Tag: cloud computing

Shared Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting vs VPS Hosting

We can often become overwhelmed with the number of options available when it comes to web hosting. There are so many sellers, resellers, oversellers – how do we cut through to find out what we really need?

It all mostly comes down to three kinds of hosting option – Shared hosting, Dedicated Hosting and VPS Hosting. These all refer to the way your site is hosted physically in the host’s server itself. When considering hosting, we’re thinking not only about the amount of space our website needs, but also how many people can look at it at once, plus how much information is allowed to be downloaded from your website per month – that is, server space and bandwidth.

Shared Web Hosting

Shared hosting is the most common way to have a website hosted. The server itself is shared amongst a number of websites, relying on the fact that many smaller websites never use their full quota of space and bandwidth. Often hosts offering shared web hosting are, in fact, a reseller of server space bought elsewhere – which explains the large number of cheap hosting providers who offer very similar packages.

Shared web hosting can be a great option for personal sites and small businesses – it’s a cheap way to get your small site hosted, especially if you are looking for a web presence but don’t expect to have a lot of large files transferred (ie media streaming) or lots of people trying to access your site at the same time.

Shared web hosting is not good for larger businesses or e-commerce sites though. Larger businesses may find that they have issues with bandwidth – even though sites on shared hosts may be offered a particular bandwidth limit, in reality this is often oversold, as hosts allow for the unused amount in shared host sites. So even though you may think you have up to your limit, if all the other sites sharing your server experience a high demand at the same time, your clients may not be able to access your site when required.

The prevalence of reselling also means that you may not know the physical location of the server your website is hosted on. Because shared host sites all share the same IP address, if your site is sharing space with a disreputable site, simply sharing the same server could mean your SEO ranking is affected. It’s possible to have a site on a shared server with a unique IP, though usually costs more.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting is just as it sounds – one server dedicated to one website. Dedicated hosting offers more choice regarding the operating system and management of the server, better security – both security of your data and of the physical location of your data – and is good for larger e-commerce businesses, corporations and high-bandwidth websites (such as video streaming).

VPS – Virtual Private Server

A Virtual Private Server is a server partitioned so that each partition operates as if it is a dedicated server. It’s a compromise between shared and dedicated hosting: cheaper than dedicated hosting, as the hardware is shared – yet appears to the client as a dedicated host.

VPS (and related Cloud technologies) rely, in the same way as shared hosting, on clients not using their total quota of space and bandwidth (which is predominantly the case in the real world). A good host will manage their servers to avoid traffic ‘bottlenecks’ or too much traffic for the server to handle.

VPS is good for medium to large e-commerce businesses as it combines price with private service – though not suitable for all clients as some software doesn’t run well in a virtual environment (like other virtualisers or emulators, for example).

Conclusion

As with anything: research, research, research and remember you get what you pay for!

At Explainafide we’ve used dozens of different web hosts from across the world for a variety of clients with different needs, budgets and locations. We’ve finally settled with an Australian web host company Rack Servers based in Brisbane who provide great service, technical know-how and servers that work 99% of the time.

Check Rack Servers out here…*

If you would like to get unbiased web hosting reviews then the Whirlpool forums are packed full of tech savvy people far more knowledgeable than I, all discussing the good, the bad and the downright unethical of web host companies large and small.

*I like the guys at Rack Servers so much I’ve started writing for them*

 

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing for your business

 

cloud-computing

Cartoon Courtesy: Rob Cottingham

Cloud computing is one of the latest IT technology marketing buzzwords. Is it something you can take advantage of in your business or is it just the latest in a long line of ‘next big’ things that just don’t cut it. Before we look at the benefits Cloud computing could have for your business, just what is this mysterious piece of jargon?

What is the Cloud?

Imagine instead of having all your files installed on your own computer, you simply log into the internet and find all your programs directly in your browser. That’s basically what Cloud computing is all about. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and you can work from anywhere – even in transit with your tablet or iPhone.

If you use a web based email program like Hotmail or Gmail then you already use the cloud without realising it. All your emails are stored on the email service’s web servers and you can log in from anywhere around the world. Cloud computing takes this to the ultimate limit – a virtual computer office accessible anywhere with an internet connection.

The accessibility that Cloud Computing offers means the information must be stored off-site. This means data needs to be hosted on a cloud company’s own server. Issues with trust have been well-documented and certainly worth investigating further – especially find out where the servers are located. Different countries have different levels of legislation regarding access to this information, certainly the general advice is to make sure you choose a company with servers in your own country. Robin wrote an article last year on the issues with The Cloud here…Cloud_computing

Dedicated companies can provide ‘limitless’ storage – limitless being of course the anticipated demand for storage space. But the power to buy in bulk allows, in practice, no limit to the size your system needs, without the need to purchase the storage hardware yourself. No more backing up on to DVDs or portable memory drives. Guaranteed continuous backup of your data is the catch cry.

The freedom from the need to buy big powerful computers and manage your own IT department is a real attraction to cloud computing. A computer that has an internet connection and a browser is all you need – the software run through Firefox or your browser of choice. The management of an IT department isn’t something that most people will really have to do. But larger companies can relieve themselves of the cost of this by outsourcing to a cloud provider. Sorry guys but it’s true. Large companies requiring security of their information can utilise the technology to run their own cloud-based system and network.

The two burning questions I hear you asking about The Cloud:

  1. How much does it cost?
  2. Can I trust it?

The cost depends on what sort of computer you want to mimic. You can choose levels of:

  • RAM
    • Basically storage space. Just like the RAM in your computer, but it runs in a virtual environment RAM runs faster than hard-drives so your system can potentially run faster in a cloud environment. This is what your software runs in.
  • CPU
    • The speed of the processor the environment mimics. The reason they have a choice is to lessen the burden on their server loads – ‘slower’ performance is really less requests to the server per second.
  • Cores
    • The number of processors the environment mimics – the more people accessing the server at anyone time – sort of like the bandwidth in a way.
  • Storage space
    • This is where your documents, files and media are stored. Just like your hard-drive.

Some companies offer fixed plans like mobile contracts (Software as a Service SaaS), some have a yearly fee, many such as Gmail are ‘free’ and some you pay a rate based on the amount you use. Also remember the overall speed is also affected by the speed of your own web host plan or wireless connection.

One consideration is if the data storage company goes bust and turns off the servers – or withhold your data if you get behind in paying your bill. Sometimes the security of a large, popular company is worth the additional fees – whatever you do, make sure the host has a policy for the ownership and access to your data in case of catastrophy!

I see the use of cloud technology becoming a mixture of smaller business utilising web-based hosts and larger businesses incorporating cloud-based technologies into their own IT departments. With a healthy sprinkling of work from home and jet-setters running their businesses from their laptops in all the most beautiful places in the world. On a gondola down a venice canal perhaps…  It sounds far-fetched and science fiction but this technology has the potential to transform the idea of the internet, as not so much a place you visit but a place you operate in. And who doesn’t want more control over their own lives anyway?

Let’s recap the Benefits of Cloud Computing

  • Limitless storage
  • Easily accessible
  • A wide range of options for your budget
  • Less hardware and software to purchase and upgrade
  • Better quality of life for everybody

I don’t often see as much potential in new technologies as I do in cloud computing.

Will the internet finally keep it’s promise to mankind to free our lifestyles.

cloud-computing

Email Safety Precautions

Email Safety Precautions and Best Practices

email-security

Some folks are very cautious about the sites they visit and the files they download, but are very careless about protecting themselves from exploitation via emails. So I thought I’d share some safety precautions you can utilize to keep from getting infected with various types of malware via your email accounts.

First of all, let’s look at two different ways of handling your email: webmail and email clients.

Webmail

Webmail is what you’re using when you log into your service via your browser, such as at www.hotmail.com or www.gmail.com. You’re able to read, send and forward emails from the server’s site, and usually, they’ll offer some level of spam detection and filtering. Obviously, since you’re using your browser, it’s only available when you’re actually connected to the Internet.

Mail Client

There are a number of mail clients around. A couple of the more well known that you’ve probably heard of are Outlook and Windows Live Mail (previously known as Outlook Express). These clients communicate with your email accounts and download incoming emails to your hard-drive as well as uploading outgoing mail for sending. The email already downloaded to your hard-drive is available for viewing whether you’re connected to the ‘Net or not.

Comparison

Both modes offer essentially the same functional capabilities, but using a mail client offers a couple of major advantages, beyond access to your emails even when off-line.

 

Capability

Webmail

Email Client

Filtering/trapping spam and malware

Yes

Yes

Sorting/nesting storage folders

Limited

Yes

Multiple accounts on screen

No

Yes

Copying/moving between accounts

No

Yes

Checking source without opening

No

Yes

Searching for specific content

No

Yes

 

Email Safety Precautions: Verifying the source of a message

One of these capabilities is extremely useful, in terms of checking out an incoming email without opening or previewing it – the ability to check the source code of the message beforehand.

A savvy individual can build an email that will display To: and From: fields that are totally misleading. I receive emails all the time, saying that my PayPal account has been disabled or that my eBay account is about to be suspended. Both will usually show something like “PayPal” or “eBay Account Management” in the From: field.

First red flag: These often arrive in the inbox of an email account that isn’t connected in any way with my PayPal or eBay account.

Since you already have an indication that this email may be a phony, you could just delete it at this point. But out of curiosity, let’s investigate further.

First of all, if you’re using the Preview Pane on your client, click the Reading Pane button to close the preview, then right-click on the message, and left-click on Properties. A small pop-up will open, displaying some general information, such as the subject, From: address, message size, priority and sent and received time & date stamps.

Clicking on the Details tab shows the header data for the message. Sometimes this will show that the message came from someone other than the address shown in the From: field, but an accomplished bad guy will be able to mask this. Near the bottom of the pop-up, click on the Message Source button.

Ah…. NOW we’re getting somewhere! Now you can see the entire message, including the HTML markup, and you can see if the message was routed through some server in Romania, even if it claims to be from Mountain View, CA. You can also read the content of the text of the message, without any risk of inadvertently exposing yourself to any attached malware.

Down in the body of such phishing and scam emails there will usually be a link, perhaps a “Log in” or “Click to Confirm” button. The true destination of that link will show up in the source code, such as in this example:

<table width=”126″ border=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ style=”font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 11px; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>

<tr>

<td style=”border-left: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-right: 1px solid #908d8d; border-top: 1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom: 1px solid #908d8d; padding-left: 10px; padding-right: 10px; padding-top: 1px; padding-bottom: 1px” bgcolor=”#ffa822″>

<a href=”http://www.ounmuim.com”>

Click To Confirm</a></td>

</tr>

</table>

(notice the link I show above in bold red text)

Second red flag: The destination of a link contained in the message is different from what it says it is.

If you find nothing that looks fishy and you feel as though the message may be authentic, it may be safe, but not necessarily. Some scripts that aren’t obvious to the casual user can still be present and can be activated by opening an email. But at least you’re now able to see a lot more than you could before, without putting yourself and your system at risk.

We’ve all heard warnings about opening attachments or clicking on links that come from people we don’t know. But these days, a lot of malware will send itself out to every address in the infected machine’s address book, so the fact that a message comes from a close friend or family member doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to open or click. If their machine has been infected, they won’t even be aware that the message has been sent to you.

At the end of the day, your common sense is your greatest protection… put it to good use.

If you’d like to more tips on using common sense online visit Doc Sheldon’s post on Top Shelf Copy: “The best tool you have is your head use it”.

What is Cloud Computing?

The Cloud

cloud-computing

Cartoon Courtesy: Rob Cottingham

What is Cloud Computing?

The term Cloud Computing is everywhere these days. Trains, buses, TV advertisements and newspapers.

But what is Cloud Computing?

Basically cloud computing is when you upload information to a central computer hosted by a software company via the internet and is password protected. This means you can access the information from anywhere with an internet connection. All you need is your username and password.

The most common forms of cloud computing have been Hotmail and Gmail– free email addresses that aren’t reliant on a local ISP.

Why is cloud computing more prevalent today?

Now that computer processing power and more importantly computer storage has grown exponentially it has become viable for smaller players to get involved in the cloud.

cloud-computing

8 Benefits of Cloud Computing:

  • You or your staff can access vital information from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Design Studios can work on projects together in real time.
  • You and your accountant can view your business accounts any time.
  • You can view invoices to and from clients anywhere.
  • It enables you to cut down on meetings, emails and phone calls
  • Everyone in the sales team knows conversations that have been had with clients.
  • Note taking and calendars can be shared between computers.
  • Generally speaking they are a subscription based model with many offering a free subscription for small accounts that begin to charge once you use the software more and more.

What are the issues with Cloud Computing?

  • Security; Like with most things internet related computer passwords need to be carefully stored so people can’t access your private information.
  • They are subscription based so you have to continue the subscription in order to keep the data.
  • Ensuring continuality of service is vital especially if another company buys out your provider.
  • There maybe issues of ownership and copyright as you are sending your information to a third party- read the terms & conditions if possible.
  • Hacking attacks; we’ve seen it with Sony, Nintendo, Google and countless others.
  • Make sure you upload information through a secure connection- not the airport terminal’s wireless.
  • Do your homework first; you wouldn’t trust your sensitive data with just anyone- make sure the company has a good reputation. This might not be so important if you’re using a program like a note taker so you remember your shopping list, however if you are storing sensitive data ensure its a reputable company.
  • Make sure the companies store your information on servers that are in countries that abide by copyright rules and regulations.
  • If the internet is down so is your business.

Some of the Cloud computing products we use at We Push Buttons:

  • Drop Box- File Sharing Software for large projects like web design
  •  Highrise- Customer Relationship Manager
  •  myOws- Online Copyright Protection
  •  Evernote Note Taking Software
  •  Gmail Email account, Web Analytics, Books

Personally I use the cloud for all my non-critical information. I take the attitude, if someone hacked into any of these accounts will it expose my clients vital information or my businesses’ in anyway.

At this stage I’m still not convinced that the cloud is the solution for your mission critical information. There are simply too many issues arising from third-parties storing your information on THEIR computers and not yours.

There are massive benefits for collaboration and data storage costs but you really need to think about the ramifications of trusting a Third-Party all your companies files, intellectual property and emails.

What Cloud Computing Products do you Use?