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You have decided to buy a dedicated server, but now you are faced with a choice: managed or unmanaged. How do you choose? While an unmanaged plan may at first blush appear attractive — especially when it comes to price — you need to understand exactly what “unmanaged” means and what you will be getting in comparison with a managed plan.

What Is an Unmanaged Dedicated Server

With an unmanaged dedicated server, your service provider provides you the computer server and any related hardware along with the network connection, and they make sure that they run reliably. Sometimes they will also install an operating system on the server.

But everything else is up to you. You have to install and support all application software yourself. This includes installing vital security patches, and sometimes it includes installing control panels and basic web server applications. Also, while the service provider is responsible for fixing any hardware or network issues that may occur, you are responsible for everything else, including the configuration and maintenance of the operating system.

As support for unmanaged dedicated servers is cheaper for service providers, they can pass these savings on to you. The price for an unmanaged dedicated server is often far cheaper than a managed one. What’s more, if you do need some type of support, many service providers can give this to you at an added price. But it is often expensive.

What Is a Managed Dedicated Server

With a managed dedicated server, the service provider provides you with lots of support. They provide support for problems relating to the operating system and any number of preinstalled applications. They can also help you if you need help setting up a server, which can often be quite complex and can involve the installation and configuration of web server software, databases and content management systems (CMS).

Sometimes managed dedicated server plans even include automated backups and hardware monitoring. But most importantly they take care of security issues and make sure that your server is not vulnerable to attacks. They will install vital security patches, and some providers will even monitor your software for malware and intrusions. All this comes at a price, but it also comes with a lot of value, too.

Just about the only thing that they will not help you with is your own application software. That is, any software that you have had customized.

How To Select the Plan That Is Right for You

The first thing you have to ask yourself is how comfortable you are running a dedicated server by yourself. Do you have the skills and experience to install, configure and maintain your server properly? Are you familiar with security issues and how to deal with them? If so, an unmanaged dedicated server may be right for you, especially if you are someone who likes (or needs) to have full control over the server.

Even if you have the skills and experience to set up and manage a dedicated server, ask yourself if it is worth your time. Look at all the managed services your provider offers and estimate how much time it would take you to do all those things by yourself, and then multiply this by how much your time is worth. If this amount is less than what the service provider charges, then an unmanaged dedicated server may be right for you. But if this number is more than what the service provider charges, then a managed dedicated server is simply a better deal.

Finally, before you make a decision on which plan to choose, you may want to contact the provider. Let them know what you will be doing with the server and how experienced you are, and they probably can help you make this decision far easier, by giving you precise details on what they can provide you

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