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Mark in Austin, TX writes us: I'm looking at buying a dedicated server but can't figure out how much RAM I really need for my dedicated server. How much RAM do you need for dedicated hosting and what's the right amount of RAM for a dedicated server that is inexpensive?
Answer: Choosing how much RAM to put into a dedicated server is one of the most frustrating aspects of buying a dedicated hosting product. Make no mistake, RAM matters. Particularly, if you plan on using your dedicated server to resell hosting on or for high-traffic websites, you must pay very careful attention to its RAM needs. RAM for dedicated hosting varies on most dedicated servers from 1GB to 4GB, with many dedicated hosting plans offering 2GB as middle-ground. Basically, if you have a simple site and will not be using any control panel software on your dedicated server, you may be OK with 1GB. This type of server is usually designed as entry level - often as inexpensive as $99 a month. Most serious dedicated hosting buyers will need more RAM though.
One of the most annoying things about buying RAM for a dedicated server is that most web hosts usually add a permanent ongoing monthly fee for the RAM, even though they only have a one-time modest cost to install it on a server. Thus, to save money when choosing RAM for your dedicated server, try and get the required RAM upfront in the initial dedicated hosting plan. One thing to watch out about when deciding the web hosting RAM requirements is to keep both quantity and quality in mind. We have tested out servers where the RAM failed within two weeks of getting server access. A RAM failure is not what you want to experience. Sometimes there is little you can do about this aspect of dedicated server RAM but you can protect yourself through the contract length. Choose a monthly dedicated hosting plan from hosts like HostGator.com. This way if you ever have any problems, you have not pre-committed to a lengthy contract term. In addition, a short contract will let you cancel one server and upgrade easily to another if you require more functions like RAM. There are a few hosts like WestHost will let you upgrade your server's RAM in quantities of 1GB, 2GB, or 3GB for reasonable amounts, but try and buy all the RAM you need upfront. At a minimum, upgrading dedicated server RAM later will require server outages for the installation.
In general, we have also found that using cPanel as a control panel requires less RAM than using Plesk. You can compare the cost of these control panels here. Dedicated server RAM must be compared in the context of your application intentions. In addition, it is generally accepted that a Linux server will use less RAM than one running Windows simply due to the amount of RAM required for system operations. Remember, the more applications you have running on a dedicated server RAM infrastructure, the more RAM you will absolutely need. These applications constitute a baseline demand for dedicated hosting RAM, and usage / bandwidth consumption is above and beyond this baseline. If you have intentions of using your dedicated server for reseller or high-traffic purposes, don't even think about buying a dedicated server with less than 2GB of installed RAM.
Some hosts like HostGator will offer DDR Memory as their RAM allocation in their dedicated server products. DDR RAM Memory stands for Dual Data Rate Memory and processes bandwidth faster than the traditional SDRAM memory. Wherever possible, when you are trying to decide how much RAM you need for a dedicated server plan, try and find web hosts like HostGator and SingleHop who include this premium type of RAM in their dedicated hosting packages.
Thank you for your inquiry about finding RAM for your dedicated server and determining the quantity of RAM that you need for your web hosting. We hope that our guide has been useful to helping you understand this important hosting topic. To compare high quality dedicated hosting companies, you can visit our Dedicated Hosting Showcase.