Take a lesson from me – Server Admin Lessons

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There are many things that you should know about me. None of these are things like I like long walks on the beach, as a matter of fact I hate walks pretty much anytime. I, however, do trust technology a bit too much. Maybe more than a bit!

As a friend of mine said, paraphrasing, “For a techie, you have more computer problems than anyone I know.” Why does he say this? Let’s recount my record of recent events. I had my server fill the hard drive it’s using… twice. I had issues with my server to the point where it was easer for me to reformat my hard drive and start over. I use a virtual server from my main computer (yes… cringe at it, I know). It’s current iteration is a VirtualBox server running Ubuntu 9.10 Server with ISPConfig 3. During that reformat of my hard drive, I also reformatted my host computer back to default of Windows 7, which caused something to happen with the virtual hard drive, causing it not to boot anymore. Now I had to find a way to get at data stored on a Ext4 partition on a virtual hard drive that wouldn’t mount with that then version VMWare Server / Disk Mount Utilities! Not to mention, I forgot setting LVM on it, which caused about 4 days to be lost. Finally getting at that, I was able to recover one of the critical parts of the HDD, the latest backup for a site I host, Kristas Kakery. Now all that is done, I realize that this iteration of my server has been down for one of the previously mentioned reasons (full HDD) for a matter of days, and no one bothered to tell me! Not to mention that I have done live upgrades to items that have messed up the server, because I’m simply too lazy to spend the resources to copy over the virtual HDD, run it in a virtual server as well, and test changes first.

With all that covered, here’s a list of things not to do. Learn from me.

1. Don’t use a virtual server software on your main computer.

2. Set up some monitoring service to alert you when your site/server goes down. The linked one is free for one website.

3. ALWAYS have a development machine to test upgrades before making said upgrades/changes live.

I’m sure I’m missing a few, but it’s currently 1:15 in the morning, and I’m tired. I’m sure this isn’t the only part in the series of lessons I hope to relay to you, so you don’t make the same mistakes I do.

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