When the Cloud Bursts – A brief look at VPS Servers, CloudHosting, and Dedicated Servers

I am a huge fan of one expression when it comes to websites and servers.

Back up everything, then back up that back up with another back up.

There is an issue we encountered with CloudHosting and VPS servers a few times now. When your website and data is in someone hands and not your own, you run a huge risk that everything could fail and part of that failure will be your fault.

This last month Amazon’s main website crashed and “unrelated” AWS failures occurred at the same time. (Source)
Let’s face it, accidents happen, the unforeseen occurs and in the IT world we know all too well that computers, even virtual ones, crash.

Personal note ‘The odd thing is these crashes tend to happen on days of my vacation, or days off… every time. (Joseph) ‘

When issues happen having a backup plan is always key. This year with Amazon we had issues that were caused by the service and we were down almost three days. Backups held at Amazon (server snapshots) were corrupted and unusable. We made a move backwards in some peoples eyes, we moved to a physical dedicated server with a great hosting company. We have not had any issues since. (with that server)

Today with the same host that we also use for a VPS server, we are at day 4 of that server being down. The issue is bittersweet since we moved back most of our hosting due to issues with Amazon being untrustworthy and always never at fault… we wanted better control of support, services and accountability. Each of these are something Amazon does not provide. They do offer expert support in most areas, while they direct you to do all of the work and never touch your server or data. Our VPS host today still has no ETA for recovering our server. In all truthfulness if it took this long to move to a backup and get the sites and servers back working again it is quite possible all data is lost. This is why backups are important.

Sneaker typical backup plan looks like this.

  1. Server backs up individual websites –
    1. Amazon S3 backup
    2. FTP backup to local drive (physical storage)
  2. Server backs up server software
    1. Amazon S3 backup
    2. FTP Backup to local drive (physical storage)
  3. Websites backs up DB to email
  4. Websites back up locally to S3 DB and Files
    1. Amazon S3 backup
    2. FTP backup to local drive (physical storage)

The backup process is important because some websites are more active than others. While the server may backup weekly or daily… e-commerce websites need to track every purchase moment to moment, and that website may need hourly backups.

CloudHosting and AWS

This is still very new technology in many ways. Variations and deployment methods make Cloudhosting very risky. Until AWS let you download your own snapshots for safekeeping locally – it may not be entirely trustworthy. If the underlying data drives crash or become corrupted (it can happen/ has happened) you need local backups for everything and have a plan of action.

Dedicated VPS, Dedicated Physical Server

VPS is a fake server running on a real server. These are historically more robust and easier to run and maintain, however failures still happen.
Dedicated servers are still my personal favorite, even better if they are in a location you or your staff can reach in emergency. Physical hardware failures are less often unless a fire or power outage occurs (these have happened also).

At the end of the day trusting your data or website to a VPS or Cloudhost entirely is fairly common. Our advice is to go with a hosting company that has backups of the backups in a safe location and not on the same server the data is held. Keep your data safe and your hosting trustworthy of top performance.

AWS and CloudHosting is the future still, but sometimes it helps to have the reliable performance of physical servers that started the internet running in the first place.

 

If Sneaker Web Design can host your website or assist you with data or website recovery, please let us know. We have years of experience in data recovery, website hosting and the insight that may help you stay online longer or be able to get you back online faster than even the hosting company could do for you.

 

 

Joseph Dispensa
Joseph Dispensa
Joseph has been working in Internet Technology in various aspects since 1994. He has traveled in Europe helping many organizations improve their technical reach and ability and firmly believes that technology can benefit any company when applied correctly.

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