Browsing posts tagged "web hosting"

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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Web Hosting and IP Addresses Best Practices

April 2nd, 2012 @ 9:53 am

The best practices of IP addresses for websites are lost on many beginners because a certain amount of experience with computers and networking is assumed to wrap your head around it and it’s easy to get lost in the lingo and industry terms. Properly assigning IP addresses to your websites really isn’t rocket science and it’s absolutely critical if you plan on building multiple sites. The main rule to remember is that you should spread your websites over as many different IPs as possible, so if your host offers more dedicated IP addresses as an add-on be sure to snap them up as you make new sites.

One of the most oft-recommended tips of web development is to eliminate the trail of clues that connects your network of different websites together. Failure to do so makes it obvious that these sites are all owned by the same webmaster or are at least hosted on the same server- which is information that can be used by your competitors or search engines to your detriment in a variety of ways. This principle is true throughout every facet of web development, it’s imperative to leave as little footprints as possible between your sites that might link them together whether it’s the theme and design of your sites or your WHOIS entries or even your analytics provider (hint: putting all your sites on the same Google Analytics account will likely tie them together in the eyes of Google), you need to be proactive at diversifying your sites as much as possible if you have a large amount of them.

Luckily it isn’t very difficult or expensive to ensure that each of your sites has a correctly configured IP, but you need to be willing to go through this process every time you make a new site- if you slack off then your whole network of sites might be ‘outed’ (a term web developers and SEOs use that means private information has been revealed).  Fear not, anyone with a big portfolio of sites can rest assured that their IP’s are done right if they follow just a few basic guidelines.

Types of Hosting and IPs

Your IP address is an identifier for the server that your site is hosted on, so the type of web hosting you have will determine how you need to manage IPs. The main goal of this is to spread your websites over as many IP addresses as you possibly can, some types of hosting are better at this than others and there are many things you can do to further diversify IPs other than their initial configurations (CDNs are one thing to look at), but for now let’s just get everything set up properly.

Remember that for each of the below plans you can purchase more IP addresses as an add-on for a monthly fee, so you can always scale up as needed when you make more sites. Keep within your budget but also remember that you need to be spreading your websites out as much as possible.

On a shared hosting plan, you are sharing a server and IP address with a number of other users, hence ‘shared’ hosting. While this isn’t very friendly when it comes to diversification, it does offer a limited amount of identity protection because there are bound to be many sites on the IP that don’t belong to you at all, which can throw a spider/bot or competitor off of your trail depending on what they’re looking for. Shared hosting is fine if you don’t have many sites, but once you start building a large network of them you’ll need to upgrade so you can spread your site over more IPs.

Reseller hosting plans are great for diversifying and assigning IP addresses because you can treat each site like it’s under the control of a client account instead of your main account if you want to. All you need to do is create a separate account for every site you create as they are made- this gives each site its own H-sphere panel as well. Try to create the accounts at least 24 hours apart from each other, or at least not all at once.

VPS hosting plans are very flexible and expandable, adding more IPs and scaling up your plan’s power and resources is a snap and you don’t need any advanced technical skills to do it, keep track of what each of your sites is using and scale along to fit it.

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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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3 Useful Web Hosting Tips For 2010

April 15th, 2010 @ 10:51 am

Are you planning your web hosting needs for 2010-11? Perhaps you are fine-tuning your plans to launch a new blog or website which will take your business to the next level. It is a good time to invest in e-commerce because the global economy is expected to bounce back strongly from the rather dismal show during the previous fiscal year. But in the aftermath of last year’s mishaps, the time has come for you to make your web hosting smarter and more effective. Reading on, will reveal how you can do that.

Here are some cool tips to make web hosting a more profitable activity for you, by cutting costs and increasing returns on every dollar you spend.

1. Whether you use Windows hosting or Linux hosting, do you know that you can usually save a lot of money by choosing an annual payment plan? No surprise if you don’t, because that’s the case with most website owners. Usually if the annual payment is divided into monthly installments on a pro-rata basis, you will find out how much more you actually pay by going for monthly payment plans.

If you are renewing the contract with your existing web host or are perhaps switching over to a new host, you can easily opt for an annual plan. Additionally some annual plans:

  • Come with zero set-up costs and
  • Also offer you discounts for signing a 1-year contract.

2. You should also consider choosing clustered web hosting, if you are concerned with the capabilities of your current server in dealing with surges in traffic. Clustered web hosting is not confined to a single server and so, high traffic will not cause your website to run slowly. This makes sure that visitors keep coming back for more and are not turned off by considerable loading times, particularly if your website is high-end. You can easily upgrade to a clustered hosting plan on a pay-as-you-go basis, to give your website a competitive edge without having to break bank!

3. Get a support domain, if you wish to really expand the scope of your e-business. This domain can be used specifically to provide customer service and tech support. It also helps to take a lot of load away from your main site.

Hope you find these tips useful enough to implement and then reap some fantastic rewards, same time next year!

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