05 Nov

How To Avoid Overage Billing With AWS & Azure?

When you move from standard web hosting to cloud, the cost is the major concern to be considered, especially for the cloud beginners. If you’d have ever seen cloud provider’s pricing table, you’d see the attractive cost of pennies per hour or per IOP or whatnot. The actual cost is revealed only when you receive your monthly bill. In a nutshell, you’ll have no idea what it’s going to cost until you start using it.

Coming from the flat-priced hosting, you’ll find the monthly cloud bills are like some decipher codes. Even the topmost cloud hosting providers follow confusing charging model which is painful to understand.

In addition, these cloud web hosting providers let you deploy complex applications with super ease and within minutes. But for that very reason, it’s a bit too easy to lose track of exactly what you have running at any one time. To avoid this, you must have a proper understanding of how the billing works and where these surprises can come from. In this post, we will outline some suggestions to avoid unexpected charges in your cloud bill.

Contact Sales Support Before Purchase

Approach your favourite cloud vendor and ask for a free trial or some free credits for the test drive. Don’t put your resource thirsty projects upfront, rather run some small-scale projects for 1–3 months to get a sense of the actual bills you can expect. Choose between simple and stable projects where you have more control and stable resource usage.

Track Cloud Usage & Set Alerts

Track Cloud Usage

Keep a watchful eye on your daily usage. Most of the cloud hosting providers offer usage counter (like Billing and Cost Management console in Amazon) where you can check your daily usage. Also, consider employing third-party monitoring tools wherever appropriate to find resource leakages.

Keep track on cloud hosting costs in your spreadsheets to get an understanding of how this all works.  Set up alerts in case anything goes wrong. For instance, if your average daily budget is $100, set an alert for 10% overage. Thus, you can avoid excessive bills immediately after a week later.

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring service for AWS cloud hosting resources and the applications you run on AWS. This service can be used to collect and track metrics, monitor log files, and set alarms. It allows you to receive notifications or automatically initiate actions like shutting down unused or underused EC2 instances when a metric crosses your specified threshold.

Pay Upfront to Get Discounts

When your monthly usage is estimated, deploy resources permanently to take advantage of committed discounts available. This can save up to 50–90% depending on the resource type and vendor.

Elastic Block Store (EBS) Volumes and Snapshots

Amazon EC2 instances are configured so that their associated Amazon (Elastic Block Store) EBS volumes are deleted when they are terminated, but it is possible to set up an instance that preserves its volume and the data. Check the Volumes pane in the Amazon EC2 console for volumes that you don’t need anymore and remove them when not needed.

If you have stored snapshots of your Amazon EBS volumes and no longer need them, you should delete them as well. If you close your account or unsubscribe from a cloud hosting service, make sure that you take the appropriate steps for every region in which you’ve allocated AWS resources.

Elastic Beanstalk & Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)

Elastic Beanstalk is designed to ensure that all the resources that you need are running, which means that it automatically relaunches any service that you stop. To avoid this, you must terminate your Elastic Beanstalk environment before you terminate resources that Elastic Beanstalk has created.

Similarly, ELB load balancers are designed to keep a minimum number of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances running. You must terminate your load balancer before you delete the Amazon EC2 instances that are registered with it.

Avoid Oversized Instances

Before you spin up the cloud instances know your requirements, determine what size of the instance should you run and how many will you need? Note that instance types that are specifically optimized for computing, memory, or storage are obviously going to cost more than low-tier or generic versions. Ensure that your environment is not over-provisioned as oversized instances will cost you money, using too many instances will cost you money. Even leaving unused instances running, will also cost you money.

Choose the Correct Instance Model

With AWS cloud hosting, you can purchase instance resources in 3 different ways. On-Demand Instances allow you to pay a fixed rate by the hour without commitment.

Reserved Instances provide a capacity reservation, giving you a handsome discount over hourly on-demand prices when you commit to longer-terms.

Spot Instances allows you to bid your own price for instance capacity. Assuming that your applications have flexible start and end times and can survive service interruptions when instances at your bid price aren’t unavailable – this can provide significant savings.

Mostly AWS hosting beginners choose “On-Demand Instances” because it is easy to deploy, but in long run, this option can generate unexpected AWS pricing costs. If you’re planning to deploy a website for more than 12 months, go with a reserved instance.

Avoid Taking Too Many Snapshots

Backing up data is always a smart thing. You can back up the data stored on Amazon EBS volumes to Amazon S3 by taking snapshots. However, these EBS snapshots should be saved carefully, or it may increase your storage costs. Ensure that you have defined an appropriate snapshot retention strategy.

Release Unallocated Elastic IPs

Release unused cloud resources

AWS provides you with one Elastic IP address (EIP) associated with a running instance free of cost. Each additional EIP that you associate with that instance will be charged at per hour on a pro rata basis. AWS also imposes a small hourly charge when these IP addresses are not associated with any running instance or when they are associated with a stopped instance or an unattached network interface.

So, if you just stop your instance and assume that the IP associated with it will be automatically released, you may end paying hefty AWS cloud hosting cost. Therefore, ensure that you release unused EIPs when an associated instance is no longer in use.

As we mentioned, cloud is a fabulous platform for deploying large applications at prices unimaginable until recently. Careful consideration of the above points will hopefully help you keep your ongoing AWS, Azure and other similar cloud hosting costs down.

17 Aug

What Major Hosting Options To Consider When Launching Your Web Store?

After doing months of planning & research, lots of code work & testing, you’re finally ready to launch your online store. At this stage, you might have a question in your mind – is standard shared hosting plan sufficient to host eCommerce website, or do I need something special?

Web hosting is probably the foundation brick of every web store, so it’s better to invest time and money you need upfront to ensure that you’ve got a solution that’s going to work with you for now and also in future.

You really don’t have to worry much when you’re planning to use hosted solutions like BigCommerce, 3dcart and Shopify. It’s because these hosted solutions use their own Cloud and therefore most of the heavy lifting are being taken care of by themselves.

Web Store Hosting

But if you’re planning to host your own online store, then assessment and selection of web hosting options is critical. Redundant web hosting is a vital factor to ensure your customers would have a super smooth and responsive online shopping experience. What hosting options are you going to choose for your online store? Here are some factors to take into consideration.

Select A Hosting Plan With Sufficient Disk Space And Bandwidth Limits

As we know that, web hosting services store files that build your online store and serve those files for viewing by those who visit website. Needless to mention that your eCommerce site will have hundreds of products, images, videos and a customer database.

Therefore, you’ll need a hosting plan with enough disk space to store all of this, and enough bandwidth for your customers to access your products, including copy, images and other resources.

Hosting Online Store On Shared Hosting

No one wants to spend more money than necessary, and hence shared hosting is the prime choice for most of the websites. Though, shared hosting isn‘t always the best option for an eCommerce store. Mostly, it’s suitable only if you are likely to have limited products, limited traffic and are looking for area specific audience without any plans of expansion. Secondly, if you’re just a startup, then shared hosting would make a lot more sense.

If you happen to choose a shared plan, choose a reliable shared hosting provider that can offer you a good response and round-the-clock customer support. It would be a plus if your web host offers PCI compliant shared plans because many online banks and payment processors require that your hosting is PCI compliant. The PCI compliant shared plans offer a safe and stable environment for your online venture.

Online Store And VPS Hosting

If you’re planning to add a number of products and soon you expect a huge traffic boost then it’s recommended that you opt for a VPS upfront. It is an ideal and more affordable alternative to more expensive dedicated servers while more secure and robust compared to the cheap shared hosting option.

With VPS hosting, you can scale up your hosting resources in no time, at the same time your store will have an isolated and secure hosting environment eliminating the risk of being affected by a bad neighbor as you experience in shared hosting.

The benefits of VPS over shared hosting arise from the fact that the resources are isolated and pre-allocated. For example, other users on same node are misbehaving: this will have little to no impact on your VPS. It does not matter what anyone else is doing on another VPS hosted on the same node – you are guaranteed that your speed and performance won’t be affected.

If you’re alloted with 2 CPUs, then you’ll always have those two CPU’s available to your operations. Similarly, the amount of RAM and disk space you’ve purchased will always be available for your operations, regardless of what else is happening on the physical machine. In a nutshell, your resources are dedicated exclusively to your web store.

Furthermore, if you possess server management skills, you might need root access to install some programs which is impossible with shared hosting. VPS has always been our suggestion for a serious ecommerce startup. Shared hosting is an adequate environment for testing not for production.

Choose the VPS provider that is in business for more than 5 years and capable to offer you longer billing cycles, so you don’t have to switch to a new provider midstream. The good news is that VPS comes in as a happy compromise. VPS initial costs can be as low as $15-$20 per month and you can upgrade it later when your requirements grow.

Ecommerce Store

Dedicated Server Hosting For Online Store

While VPS is an upfront step in the correct direction, and perhaps sufficient solution for relatively smaller storefronts that are just starting out, it’s really a dedicated server that’s probably the best option when it comes to ecommerce sites specifically. If you expect exponential growth in near future (as every business owner hopes) you might as well skip straight to the hosting solution you’re going to eventually need anyway.

Dedicated server hosting is undoubtedly more expensive option compared to sharing and VPS. But when your website is the main driver of your business, dedicated server’s additional

resources are critical for your success. If you’ve ever experienced a slow running ecommerce website hosted on shared or VPS, you’ll see that switching is like getting a supercharge when it comes to loading time, bandwidth, and handling high traffic loads.

In the eCommerce world, shopping cart abandonment is a real issue that can be fixed with more advanced hosting option. Because, approximately 18% of carts abandonment are due to slow loading times, which might cost you thousands of dollars in lost sales.

05 Aug

How To Choose The Right Web Hosting Platform From The Very First Attempt

Web hosting market is flooded with the thousands of companies, each offering crazy deals you cannot resist. Therefore, choosing the right hosting solution from the very first attempt is a bit tricky. Regardless of whether you’ll run a basic site for your small business, or you’re going to build an enterprise-class portal with a number of pages, the first and foremost step is to decide which web hosting platform will work best for you.

Once you caught up in a wrong hand, it is very difficult to move your business elsewhere. Therefore, it is vital to “get it right the first time” with the perfect hosting platform. In this blog post, we’ll go through a checklist that will help you determine the right web hosting option.

Understanding Your Hosting Needs

Before choosing any web hosting service, you should know what you really need to run your site optimally. To determine the hosting requirements, ask yourself some basic questions like:

  • What technologies have you used to develop a website?
  • What is the estimated traffic on your website?
  • What are your resource requirements like, disk storage, memory, CPU, etc.?
  • Does your website need special software?

Based on these questions, you can create a basic outline in your mind what your hosting requirement would be like. If you’re a hosting newbie, then you can always start small with a good shared hosting account.

A shared hosting account is cheap, easy to maintain, and sufficient for most new sites. With a shared account, you can focus on building your website without having to worry about other server-side tasks such as database maintenance and server security. A typical shared account is sufficient to support a WordPress blog with 30,000 to 40,000 monthly unique visitors.

However, if you expect your website to expand really big within a few months/years then you should consider selecting a web host that allows you to upgrade your existing hosting package to the next bigger option whenever required.

So you need to be able to easily upgrade from shared hosting to a virtual private server or dedicated server account for greater processing power, memory capacity, disk storage, and perhaps even enhanced security features.

Refund & Cancellation Policy

If anything goes wrong with your new hosting, you should be able to cancel your hosting plan within the trial period and get your money back in full. It’s important to know how your web hosting provider manages refund requests so that you don’t lose too much money if you have to cancel it.

Some hosting providers charge very high cancellation fees when customers cancel their accounts during trial periods. You should completely avoid these web hosts so you don’t get trapped.

On the other hand, some hosts offer anytime money-back guarantees where you can ask for a pro-rated refund. Before signing up you should check company’s refund/money-back and cancellation policy. What’s the money-back guarantee period, Is there any cancellation charges under the money-back guarantee period? These are some basic questions you should get the answers to before signing up.

Uptime And Reliability

You’ll require a web host which is stable and reliable, both in terms of their servers as well as network connections. Check how much uptime your web host offers. 99.5% and above is the recommended uptime score, but anything below 99% is unacceptable. You should also check the hosting provider’s past uptime records, reviews on various forums, blogs, and third­ party trustworthy review websites.

There are a number of different ways to obtain web host uptime information yourself. The simplest way to do so is by asking their sales representative or else you can simply track web host’s demo IP address with server monitoring tools.

Check Account Limitations

You won’t find this information explicit on any web hosting provider’s site, and none of the review sites will tell you. If you are using too much server resources (even under unlimited hosting) or violating the rules your web host will simply suspend your account.

You will be told somewhere in the terms and conditions that your account may be suspended or terminated for over-utilization of resources. Therefore, before you sign up on a web host, it is important that you read their terms of service.

Additionally, most of the web hosts won’t allow you to run illegal files and/or services on their servers. In case you intend to run a website with pornographic content or site allowing people to download pirated files, you’ll need probably offshore hosting.

24/7 Tech Support

With a web hosting account, you cannot get everything right by yourself. A web hosting service is pointless if it’s not coming with 24/7 technical support. Your web hosting service must have 24/7 support over live chat and phone along with a most comprehensive knowledgebase so that when you face difficulties with your services in the odd hours, your web host’s technical team will help you fix them.

15 Jul

5 Popular Web Hosting Add-Ons That Will Improve Your Website Performance

When you’re online, you are probably competing with lots of websites within the same niche. If your website does not outperform rival websites, this may have a large impact on traffic, conversions, and hence revenue.

Website performance is one of the vital factors and should not be underestimated. If you don’t believe us, better believe Akamai, a leading CDN provider. According to Akamai, 47% of people expect a web page to load in under 2 seconds, and 57% of visitors will abandon a page that takes 3 or more seconds to load. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most popular web hosting add-ons that will take your website performance to the next level.

CDN Services

CDN, Content Delivery Network

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a cluster of geographically distributed servers that deliver the static content (images, CSS, Libraries and JavaScript files) quickly to visitors from the nearest server. In more simple words, when visitors browse your site, CDN chooses the nearest server to deliver static content used in the website. Thus, this ensures swift page loads and enhanced user experience.

A soon as you enable the CDN on your website, CDN copies your static contents to geographically dispersed edge servers, and website load is divided among them. Ultimately, your website is highly available to your visitors. CDN is extremely useful for websites with heavy graphics and videos, but struggling with loading speeds.

Antivirus & Anti-Malware Software

Malware is no imaginary problem, especially for the popular CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. Hundreds of new virus definitions are spread daily across the Internet and antivirus labs have to detect them and find solutions. This malware can completely compromise the security of your site or erase sensitive data. So, it is essential to have a good antivirus software to detect & remove viruses before they harm your system.

With traditional hosting service, you get a basic malware scanner that scans the entire home directory of your hosting space, identify the malicious code and quarantine it. If you want to proactively protect your website then you should consider using a more professional solution like SiteLock, Sucuri Security, Wordfence Security, etc. This software periodically scans your website and notifies you of any issues. Some include a Web Application Firewall (WAF) which monitors your site constantly and looks for the top known threats like Cross Scripting (XSS), Injections, and Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF).

Upgrade to SSD Hosting

This is not essentially an add-on to existing hosting, but indeed a hosting upgrade. SSD(Solid State Drive) is the latest computer storage device. The traditional hard drives are effectively mechanical devices, whereas SSDs are completely electronic as there are no moving parts to have to deal with the data. Data is just sent (written) electronically to the storage space or retrieved (read). Therefore, SSDs are significantly faster & more reliable than their SATA or even SAS predecessors.

To measure the speed of a hard drive, a metric called IOPS (Input/Output) is used. It is defined as the speed at which data can be written to or read from the disk. The higher the IOPS, the faster the disk. If IOPS is used as a benchmark then the speed of traditional hard drives like SATA is around 180 IOPS. Whereas the speed of SSD drives is measured between 4,600 to 15,500 depending on disk capacity.

In summary, with SSD hosting, you get the highest performance, faster database queries, faster caching which indeed is the formula for more traffic, more sales, and more revenue. If you have an existing hosting plan, then by upgrading it to SSD hosting, you’re going to see instant performance gains.

Offsite Backups

Server Backup

For frequently updating sites, offsite backups are vital. When your site is hacked, the first thing you would do is to revert to a previous clean version of your website. What if you don’t have a clean, recent backup of your site, probably you’ll be losing information. If you have malware-free backups of your site then restoring would be much easier and quicker process.

A professional automated backup service takes regular ‘snapshots’ of your data. It also allows you to restore the data from different restore points rather than having to use available old backups. With paid backup services, your backups will be sitting on a secure remote server so when the entire server is hacked, you can easily restore it from the offsite backup.

Managed DNS Services

You get only basic functionalities with free DNS services provided by a domain registrar or your own hosted DNS server. All queries will be resolved from a single physical location that makes your site vulnerable to the single point of failure. Thanks to paid DNS services, mostly managed  DNS servers are cloud-based, which gives you a layer of redundancy.

Now suppose a visitor far from your DNS server is trying to access your website, the DNS response can take a while to reach them. With paid service, all zones will be synchronized across all points of presence (POPs) simultaneously.

For more advanced functions and enterprise-class performance, it makes sense to opt for a managed DNS provider, because “Free” DNS services are not built for efficiency and performance. Managed DNS services give you highest uptime, DNS performance, speed, and redundancy.

28 Jun

A Few Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Web Hosting Account

 

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most common web hosting type. It’s super easy to setup and costs much less compared to VPS or dedicated hosting. No wonder, site owners choose shared hosting services as their first web hosting option and eventually switch to bigger options.

When your website gains the popularity and starts receiving a significant amount of traffic, your hosting plan should also grow with it to accommodate growing business needs. At this stage, it’s vital to track the increasing traffic inflow, evaluate the current resource, and be prepared to take them to the next level.

Sometimes it is difficult to know when it is high time to make this move from one hosting type to another, but there are several indicators that point when this switch becomes inevitable. In this post we will outline several signs that you’ve outgrown your current web hosting account.

Slow Website Performance Especially During Peak Times

Does your site perform slow lately? If yes, it could be that your website exceeds the hosting resource limit and your application is just running out of juice. The fact is that shared hosting is capable to meet  hosting requirements of the basic sites. That being said, when you’re hosted on a shared server, the server resources, such as CPU, RAM, bandwidth, and disk are shared evenly amongst all the websites on that server. It’s quite possible that some resource hungry websites may chew up more resources than others causing the rest to experience slow performance. Obviously, sluggish performance annoys visitors and eventually you may lose their loyalty and sales.

Fortunately, this dilemma can be fixed easily spending only a few dollars extra each month. You can simply upgrade to a VPS hosting plan which enables you to scale up or down depending on your website needs.

Indeed, VPS is a better choice as you don’t need to compete with other clients for resources since allocated resources are dedicated to your VPS only. Additionally, VPS can be customized in terms of server resources allocation. There might be some extra monthly costs, like a control panel license, OS licensing, or managed services in case you don’t have basic server administration skills.

Frequent Downtime

With the shared hosting plan, your server resources (disk space, bandwidth, CPU time, memory) are shared with several hundreds or probably thousands of other websites.

In case one of those websites start acquiring excessive resources, then all of the other websites hosted on the same server will start to run slower or might even crash due to the overload on the server.

If you face frequent downtime with your existing hosting package, you should consider moving to a more stable solution like a VPS or dedicated server.

Increase In Traffic

Your basic hosting package is ideal to cater to websites with relatively low traffic (approximately 2000 visits a day). If you are anticipating more seasonal traffic in coming weeks or your site traffic is increasing day by day you should immediately consider the next hosting option: either VPS or dedicated server. As we know shared hosting always comes with certain limitations, in case your site becomes too huge to get handled it might ending up in a website downtime. So before it gets too late, it’s’ better to switch to the next option.

Poor Load Times

Heavy websites process a number of PHP requests with multiple complex SQL queries running in the background. Such websites demand dedicated resources to run optimally, and when allocated resources are inadequate its loading time increases. If your site’s loading time is high, you should switch to VPS or dedicated hosting where you don’t share, but maintain your own hosting environment.

You Want To Run Custom Software

Sometimes you want to run some custom software on the web server where your website is hosted. Obviously, your web hosts won’t allow you to install that particular software for you only since it may impact other customers as well. Sometimes, you want complete control over your hosting account to perform more advanced actions, such as installing desired software, or setting elevated permissions whenever you want to. Some custom applications require higher privileges compared to that typical shared hosting can offer you.

In this case, you’ll require an advanced hosting alternative where you can get administrative access to your web server. An example of this is when instead of IIS you want Tomcat Apache to run Java web applications.

Your Site Needs More Security

Although shared servers are equipped with firewalls and decent security software, still your project is at risk as your neighbour website may leave some security holes open and yours might get hacked as well.

dedicated server hosting

With a dedicated server account, you get isolated and secure hosting environment along with your own set of resources preventing you from data hacks or getting blacklisted on RBLs.

That being said, if you are processing any sort of sensitive information like credit cards you may not want to share a server with anyone.

05 Mar

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Hosting Provider

Over the last 10 years, web hosting has evolved dramatically and with it, the providers that are available to you. From huge corporations like Google and Amazon to smaller boutique providers, the options can seem endless. So, how do you differentiate to determine what is better for you and your business? Ask yourself these questions:

How much support will you need?

Consider the level of support that you’ll likely need to set up and manage your IT environment. Some hosting providers offer full managed hosting services and a customer support department that is there to assist with any issues while some providers are more hands-off. If you’re pretty tech-savvy, you might focus on other criteria to determine the best fit for you. However, if IT is a bit out of your expertise, look for a provider with a dedicated team to help you manage your business’ digital assets.

How important is your server security?

Of course, security is important for every business, but there are some instances when it’s truly the most important aspect of your IT environment. Do you collect credit card information? Store medical records? Manage sensitive data? In those cases, finding a hosting provider who is known for their security measures and can offer the peace of mind you need is paramount. Alternatively, if you’re running a blog or business site that doesn’t collect user information, a security breach would not be as detrimental.

What is your budget for hosting?

While budget is likely relative to the functionality you need from your hosting provider, make sure to outline what you are able to spend on a monthly basis. Consider what services you can outsource to the right hosting provider as well! For example, if you currently contract an IT maintenance company, you may be able to replace that expense with the right web hosting provider.

Do you plan to scale up in the future?

What are your plans for business growth? Make sure that your hosting provider can support you both now and in the future. While beginning on a shared server may make sense, it’s important to know that whoever you choose can facilitate a transfer to a dedicated server or managed services platform in the future.

How do you plan to handle backups?

Will you plan scheduled backups of your data or would automatic backups be beneficial for your business? Often something that is overlooked until they are needed, backups are crucial to avoiding IT headaches. Find a provider that offers routine backups as part of their service offering so that you can stay focused on your business without stressing about your data.

Where is your target market located?

While most companies can manage everything remotely, considering your target market during your hosting provider evaluation will help make sure that your site loads well for your most important visitors. Do you own a local business? It might benefit you to work with a provider that has a data center nearby. Need to reach consumers around the world? Make sure that you choose a company who has experience with global businesses and can make sure your site is up around the clock – no matter what time zone.

How many site visitors do you expect per month?

Consider your average web traffic when determining the hosting environment that will be most efficient. Sites with fewer visits can likely thrive on a shared hosting account whereas high traffic websites may need a dedicated environment. Find a hosting provider that can walk you through the different options that they offer to determine the best fit for you.

For a headstart on determining a hosting provider, take the Softsys Hosting Assessment!

14 Feb

A Few Reasons To Switch To SSD Powered Servers In 2018

SSD Servers

 

According to Jim O’Reilly, a well known author and storage consultant:

“In 2016, we will stop putting hard disk drives in our servers. Solid-state drives (SSDs) have reached a tipping point. Compared with traditional spinning hard disk drives (HDDs), SSDs have much lower latency, as much as 1000 times the number of I/Os per second (IOPS) and three to five times the throughput. Coupled with price parity or better, server SSDs could rapidly replace internal HDDs as soon as this year.”

You’ve probably heard of SSD servers! Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are non-mechanical storage devices consisting of NAND flash memory. Unlike traditional HDD drives, SSDs don’t have moving mechanical parts or rotating disks, etc. that are prone to failure. They use most popular and faster form of flash memory “NAND” to provide fast access to information, and therefore it offers significant performance gains compared to those HDDs.

In this article, we have compiled a few reasons to switch to SSD powered servers.

Dedicated Servers Hosting

 

1. Superfast Performance

With SSD drives, each server operation is performed on the blink of an eye, be it a server boot, heavy program loading or bulk data copying. SSD powered server responses almost instantly. As we mentioned, SSDs don’t have rotating platters so that they don’t have to seek out the data on a moving platter that gives significant boost to your server performance.

On an average, SSD dedicated servers have recorded the OS boot time of 8-12 seconds compared to those HDDs that have boot time of 25-40 seconds. As far as bulk data operations concerns, SSDs have read-write speed ranges between 300 MB/s to 500 MB/s, whereas conventional HDDs has read-write speed of 100 MB/s to 200 MB/s.

2. Long-Lastingness

Regardless of the brand you purchase, HDDs have an average life expectancy of 3 to 5 years. This is our common experience as after 3 to 5 years, HDD starts giving you problems and eventually it crashes. In some cases, they fail long before the lower end but in majority cases, you should seriously consider a new HDD after 3 years. After 5 years, you are running it on the risk of the data loss.

On the other hand, SSDs have life expectancies of more than 7 years and several cased it is has reached to decades. In any case, you can expect SSDs to last 2 to 3 times longer than to those HDDs.

3. Low Failure Rate

We know that any mechanical or electrical device has to fail one day as it can’t last forever. The chance of failure increases when that device consists of mechanically moving parts. It is said that hard disks can fail at any time between 15 seconds and 10 years. Whereas SSDs have very low failure rates in comparison of mechanical drives. As per the study conducted in Google data centers on SSD use, “flash drives have a significantly lower replacement rate in the field” than hard disk drives.

4. Smooth Dedicated Server Operation

SSDs have excellent access and seek times, also they are almost 30% faster than those mechanical drives. That being said, you can have faster data backups, faster antivirus full system scans, accessing applications, surfing websites and blazing fast data access capabilities without any lag time.

5. Heat Dissipation

We all know that heat can lower down dedicated server performance or possibly damage its components. This is only reason, why data centers are situated on chilly place.  Due to its low power consumption and no moving parts, SSD produce very less heat. Less heat means lower cooling requirements, which in turn means reduced costs.

28 Mar

Web Hosting Security For VPS & Dedicated Servers

Most customers opting for a new server or running existing servers are ignorant of securing their servers so as to avoid attackers from:

1) Hacking the servers.
2) Using email servers for spamming.
3) Stealing their important and confidential data.
4) And much more.

We are seeing increasing number of incidents whereby hackers install ransomware on servers and demand hundreds or thousands of dollars to provide owners with the decrypting key. This is threatening for just about any business. Let us review a few security measures that can be enforced to keep your VPS or dedicated servers secure:

Server Security

Install Latest OS & Software Updates / Patches Regularly

Many vulnerabilities stem from within the server – either through software installed on the server, operating system or outdated CMS that you are using. Hence, it is extremely important that you keep your operating system updated at all times with latest patches. Also, software installed on the VPS or dedicated server must be updated to latest versions so that it addresses all vulnerabilities. If software is not receiving regular security updates, your business server might be vulnerable and hence it’d be required to look out for similar software from competitor. There are numerous instances whereby customer websites are built on popular CMS like WordPress, Joomla, vBulletin, Umbraco, etc. but after initial setup, they are never updated. This is disastrous as can lead to severe issues for your business websites. All popular CMS receive constant updates and they must be applied on regular basis. The same applies to plugins and theme that you use in your CMS as well.

Install a Firewall with Intrusion Prevention System

Firewall With IPS & IDS

 

Having a firewall sitting in front of your servers will ensure that all traffic passes through the firewall: this ensures that you have finer control over the traffic that should be filtered before it enters your servers. You can only allow traffic on required ports to your dedicated server or VPS and block everything else in your firewall. Furthermore, it is important to have Intrusion Detection & Intrusion Prevention system in firewall which works on commercial rulesets (constantly updated to fight against latest vulnerabilities) – IDS analyses the traffic pattern, matches against the rulesets and allows / blocks the traffic by creating appropriate firewall rules on the go. A robust firewall system provides complete web hosting security from DDoS attacks along with known & emerging exploits / vulnerabilities. You can find more details about Softsys Hosting Network Security Tools in our related section.

Install Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Scanner

To avoid your hosting system from getting infected, it is necessary that you have a commercial level anti-malware and anti-virus engine installed in your server which will provide real-time protection from viruses / malware entering your server. In addition, you should also setup a “Full System Scan” by these engines at once every week so as to ensure that your system is completely secure and safe. You should also look out for engines that provide protection from ransomware as well. We have customers using MalwareBytes successfully with complete protection around-the-clock and our technical support staff is well versed to configure it appropriately for our customers.

DDoS Protection

DDoS Protected Hosting

 

DDoS attacks are quite frequent and cause your services to become inaccessible by saturating the network with massive amount of traffic from hundreds or thousands of IP addresses. If your website / service is inaccessible, it will directly affect your business and hence it is necessary to have DDoS web hosting protection enabled at network level. DDoS mitigation engine is self learning which studies the traffic pattern and detects all malicious traffic so that it can be dropped before it enters your server or data center. Hence, you are completely certain that the traffic entering your server or data center is completely clean and filtered by DDoS scrubbing systems in place. You can find more details about Softsys DDoS protection system in our related section.

Regular Security Audit

Securing your server initially on setup is a must for any VPS or dedicated hosting unit – however, it is equally important that there is regular security audit of servers so as to ensure that they remain safe and secure. Hence, you should always have expert hands which will secure your operating system, secure your email servers to ensure that it is not setup to allow anonymous email sending (protection from spammers), standard and critical services are setup on non-default ports, firewall is at optimal setup, etc. An efficient managed server service provider should be able to help you with these features. You can view the details of Softsys Hosting managed server plans with advanced web hosting security in our related section.

05 May

Hyper-v Replica: Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Replication

Hyper-V Replica

Overview:

Microsoft Windows Hyper-V Replica was first introduced in Windows Server 2012 and it does not require the use of the Windows Clustering. This is an extremely helpful component to allow server Administrators achieve business continuity and high availability of enterprise Virtual Machines.

Hyper-V replication synchronises regularly and keeps up-to-date copies of virtual machines on primary and replica sites or HV’s. This allows to failover to the replica site or HV in case primary site or HV goes down for any reason. This can be planned or unplanned event in which minimal or no downtime is required to switch to the replica virtual machine.

You can have the primary site and replica site at geographically different locations as well where the data sync between two sites can happen over public WAN link as outlined below:

 

Virtual machine replication

 

Benefits:

Hyper-V Replica is extremely beneficial in production business environment to serve as a a disaster recovery technology. In addition to not requiring a clustered environment, with Hyper-V Replica Broker, administrators can enable failover for the Primary Server in a Hyper-V Cluster environment – extremely flexible right?

Below is an outline of some key benefits of Hyper-V replication:

 

Clustered vs. Non-Clustered Environment setup:

It can be configured in either clustered or non-clustered environments – there is no fixed requirement for a specific environment to use Hyper-V replication and one can choose to implement it on either of these.

 

Minimum server requirement:

Hyper-V replication requires a minimum of two servers with Windows Server 2012 and above operating systems.

 

Ability to handle complex setup:

Hyper-V replication is extremely robust and it can handle complex setup environment as well without any degradation of performance or involving huge IT costs. Below is a picture of typical enterprise setup that can be handled by Hyper-V replication very easily:

 

Hyper-V Replication

 

Identical Hardware? Not Required!

It is not at all necessary to have identical or same hardware configuration on primary and replica HV’s – this gives extreme flexibility in choosing different configuration for primary and replica hypervisors.

 

Special Roles/Features/Software? Not Required!

There is no requirement of additional software or roles beyond Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012 (R1/R2) to enable the replication between Primary and Replica Servers. All the necessary components are already built into Hyper-V role – hence, you’re all set to update current server with replication!

 

Minimal Downtime

In case the primary server goes down for any reason (planned or unplanned), the VM on the replica server can be activated in a matter of seconds or minutes. This is extremely useful in business continuity. When the primary server is back, a reverse sync and reverse replica can be triggered to re-sync the changes and establish start replication again.

 

Active Directory Domain Membership? Not Required!

Hyper-V server replication does not require AD setup / membership – this helps in reducing a lot of IT headaches and ensures ease of setup / maintenance (vs. Live & Quick Migration which require Active directory setup).

 

Robust API Availability

With availability of robust Application Programming Interface for Hyper-V Replica, third party management vendors or in-house software developers can develop an enterprise-class disaster recovery solution for their Hyper-V virtual machines.

 

Recovery History

With Hyper-V Replication, you are able to restore the VM to a particular point in time restore point (in case a need arises). It provides an option to configure # of recovery points for the virtual machine at the time of setup / configuration (and can be changed later as well).

 

Hyper-V Replica and Cloud

With Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) availability for hosting providers, they can setup a disaster recovery solution for end users and have an edge above other providers in terms of offerings enhanced business continuity & data replication for their customers.

 

Data Compression

Hyper-V server replication has enhanced data compression incorporated (implemented with Network Module) which helps in moving around changed deltas between primary and replica sites very fast and with reduced traffic.

 

Softsys Hosting, a pioneer in delivering Hyper-V Virtual Machines, provides Hyper-V replication with Windows & Linux VPS plans which are powered by enterprise-class pure SSD RAID 10 protected hardware from multiple locations – Denver & Chicago (USA), London (UK) and Singapore (Asia). If you’d like to setup a private Hyper-V replica, we can assist you in that as well.

 

21 Mar

Why DDoS Protection for Servers Is So Important?

Why DDoS Protection for Servers Is So Important?

DDoS Protected Hosting

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) is an increasingly common attack which is initiated by having huge number of servers/computers requesting for the same resource. Considering that you may have a 1Gbps uplink from your hosting provider (which is fairly common these days) – if someone, with intention to DDoS your servers, will use 4Gbps, 10Gbps, or an overwhelming amount of traffic to keep your connection fully saturated, all legitimate traffic cannot fit through the connection and thus your online service will eventually become offline for anyone (and so will be your business!).

From internal technical standpoint, DDoS may also involve abusing the underlying communication protocol (TCP SYN_ACK/UDP broadcast/etc.) which would not require lot of traffic, but the idea is similar – to saturate your system / router / bandwidth pipe, so that you cannot keep up with the increasing amount of  requests, and ultimately no one else will be able to connect.

DDoS attacks are becoming more common these days than they were ever before. They are not just limited to known websites, but even for start-ups that are apparently targeted by their competitors (bitter truth!). Hence, in today’s age, it is extremely important to have appropriate DDoS protection enabled for your servers to ensure that you tackle the bad guys by scrubbing them off!

There is no specific limit of DDoS protection that will help you tackle the bad guys. You can take a look at how Sony was taken down by Anonymous, or simultaneously someone took down MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal at the same time. If these big corporations (with apparently endless supply of cash) can’t keep their services up against DDoS, there is literally nothing that we can do to keep our services up & running.


How Does DDoS Protection Work?

DDoS protection involves deploying very sophisticated systems in place which can learn by itself to identify the difference between bad or malicious traffic vs. good or legitimate traffic. With this knowledge, it will be scrubbing off (or discarding) bad traffic packets and only allowing good traffic packets to reach your server. Hence, before a packet reaches your server, it is analyzed by DDoS protection systems and allowed to pass through only if it passes all tests of not being a bad packet.

DDoS protection systems also help to keep away bots or small automated DDoS attacks by enforcing blocks or banks on servers or IP’s involved in such attacks. Hence, with DDoS protection in place, you are sure that you will be seeing only legitimate traffic on your server and hence your websites will continue to operate even during an on-going DDoS attack.


DDoS Protected Hosting

When choosing your hosting provider, it is necessary to know and understand if it can provide the protection for your business immediately or in case of emergency whenever you require. This way, you can start with a standard setup and have your provider to enable DDoS protection for your server whenever you are under attack. Alternatively, most businesses are now having their business websites protected from such DDoS attacks on 24/7 basis by having protection permanently enabled. While opting for a DDoS protected hosting service, it is important to understand the protection level that you choose as it varies from the size of attack that is handled along with maximum amount of packets that can be handled. In case any of these limits are reached (a DDoS attack is larger than the limits), you will again see your services going offline. Typically, you can start with some limited protection level and upgrade when you see increase in the size of attacks. This ensures that you are not overpaying.

Apart from saving your services from attacks, it also helps to keep your e-commerce or business website safe and protected from hackers who tend to use brute force attacks, sql injection attacks, etc. to hack into your application or website. Hence, in today’s age, it has become inevitable for every business with online presence to have such protection enabled and ensure business continuity along with keeping clients’ data safe and secure from hackers.