Should I be Intimidated by an unmanaged server for M2 on DO?

I have been on Nexcess shared hosting for about 8 years and have a good experience. I am looking at setting up a new M2 installation, however I would like to run a PWA on top of M2. Most these require the installation of additional software on the server, which shared hosting or even cloud hosing doesn’t usually allow. I would need root access.

I don’t have experience in “running a server” or the security related aspect of it. Should moving to a dedicated server that is unmanaged scare the heck out of me?

You read all these managed hosting sites for M2 and they all talk about security, optimization and so on… Is this mostly black smoke (an illusion) to make the customer feel safer? Does it really require that much additional setup and time for maintenance (software updates)?

I am struggling to find information and first hand experience with this type of stuff because usually google searches result your run of the mill blog post comparisons or information that is simply too general.

Hi @live4soccer7 and welcome.

I could probably talk about this topic for hours. But for the sake of time, I’m going to try and keep it brief…

Thoughts on Unmanaged
I have multiple projects. My “low risk” ones run on Unmanaged Servers. They didn’t always used to be. However, I eventually outgrew the limitations of Managed/Shared services because of the glass ceilings and restrictions they put in place - Which often hindered my learning process.

Obviously, the biggest risk is the “safety net”. Who do you lean on when everything goes to shit? This was actually the biggest factor when I chose DigitalOcean for many of my projects. Knowing that I could Snapshot the entire server before I messed with anything. So, thinking about it now… I guess I swapped out the safety net of being able to contact someone for help for the safety net of knowing I could restore the server whenever I screwed up.

Thoughts on Managed
Then we have the large project (the exception)… This used to be on an Unmanaged Dedicated Server (I didn’t set this up). However, the person who set it up did it really “odd”. When I ran into problems I couldn’t ask the hosting provider and I couldn’t find any articles on Google to help me troubleshoot issues.

So, we migrated over to a different provider for a Managed Dedicated Server. A company that I’d worked with in the past for a similar project and had a really great experience with. For the most part, the company will do whatever I ask (within reason) and they’re also great at giving me advice if I ask the right questions. The service they provide makes me feel like they work for me, not the other way around. The caveat is that we pay an eye-watering amount every month for this service.

But in the grand scheme of things, if the website went down for 24 hours, we’d lose more in revenue than what we’d spend on hosting for the entire year. So, as business decisions go the cost is not a factor.

Answering your question
It’s super-hard to answer a question like this, so I can only lay out my experiences and thoughts. I don’t think the selling points of hosts (e.g. Security/Optimisation) are an illusion. There’s something to it, but not as intense as you might be lead to believe.

For example, I doubt there are a team of tech people constantly fighting cybersecurity attacks 24/7. But I bet they are well informed and proactively make regular changes to stay on top of things. But at least if something does go terribly wrong, then you get to point your finger at somebody. Otherwise, you only have yourself to blame.

Final thoughts
For me, it comes down to:

  • “Can I afford the time to research issues or procedures, when I have other things to do?”
  • “Will the anxiety of updating my Server OS/Services create enough delay for it to become a security risk?”
  • “Who will look after the server if I can’t get to a PC in a timely fashion?”
  • “What solution will help me sleep at night?”

Finally, if there are 2 things to take away from this reply, they would be:

  • You don’t know, what you don’t know: Therefore, if faced with a challenge, do you have the confidence that you could problem solve this yourself despite never seeing the issue before?
  • Will my decision help me sleep better at night?

This ended up being a little longer than I’d hoped, but I hope it helped.

Wow, that was absolutely a fantastic reply. Hands down one of the best replies I’ve had in a forum and I’ve been a forum rat for a VERY long time. As I said previously, it is hard to find people that can provide good insight at this level online and I don’t know where else to turn to in order to get some real world experiences and input from others on this topic.

I’m no stranger to working around in linux, however I’m definitely a novice/rookie. Downtime is something that is important as you have hit the nail on the head with the cost of downtime in revenue lost. I definitely don’t mind paying extra for something, however I have hit the proverbial ceiling you have talked about on the “out of the box” options with managed shared/cloud hosting. I’ve been trying to find a way around it.

I found your guides on setting up M2 on a dedicated server and I may just walk through that entire tutorial and see how I feel from there. I have a couple months of free hosting over at DO. I also have a small server here that I can use stage a complete environment as well.

This is all driven by PWA for ecommerce.

Would you mind sending a DM/PM with the managed dedicated host service you mentioned? That is definitely something I would be interested in taking a look at.

The Managed Hosting Provider I referred to was Rackspace. I think I’ve been using them since 2014 with the last 2 companies I worked for. You won’t find a great deal of information on their site. Instead, you’d want to arrange a consult in order to discuss your requirements.

Thank you very much. I will reach out to them.