I'm an IT freelancer in Italy, with experience in software development, web design and recently system administration.

Around three months ago I got a new client to work for and signed contract to realize 3 new websites for him.

In the contract there is specified that the infrastructure wherein the websites will be installed would be on his charge and I would just had to get the sites done and then upload them to its hosting.

By the way, a months later, I verified that the client hosting was too slow and so, I suggested him to move on a VPS, that would guarantee better performance and also could make him save some money as the same machine would host more sites and mail accounts. So I set up the VPS environment and started move some sites and email accounts on it.

After that, I realized that the cost of the VPS it's only virtually lower, as the time I get on it to keep it updated, well configured and working good (mail issues, SSL certs issues and renews, back-up configuration, system healthy checks, etc) it's quite a lot, and I'm not getting payed for that. Moreover, when the contract will be completed on the end of the year the client does not have any IT staff that could continue the maintenance or face up to problems eventually get out from it. I have no interest in continue the contract or getting payed for system administration as it's not my core business and moreover I found the client to be quite difficult and aggressive with me when not the situation to be, but I find myself stuck in this situation as the client accepted my suggestion earlier.

What I would like to do now it's to say to the customer that the VPS it's no more a good idea and it would be better to get back on a normal hosting, but this translates for him in losing the saving I previous prospected to him, but of course, when I will end up the contract by completing all the websites, I cannot abandon him with a VPS that requires periodically maintenance, and if he will need to find some other IT staff it, it will be a cost anyway.

Basically I suggested him the wrong choice before, and moreover got it to work on my expenses by now I want to stop this situation as soon as possible.

What could be a good exit strategy? I'm avalaible to sustain the cost of migration the sites and mail accounts back to an hosting, and even pay for him for the first year of service, but later than, he will have to pay for it by himself.

What to do now? How do I resolve this situation?

Thanks for the help.

  • 1
    Surely it is the hosts job to maintain the server? Or did you choose a poor quality host? Personally, I would move them to a VPS with good support so they do not need your services. I do very little on my server and it's very deliberate.
    – Eoin
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


This is a tough issue, but goes to show that extra planning ahead of time would work wonders for the client, and for you as the expert.

Coming from a SysAdmin-type standpoint, maintaining one server is every easy, and most could be scripted or documented for the client to do it. I would spend some good time on this, as you could use the documentation for future clients who have this issue.

For example, there are questions on the Unix.SE site about enabling automatic updates and upgrades. You could set that to be scripted.

There are responses for renewing SSL certificates automatically with Certbot. You could set that to be scripted.

Essentially, create it as a package. If the client chooses to bring on a SysAdmin, that's on them. You need to provide the tools they need to keep it going for a short time, at least (at least 3 months).

When you go to exit the contract (successfully), make sure the client understands you are hands-off at that point. You will relinquish any SSH keys and passwords, and any other accounts you had access to. You provide them a short manual (one or two pages tops if they are not tech savvy) for information on basic troubleshooting or access to different parts of the system. You could team up with a SysAdmin type freelancer to come up with the documentation, if your contract allows.

If you can show that you did your part, all the better! If you can suggest a SysAdmin type freelancer to take over, that shows you are the expert in your area, and can suggest someone to do a good job afterwards for your client.

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