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What is a server management plan? And do I need one? 

Web Hosting Blog

When you’re busy running your business, you don’t have the time or resources to monitor your servers and jump into action whenever an issue arises. So, how do you keep everything running smoothly without adding extra stress? 

This advanced monitoring is one of the main reasons you might benefit from a server management plan from your hosting provider. 

What is monitoring? 

First, let us take a quick look into what the server is – a hosting server is a generic term for a type of server that hosts or houses websites and/or related data, applications and services. Server monitoring is when you observe the activity on these servers, allowing you to take a proactive approach to any problems, including performance and security concerns.

Why is server monitoring needed?

As mentioned above, monitoring will highlight potential issues and allow you or your hosting provider to fix any concerns before they become problems. 

Your server is an essential piece of your IT infrastructure; monitoring its performance and uptime is vital to its health. For example, if a web server is offline, running slowly, or experiencing outages or other performance issues, you may lose customers who decide to visit elsewhere. 

Even a minor change can impact the performance and will have a knock-on effect on all of your services and, by extension, your customers.

Server management packages offer:

Technical support and enhanced response time: Server Support experts will monitor your servers 24/7 to check availability, performance or security issues. If any metrics they use to track this show a problem, they will work to fix the affected service.

Proactive server patching: Routine server patching is important for the security and performance of the server. If you negate to patch your server, you become vulnerable to data breaches, malware infection and other hacking exploits

How does your hosting provider provide this service? 

When looking at a list of server management plans, you will see a list of features you get, but you might not know what they do or how you can take advantage of them. In fact, a lot of people don’t take advantage of all the features included in their plans. Here are a few common features included in management plans and how you can use them:

Backup your data – You must have at least one copy of your data, which is taken over multiple recovery points. Multiple backup copies are taken over an agreed period, known as the Recovery Point Objective (RPO). There are different backup solutions, the most common being file-based and image-based. Most good hosting companies will ensure that backups are in different geographical locations to the server for extra data protection. 

File-based only backups specific files and is generally a cheaper solution. A full image backup solution such as Veeam and R1Soft will take an entire server image. The main benefit of an image-based backup is that should you suffer a catastrophic server failure. You would be able to restore the whole server as it was from the last recovery point. With a file-based solution, the server needs to be rebuilt, software installed, and then reinstall the files, which is a much longer process.

Test restores – Your plan might include a quota of test restores you can use whenever necessary.We would always advise that you have regular test restores, as this will give you and your hosting provider a good idea about how long the server would take to restore should an issue arise. You can then create your disaster recovery plans around the Recovery Time Objective (RTO). 

Monthly System Admin  allowance: Your System Admin  allowance is the amount of time the System Admin team will assist you in any task you need to do – as long as your management plan covers it. This could be anything from upgrading your control panel to service updates or installing additional software packages. 

If you have an ongoing problem, you can use this allowance to get the team to investigate it and find out the root cause of the issue so that you can fix it. 

Faster response times – Server management packages often have shorter ticket response times. If your site is customer-facing or if you are running mission-critical services, a quick response time is vital to getting everything back up and running and causing minimum disruption to your business. Usually, the level of management you choose impacts your support time. At CWCS, for example, we offer a 15-minute enhanced response time for businesses on our platinum server management plan. 

Server security scans –  Server security scans give you the confidence to know that your server security is robust and impenetrable. These scans are performed on request, and you have a set number of scans you can have per year/quarter as part of your plan.

Advanced server monitoring:  Your hosting provider proactively monitors your server for issues with your CPU, RAM, Storage and other services. By monitoring these 24/7/365, the team can jump into action and where possible, tackle any issues before they cause any negative issues. 

Can I get an unmanaged server? 

Yes, you can have an unmanaged server. With unmanaged hosting, your provider will house your server for you, and you will be fully responsible for its upkeep. This solution is great for companies that already employ a team of experts to maintain and manage their servers. 

But if you don’t have in-house experts, we don’t recommend going fully unmanaged because if things go wrong and you don’t know how to fix them, it will disrupt your business. Your hosting company can help you, but it could cost you a lot in charges for one-off fixes, and it’s more cost-effective to have a management plan.

Which server management plan do I need? 

Most hosts will offer a variety of plans with different levels of management and support. Before choosing your plan, you need to consider your overall business needs and your server management budget. 

At CWCS, we offer four different management plans:

Standard management is designed for businesses with an in-house server team, but they might need a little bit of extra support from time to time.

Silver support is tailored to companies with a team that is comfortable managing the day-to-day management tasks but needs help with more advanced functions like security patching and creating backups.

Gold support is for companies that don’t have a team to manage their servers. They might employ someone with server management experience who still needs help or might not have the resources to hire someone in-house. In short, gold support is perfect for anyone who needs ongoing technical support, server patching and a managed backup.

Platinum support is the highest level of management that CWCS offers. It’s perfect for companies with limited technical expertise or server management experience. We also recommend platinum support to businesses with servers that house mission-critical systems to ensure they run safely and efficiently. With this support package, any in-house IT staff are free to work on other essential projects to help you grow your business.

Which level is right for you will, again, depend on your needs as a business. You can read more about the management packages CWCS offers and what’s included by looking at our datasheet here. Or, if you wish to speak to a specialist, get in touch with us today.