If you’re looking to take your gaming to the next level, then odds are you’ve been reading a lot about dedicated game servers. A dedicated game server lets you reliably host games and scale-out your user base however you see fit. They can sometimes be more expensive than other private cloud hosting options, but as with many things you get what you pay for. It’s a great way to ensure smooth gameplay that functions exactly as you expect.

That being said, there are many things to think about when purchasing a dedicated game server. The goal of this list is not to tell you what decisions should be made for your server, but rather to help you understand what aspects of a server you should give attention to before purchase. Every game/user is unique, but as long as you know the right things to consider, when it comes time to pay you can be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

1. Performance Requirements:

The first aspect of a dedicated game server that you need to consider is what hardware you need. And in line with this comes the question why do you need a dedicated server in the first place? Are there specific services you want to provide? Is there a certain number of users you are expecting to support? How CPU intensive is your game going to be? A huge perk of choosing a dedicated server is that you can set it up however you see fit. Since it exists solely to serve you, you’re in charge of deciding how much RAM or storage you allocate, and which CPU will best get the job done.

2. Network Quality:

A gamer’s worst nightmare is lag. Sure, it seems like a small thing in life, but it can make or break an entire gaming experience. You must take the proper steps to increase your server’s network quality, otherwise, the entire thing will become a money pit that fails to function well enough to keep your users coming back.

Part of this speed is due to the hardware mentioned above, but network quality is another important factor to consider. The lower your latency the better, and since data must abide by the laws of physics the closer your server is to you the faster data can be transferred. Picking a hosting provider that can set up a server relatively close to you will result in a much better experience than one halfway around the world.

3. Scalability

Some of the key advantages that come with a dedicated server are exceptional performance and scalability. The more advanced hardware you include the smoother your overall gameplay will be, and as time goes on you can adjust this to fit your server’s demand. Let’s say you wanted to host a Minecraft server which begins experiencing staggering popularity. In order to keep up with this, you’ll need to scale out your server to accommodate, and that means updating the associated hardware.

When shopping around for dedicated game servers consider the market trends that may impact your server and its demand. There will be times you want to scale up, and times where overpaying for resources does you no good. Having a plan in place for optimizing your usage will result in you making sure that you put every dollar to its best use and reduce oversight.

4. Cost:

This brings us to item #4: prices. Any reliable hosting provider will have a number of options for you to choose from, and it’s best to shop around both company to company and also compare different plans. As with most products, typically the more you pay the more reliable a product you’ll receive. Selecting a plan from a reputable, well-established company can help guarantee that your services will be provided at a level that others have deemed acceptable. Things like 99.9% uptime are items that should raise a red flag if unseen since there is no reason for you to pay for a server if it’s not going to function when you need it most.

5. Safety and Security:

The cyber-world is a dangerous place, but with the right protections, you can navigate it almost carelessly. We say almost because you should never simply ignore cyber safety, but with a good dedicated server, a lot of your protection should be taken care of while you can focus on what makes your game special. Things like Anti-DDoS protection fundamental in a secure gaming environment. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are common attacks where a flood of false requests clog up your server and limit its ability to process real requests from users. The result of this being either a slow or unresponsive server. This is obviously something to be avoided, so finding a server with built-in anti-DDoS protection can save you a serious headache.

Along with preventing cyber attacks, you’ll want to try and find a hosting provider that has contingency plans for if anything does go awry. How safe is your data? Will it be lost in the event of a catastrophe or are backup options available? Planning ahead is far more useful than reactive thinking.

6. Managed or Unmanaged:

Finally, there is the question of how much responsibility you want on your hands. Establishing and maintaining your own server can be a lot of work but also brings down your price point. It requires a sound understanding of servers and networking so going the unmanaged route is probably only a good idea if you really know what you’re doing. For everyone else managed plans offer a more streamlined process. One option is not necessarily better or worse than the other, it’s just how much work you want to put in yourself vs. outsourcing it to your hosting provider.

As you can see there is a lot to consider when purchasing a dedicated gaming server. The bottom line is that information is power, and the more you know about what you need the easier it will be to decide what type of gaming servers you want. When you do ultimately decide a route, using the items in this list will help set you up so you can be sure you’re getting a good deal and creating a great gaming experience.