The Importance of Clearing Digital Trash

trashIt is important that there are procedures in place for many of the IT processes that we use daily.  For example, there needs to be a procedure in place for creating websites so they are all created with the necessary functions needed for proper use.  It is just as important that there are procedures for shutting sites down.  When you decide to let a site expire you, need to check and know several things.

Assess Your Website for Proper Digital Upkeep

First, what is the site used for and do you want to keep using it?  If not, then is the site useful for us in any other way?  Can it be used for a different function?  If not, you can let it expire or sell it, which is preferable since you would get some money out of it.

Once you have decided what to do, you have to deal with the domain site itself.  If it is one you host, you need to backup and store a copy, and then terminate the site.  You also need to make sure that it is removed from elsewhere in the system.  If it is in your site manager, you need to make sure it is deleted from there and it needs to be put into a “Let Expire” folder at your registrar, so it doesn’t get renewed.

It is very easy for your servers to end up with a lot of leftover content if these rules are not followed.  Sometimes for a client site, you will give them some time to move their content and even help them with that.  However you should make sure that the site is terminated and not just left there to gather dust and cost you money.  These simple housecleaning procedures help to keep your whole server network running smoothly and efficiently.

Basically, it is the same as keeping a room clean.  If you clean it as you go along it will always be fairly clean and not get too bad at any time.  However, it you don’t do any cleaning, it will get steadily worse so that it takes a lot of effort to get it cleaned up like one of those hoarders on TV.  Things just work better and more efficiently if you manage it as you go along.  This hold true in many areas besides IT.  Think of it as preventive maintenance.

If this is ignored, you start having problems on top of everything being disordered and less usable.  In the case of hosting, leftover sites use up space on your servers that you need to use for paying projects.  That space is valuable and should not be wasted with leftover digital trash.  It is just basic housekeeping.

Set Procedures for IT Clean Up

The easiest way to ensure this is all properly done is to emplace detailed procedures for taking care of IT housekeeping.  The procedure for taking down a site can start several ways. A client could request their site be taken down. In that case, a backup is made and/or stored or given to the client.  After that, the site is terminated on the server.  If the domain is in one of your registrars, you can see if the client wants to keep the domain or just let it go.  Depending on their answer you will mark it for non-renewal and move it into a “Let Expire” folder.  You can also set it so it no longer points at your hosting server or nameservers.  After this is done you need to make sure the site is also removed from your site manager software.

Another way a site might be terminated is if SEO decides the site ranking authority it not good enough to keep it up. This can happen in a review before the site comes up for renewal or at any time SEO decides the site is no longer useful.  The procedure is basically the same except we don’t have to check with the client or give them a copy of the backup.

There are other ways a site could be removed.  PPC might have a site that they set up for a campaign and after that ends, they no longer need the site.  No matter what the reason is, the procedure stays the same.  The idea is to make sure that no digital trash is left behind for a site you no longer use.  Obviously, having a site and paying for its yearly renewal when it is not being used will not be in your best interest.  Proper housecleaning insures that doesn’t happen.

The nice thing about having procedures in place is that they soon become second nature and you keep things running smoothly without worrying about your housekeeping and digital trash.  Believe me there will always be plenty of other things to worry about.

The Takeaway

Servers cost money to keep up and running and the better you are at eliminating the wasted use of server space, the more profitable your server operation becomes.  If you have 15 servers, it is not hard for a server’s worth of digital trash to accumulate between all of them.  Keeping a close eye on them and following the correct site removal procedures keeps that from happening.  As servers can cost hundreds of dollars a month, it doesn’t take much disorder to start costing a lot of money.

It is very easy for digital trash to pile up without you noticing and server usage could easily balloon up from 15 to 17 or more over a year’s time.  If good housekeeping cuts the need for servers from 15 to 14, it is a good benefit.  If it takes it from 15 to 12 or less, it is a very big benefit.  It is even more beneficial when good housekeeping practices have not been used and are first emplaced.  That makes emplacing these procedures even more attractive for those who have not been using them.

Having procedures in place for starting up a site are also important for different reasons than the procedures for shutting a site down. However, both help with the efficiency of the company.


– Robert Hunt, Systems Administrator