What To Learn When Moving From Shared Hosting To A VPS
Moving from shared hosting to a VPS can be a daunting task as you take on the responsibility of running a server for yourself. If you are considering making the move and are unsure of what it may entail, here’s a list of the skills you need to help you:
How to control a server
Shared hosting providers usually provide a simple control panel that you can access through a web browser to configure the various settings provided for you. Servers, on the other hand, are far more complicated, and in order to manage and control your servers, you’ll need to learn about the applicable tools. For Windows servers, you’ll need to get familiar with using RDP. For Linux servers, you’ll need to find out about tools such as SSH and PuTTY, as well as the BASH command line. All of which neatly leads on to where to find all of this new information…
How to find good tutorials
There are tutorials for almost anything you would need to achieve with your VPS, and even sysadmins with years of experience will reach for tutorials to help them the first time they do something. It’s worth taking the time to read a few different tutorials on what you are trying to achieve as sometimes steps may be missed or not clearly explained in some. The most helpful tutorials are ones that explain what is happening at each step so that you are learning how to do things for yourself in future, as well as getting things done now rather than simply providing a bunch of copy and paste commands.
If you purchased your domain name from the same hosting company as your shared hosting, then you won’t have been concerned with how domain names and DNS work. Many shared hosting providers will automatically make your domain work with your shared hosting. When moving to a VPS however, it’s important to understand a bit about how DNS works and how to set it up to use your domain names with your VPS. This doesn’t have to be complicated, but an understanding of how the system is used and of different types of records can help you debug domain name related issues. If you plan on hosting your own nameservers on your VPS, then you might need some additional information.
Security and Firewalls
Your VPS will be directly connected to the internet and, as with all other dedicated servers and VPS in the same situation, will be a prime target for hackers and script kiddies looking for a server to compromise and use for their nefarious purposes. You’ll need to learn how to be responsible for the security of your server, from configuring the firewall to protect it from intrusion to managing user accounts and checking for and installing security patches and updates to your software. It will also be important to monitor it to ensure that you can quickly catch a compromise if someone does break in. This one can be a bit of a rabbit hole with lots of extra information to learn if you follow it, although understanding the basics of good security practices isn’t too challenging.
IPs and the Internet
When debugging your server, it is helpful to have some knowledge of IPs and how computers on the internet use them to communicate with each other. This, combined with an understanding of what common protocols such as TCP and UDP are along with how they use ports, can really help you with figuring out what’s going wrong as well as with configuring tools such as a firewall. As with many other areas, whilst the basics can be picked up pretty easily, and are mostly all you need for simple server management, there’s a whole lot of learning here if you like delving deeper.