How to Manage a Website Part 2: Web and Database Servers

how to manage a websiteDespite the fact we typically refer the computer that runs a Website as a ‘server’, these computers typically have multiple servers or ‘serverware’ installed on them. A typical configuration includes a Web server and a database server. One of the most common configurations to run popular content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Drupal, include the Apache Web server and the MySQL database server. Both of these are open source and combined with their stability and ease of configuration is what makes them so popular.

Like the operating system, these are designed to to be relatively low maintenance and not something you have to work with on a daily basis when managing a Website. However just like all aspects of Web infrastructure it is incredibly important to keep these servers up to date with the latest security patches and major versions as older versions become depreciated.

Another important task of managing the serverware is the initial setup. Both Web servers and database servers have many different functions and not all are used in every environment. The default install is typically not production ready and a server administrator will need to turn on and off features as needed as well set security parameters. It is important that during the setup of the Website you ensure that certain configuration settings are in place to aid in performance of your Web site. Both database and Web servers can be configured to deliver data in compressed and/or cached formats, for example, which can greatly improve Web performance when configured correctly. There are many other configurations that you must consider when deploying a Website in a new hosting environment.

Like the operating system, discussed in part 1, management of the serverware is often the job of the Web host provider. On typical shared hosting plans this will be case. However when managing a Website on a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated machine it is important that you understand your responsibility versus the host’s when it comes to keeping the various servers up to date, secure and stable.

Also see How to Manage a Website Part 1