Keeping Your Server Clean

As an interim to the rebuilding of my server story I discovered something when I was backing up everything and prepping it for reinstallation.

It was the number of installations of various things installed on the server that had been abandoned either by me or by friends who host small communities on my server. This spanned from forums to blogs, and when abandoned were never updated to the latest version.

Obviously this created quite a large security risk, as over time more and more known compromises were available for these platforms. The main reason that I had wanted to update my server in the first place was to update software to the most recent versions. So this would be pointless if I then re-uploaded old and half installed versions of software that noone even used.

The danger here is installing something, discovering it doesn’t suit your purposes and moving onto a different piece of software. On my server I noticed domains that had since been moved away – as they had grown in popularity – or had died, and were not used any more. However, half installed pieces of software sitting in public_html folders are just as dangerous.

How To Spot It
Well thats not so easy – if its installed side by side with another installation its extremely difficult to differentiate between them, unless they have a nice naming mechanism like wordpress. (Folders starting with wp_ are owned by word press!)

However, if you use a control panel and you see an account that you know is no longer hosted on your platform then back it up (because you never know) and delete it.

Other domains or accounts that have no updates or connections can possibly be wound down, if someone wants it kept on line just add it to the list of accounts to check for new versions.

How To Deal With What You Find
Well, deleting the account/files is the easiest thing to do, but make sure you back everything up first in case you get a bit trigger happy on the rm command. If its a domain that you want to keep online then just update it and move on.

Finally, Keeping Up To Date
If you decide that you are not going to use something, then remove it at the time – or schedule some time to do it soon before you forget. Secondly, most CRM’s, blogs and forums have a mailing list to tell you when new versions are out, so signing up is a very good idea to make sure one doesn’t slip past you.

Hopefully, highlighting this will help readers not to have the same issues as I had when trying to decide which of the random installations were the most current and help keep servers clean.

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