intensive a solution than you need. In cases where you’re looking to get a cheap, quick setup virtual servers are more ideal and shared hosting lets you share operating costs with others.
Conclusion – What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Bare-metal Server?
Bare-metal servers have their pros and cons, but if you’re looking for top-tier performance with full control, nothing beats them. They tend to be more static and costly, but bare-metal gives you root access and customizability while servicing your users efficiently. Different server hosting options fit different businesses, but if you want a service that is dedicated entirely to you, bare-metal may be the right option.