InstaCarma has been providing server management services to the web-hosting industry for 6 years now. Server management is the operation and maintenance of a server. For efficient management, a proper methodology should be in place and strictly adhered to. The methodology differs depending up on the type of server. The basic idea behind server management is uptime and security .
Here are a few things that we follow in order to ensure a predictable and stable performance from the server which in turn translates into greater customer satisfaction and business growth. While these are the standard practices at InstaCarma, these might need modifications depending up on the server’s role.
– Do not overload the server
The server should not be overloaded with too many accounts on it. On a shared server, this might create serious problems. The optimum number of accounts on a server depends upon several factors like the hardware configuration, how resource intensive the sites are etc. An overloaded server will give you and your customers problems consistently. So, either upgrade the hardware as per requirement or optimize the number of accounts on the server.
– Monitoring the server
The servers need to be monitored 24/7. Especially during the peak hours. Having a monitoring tool ( like Nagios ) would be of immense help and it is a must if you have a large number of servers to monitor. While these tools can give you the status of services and few other things, you still need to dig deeper for effective server management.
Bandwidth needs to be monitored regularly. You might also want o consider bandwidth throttling if the server is co-located. You should have a plan of action ready in case of a DoS/DDoS attack. There are various tools available in order to collect information about the server or network.
Another important thing is checking the logs. You need to dig into the logs on a consistent basis to find the cause of a problem and to detect potential issues. You might also want to rotate the logs manually or archive them to another box on the network.
Crtical patches need to be done in time. You should be aware about the release of patches applicable to your system. Failure to do this can run in to dire consequences.
Periodic server audits are mandatory in pro-active server management. Same applies for scans and security updates.
– Do not kill/restart services unnecessarily
This is a very common practice amongst system administrators. As soon as they find that the load is going high or the server is not as responsive as desired, they kill/restart services like httpd/mysql etc. Some smart people even issue a reboot. These should be avoided and used only as a last resort. We ask our techs to try and figure out the cause of the problem and eliminate it.
– Always take a back-up
This is one of the most important things. Updates and changes are inevitable. But before going ahead with any of those, it is always a good idea to have a backup of the current working configuration. Mistakes can happen and things can go wrong anytime. It is better to be on the safer side. It is also necessary to have regular periodic backups of the entire system.
– Upgrades during off-peak hours
As we all now, all upgrades, transfers etc should be done during the off-peak hours . This might not be practical always but you should adhere to it as far as possible.
– Avoid personal disasters
There is always a scope for error due to the human factor. Well, the best and only way to avoid them is being careful. For example, we do not allow the techs to keep their cell phones with them during work. If you are not careful then it is easy to screw things up!
Being careful becomes more important when you are working remotely. Also, it is recommended to have multiple people doing the task as two is better than one. It is easy for somebody to miss something but hopefully the other would catch it.
The best way to approach effective server management is to make a checklists of the tasks that need to be done on daily/weekly/monthly basis. Also, make a list of potential problems that may arise. This way it is near impossible that you would miss out on something.