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BEFORE YOU SHIP: How to Prepare Your Server for Colocation - A Community Checklist

Packing BoxThinking of colocating a server?

This can be a great option.  Instead of haggling about specs and storage, you buy your own gear and ship it to a provider, who installs it in his rack and charges you a monthly fee for space, power, and bandwidth.  Not only do you get the flexibility of buying exactly what you need, you also know exactly what you’re getting.  If you rent a server, a lot of times you’ll get what the provider has on hand – which might be a 4-year-old hard drive.

Of course, since it’s your gear, you’re responsible for breakdowns, spares, and repairs, but if you want maximum control and certainty, colo is definitely the way to go.

Want free colocation setup, a free second month, and two hours of local hands to get you going?  Check this colocation offer!

Once you’ve made that decision and have your gear ready to ship…what next?  Here’s our quick checklist to a happy colo experience.

Make Sure You Pick a Reliable Provider

If you rent a VPS and things go sideways, worst case you’re out the inconvenience of a backup and restore, and maybe fiddling with some DNS records.  When it’s actual gear, you’re at the mercy of a provider.  Once you pack that box and ship it to a datacenter in Timbuktu, it’s in their datacenter.

What if they go bankrupt?  What if they rack it incorrectly?  What if something breaks and you need some local hands?  Be sure to select a provider with a good reputation.

Before You Ship

Take a little time before you ship to document everything.

Take photos of your gear.  Boot it up and capture info on all the components.  Write down serial numbers.  Not only does this help with any legal questions about your ownership if that ever becomes an issue, but it also helps you in case you have future issues.  Instead of having “WD BLACK 8TB” written on a scrap of paper, you’ll have a photo of the drive and its serial number to make a warranty claim.

Pack Carefully!

Have you ever seen the show Shipping Wars?  Shippers compete to win shipments, and then have to transport all manner of items across the country.  And despite straps, packing material, and years of experience, sometimes things still get damaged.

Make sure your server is packed like it’s going into a war zone.  Writing “FRAGILE” on the side of a box is cute, not protective.  Expect your precious server to be tossed like a salad by shippers.  Hard foam (see this post) is recommended.  So is insurance.

Send Spares?

If your server has a small set of RAID-protected drives (RAID-1, etc.) then you might decide to overnight a drive in case one fails.  For larger or more mission-critical systems, think what might break and consider having spare components on-hand with the provider for quick remedy.

Understand Terms

Everything mechanical eventually breaks, though with the longevity of today’s NVMe drives, one of the most common pain points is greatly reduced.  Regardless, you’ll eventually pop a power supply or need someone to switch things out.  Make sure you understand how the provider’s local hands policy and rates work.


Once you’ve got your server bought, packed, shipped, racked, and online…don’t forget to submit your offers 😆

What Did We Miss?

Any other advice or tips for those sending their first born off to strange parents?  Let us know in the comments below!


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