Hiring a Third Party Server Administrator

Maintaining a server and monitoring it accordingly is not an easy task. You need to have some background knowledge to be able to monitor and look after the maintenance of a server. When purchase dedicated hosting services, you have two options to choose from. You can choose to have a managed hosting solution or an unmanaged hosting solution. The unmanaged hosting plan will provide you with the server, and you will be held responsible for all the server issues that may arise. If the server needs upgrading or rebooting, or even a hardware replacement, it is your duty to get it done.

Why Do You Need a Server Administrator?

There are two main reasons. The first one is simple- if you don’t have the needed knowledge to manage a server, you need to hire someone who does. The second reason is equally important- if you do have the knowledge to administrate a server, but don’t have time, you have to find someone to do it for you. And let’s face it, if you are running a business, you are probably preoccupied with other things.

Key Traits of a Good Third Party Server Administrator

  1. Technical skills– number one on our list, for obvious reasons. You are hiring someone to do the administration for you, and want him/her to be as qualified as possible. You want your administrator to have a thorough understanding of the systems you use, and about server management in general. Don’t only take their word for it- check their work record. It would be ideal if they have already managed sites of similar sizes, and on the same platform like yours. Profound understanding of both hardware and software you use is a must. Also, since technology is advancing every day, you want your administrator to be as geeky as possible, and genuinely be enthusiastic about the work he’s doing. Pick carefully, and don’t rush.
  2. Personal traits– yes, you want a geek, even we have said that. But websites are meant for people, not robots. Your server administrator needs to understand that and needs to have excellent communication skills. Those will be especially important when problems occur. If something unpredictable happens, you want him to explain the problem to you, so that you can have an idea of how to solve it. And if he can’t speak “human,” he is worthless- if you could understand that ultra-technical language, you could fix and manage the server yourself.
    One more thing is vital here- proper English (or your native language). People often find systems administrators on freelance websites. Make sure the one you hire has both the technical skills AND the English level needed. You want the communication between you two to flow effortlessly.
  3. Patience and flexibility– administrator is a technical master, and other, not that technical members of your staff (and you too) will often need help and clarification. You want to hire a server administrator that doesn’t only know what he’s doing but is willing to offer advice to others who don’t. That requires calmness and kindness, since people get easily annoyed when their computers are not doing what they want. Flexibility is vital too, especially if you are hiring freelancers– make sure they are available in your working hours, ideally in the same or similar time zone, ensuring instant communication and problem-solving.
  4. Price/quality ratio– you don’t want to overpay, that’s for sure. If you do, that will mitigate the initial saving you made by choosing an unmanaged server. But, if you go cheap, you will probably get poor results. Price tells a lot, especially when you are hiring people. After all, nobody is willing to work underpaid- meaning that the price you see is probably the right parameter for the skills a person has to offer.

As you can see, we listed only four traits. You have to admit, finding the right candidate on your own is a shot in the dark. Finding one that has all those from above AND is available to work doesn’t look very likely.

That is why you should think about managed hosting.

Benefits of Managed Hosting

Managed hosting has only one “flaw”- its initial cost is higher than the price of unmanaged hosting. But here are some clear advantages:

  1. Expertise- no need to look through dozens of individual CVs and have endless conversations with random freelancers- just get managed hosting. Hosting providers are serious companies investing and making millions of dollars. They have big reputations to keep, and they do that by keeping their customers happy. If you want constant stability, getting a managed server is the right option- instead of only one, you have a full team of engineers available to jump in. You know how they say “Never put all your eggs in one basket”.
  2. Support- a freelance host is just that- a freelance host, nothing more than that. You can’t expect a single human to be available 24/7. Add in potential time zone differences, and you get a complicated equation. With hosting providers, it is a different story. Every hosting provider has a dedicated support team that is there for you around the clock. They are always well-trained and will provide you with the right advice. And if they can’t solve your problem, they will connect you to an on-call engineer.
  3. Responsibility- with freelance server administrators, you always hear the same “It’s the damn host again!” Sometimes that’s true, but in reality, in most cases it isn’t. You will never know for sure. With managed hosting, the whole burden of responsibility falls on the hosting provider. Meaning, they have to perform. And, most of them have uptime guarantees (usually 99.9%), so if they don’t deliver, you can cancel the contract and request your money back.
  4. Security- we are talking about huge companies vs. a single man? Come on; this is a no-brainer. Freelancers use personal computers for work most of the time. Also, they probably don’t have all the licenses and are not registered. If something bad happens, you can only blame yourself for being too cheap.
    Managed hosts, on the other hand are reputable, registered and certified businesses. If something goes wrong, you can hold them responsible, and expect compensation (even in the court). After all, you have a real, in-depth contract that you signed. You can have signed contracts with freelancers too, but those are apples and oranges.
  5. Privacy- you are trusting a legitimate company with your website, and all the confidential data that is on it. A hosting company has all that information anyway, since they host your site, so no need to mix in a third party. Fewer pairs of eyes mean less potential problems in the long run.

Which One is the Right Solution?

Our suggestion is managed hosting. The initial savings you make with an unmanaged host are mitigated with the added cost of a server administrator. And when you add increased risks to the equation, managed hosting becomes better and better and it seems even cheaper.

It is always good to leave everything to the real professionals. And the assumption is- hosting providers have already hired all the best server administrators, so the ones that are available either got fired or weren’t good enough in the first place to work in a hosting provider company. The third group is the group that was unhappy with the salary- but since you want an unmanaged host to save money, you will hardly meet their requirements. Those are the reasons why we think you should definitely go with managed hosting.

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