Be A Good Host And Pour
Some More Juice
By Stephen M. Lawton
I worry about whether the FBI is tracing my e-mail using Carnivore, or
should I just resign myself to the fact that even if the FBI isn't, MI5
will peruse the e-mail I send to family and colleagues in the U.K.? I
realize that the recent earthquake in Seattle rattled some windows at
Microsoft, but should I be concerned that Windows has cracks in it so
large that the U.S. government can access my Office applications and mail,
as the German government claims? More important, are my Web server, mail
server and network protected from power disruptions?
I suppose I
should double-check my UPS to make sure its batteries are fresh (nothing
worse than a UPS that fails at a critical moment) and that all of my key
servers are monitored and accessible should power fail. When it comes
to a Web server, you have three options: keep lots of spare UPS batteries
handy in case the outage lasts longer than 15 minutes; employ a backup
generator which can be dicey if it runs on diesel but your office
is on the 22nd floor in a downtown office tower; or outsource your Web
That's right the host or co-locate
argument rears its ugly head again. For those of you who absolutely need
to have 24/7 access to your Web server, you're now running the risk that
you could be offline for an extended period if you don't have adequate
While building your own personal power
plant might seem like a good idea, such devices just aren't practical
or cost-effective for most small and midsize businesses or homes.
Assuming you find a Web hosting service
that has adequate power itself, you have to decide if the insurance policy
of a hosted service is worth the expense and security implications of
not having your hardware where you can touch and feel it.
Now, before all you Web hosters call
me to tell me how secure your servers are and that I've permanently damaged
your sterling reputations, I'm not implying that the boxes you host are
anything but safe. Yes, I know they're all locked away in their own little
cage, surrounded by armed guards and attack dogs, and all within a hermetically
sealed building that is free from any dust or even the thought of a virus.
On the other hand, some webmasters like to know that their box is right
there, in the next room, behind a locked door to which only they have
In the past, the issues of host vs.
co-locate had to do with failover access to the Internet if part of the
Internet's backbone failed you don't only want one link to the
Today, with Pacific Gas & Electric
and Southern California Edison having as high a profile as they do when
it comes to managing your Web site's uptime, you need as much protection
as you can get.
If you were on the cusp before when
you opted to host your own server, maybe it's time to go back to the drawing
board and bean counters. Your paradigm just shifted again.