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Turning Off VPS Systems was a Major Hassle Until I Stopped Forgetting This Important Step!

Off SwitchYou bought it, you idled it, maybe you did real work with it, and now it’s time to go.

How do you decommission your VPS?  If you don’t do it right, you could have some hassles in the future.  Here’s a checklist to keep your digital life problem-free.

Scrubbing, Cleaning, Disinfecting

In theory, once you cancel you VPS, its resources are destroyed and there’s no way to recover it.  In reality, that may or may not be true.

I’m not talking about “raided by the NSA” type of scenarios.  If government boffins seize the physical server, all bets are off.  But let’s just talk humans.

Your stuff might sit around in the provider’s backups for weeks, months, or years.  You should ask what the backup policy is, and then nuke, and then wait it out before decomm.  So if the provider keeps backups for 2 weeks, cancel 15 days out and wipe your system (reinstalling from a random template is one way).  Then cancel after all pre-nuke backups are taken.

If you’re really paranoid (and shouldn’t you be?), try wipe or shred to erase your drives.  These are Linux utilities which write a series of 0s and 1s over your storage.

I don’t recommend just going in and selectively removing items.  “I’ll just remove my home directory and this app dir where I did all my work” may get everything, but perhaps you have some staging files in /tmp or root’s home directory, some application configs in /etc, etc.  Better to just wipe everything.

Nuke It From Orbit

Tidying Up the Empire

Did you create DNS entries for this system?

Any monitoring setup?

Are you backing it up with something that is now going to spam you with failure alerts?

Did you set it up in My Idlers or similar?

If you’re really slick, you could have an Ansible script take care of all this for you, but if not you’ll need to fix up your configs by hand.

The Money Thing

Did you setup a PayPal subscription for this service?  Cancel it!

It’s super-annoying to have terminated a service and then find out next money that you just sent $8 to Example Host and now have $8 in credit there.

I personally never use PayPal subscriptions, but if you do, be sure you’re not building up credit you don’t want at providers you don’t need.

The Business Part

Now you’re ready to go into your provider’s panel and click cancel.

If you don’t pay for a system, a lot of providers will give you a couple days’ grace period, then they suspend, then finally they remove.  Why tie up your provider’s resources for a week?  Do the right thing and click cancel so they know you’re moving out.

There are providers where you must cancel.  They’ll keep billing you until you do.  You just won’t pay?  They’ll send you to collections, and they’ll win because you agreed to it.

Be professional.

And then go get another idler!



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