The dedicated server adventure

About three weeks ago, I decided I’d had enough with all the recent troubles on my reseller hosting account. The shared server I’d been on for about 3 years had become slow and crowded; lots of crashes, IP blacklistings and email bottlenecks, and way too much time spent answering to upset clients about the latest problem.

One of the long-time dedi owners at my host posted ‘The 6 Stages of  Dedi Ownership’ a while back.

  1. Apprehension
  2. Anticipation
  3. Confusion
  4. Bargaining
  5. Bewilderment
  6. Acceptance

Right now I’d say I’m somewhere between 5 and 6.

While I’m no stranger to WHM, the huge array of extra things to do and look at was a shock the first day. It was like being thrown from 1st grade to freshman year in college with nothing in between. I’m a web designer, not an IT person, and though I’d call myself pretty much an expert with PC’s, this was a whole other ballgame.

Getting some initial help

I spent a well-worth-it $125 to have ConfigServer install their cPanel service, including a better mail program (Mailscanner) that includes antivirus. The long explanatory email they sent me, plus their forums, have been very helpful for a dedi noob.

I also was lucky to run across the book Web Host Manager Administration Guide from Packt Publishing. I read this from cover to cover, taking notes about specific things I needed to do with my WHM setup.

All those email alerts were rather frightening at first, but I’m getting used to them and have enough understanding now to be able to pick out the truly important ones. I had some DNS issues too but the tech support guys at my host have been quite helpful.

Making my own best management practices

I started a document I’m calling Hosting Notes a few weeks ago; it contains common procedures that I’m learning – like how to copy a site from one cPanel server to another; how to decrease propagation time when moving a site; how to edit php.ini.

I’m also (with the help of the WHM Admin Guide) putting together a checklist of things that need to be checked frequently. These two documents together will be the basis of competent server management on my part (thank God it’s a managed server – I would have gone nuts with an unmanaged one by now).

How’s it going so far?

I’ve convinced about 95% of my shared server clients to move to the new server (at a small fee increase per year, since the box costs me 4 times what my shared server did each month). That’s pretty good. The few clients that don’t want to pay the fee are going to find a new host next month when I close down the old reseller account, and that’s fine.

The new server is SO much faster, just like I thought it would be. And no issues whatsoever with email slowdowns. Now I need to think about redoing SEO on my hosting site to start bringing in more clients – up to a point. And when I get there, I supposed I’ll be buying my second dedi…

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