How easy is for a beginner to manage a server?

April 9, 2014 3.8k views
Hi guys, I have been considering for a while to drop my shared hosting at Media Temple and move my websites here. However, as far as I could see, it appears I will have to possess a lot more sysadmin skills than I do at this moment. So my complex question is: as a total newbie in this field, with close to none linux experience, how difficult will it be to maintain my server, keep it secure and running at top performance? Will I have to do all this myself? Is there an option where the guys at Digital Ocean can do these things for me? I would prefer spending my time working on my projects rather than start learning the fine points of system administration. Thanks in advance for your help!
4 Answers
DO is a great hosting solution, but only if you have the knowledge and the time to setup your server.

There are always the one click install options they offer here and you can buy software like CPanel WHM that automates a fair chunk of the tasks needed to have the server updated and secure, but still, you will need to dedicate some time to have your server up and running or pay someone else to do it.

Don't take me wrong, I love DO, I have my websites hosted here, but I was the one that did everything and I don't use third party administration software, plain and simple SSH
As someone who just move 5 sites from, i'll add my 2 cents worth in answering your question.
In regards to difficulty i would say it was a 7 out of 10 for me, as someone with no experience with using only the command line to do things. This is however relieved by the wealth of tutorials available on the most basic to advanced tasks. My first day of using DO involved deleting and recreating droplets many times, as i was figuring out commands and configs.
The most difficult (time consuming) part of managing my own VPS is keeping up with security. Imagine, Monday I finally figured out to set up SSL on WordPress running on Nginx. Then on Tuesday, i read about the "Hearth Bleed" bug, invalidating all my work the day before. Had to start over. Then then there is the set-ups to prevent people brute-forcing your SSH passwords, or your WP login page, managing databases, managing memory, etc, etc.

It, is more time consuming than it is difficult BUT it is very rewarding as F___! The pros out weigh the cons. The performance is superior compared to my previous shared hosting plan. That is what i was aiming for.

N.B. This is an 'unmanaged' deal, so as long as the VPS spins up, DO leaves everything after that to you. So ff your set-up is not sending emails or something like that, they will refer you to a tutorial or the community/
Did you get started? I'm a newbie still learning to write php code and have absolutely no clue as to how to manage a server but I am intrigued by the low cost and ability to pay by the month as well as having higher speeds and ability to grow as my site grows.

I'm impressed with number of somewhat easy to follow tutorials and community answers but still a bit nervous because of my lack of skills or experience.

So, did you get started and how well is it working for you?

I have been using DO for a year now. When I started, I had no experience whatsoever with Linux (except that I had Ubuntu one installed on my PC), neither I really knew what was exactly a web server (I knew Apache by name only).

It is REALLY to set up a LAMP/LEMP stack with all the tutorials. They are very practical. Is is as easy as building Lego projects. So if you're planning to use your server for development purposes only, you will be good to go in no time, unless you are afraid of black screens.

Of course, things are more complicated if you want to use your server as production server. You will have to deal with security issues. Even thought security issues are covered in the tutorials, I think you will have to do some research on your own to know what menaces you are facing. But the tutorials are a good start.

You have (almost) nothing to lose by trying to manage your own server, but be careful if you plan to host production server. I would suggest to keep backups, and try to restore a droplet from them in case of something goes wrong.

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