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What is Colocation Hosting and How Does It Work?

No matter what kind of website you're running, it's important to make sure that you have the best hosting strategy around if you want to ensure that your customers get the speed and experience they crave. Of course, different people often have different opinions on what defines the perfect hosting server.

If you're the kind of do-it-yourself individual who wants to be able to manage your own software and hardware inside your data centre, then colocation hosting solutions might be the best option for you. In today's post, we'll look at what colocation is, how it works, and everything you need to know when you're making a decision on the ultimate host for your needs.

Separating Managed Hosting and Colocation Hosting

Despite their very different names, a lot of web hosting clients find themselves getting confused when it comes to telling the difference between colocation and managed hosting. When you register a domain name and purchase a "managed hosting" package, you agree that your host provider will manage everything that happens at the back-end on your behalf. In other words, they deal with the software, the hardware, the upgrades, server backups, and even the internet connection.

A managed web hosting deal ensures that you end up with a client-server solution that's completely "done" for you, although you can access the software and hardware available to build on your own database, website, and email needs. In simple terms, managed hosting is "managed" by the chosen data centre provider that you go with. This ensures that everything is done properly, but it also means that you don't have much control.

On the other hand, Colocation hosting is a very different concept. When you invest in a colocation server, you purchase and own the hardware and software that you'll be using to establish your online presence. You'll also be responsible for configuring and setting up the solutions that you need. You might even decide to purchase a firewall, switch, router, VPN appliance, and other extra devices to help you manage your servers more effectively.

How Colocation Works

Regardless of the kind of technology you use to set up your colocation hosting solution, it's worth noting that the options you invest in generally won't be sold to you directly by the colocation provider. They're also not responsible for dictating what you can or can't buy, and you're free to choose the combination that suits your needs perfectly - far unlike the case with managed servers. Once you're ready, you install the equipment you've chosen at the data centre of your colocation provider.

Sometimes, the colocation host will offer some assistance with your set-up, but it will generally be your responsibility. All the colocation provider needs to do is make sure that you have space inside a data cabinet at their facility, along with power for your equipment, IP addresses, and uplink ports to ensure you can connect your equipment to their network.

Good colocation facilities should be consistently staffed, and you can access basic support upon request, though you will be responsible for managing your equipment. To assist clients, many colocation providers give consumers redundant power capabilities, lower costs for bandwidth, and more. Also, the colocation provider will oversee data centre upkeep and security.

Choosing your Colocation Host

Like many web hosting solutions, there can be significant differences between hosts for colocation servers. For instance, some options will be more expensive than others, and this comes down to the data centre facilities that each host can offer, and the power that's available to them too.

When you're paying more for a colocation host, it's generally because the data centre that your host operates out of is more powerful. Data centres operated on a tiered basis, and the higher the tier is, the better data centre appears to be. In colocation hosting terms, a tier 4 data centre is the most powerful, while a tier 1 data centre offers the least capacity.

Another reason why you might end up paying more for your colocation host is the power costs that come with running the centre. Since your server needs to run all the time, your colocation provider needs to feed power directly into the system around the clock. Not only does your server need the power constantly, but it also needs to be cooled too. The combination of power and data centre solutions that you choose will determine how much you can expect to pay for your colocation strategy, and what kind of performance you'll get.

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