Whether you’re buying you’re buying your first ever hosting account, or merely upgrading from your existing shared or VPS hosting plan, the fact that you’re reading this article now tells us that you’ve settled on a dedicated server as the best way forward for your website.

You’ve looked around at the different options that are out there on the market, you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of each, and you’ve already made many of the critical decisions you need to make before you hand over your bank card details.

Now, there’s just one thing left to decide, and it’s the one thing that’s giving you the trouble of all: manage the server yourself, or leave that side of things to your hosting company.

Struggling to make that decision? Here’s some advice on how to choose between a managed or unmanaged dedicated server.

What’s the difference between managed and unmanaged dedicated servers?

Making the distinction between managed and unmanaged dedicated servers isn’t as complicated as it may first seem.

Simply put, if you opt for a managed service, the back-end tasks in managing and maintaining your server’s hardware and software are dealt with by your hosting company.

Go for an unmanaged service, and all of that stuff is left up to you, with only the usual customer support channels available to help you.

Buying a managed server

For some, the decision to invest in a managed server may seem like something of a no-brainer. This is especially true if your previous hosting experience has been with a shared hosting plan, or even a standard Virtual Private Server, where all of that back-end stuff is automatically done for you.

Going from that to taking full control of your own server involves a pretty steep learning curve, one that’s far bigger than most typical website owners have neither the time nor resources available to deal with. Time is a critical factor here too, if you’re running a solo operation, you’ve undoubtedly got countless tasks all competing for your attention on a daily basis, adding server management on top of them may be just a step too much.

It’s for this reason that a lot of people who just want to focus on managing their websites whilst letting their hosting run quietly in the background opt for managed services. It’s a good idea too, though that’s not to say that there aren’t benefits to be enjoyed from taking control of your own server. We’ll discuss some of those below.

Buying an unmanaged server

If you’re pretty technically minded, or if you’re part of a bigger company with trained, qualified and experienced IT professionals on staff, there are benefits to be had from managing your server.

Doing so, you have the complete freedom and flexibility to use whatever operating systems you see fit, to decide which control panel you’re going to use, and more.

The drawbacks of course, are that if something goes wrong, it’s up to you to sort it out. The only exception to this if the problem is with the actual physical hardware, in which case your hosting company will accept responsibility.

Along with fixing errors, you’ll also be responsible for keeping on top of updates to the programs you run, the operating system you’re using and any scripts you’ve installed on your server.

Still, if you’ve got the time, the know-how, or at least a skilled server admin professional in your company, unmanaged may well be the way forward, as it gives you the kind of unlimited control and freedom over the running of your server that you don’t get with a managed service.