Because of what FatLab does, I am often asked what it means to ‘manage a Website’. I wrote a recent article, ‘I Bought a CMS, Why do I Need Web Support?’ that addressed why having a content management system doesn’t necessarily mean someone might not need anyone help you maintain a Website. Because this is such a regular topic for us, I figured I would take it a step further and address the various components of how to manage a Web site in a series of posts. Taking a technical approach to how to manage a Website, each post will address one of the critical components that needs attention when managing a Website.
How to Manage a Website: Overview
Websites for the most part these days are ‘dynamic’, meaning they allow change and constant activity with ease. Typically administered through a content management system (CMS), a non technical user can control otherwise sophisticated tools through a Web browser. However because of these dynamic features and toolsets we rely on a set of relatively complex tools that the average user rarely ever touches or even thinks about. These include the computer operating systems, Web servers (both hardware and software), databases, firewalls and more. Managing a Website includes being concerned about stability, security and user experience.
How to Manage a Website Part 1: The Operating System
Just like a desktop computer, a Web server has a core software system or operating system that allows it to run other software programs. From a common use scenario, Web servers come in two flavors: Windows and Linux. Both operating systems are constantly changing and being updated. As far as managing a Website, what we really need to be concerned about is security and stability. Microsoft releases updates for their servers on a regular basis as do the various Linux distributions. It is of the utmost importance that the operating system be kept up to date for both stability and security.
In a typical Website management scenario, this is the job of the Web host. The Web hosting company should make a proactive effort to ensure that the operating system remains up to date. This is especially important when it comes to security patches. In a shared hosting environment this is something you should ask about or check the hosts documentation on. In a dedicated environment (where you have a physical server or virtual server dedicated to just your Website(s)), managing a Website might include monitoring and updating the operating system. If the dedicated server is hosted by a hosting company, they will typically offer ‘managed services’ which covers keeping the operating system up to date. Managed services add cost to your hosting plan but provide you access a technical team to help manage your server and keep the operating system up to date.
In the next post on how to manage a Website I will address Web servers and database servers.