Dedicated Server Operating System Updates: Are They Worth It?
Everyone wants to know how to make their dedicated server better, run faster and more efficiently. Despite paying for great hardware some people still overlook or ignore their standard operating system updates.
Operating System Updates
Regardless of what you are using the dedicated server for, as long as there is an operating system, you need to install upgrades. Simply put, operating system updates (also called OS updates) are fixes for parts of the program that are vulnerable. There are people out there who look for delays in software updates to take advantage of your dedicated server. Anyone who follows tech news will recognize stories about household-name companies whose servers were compromised by people with malicious intent.
Dedicated Server Protection
Both Linux and Windows dedicated servers will have vulnerabilities that could be patched with operating system updates. The last major threat to Linux systems was the “Heartbleed” bug. This is a good example of how widespread the damage can become. Heartbleed affected every major social network, many online shopping sites and other large businesses. Registered users on eBay, Twitter, Facebook, and others, were asked to change their passwords because many Linux distributions using OpenSSL cryptographic software were compromised.
Another major reason to apply dedicated server operating system updates is to avoid compatibility issues or increase functionality in your server. Sometimes updates are simply to add the latest and best features to your machine or computer. A server administrator has many issues to weigh before deciding whether or not to install an operating system update.
Ignoring Operating System Updates: Cost to Business
You can say that changing a password takes just a few clicks, but there are other costs to consider. As the owner of a business you risk damaging your public image or even losing customers.
The infamous Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL allowed hackers to get into encrypted information and leave without a trace. According to Heartbleed.com, the problem was with ‘OpenSSL’s implementation of the TLS/DTLS (transport layer security protocols) heartbeat extension (RFC6520).’ Users of several websites were asked to reset their passwords and update security settings. Engineers updated OpenSSL and asked system administrators to use the newest version. Due to the nature of the bug, it’s unclear if there were any breaches due to someone not following up with the proper solution.
The Quick Fix: Automatic Updates
When it comes down to your own dedicated server, every operating system update counts. On an unmanaged dedicated server, you’ll likely have several programs to update in addition to your operating system. To streamline this process, look out for automated scripts that will install updates for you. Windows Update will automatically check for updates in its programs, including SQL Server. Some versions of Linux have this function as well.
Microsoft is known for releasing several operating system updates on “Patch Tuesday”, which is the ‘second or fourth Tuesday of the month’ according to its site. Some users prefer to rely on automatic updating and installation because in reality, Windows can send an update at any time one is necessary.
Operating System Updates and Linux Kernels
Since Linux relies heavily on kernels, the whole server can be compromised with just one vulnerable piece. Likewise, some operating system updates might be intended to speed up your server or add drivers to make your graphics better. Improving your dedicated server is as simple as swapping one kernel with the update. There are always risks with updating with new Linux kernels, due to its open source nature. It’s important to do some research or look to a trusted source to figure out whether the operating system update will help rather than hurt your machine.
When in Dedicated Server-Doubt: Contact ReliableSite
There’s a lot to consider when you find the latest update for your dedicated server, including whether it’s worth your time. Consider if the benefits outweigh the risk to your machine and your business. Ultimately your hardware relies on the operating system and every decision should be informed and careful.