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Domain Names & Hosting

Keeping your work area clean: spring cleaning online, any season

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If you are anything like me, you may have started out with a remotely hosted website or application, usually a bulletin board or blog when you first dove into the world of a website administration. However as you learned more and hungered for a greater exposure, control and ideas started bubbling out of your head, your needs would have increased and renting your own shared hosting space became the next viable option.
Sure at first you may have been hosting the same forum software you had before, but now you could add onto that software, create a website around it and really start experimenting.

Therein is where the problem for many starts, and those of our ilk tend to be meticulous in certain ways, but often that meticulous nature does not extend to the organisation of our physical and virtual work spaces. For instance I work from a home office in my nine to fiver, whilst my desk and work area is “clean” to my understanding of the word, it does not come up to scratch against the standards of my not so tech savvy partner, scraps and piles of paper, which to me are somehow useful are to my partner, candidates for the shredder, let’s face it, it’s organised chaos.

When we translate this to our shared hosting spaces, particularly those who have multiple domains under the one hosting account, in a metaphorical way, your webhosting account ends up like your desk, you know basically where things are, you just have to find the right pile to look in to find what you want, easy right?

Well sure, it is easy for you to find what you want, but then what happens when your site grows to the point you require other developers or Administrators assistance to keep the site going?
What happens when you want to try to sell the site?
What happens, when a year down the track, you need to find that code snippet you wrote, deep in one of you many domains and folders?

Well it means the long haul of looking through likely directories until you find it, for the sake of sanity, your own, and others, it pays to plan out your wbstructure beforehand, or to at least spring clean every few months and ensure that everything is organised and files away in a manner that makes sense to you, and will make sense to anyone else who needs to access the structure of your site.

Getting into good habits early or learning them as soon as possible will go a long way to ensuring your online success, and to those with aspirations for greater things, and looking to find web development and management work, having a sample of a clean and organised environment and knowing how to keep one, is vital to gaining a position in the industry.

Myself, I have been working with websites since around the year 2000/2001, from simple one page, junk sites, through to full scale busy forums, personal blogs and commercial sites and web applications at first on a remotely hosted application, things were fine, i had no access to the file structure and things were great, then I purchased my own space, with the view to releasing some web applications I had written, again things were going ok, there wasn’t much more than one site on there, then I moved into a new host, purchased a secondary domain and started another site on the same space, and over time began to add more and more domains, until it sits, where it is now at over 10 sites running off of 8 domains, as well as various test directories, sub-directories for testing and an entire mess, until i decided to clean things up and start using standards that I had decided on after giving the topic several days thoughts.

So how do I organise things and how should you?

Typically a hosting account will consist of the following

  • WebRoot
    • public_html
      • Site Files

However recently I have adopted a slightly new structure one that allows, at a glance a easy access to all my files, remembering that for many of my sites I use ready made CMS applications, such as Joomla and WordPress, as well as some home grown applications. Which means organisation to an extent is beyond my control as I am restricted to the sub-structures of said applications, but it allows me some top level control. In basic terms, my structure now looks as follows

  • Webroot
    • public_html
      • TestBed
      • Domains
        • site 1
        • Site 2
        • Site 3
          • Site 3 – Subdomain
        • File Storage
        • Backups
    • safe_file_directory

On first glance it looks the same, well of course it does, web structures are web structures, but when you dive into each directory you can see quite easily where everything lives, whereas before just about everything was placed under the public_html directory and was sorted by domain, there were also various other folders that held tests, downloads, file storage, backups and even each domain folder was held within this public root, and at one stage I had over 30 directories which each had multiple sub-directories and files, it went on for ever.

Now even my testbed holds properly organised folders, listed by domain and then the date of the test is listed in the name of the testbed directories, for instance “phpcoder” -> “cURL_test” -> “010108” although it means I have multiple directories under each testbed, it also means that I can quickly find what I need to, especially when I look back months or even years in the future.
Each of my domain folders also hold (although I did not list it above) a sub-directory of “Staging” and “production” this isn’t the ideal way to have production and staging, but with .htaccess and other restrictions, it means in general terms everything is safe and there is very little chance of my production and staging environments conflicting and causing catastrophic failures.

Any downloads go into the file storage directory, that has a sub folder, for each domain and each category/product, again meaning everything is in one easy accessible place, it does sometimes mean altering settings in applications that use the downloads, but overall the payoff is worth it.

I have a logs directory also that stores logs, again as best I can, everything sits in a directory that identifies which domain the logs belong to.
From the above directory the one that i feel needs most explanation is the “Safe_file_directory”, whilst in reality it is names “safe_files”, I use this directory to store files and applications that need to be outside of the public root, in order to provide a greater protection, and again organisation.

Things don’t and shouldn’t stop there, I now review my structure on a bi-monthly basis, keeping an eye on any directory that has grown excessively, or improving the structure where new ideas come to mind, or when I find better advice. I also check to make sure I have been sticking to my file structure and move files and directories to their correct location when needed.

The final thing that I do in these reviews is make decision as to what information is superfluous and which information is required, the test bed is regularly cleaned and stripped of older versions of test scripts, in order to keep the space clean, usually I keep the last 2 – 3 revisions of the script, in case I locate bugs I have introduced and need to make cross comparisons, on these occasions I also refresh the staging environments to ensure they mirror the latest and most accurate code of the production directories, of course ensuring the database information points to the staging databases.

The possibilities are really endless to how you arrange your web directories, however what is important is that you find a clean and easily identifiable system, ensure that directory names are descriptive, no matter how long they are, and make sure you review and maintain it on a regular basis, and you will find that the more you maintain it the easier and better it becomes, eventually cutting your overall maintenance and work time significantly.
What I will say though, to start the re-organisation is to download your entire directory, plan and create your structure on your local computer first, possibly using a local web environment, and then either upload or execute this on your server, ensuring you run a test run of this first, plan for an outage and test before going live with your changes.

It may be hard at first, but you will thank your self later, that you took the time to spring clean your web hosting directory structure.

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My name is Foxy, and my job is to sniff out the good guest bloggers from the ones who aren't. This post was written by a contributing author to Blogging Tips. If you would like to learn more about becoming a writer (not one-time guest blogging) for BloggingTips.com, please contact us.

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Protecting Your Online Business with Cloud Access Security Brokers

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No matter if you are a blogger just starting out, or have a full time business online, you need to make sure your site is up at all time ans that your data is also secure. This is something many individuals and brands think they have in place, until a new security leak and hack comes into play. One of the best ways to make sure your online business and customer data is safe, is to make sure you are hosting your site with a reliable solution. As ‘cloud computing’ also becomes more accessible and at cheaper prices, it’s yet another option for keeping your online brand and business safe at all times,

A cloud access security broker (CASB) assists with cloud-based security concerns. While you may have outstanding security measures in place both within your organization and with your cloud service provider, there is still a point of vulnerability between the two. A cloud access security broker helps you protect your data everywhere from the point of origination to its final storage place in the cloud. There are several options available for service providers in this area, so it’s important to know how to assess them and make a fair comparison across all your potential security brokers.

Data Security Measures

The primary purpose of a cloud access security broker is to enhance your data security as information moves between internal or external storage devices and the cloud. While the cloud itself may be safe and secure, the transmission of information can create a weak point where cybercriminals have the opportunity to snag sensitive data en route to its next destination.
When you’re comparing cloud access security brokers, you must assess the details of their security measures. How do they control access? What measures are in place to prevent data leakage? How do they handle encryption key management? Compare providers evenly at this point to see which offers the most comprehensive data security services.

Visibility

Enhanced visibility is one of the key services offered by cloud access security brokers. Your broker should monitor all content moving in and out of the cloud, performing regular security audits. It’s important that you, as the consumer, have access to data and security logs and regular reports. Your CASB should also provide helpful alerts that will draw your attention to any potential weaknesses and guide you toward the best solutions. Find out how much visibility a CASB provider offers and what form it comes in.

Threat Protection

How does your cloud access security provider handle threats? You will inevitably come across cybercriminals who are attempting to access your data. What measures are in place to analyze user and entity behavior and capture these criminals? How does your provider detect data theft, and what steps do they take to then block the criminal from accessing your information? Your CASB should not only protect you from potential threats but also aid in the investigation of suspicious activity.

Compliance

Discuss compliance requirements with your cloud access security broker. Are they knowledgeable about the latest requirements for legal compliance with data management within your industry? Do they have smart solutions to help you monitor and maintain compliance throughout the cloud? While compliance is an issue that will still ultimately fall on the shoulders of your company, a cloud access security broker should have the knowledge to assist you in this area, and they should always be on the alert for any compliance concerns that you need to be informed of.

Research your options carefully to make sure you’re working with a cloud access security broker that is well-equipped to assist with your industry-specific needs. The best option should suit both the size and scope of your company.

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Domain Names & Hosting

Five Free Web Hosting Providers for First-Time Webmasters

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When you’re first getting ready to launch a website, the web hosting provider that you choose is one of the most important decisions that you make. After all, the web hosting company is in control of the infrastructure that powers your website and which serves it up to visitors from around the world.

The problem that many would-be webmasters come up against is that hosting can quickly become expensive, especially if you start to pay extra for optional addons. Not everyone has the money to pay for it all up front, especially if they’re just starting out. It’s usually easier to pay for your website when your website itself is up and running and making money.

That’s why free web hosting is such an attractive choice. Sure, it might not be powerful enough once your site starts to take off, but it can save you from hemorrhaging money when you’re starting out. And so with that in mind, we’ve taken a look at just five of the best free hosting providers and noted down everything you need to know.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

  • FreeHostingEU

As you can probably guess from the name, FreeHostingEU is a European web host that offers up 200 MB of disk space and 4 GB of bandwidth for free, as well as additional features like email accounts and FTP access.

The venture itself is backed by FreeDomain.co.nr and AttractSoft GmbH, two well-established German companies which also offer paid hosting options for customers who want to upgrade to a more robust plan. True, their paid plans are potentially better suited to other German businesses just from an ease of use perspective and to avoid problems with the language barrier, but their free plans are an attractive choice for users from across the globe.

Better still, FreeHostingEU is one of a number of free hosts which offers powerful one-click installation tools for content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. That’s all you really need to get started, and they also offer support for PHP, MySQL, Perl, Flash and other technologies and programming languages.

All of this combines to make it an attractive choice for those who are looking for free web hosting, and for those who are targeting European markets in particular. At the same time, though, it’s up against some tough competition.

  • 000webhost.com

000webhost.com takes its name from the fact that it charges $0.00 for web hosting, and they’re trusted by over 16,000,000 users from across the world. They’ve been going strong for over ten years and promise to be free forever, which is probably why they rank consistently high both on search engine results pages and in lists like these.

000webhost offers a 99% uptime guarantee for their users and they even allow you to view historical logs to prove it. Openness is a theme at 000webhost, and it’s reflected by how open their platform is to different technologies and languages, with support for PHP, MySQL, Curl, GD2, Zend, XML, fopen(), PHP sockets, .htaccess and more.

And if their auto-installers and choice of over 50 popular scripts isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can also use their inbuilt website builder software to make whatever your heart desires with no coding or graphic design expertise required. They also offer near-unlimited disk space and bandwidth, which is good news if you’re looking for a heavy duty free hosting provider that you can rely on.

If you’re the kind of person who makes purchasing decisions based on user reviews then 000webhost is probably the best choice for you. They have an army of happy customers who are quick to sing their praises on third-party review sites.  

  • Awardspace

Awardspace is another free web host that’s owned by two parent companies (this time it’s AttractSoft GmbH and Zetta Hosting Solutions Ltd). They offer “completely ad-free hosting” and also throw in a free .dx.am domain name, allowing their users to create up to three subdomains for blogs, forums or other areas.

As with FreeHostingEU, Awardspace will allow you to create an email account that’s associated with your website and you can install WordPress and Joomla with a single click. They also have a web-based file manager so you can download, edit and upload files, but you can also just use their free website builder if you prefer the point and click approach.

With 1 GB of SSD storage and up to 5 GB of monthly traffic, Awardspace gives you enough resources to run a small-to-medium-sized website, and they also back up their offering with a 99.9% network uptime guarantee and 24/7 customer service. Those are nice added bonuses from a free host that really has no obligation to guarantee anything.

Awardspace is a good choice if you’re looking for an overall all-rounder with pretty good resource limits and decent customer service. It really depends what you’re looking for, and while Awardspace isn’t about to win any awards for the amount of space it offers, storage space isn’t everything.

  • FreeHosting.com

If you’re looking for heavy duty hosting then FreeHosting.com is the choice for you. That’s because it comes with a whopping 10 GB of disk space and 250 GB of bandwidth, and they don’t even compromise the integrity of your site by running advertisements. You’ll even have access to FTP uploads and more powerful tools like cPanel.

It does have its limits, though. You can only use it to host a single website and while you can create an email address that’s associated with your account, you’re limited to just the one. You’ll also need to purchase your own domain name unless you use a subdomain such as http://yourdomain.freehosting.com.

FreeHosting.com also offers paid upgrades for users who exceed the impressive resource limits and need unlimited disk space and bandwidth. Upgraded users also get access to unlimited email addresses, which makes it worth going for if you’re using it to host a business website or something similar where multiple people need an email account.

This host is without a doubt the best choice for those who require large amounts of storage space and bandwidth. In fact, some people even use FreeHosting.com purely as a tool to store backups thanks to their generous resource allocations and the fact that they have no limit when it comes to individual file sizes. If you want to upload a 10 GB zip file, you can do.

  • Freehostia

Freehostia will give you 6 GB of bandwidth and 250 MB of disk space, but unlike FreeHosting.com they’ll also throw in three email accounts. Better still, like Awardspace, they guarantee 99.9% server uptime and offer 24/7 customer service.

They’re able to do this because they also offer paid hosting plans, which is good news if you run out of resources and want to upgrade without jumping to a different provider. Better still, because they provide paid services as well, they take customer service pretty seriously. They even promise to respond to any support tickets within an hour, which you’ll be glad of if you run into any problems or if your site goes down unexpectedly.

When it comes to actually getting started with your website, Freehostia offers a tool called the Elefante Installer which enables you to set up WordPress, Joomla and other CMS software in just a couple of minutes. They’ll even allow you to run a phpBB discussion forum if you’re creating a community site as opposed to one with a commercial focus.

Freehostia is another pretty good all-rounder, and it’s particularly good for non-profits, community organizations and other small teams thanks to the ability to create up to three different email addresses. Plus it’s always nice to have the option to upgrade if you need to.

Conclusion

When you’re first starting out with your website, free web hosting can be a godsend. It allows you to get your site up and running and to start growing it way before you ever need to pay for extra resources. If nothing else, it’s a great way to buy some time so that you can launch with your minimum viable product and test the waters. And honestly, for 90% of websites, free hosting is good enough. People often start out with free hosting and then never upgrade because they never need to.

Perhaps one day you’ll want to upgrade to paid hosting and maybe even a dedicated server all of your own. By that time, though, it’s likely that you’re already making money from your website and so it’ll pay for itself.

In the meantime, you can still get yourself off to a good start with one of these free web hosting providers. It’ll be enough to get your site up and running and to launch it to the world and then you can see how it goes from there. You might even find that free hosting is good enough to power your site indefinitely. Only time will tell.

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How Beneficial is Web Hosting to Your Blog and Business Website?

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With so many websites and blogs on the internet today, it’s likely that you will come across various businesses and brands that have old sites and content online. Unfortunately, with web hosting costs being so cheap these days, many site owners will leave old content up and just forget it even exists. This can lead to poor customer engagement, low quality in branding and also just a lot more junk cluttering up the internet.

Such website owners that are ignorant about the importance of content and are far away from experiencing the reality “Content is King” oftentimes fail to yield the benefits of blogging. But not all of them are ignorant.

Next question is whether or not you must host the blog on your very business website?

In this write-up, let us discuss why doing so is the best option you can avail and how it benefits your online business too. So, delve deeper into the subject.

Picking-the-Right-Hosting-Service-for-Your-Blog-image

What difference does it make to have a blog and not have one?

Experts have stated and many business owners have also experienced firsthand that online business benefited immensely from blogging while the ones that did not opt for this marketing tool were left behind in the rat race.

The successful businesses have the following characteristic features that make them enjoy an edge over their counterparts or competitors. These aspects are as follows-

  • These businesses invest hugely in content strategies, experimenting throughout with ideas and tools for the best outcome.
  • They regularly update content
  • Do not use black hat SEO strategies. Instead bank heavily upon White Hat SEO strategies since they target audiences (prospective clients) for the long term so that they are able to retain their existing clients as well as convert visitors into prospective leads.
  • Develop content that is mobile indexed too. In other words, the content that they develop also caters to the mobile-friendly audience.
  • Select topics (sub topics) after careful analysis and research pertaining to the type of business they offer.
  • Most importantly, the content developer is able to identify its target audience, which is one of the prerequisites because unless you identify your audience, you will not know for whom you are writing.
  • The content is relevant, crisp, to the point, and useful and informative. Most importantly, it adds value to the reader’s knowledge.

Such is the blogging technique of the businesses that have yielded benefits from blogging on their business websites.

The fact that these days, blogging has become easier due to the presence of apps has allowed many to turn bloggers. Also, you can exploit or tap the potential of many CMS or Content Management Systems that are user-friendly and easy to use.

Just as investment apps allow you to explore options in investing, similarly, writing apps allow you to explore your options as far as blogging is concerned. So, it will not be wrong to say investment and writing apps have made life much easier for all.

What are the benefits of blogging?

The benefits are many and these can be summarized in short as follows-

  • Increases visibility

Many experts are of the opinion that “blogging is like fishing”. Through blogging, you can lure your visitors and make them return to your website again and again. More digital footfall means your website gains visibility.

  • Brand promotion

With the help of your blog, you can promote your brand virtually. Once your brand becomes popular, you will not have to exert much for your brand to be known. Eventually, you will get more web traffic by default.

  • Social media visibility

These days every website debuts on social media platforms. Through this media, you are in a better position to reach out to your clients and connect with them.

Basically, there are 3 Ps that will determine your success online and these include Patience, Perseverance, and Promoting policies. It’s up to you to decide which of the three you focus your efforts on — though it should be your personal and business mission to go after all three.

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