Are you wondering whether you should learn how to manage your own web server?
I’ll help you decide in 2 minutes whether it’s worth it for you.
BEST reasons to learn server-admin
1. You enjoy it.
You like learning new things. You enjoy solving complex server and networking related issues. You see server issues more as a puzzle to be solved than catastrophe to be endured. Last and not least, you enjoy breaking things. (Haha…step right up!)
2. The technology isn’t foreign to you.
It helps if you’re already halfway there. You have an IT background, you’re comfortable with Linux, you already know or work in the command line, you’re already a programmer.
3. You want to help clients.
Having more skills will definitely help you support more clients, or support existing clients in more comprehensive ways.
3. You want to run a webhosting service.
Even if you plan to outsource all the admin work, it’s still good to know basic concepts of things so you can communicate well with others. You’re able to speak the language, understand what is happening, understand what to ask for.
4. You want something that doesn’t exist.
Maybe you need a custom setup or some kind of flexibility that nobody offers. In cases like this, there’s no better answer than to build your own. Of course, I don’t think this should automatically mean that YOU should be the one to build it. But it’s helpful to understand what’s involved so you can make informed decisions. Or hell…just find someone you trust, ok?
5. You like testing new server technology.
There are few things more exciting than using non-critical sites to test new toys. Besides, you can actually save lots of money hosting them on a hobby server. No big deal if it goes down.
WORST reasons to learn server-admin
1. Save money.
This is probably the most enticing option for DIY entrepreneurs. They’ve gotten by so well learning everything on their own that server-admin skills just seems like one more box to tick. They imagine it’s just a couple pages of reading and they’ll be able to save $$$ every month.
I won’t say you shouldn’t but you never really know. Some people have an easy time. They intuitively understand where and how to fix things or look for guides online. Others only run into problem after problem, and never trust their server.
But for sure….once you get enough traffic and complicated enough uses, there will be days where you lose confidence in your server and admin skills. Hack attempts will come, noisy neighbor, dropped packets, random OS or panel bugs, and many things you didn’t know that you didn’t know. This will cost you lots of time and stress, and you lose money in lost sales and hiring others to fix your issues.
2. It seems fun.
It’s half-true. Fun in that you have so much more power at your fingertips. But sooooo not-fun when you deal with critical outages and angry unforgiving clients. Not only that but fun eats up a lot of time and puts your clients at risk. I think it’s unethical to manage your clients hosting simply because you want to have fun.
I can assure you the fun wears off. By the time you have enough clients to make this “fun” worthwhile, you may even grow sick of it. You’ll realize better and easier ways to make money than to stress over client downtimes during off hours.
Let me put it this way. Of all the server admins I know, none of them feel the same excitement they did 5 years later. Most are lazy as heck and don’t want to poke into any server that’s not their personal one. It literally becomes an office job. About as fun as changing your car oil the 400th time.
3. You think it’s a useful skill.
Really think long and hard before you set your mind on this. It’s a useful skill if you deal with servers and command lines all day long. But if you prefer to spend your time engaging humans, then NO…it is most definitely not a useful skill and you’re better off outsourcing it.
Working with Linux and CLI in general is quite difficult if you don’t do it everyday. It’s like learning a language and quickly forgetting it because you don’t use it enough. Linux commands are certainly that way. So you’re blowing at least 1-2 years to become proficient and comfortable. You learn the commands, learn the command options, learn the locations of key files/directories.
And then what? If you’re not poking inside that server and running those commands constantly every week, you’ll forget every single one of them. And have to relearn them each time. I’m in and out of a couple dozen servers every week (for years) and I still have to look up commands from time to time.