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Once you have the hardware, your next big decision will be how to configure and manage the server. Although many dedicated plans give customers root access to fine-tune the details, most users opt for a hosting control panel, or a graphical interface that enables administrators to perform complex tasks with just a few clicks of the mouse. We’ve written the ultimate guide to comparing the various options, but the general rule of thumb is to use cPanel for Linux machines and Plesk for Windows accounts.
Most hosts offer at least some form of managed services, given that the hardware is living in its own facilities or datacenters. Even if the hosting provider insists on hardware and infrastructure management, they’re usually plenty willing to butt out of your web server if you ask nicely. There will be more pressure and demands on you to keep everything running smoothly and securely, but your host will continue offering technical support if you run into a jam.
Sometimes it is just best to keep things simple by getting quickly deployed bare metal hardware with direct access to all the server resources, which gives you full control and flexibility. This will allow you to have your own virtualization layer, such as Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) or Xen or to build the optimal software stack you need for your application, with direct hardware access.
Next, hit the User Creation menu and add a new system account and a strong password for this account. Check Make this user administrator and Require a password to use the account options in order to grant this user root privileges. This avoids that you have to manually enter the password each time you log in to the system. When you finish setting up the user, hit on the Done button to return to the initial menu and wait for the installation process to complete.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, think long and hard about the reliability and support you’ll get from a potential dedicated host. You want an always-online network backed by an always-there-for-you team. Whenever you hear that the support technicians are all Tier II SysAdmins or Redhat certified or anything along those lines, that’s a good thing! It means they know what they’re doing.
Our favorite host for managed servers, however, is InMotion Hosting. Coupled with SSDs that produce 20x faster hosting services, InMotion provides scalability, flexibility, and reliability. The company’s managed hosting team handles security patches and updates for the operating system and cPanel, guaranteeing faulty hardware replacement in two hours or less.