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Re: The responsibility of running a dedicated server

  • Subject: Re: The responsibility of running a dedicated server
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@schestowitz.com>
  • Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 14:52:48 +0100
  • Newsgroups: alt.www.webmaster
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / Manchester University
  • References: <42e50de1$0$12878$cc9e4d1f@news.dial.pipex.com> <Xns969F424F49640gandalfparker@>
  • Reply-to: newsgroups@schestowitz.com
  • User-agent: KNode/0.7.2
Gandalf  Parker wrote:

> Tamlyn Rhodes <tsr@cs.man.ac.uk> wrote in
> news:42e50de1$0$12878$cc9e4d1f@news.dial.pipex.com:
>> So I'm looking for opinions from others who have experience of running
>> a server. A friend of mine runs his own server and things seem to go
>> wrong with it rather more often than I would be willing to deal with.
>> Could that be because he's tinkering with it a bit too much? If I just
>> set it up as securely as possible then left it alone how often would
>> it require my attention?
> Probably he is tinkering too much. Ive seen many sites run for 5 years
> and have no downtime because the owners didnt know enough about them to
> mess with anything. While knowledgeable admins have... well.. more fun
> with theirs. :)

5 years with no downtime whatsoever is unrealistic. No matter where you are,
there tend to be accidental power shortages or network cut-offs. Tamlyn
would know that a main wire was cut off by a builder last year in
Manchester. Then there's the issue of reboot, which might result in a
downtime of a few minutes. Even though my host is up over 99.9% of the
time, I can still observe these reboots on occasions. They claim to have
had 100% uptime for a year, but it's based on sampling, which I know
reflects badly on the truth.

> I think that the evolution tends to be when I see webmasters who know
> the backside of things well enough to have a long list of demands about
> what they want running and what settings they want them to have. Also
> important is having above-average knowledge of file and directory
> handling (create, move, rename, delete, understanding having broken free
> of some menu'd user tool to do such things).
> From that level, you should move up to managing a server. That does NOT
> mean installing one. Installations tend to be a step higher than
> managment (I know it seems odd but consider it the difference between a
> car driver to car maintenance to car builder).
> Servers are mostly CPU, memory, and network card. The rest can be
> minimum or even old parts for your first one. Get someone else to
> install the OS. Something with a nice easy patching system. After that,
> maintaining it will mean googling or asking for an answer, being able to
> find the file they are talking about, being able to edit that file the
> way they said to, and then being able to restart that service (or
> reboot). Most of that is understanding the subject well enough to know
> how and what to ask. If you are one of those "here is my long shopping
> list" searchers for a service then you probably have that part licked.
> You could also co-locate where an ISP sets you up your own server in
> their datacenter with a nice fat pipe, air conditioning, backup power,
> multi homing, backups, etc etc.

They have these in Manchester Computing. The geographical proximity would
probably allow you to enter the server room quickly shall anything
catastrophic happen.

> You can also try to connect up with some of the co-lo's already in place
> since I have seen many who come nowhere near using all of their
> resources. There are some who have the sysadmin part licked, but are in
> great need of an in-house webmaster. You might be able to barter a home.

Peter Mills (can't disclose telephone numbers on UseNet) can probably give
you advice on the issue. You can also own the server, have it placed in the
bridge, maintain it yourself (a short distance away) and if anything is too
much for you to handle, you can ask an engineer to assist. It is very


Roy S. Schestowitz

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