Browsing posts tagged "hosting tips and tricks"

VPS Servers – For more than just Web Hosting

April 16th, 2012 @ 9:30 am

When discussing servers and hosting we often immediately put it within the context of hosting websites, but a VPS hosting plan is actually flexible enough to do a whole lot more than that. A Virtual Private Server has much of the same functionality of a dedicated server without the need for extensive technical knowledge to setup and maintain it, making it an attractive option for webmasters, but also an obvious choice for other server-reliant activities.

VPN

A VPN or virtual private network allows you to use a VPS server like you would a desktop computer via an OS and GUI (such as Linux Ubuntu), essentially giving it unlimited functionality. One popular reason for implementing a VPN is the anonymity it provides when using the internet- in fact in many countries where the internet is heavily censored and monitored VPNs provide citizens with a way of accessing otherwise forbidden parts of the net safely. With the growing trend of politicians and corporations both in America and around the world wanting to force ISPs to monitor your web use and punish those who deter from their approved sites, getting a VPS server to browse anonymously seems like a very smart idea.

Game Servers

When gamers come together online to perpetually murder each other, they need to connect to a server that hosts the game and handles all the information being transmitted. This can easily be done using a VPS server- in fact chances are if you’ve played Counter Strike before you’ve probably played on someone else’s VPS server. Owning and operating your own server for your favorite online game can be a rewarding hobby for you and your friends to enjoy or a lucrative community building venture, it all depends on what you want out of it.

Backup and Disk Space

Since a VPS server can be used in much the same way as a home computer can, it makes sense that we are able to store files on the disk space that’s available to us. The cool thing about storing your files on your own server is that you can access them wherever you can connect to the internet, which makes it very convenient for sharing files amongst your friends or collaborating on a project with a group. This might also come in handy when you have big files that need to be transferred but don’t have a USB stick big enough to handle the job.

VoiP

While there are a myriad of VoiP (voice over IP) services out there, hosting your own can have plenty of benefits. Sure, you can pay to rent space on someone else’s server to use Ventrilo or TeamSpeak, but there’s much more security and reliability in owning your own setup – not to mention that there isn’t any arbitrary limits on how many clients/users can be chatting together, the only limit is the resources.

Other Stuff

VPS servers have loads of different functionality and can be used almost any way imaginable, chances are if you need to use a server for something then a VPS hosting plan should accommodate you. Keep in mind that things like proxies, IRC, and P2P/torrents/filesharing are technically possible but against the terms of service of many providers, so always double check before doing anything that might get you banned. Other than those few exceptions, VPS servers really are the Swiss army knife of the web and are capable of much more than just hosting web sites.

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Keeping Your Domains and Websites Private and Secure

April 12th, 2012 @ 9:12 am

While webmasters are proud of their online creations, it’s often not in their best interest to reveal their identity as a site’s owner or other details about the technical aspects of the site. A lack of proper privacy measures for your sites can mean opening vulnerabilities for your competitors to exploit, so on a whole for most projects it’s best to minimize footprints and stay as anonymous as possible. Fortunately this isn’t as difficult as it may seem and as long as you use some common sense and avoid getting lazy, everything should be secure and safe.

WHOIS Records

All domains have an entry in the WHOIS database which anyone can access that contains the identifying information that you provided to your domain registrar. This is obviously not exactly a boon for us as webmasters and it’s preferable that we keep this information private. Luckily there is an easy way to do this- most registrars offer an option to hide your real WHOIS information for a small fee. Royalty Networks actually offers domain security for free when you register a domain. You can couple this with a CDN to further obfuscate your WHOIS entries.

Themes and Designs

Using the same or very similar themes across multiple sites is a no-no, it’s a very big clue that can tie together several different web properties and make it easier to track down their owner. This should not be an issue as there is an abundance of themes available from a variety of different designers for next to nothing. If you really want to be efficient and have fine-control over your designs but don’t want to learn the subtleties of a coding language then you can try using a WYSIWYG program like Artisteer- it lets you design site-wide themes with a user-friendly editor that lets you drag and drop everything into place, which makes it very easy to make a myriad of different-looking themes with just a few clicks.

IP Addresses

We made an entire post about the importance of diversifying IP addresses between your sites, and it’s really as easy as scaling up as you need more of them- you can buy additional IPs no matter what hosting plan you use. Anyone can see the IP address of the server where you sites are hosted, so if you have multiple sites on the same IP it is relatively easy for someone to notice this and take advantage of it. Spread your sites across as many IPs as possible and don’t be afraid to scale up as you build more websites.

Technical Security

There’s always the constant threat of a hacker taking advantage of a vulnerability in your site’s code and wreaking havoc, so you should take some precautions to make this harder for them. The golden rule of defending your sites is to keep everything up to date all the time, check your back-ends often and install updates whenever they are available. Only install plugins and themes from trusted sources, and if you can accomplish something sufficiently without using a plugin then don’t be lazy and add yet another plugin to your installation when you have the option not to. If you’re on WordPress install something like Secure WordPress to automatically manage common vulnerabilities.

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How to Pick Effective Exact Match Domain Names (EMDs)

March 29th, 2012 @ 9:28 am

While registering a domain is a very quick and easy process, there are many factors and best practices to keep in mind as you purchase web real estate in order to maximize your site’s effectiveness. The domain name is one of the primary identifiers for your site for both visitors and search engines- it should make it clear what your site is about and ideally should match the title of your website.

While it isn’t as simple as just picking something that sounds catchy and relates to your topic, it really isn’t much more complicated than that. Your only other responsibilities will be some basic keyword research and flex your marketing muscles to end up with a domain name that’s memorable and accurate for human visitors and streamlined in a way that search engines can easily identify you.

Choosing Exact Match Domains – EMDs

You’ve probably heard this phrase thrown around a lot when people start talking domains- and with good reason because it’s a very important principle that sets up an important part of your overall SEO strategy. An Exact Match Domain is a domain that contains the main keyword you are targeting in its exact form, meaning if your main keyword is “blue widget accessories” an EMD would be bluewidgetaccessories.com or something like blue-widget-accessories.net.

So what advantage does this practice give you in terms of SEO? Domain names are a big factor that search engines take into account when putting your site through their algorithm, so any keyword contained within the domain is associated with every page on your site (especially the homepage), which reinforces your sites association with the topic.

It sounds a tad confusing but it really isn’t as hard as it seems. To come up with an effective EMD for your site you need to start with a foundation of solid keyword research, use a reliable keyword analysis tool like Google Keyword Tool and make a list of viable and profitable keywords that you intend on targeting (this means keywords that have enough traffic to be profitable while having as little competition as possible). Try to put a more general term in the EMD, long tails are certainly where the low-hanging fruit is but we need our domain to fit every piece of content so it needs to be an appropriate title for your niche.

An example would clear things up. So let’s say we want to make a site about kayaking equipment and we are looking for a good EMD. After some keyword research, let’s say (for the sake of the example) that the term ‘high-end kayak gear’ is getting a good amount of traffic and that we can easily beat the competition on page one of Google. For an EMD, a good choice might be highendkayakgearreviews.com, or high-end-kayak-gear.net, or highendkayakgearblog.com. As you can see, adding a word or phrase to the beginning or end of the keyword is a great way to fit the term in the domain name if the most obvious ones are already taken. From this point on you can write a series of articles related to high-end kayaking equipment to go after some less competitive long tails while reaping the benefit of the EMD, optimizing the home page for ‘high end kayak gear’ would also be a good idea.

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Reseller Hosting – For Resellers or Webmasters?

March 26th, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

When internet marketing beginners first start to look around for a good hosting plan, chances are that they see someone offering reseller hosting. This can be a tad confusing for some because reseller plans enable users to sell hosting slots on their plan to clients, hence the name reseller. Because of this functionality, some assume that reseller hosting is meant only for users who intend on opening up a hosting service of their own, but this assumption is far from the truth and can lead to some bad decisions when it comes to choosing a host. Let’s take a look at reseller hosting and its various uses so you can determine if it’s the best choice for you.

Reseller hosting for resellers

Selling slots on your reseller plan to clients can be quite lucrative, but you need to know what people are looking for in a host and your presentation need to make your business seem very professional and trustworthy- no one wants hosting from a fly-by-night operation.

Reseller hosting allows you to completely customize the hosting plans that you want to sell- you can edit everything from prices to features. Your clients will have an experience very similar to that of any regular hosting provider, you can have them billed automatically and they will be able to access their H-sphere control panel- You will even be able to privately brand everything so that your clients don’t suspect you are reselling server space instead of offering your own.

This can be a great business plan for those willing to make a commitment to becoming a hosting reseller, but it’s not something that can be taken lightly or put on autopilot- Being a reseller requires lots of attention and some technical skills, not to mention the time you’ll be spending interacting with clients. The good news is that if you give it a shot and it isn’t for you, you can still use your reseller account to host your own websites.

Reseller hosting is a great idea for freelance web designers and programmers because it allows you to offer your client your own hosting service instead of referring them to another provider, which means you make residual income as you do work for more clients and before you know it you’re getting a respectable amount of monthly rebills.

Reseller hosting for webmasters

So why would a webmaster who doesn’t intend on reselling hosting slots choose a reseller plan instead of a VPS, shared, or dedicated server plan? The answer is that it’s one of the most cost-effective hosting plans considering the amount of resources and features you get, and it’s just as easy to host your own websites with a reseller account as it is with shared hosting as opposed to jumping through the technical hoops of running a dedicated server.

Reseller plans are also scalable and can be upgraded easily to accommodate more sites and traffic so you don’t have to worry about the headaches of transferring hosts if you need more resources. The features can also be quite helpful- the ability to create accounts and roles means that each of your sites can get its own H-Sphere control panel so you have more control of their settings.

Reseller hosting is a good idea whether you plan on becoming a reseller or not for a variety of reasons, it has the functionality and resources to handle almost anyone’s hosting needs for a very affordable price.

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What are Content Delivery Networks?

March 23rd, 2012 @ 11:02 am

We’ve talked about how important it is to speed up your website in a previous post, but we only briefly mentioned one of the best methods of doing so: Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). CDNs are networks of servers that supplement the power and resources of your host and serve data faster than normal, resulting in a more fluid and responsive user experience.

How does CDN Technology work?

Content delivery networks are more efficient at serving content than traditional servers alone because they operate on a large infrastructure with many nodes, servers, and access points in a variety of different locations. When a user requests data from your website, the CDN chooses the most opportune server and node to serve the information as efficiently as possible depending on a variety of factors (geographical location, server load, content type) as opposed to serving everyone from the same central server. Think of it as sort of a ‘cloud’ implementation to your hosting server- your content is being distributed by a more nebulous and widespread network of servers that improve your site’s reliability as well as its speed and efficiency.

CDNs make use of the cache feature that many web developers are familiar with- while caching can be done on your own host server to speed up load times it can also be implemented with a CDN so that your most popular pages have copies stored on the whole network. This means that the requested data hops through fewer nodes than it normally would and is served directly from the CDN to the user instead of referencing your host server first.

CDNs operate in different ways depending on the provider and the client’s needs, one site may only need a CDN for their heavy bandwidth usage content like multimedia and games while another might want a more general setup that covers all their content- other users might want a CDN to handle downloads from a virtual goods store (Apple uses one for the iTunes marketplace). You’ll need to assess your needs and decide what setup is best for you- chances are if you just want to make your site snappier you can go with one the popular CDNs on their basic service.

CDN’s reduce the load on your own host server, meaning you’ll be using less of your own bandwidth and data. On the flip side, most CDNs will have you pay depending on the amount of bandwidth you use, which works out for most webmasters because more traffic means more income- so paying the CDN and hosting bills should be no problem.

CDN Providers

Assuming you don’t have any specialized needs and you just want to make your website faster (which you do- Google likes efficient sites) your best bet is probably to go with one of the more popular and established CDNs. Here are a few that you can’t go wrong with:

Cloudflare – Cloudflare is extremely popular and a very well performing CDN, they offer a free plan that’s super easy to set up and has impressive results so there’s really no excuse to not at least run Cloudflare if you don’t want to spend any extra each month apart from your hosting bill.

Amazon Cloudfront – This CDN provided by Amazon is known for its reliability and flexibility. It’s very easy to set up and understand and you are only billed for the data that you use. The performance is what you’d expect from a network as big as Amazons and it’s suitable for almost any type of content.

NetDNA – Some very big and recognizable brands are powered by NetDNA CDN such as Facebook, Garmin, Mashable, and Sitepoint. This is a great service especially for users who need to handle lots of traffic and big data loads, which is great if you are running web applications for your audience.

Which Hosting does it work with?

The great thing about CDNs is that they work with almost anything, you can set it up to work with shared, reseller, or VPS hosting and enable it for almost any web assets you plan on serving to visitors.

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