So, another Minecraft server admin (note that I have no affiliation with him) had some issues when he was unable to continue running his Beastnode (a third-party host) based server. He said he would be unable to retrieve the map files for a few weeks after he cut off the service, but Beastnode deleted all the map data before he had a chance to retrieve it. Having offered my condolences and also advice about proper data backups, he (derisively) requested that I tell him ‘how to be a good server admin’. As such, I have obliged to provide some advice when it comes to administrating a Minecraft (or really any) server.
1. Backup regularly. Like, for real. It sounds like old advice but it’s still true as ever. It may sound tedious to back up files on a regular basis (perhaps daily…) you can always automate the process. This doesn’t only apply to anyone running a server, but it’s applicable to basically anyone who uses a computer. Even if you don’t run a server on your own platform, many utilities can do scheduled FTP transfers to your own computer for safekeeping. Take WinSCP for an example.
2. Backup the backup. It may seem like a task suited for the Department of Redundancy Department, but one backup may prove to be insufficient. External drives, just like any hard drive, can have a head crash and take out any data that was stored on it. DVDs or Blu-Ray disks can have their dye layers degrade and lose information, and even cloud storage isn’t infallible. I use an external hard drive that I keep separate from the server, and gets put away after the backup is completed.
3. Respect your user base; I cannot stress this enough. I’m not one to make personal attacks, but the aforementioned admin does have a tendency to be a ‘shoot first, optionally ask questions later’ technique to administration. This is bad. If you are running a Minecraft server (or any kind of public server, paid or otherwise) then, believe it or not, you are in a role of customer service. Although I’m not one for the phrase ‘the customer is always right’, you cannot treat your patrons like trash. You just don’t. Not only does it reflect badly on yourself, but it also casts a bad public image on the server that you run. Don’t expect a repeat customer if you decide to bash them around during their stay, and I bet their friends won’t be coming in either! However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t stand your ground if you need to. This doesn’t mean that you have no choice but to be a softie to everyone who joins your server. Much like a rowdy customer causing a ruckus, a griefer or other disruptive player should be given disciplinary action as needed, be it suspensions, kicks or bans.
4. Practice what you preach (and for that one, don’t be a dick!). Follow the same rules that you require others to follow. It’s that easy. Nobody likes a figure of authority who abuses their power at the detriment of others.
5. It’s not “just a game”. As I’ve said before, as an admin you are doing customer service. Running a server is serious business, and it should be treated as such. As I’ve said before, professionalism is important.
In conclusion, my advice is to backup often, backup your backups, and show some respect for your players. It’s not difficult. Class is dismissed.