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Once you have a domain name and a host, the time has come to get a server to store the contents of your website (which may be as simple as a few interconnected files, or contain complex databases).

One option is to buy, configure and manage your own server, but this obviously requires a degree of in-house expertise. For small businesses it is generally better to hire space on someone else’s server.

The cheapest solution is to be on a shared server, renting a piece of space alongside other sites. However, the downside to this is that, like a passenger on a bus, you have little control of where the server is going. If the web hosting company you use wants some special software or a security enhancement added, then you can’t do this unless all the other passengers on the server want the same.

The next best option is a virtual private server. With this arrangement, there are blocks between all the different clients on the server so they cannot see each other or interfere with each others’ files, so it feels like having a dedicated server… mostly. But there are still some changes that can only be made if every site owner on the server agrees.

The best choice is a dedicated server. ‘Dedicated’ means exactly what it says: the server is yours alone and every setting is tailored to your business.

At SoftForge we use dedicated servers to host our clients, and they never have to share with other companies.

We run Linux servers with PHP MySQL (don’t worry if that means nothing to you, they’re just the languages the servers use) and keep them up to date with patches and security fixes.