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!

24 Feb

5 Google Analytics to Consider When Evaluating Your Website Performance

In this digital world we live in, there is no shortage of data. We’re surrounded by it every day. The value of data, however, lies in its application. How you use that data to make decisions that improve your business.

When it comes to Google Analytics, the amount of data can be overwhelming. Logging into your GA dashboard, you are immediately greeted with metrics, graphs, and statistics comparing performance across a particular date range.


These 5 metrics will help turn that maze of metrics into a clear picture that provides valuable feedback on your website’s performance:

  1. Users: The first and most basic metric to monitor – how many people are visiting your website? This statistic is less relevant on a day by day basis and more important over time. You want to make sure that your site traffic is growing, so we like to look at this number on a month over month basis. This will help you in a few ways. First of all, you’ll notice any cycles in your web traffic. For example, do you see a spike in certain months/days? Work to understand why and consider offering a promotion to capitalize on that increased traffic. On the other hand, identifying slower months will help you allocate your advertising budget and try to fill in those times with lower numbers by increasing your ROAS (return on ad spend).
  2. Acquisition: In other words, where are your site visitors coming from? Do they come to your site directly? Click through from another website? Find you via social media channels? Or organic search? Understanding and monitoring how potential customers or subscribers find your site will help you take advantage of those channels and use them to the fullest.
  3. Bounce Rate: Take the guesswork out of determining if your site content is resonating with your audience. The Bounce Rate measures what percentage of users click through to another page on your site versus hitting a single page and leaving. While the optimum rate varies by industry, typically somewhere between 41%-55% is considered average. Anything below that would be excellent! If you find your bounce rate to be higher than you’d like, consider two things: your website acquisition and content. For example, if you are driving traffic to your site via an ad that promises answers to a certain question, but it’s not evident in the top half of the page, users are likely to give up and click away. Ensure that there is not a disconnect by evaluating your content and comparing it to the path users take to your website.
  4. Session Duration: Another great metric to track engagement is the average duration a user remains on your site. How long are they engaging with your content? Obviously, the longer someone stays on your site, the better (though not always – for an e-commerce project much better metric would be conversions and goals reached). This is especially important to track when you make changes to your website structure or content.
  5. Behavior Flow: Taking it one step further from session duration, the behavior flow chart depicts exactly how users are interacting with each page of the website. Essentially, this is a trail of breadcrumbs that maps the track users take from page to page. From this, you can determine the most engaging pages and where to place your most important content for maximum exposure. On the other hand, you’ll also be able to measure which pages are most likely to result in the user leaving the site altogether.
22 Jan

Why Softsys Hosting is Different: Customer Service

Navigating the web hosting environment today can be intimidating! There are large-scale providers like Amazon and Google. Plenty of new startups that are focused on niche industries. And they all offer similar services. It can be hard to decide what is best for your business (Need a little help? Check out our hosting assessment here).

We’re starting off the year with a series of how to differentiate between web hosting providers and what makes us different.

First and foremost, we take pride in our customer service. We believe that treating customers well is the key to any business’ success. So, what makes our customer service department different?

web hosting customer service

24/7 Support

For many of our customers, IT and web development is not in their primary job descriptions. They are business owners, office managers, and designers. They don’t want to take time away from their main responsibilities to handle IT issues. So, we understand how important it is to be available at any time of day because they’re working after hours.

That’s why one of our key principles for web hosting customer service is to be there for you at any time. Our helpdesk is open 24/7 to serve our customers around the world.

In-House Experts


Is there anything more frustrating than support professionals who aren’t familiar with your specific situation? We take pride in keeping our customer service experts in-house where other hosting companies cut costs by outsourcing their customer service departments. What does this mean for you? You have personalized, knowledgeable web hosting professionals to resolve your issues quickly and effectively.

Multiple Channels of Support

We like flexible support options and we know you do too. That’s why we offer support services via email, live chat, and over the phone! For less urgent questions, our secure helpdesk offers a ticket-bases system to get in touch with one of our professionals. In the middle of making changes and need a little guidance? Our live chat hosting techs are ready to walk you through whatever changes you need made. For situations where you need to talk to someone immediately, our emergency phone support is a great option!

These options ensure that we’re able to serve you in a way that’s most convenient for your business.

100% Customer Focused Techs

Don’t trust your crucial IT functions to “experts” who aren’t fully focused on customer service. Our support professionals are entirely dedicated to serving customers and addressing issues as quickly and painlessly as possible. They aren’t splitting time between departments or distracted by their other tasks. We invest in our web hosting customer service professionals to ensure that they are the best in the business – because that’s what makes us the best in the business.

Initial Installation + Setup Support


One of the most critical times in your web hosting is the initial application installation on our servers. There’s nothing more frustrating than deciding on a web hosting provider and not being able to take the next step forward. That’s why we offer side-by-side support throughout the initial installation and setup to make sure everything goes smoothly.

22 Jan

11 Web Design Trends for 2018

 

Web design is constantly evolving and it seems more rapidly each year. If it’s been more than a couple of years since your last website update, it may be time to think about a redesign. While the site content may remain similar, redesigning its presentation to be more engaging to your users can result in considerable traffic increase, engagement, and ultimately, more sales!

managed dedicated servers Softsys

Thinking about giving your website a little facelift to kick off the new year? Here are the trends we expect to dominate in web design for 2018:

  1. Video: This should come as no surprise, but video will continue to take center stage in 2018. The key will be integrating video into your website’s UX so that it’s seamless and doesn’t interrupt the other types of content on the page.
  2. Interaction + Animation: Consumers in 2018 are looking for more from their online interactions with brands. When it comes to web design trends, that means integrating ways to personalize each user’s experience through interaction and animated elements on the website.


web hosting with Softsys

  1. Interesting Page Transitions: Throughout all of the advancements in web design, one thing has remained constant: transitioning from page to page. This year, expect designers to ease the transition from page to page with consistent design and page element animations.
  2. Maximalist Sites: Over the last several years, “clean” sites with abundant white space have dominated web design. Now, the reverse is starting to appear as designers buck up the web design trend with saturated, colorful designs and more complex structure.
  3. Content: As with video, content isn’t going anywhere in 2018. Creating valuable content that’s highly engaging is the key to keeping consumers coming back to your site. Continued focus on connecting with users through this type of content will dominate the coming year.
  4. Break Up Longform Content: When it comes to content, designers are focused on coming up with innovative ways to present longer form articles. Incorporating corresponding graphic elements, animated illustrations, or interactive features help keep readers engaged throughout the full experience.
  5. UX – Giving Users Choice: Give users the ability to “choose their own adventure”, so to speak. Instead of dictating how they engage with your website with just one option, present your content in several different ways to appeal to as many users as possible.
  6. Shadows: To give depth to previously flat designs, designers in 2018 are adding shadows to elements from illustrations to buttons. Using this to create dimension in the site helps encourage users.
  7. Mobile First Design: Continuing the trend from the past several years, mobile first design trend will be paramount in 2018. As mobile has finally surpassed desktop in total users, ensuring that your site is navigable via phone and tablet should be your first priority.


mobile web design Softsys

  1. Illustrations: Custom illustrations are the new hot graphic element for designers.
  2. Asymmetry + Fewer Grid Constraints: One of our favorite design trends for the coming year is the breakdown of the traditional grid. Asymmetry will rule the day as designers literally think outside the box.

With some of the design trends like video and animation, it’s important to have a hosting environment that can run your site effectively. Not sure of your requirements? Take our hosting assessment to find out exactly what your business needs are.

03 Jan

3 Reasons to Invest in Managed Hosting Services

As technology is typically a part of your business that is “behind the scenes”, it can often be a bit neglected. Unfortunately, as a “Check Engine Light” in your car that is ignored or a slow leak in your ceiling that you keep putting off fixing, a neglected IT environment can lead to big problems for you and your business.

Like in those cases, if something goes wrong, it’s nice to have the experts on your side.

Even if you aren’t experiencing issues with your technology, it’s crucial to have a good handle on that aspect of your business. Need a demonstration of how crucial IT is to your company’s productivity? Switch off the wifi and see how long before panic ensues.

Technology can either be a crutch or a catapult to your growth.

Here are three big reasons to turn your IT from an afterthought to a strategic business advantage.

FLEXIBILITY

 

Your business is unique and has unique technology requirements. Don’t settle for an “out of the box” solution when you need an environment that will truly support and propel your business forward. At Softsys Hosting, we own all of our hardware from servers to network switches. This provides us total control over your infrastructure. In turn, we have the ability to build custom configurations that are perfectly suited to your needs.

There’s no longer a need to wonder whether a certain package will work for you and your business. We’ll make sure of it.

 

PEACE OF MIND

 

Is there anything worse than upgrading a software service, making a change to your website, or adding a user to your technology environment only to find out that your service has completely crashed? Of course not! That moment of panic can (luckily) be avoided with a program of consistent backups.

With our managed hosting services, we back up your entire service both weekly and daily to help ease the stress of a potential mistake.

Don’t realize your services are down right away? Accidentally deleted information that you realized you needed? We retain backups for the last 6-7 days so you have access to the data you need.

 

SUPPORT

 

Technology can seem overwhelming at times. It has the ability to make our lives and businesses much more effective but can also cause stress when it’s not functioning properly. That frustration is compounded when there isn’t a clear fix or someone to help get back on track.

Our in-house support team is available 24 hours a day to help solve your problems LIVE.

Service is our main focus and we pride ourselves on serving clients with speed and accuracy. We feature on average between 10-12 minutes response time to support tickets and work to make sure your experience is as seamless as possible.

We also monitor issues on your account for you and, in many cases, can fix problems before you even realize they are there. This keeps you focused and your business on track.

Don’t wait for your next technology emergency to reevaluate your IT systems. Invest in your company’s growth by devoting the time and resources necessary to support your critical systems with Softsys Hosting managed solutions.

03 Jan

5 Systems to Outsource and Scale Your Business in 2018

With the flip of the calendar comes a new year of opportunities. A new year of goals, revenue targets, and challenges. A new year of growth for business owners around the world. While goals and projections for 2018 have likely already been established, as people are getting back into their offices after the holidays, the question becomes HOW.

If you’re looking to grow your business in the new year, your approach will make all the difference in whether your growth is temporary or sustainable. For example, growth can come from additional work. Maybe you spent 30 hours per week working on your business in 2017 and plan to grow by dedicating an additional 15 hours in the coming year.

For many entrepreneurs, 30 hours of work pass within the first couple days of the week so working longer hours isn’t an option. In that case, it’s imperative to work smarter. Prioritize. Delegate. Outsource.

 

While outsourcing services and giving up control over certain systems can be intimidating initially, it frees you up to focus on your core business and revenue-generating activities.  

 

Our advice? Start small. Choose one aspect of your business to outsource and continue from there.

 

Here are 5 things we recommend outsourcing to enable you to grow in 2018:

 

IT Services: Unless IT is your core business, it’s time to bring in the experts. Moving your technology to a managed hosting environment will allow you to enhance your business and minimize distractions. IT is also a key component of your growth as it often needs to grow with your company so ensuring that you have the technology and service needed to keep your business running is crucial.

 

Accounting: Not only will this save you time, it may very well save you money. Hiring a professional to take care of your bookkeeping and tax preparation services is an investment that often pays for itself.

 

Payroll Services: This is another area where an outside professional can handle a task more effectively and efficiently than you are able to.

 

Legal Services: If you have growth plans for 2018, you may be looking to acquire a business, start a separate business, or otherwise change the structure of your company. While you likely can file your business paperwork yourself, ask yourself if the benefits and costs savings outweigh the risks. In this field, especially, hire a lawyer to look over your business legal needs and save yourself the potential headache.

 

Assistance: If you’re not ready to hire a full-time office assistant, look into virtual assistance to help with smaller tasks like data entry, research, or cold calling.

 

Not sure where to start? Consider the tasks that require a good bit of your time and are not a core competency of yours or your business’ and start researching outsourcing options.

Outsourcing parts of your business requires an investment of time on the front end, but will enable you to focus your energy on growing your company over the course of the year. Not to mention giving you peace of mind that your trusted partners are handling your business functions while you plan for the future.

27 Dec

Do I Need An SSL Certificate Installed On My Website?

You’ve probably come across that tiny green padlock in your browser’s location bar followed by the website URL. It indicates that the site you are browsing is equipped with the SSL certificate.

Being a website owner, you might also be wondering “Do I need an SSL certificate for my website too?”. But wait, before you get your question answered, let us know first what is an SSL certificate and what it does exactly?

What is an SSL certificate?

Secure Sockets Layer, shortly known as “SSL” creates a secure channel between your browser and the web server so that the information you transmit will be traversed in the encrypted form.

When the website you visit does not equip with the SSL certificate (web address starts with http:// only), all the information that your browser sends to the web server and receives is in clear text that anyone could read. So it’s possible that any malicious user (hacker or intruder) can intercept the web traffic to your website and could possibly retrieve the private user information.

When you set up an SSL certificate, your website URL starts with https:// ( mind the “s” for “secure”), so all the information sent and received is encrypted.  It’s vital when your site collects any sensitive data on your website like credit card information as you don’t want someone sniffing your customer’s private data like credit card numbers or personal information.

Do I really need an SSL certificate?

While not all websites require an SSL certificate, it is essential for certain types of sites. To find out if your site really needs an SSL certificate, go through these questions:

Do you run an ecommerce store?

If you run an ecommerce store, probably you’ll be accepting the payments through credit/debit cards.

In this case, an SSL certificate is indispensable to encrypt the customers’ credit card information.

Your customers submit very important information to your website, if an identity thief gets access to your customer’s credit card information it could be disastrous. So it’s your responsibility to secure the information you collect from your customers. When SSL is installed on your site, no one can intercept and misuse their credit card data.

Do you have login forms on your website?

Not all websites collect money online, some collect information. This information could be anything about related to your customers, like name, address, phone number and email address, etc.

Without an SSL certificate, these login forms can be intercepted easily. If you don’t want that information leaked, securing online forms with an SSL solutions is also a must.

Do you offer memberships on your site?

To become a member, your members are giving you their email addresses, names, and passwords, all of which they likely use on other sites. You should not take the risk of a security breach that could result in your members’ information being spread across the whole internet.

Are you serious about search engine optimization of your website?

During the last couple of years Google gives ranking advantages to websites featuring SSL protection. Those projects that don’t use SSL certificates are marked as unsecure in Google Chrome browser as well.

Conclusion

On the Internet, confidence is everything. No one would like to submit their sensitive information in plain text, right? Nowadays, visitors are also well aware of potential online threats and become more security conscious.

Many people would think securing a website with SSL is essential only if they’re selling products or collecting payment information. But they don’t realize that SSL encryption has other very important benefits. Such as your visitors will feel safer on your site when they see the green lock while accessing your website knowing it’s protected by a security certificate.

Also, the latest browser versions have started sending notices when you browse any website without SSL. So, it’s now important to ensure every website has an SSL certificate and is loaded via HTTPS.

25 Oct

The Best Dedicated Hosting Options Under $100/Month

A dedicated server, the topmost hosting tier, is typically reserved for enterprises having large demands for computing power, bandwidth, and storage. As its name implies, entire resources are dedicated to propelling hosted site/application with the maximum performance.

Going for a dedicated environment is indeed a big investment, but it can pay you dividends when you find the host that brings the most value to your purchase.

The phrase, “best dedicated server within the budget of $100/ month” may sound a bit contradictory. But at Softsys Hosting, we always excel to offer “bang for the buck deals” to customers. At this post, we’ll go through configuring a dedicated server and check some preconfigured dedicated server options under $100/month.

Configuring a Dedicated Server

Operating System Choice

Windows operating system is particularly used to host Windows or Microsoft based technologies like ASP.NET, MS SQL, IIS, MS Access, and Visual Basic. Windows servers are shipped with the GUI, so operating system could chew through a lot of computing resources. On the other hand, Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora come with both GUI and core. But ideal server environment should be installed with core OS rather than GUI.

Control Panel

After choosing server hardware, your next big decision would be how you’d like to manage your server. Either you can manage the server through SSH/RDP or you can install control panel. Hosting control panel provides you with the web-based GUI to perform complex tasks within few mouse clicks and to automate processes.

cPanel for Linux machines and Plesk for Windows systems are the best choices. Plesk and cPanel both are very easy to operate. Plesk is cheaper than cPanel and is compatible with multiple OS but mostly paired with Windows systems.

Storage Type

While configuring the server, you can choose between solid state drives (SSD) or a traditional option of hard disk drives (HDD). HDDs feature a spinning platter and a read/write arm that uses magnetism to store the data. SSDs don’t have moving parts and keep information in flash microchips. Because of this characteristics, SSDs are much faster and more expensive.

Support

When you’re going to buy premium hardware, 24/7 technical support is also essential. With the price tag under $100, less likely you’ll get a managed server but you can certainly get a basic managed server.

Note that unmanaged dedicated servers only cover hardware and infrastructure, whereas managed dedicated servers cover server infrastructure, hardware, backup and core elements of the stack.

You can also consider the managed hosting which includes around-the-clock managed support, software configuration, patch installation, update installation and maintaining all aspects of the environment.

Softsys Hosting offers 2 tiers of managed services, unmanaged and fully managed services whereby our experienced technicians manage customer’s server and supply best-effort support for third-party software.

Addons

Along with the hardware/software configurations, you can also choose amongst various addons as per the requirement, like additional IP address, bandwidth, RAM, DDoS protection, daily backups, DDoS protection, RAID, etc.

Softsys Hosting Dedicated Servers

Softsys Hosting offers a basic dedicated setup at $59/month which includes an IP address, Intel Xeon E3-1230 Quad Core, 8GB RAM, DDoS protection, SSD/HDD storage and 1 Gbps connectivity without any setup fees.

You can also have your choice of OS, RAID level, location and control panel makes Softsys Hosting an easy pick for affordable dedicated server configurations. Here are some pre-configured dedicated servers available under $100.

Windows-Based Servers

Configuration #1

» Intel Xeon E3-1230v1/v2/v3 Quad Core w/ HT (8 vCores)

» Location: Chicago, IL – USA/Denver, CO – USA

» RAM: 8GB DDR3 ECC

» HDD 1: 500GB SATA II HDD OR 120GB SSD

» Operating System: Windows Server 2016/2012 R2/ 2008 R2 Std Edition

» MS SQL Server 2016 Express

» Control Panel: MSPControl

» Network Port Speed: 1Gbps Dedicated $0.00 USD

» Bandwidth: 10TB per mon

» IPv4 Addresses: 1

» Service Level: Basic Managed

» DDoS Protection: Automatic Detection / Null Routing

Monthly: $84.00 USD


Configuration #2

»  Intel Xeon E3-1230v1/v2/v3 Quad Core w/ HT (8 vCores)

» Location: Chicago, IL – USA/Denver, CO – USA

» RAM: 16GB DDR3 ECC

» HDD 1: 500GB SATA II HDD OR 120GB SSD

» Operating System: Windows Server 2016/2012 R2/ 2008 R2 Std Edition

» MS SQL Server 2016 Express

» Control Panel: MSPControl

» Network Port Speed: 1Gbps Dedicated $0.00 USD

» Bandwidth: 10TB per mon

» IPv4 Addresses: 1

» Service Level: Basic Managed

» DDoS Protection: Automatic Detection / Null Routing

Monthly: $93.00 USD

 

Linux-Based Servers

Configuration #1

» Intel Xeon E3-1230v1/v2/v3 Quad Core w/ HT (8 vCores)

» Location: Chicago, IL – USA/Denver, CO – USA

» RAM: 8GB DDR3 ECC

» Operating System: CentOS 7.x x64

» Network Port Speed: 1Gbps Dedicated

» Bandwidth: 10TB per mon

» IPv4 Addresses: 1 (Included)

» Service Level: Basic Managed

» DDoS Protection: Automatic Detection / Null Routing

Monthly: $59.00 USD

Configuration #2

» Intel Xeon E3-1230v1/v2/v3 Quad Core w/ HT (8 vCores)

» Location: Chicago, IL – USA/Denver, CO – USA

» RAM: 8GB DDR3 ECC

» HDD 1: 500GB SATA II HDD OR 120GB SSD

» Operating System: CentOS 7.x x64

» Control Panel: cPanel / WHM

» Network Port Speed: 1Gbps Dedicated

» Bandwidth: 10TB per mon

» IPv4 Addresses: 1 (Included)

» Service Level: Basic Managed

» DDoS Protection: Automatic Detection / Null Routing

Monthly: $94.00 USD

 

If you don’t find your choice of configuration, you can contact our sales team to discuss your custom setup. Our solutions architect will work with you to design a tailored environment in accordance with all your needs.

18 Oct

What Control Panel To Choose For Your Dedicated Server?

It’s a great news as your business has grown to the point that you require a dedicated server to host your website. But this will also add additional responsibilities of managing and maintaining your dedicated hosting environment.

Managing a dedicated server without a control panel is difficult. Even to perform the smallest task, you might have to go through a list of steps or a series of shell commands. That’s where control panels come into play to simplify the process of handling servers. Additionally, managing these hosting control panels does not require expert knowledge of server administration.

There are many paid and open source hosting control panels available and you can choose your best as per your need and budget.

Available Control Panels For A Dedicated Server

If you are new to the dedicated server environment then you want a control panel that is user-friendly and intuitive at the same time. With so many control panel options available, choosing one for your dedicated server is little tricky. The best way to make this determination is to know what you are looking to achieve and what a particular control panel has to offer.

In general, control panels are designed for the specific operating systems, which usually distinguished to Windows and Linux.  Some of the most popular options include cPanel, Plesk, and MSControl, all of which are very reliable.

cPanel

Being one of the most feature-rich, powerful and widely used control panels, cPanel/WHM has become the industry standard amongst users and web hosting providers. It comes with both user-interface (cPanel) and admin-interface (WHM), offering intuitive hosting and site management tools to end-users, resellers and dedicated server administrators. A cPanel server includes the WHM login and the cPanel client login for management purposes.

Single cPanel license allows you to host an unlimited number of domains, websites, databases, etc.  which is a quite valuable feature especially if you intend to offer reseller hosting. It has a wide range of plugins to further expand its functionality and it can be integrated with your existing billing software like WHMCS.

Thanks to AutoSSL feature, free SSL certificates are automatically installed and renewed for every domain hosted on the cPanel server. These SSL certificates are absolutely free, provided by Comodo and Let’s Encrypt, and they will be kept renewed as long as you have an active account with your web host. Its EasyApache 4 feature makes managing packages and dependencies simple and super speedy.

cPanel is available as a demo, so you can familiarize yourself with cPanel and WHM before purchasing the license.

Plesk Panel

Plesk is yet another powerful control panel, having 75 to 80 percent share in the European market. Plesk supports various Linux Distributions (CentOS, Ubuntu, CloudLinux, etc)  and Windows OS as well, which is a strong pull factor differentiating Plesk from cPanel. Also, Plesk comes in several editions, each tailored for specific hosting use cases.

It also comes with both user interface and admin features. Like cPanel, Plesk also has a clean and user-friendly interface. Plesk is also used by some of the big hosting companies.

Unlike other control panels, Plesk offers support for Git through its Gitman extension, so you can track changes and site updates. Plesk’s Docker Integration feature allows you to launch Docker images straight from Plesk without touching the command line.

SSL certificate installation has always been a pain to set up and renew. Plesk is integrated with the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority, which allows you to install the SSL certificates on your site within a single click. Plesk is available for both Windows and Linux dedicated servers, so make sure you get the appropriate version for your server.

MSPControl

MSPControl is a hosting control panel for Windows systems to automate the provisioning of a full suite of hosted services on Windows servers. MSPControl gives users simple multi-tenant point-and-click control over Windows Server applications including Microsoft IIS, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft RemoteApp, Skype for Business, Microsoft Online Services and Hyper-V R2 Deployments.

MSPControl comes with 3 licensing schemes, Free, Basic and Standard license. A free license is sufficient for all kind of non-production environments like a demo, lab, test etc. The basic license is good enough to run small web hosting company. Standard license suits mid-sized hosting and managed hosting providers.

Conclusion

When you host your site on a dedicated server, you should be prepared for the different level of complexity because you are only responsible to ensure that your site stays online. The control panel will enable you to create the best site possible by putting the administrative power and flexibility in your hands. Programs such as cPanel and Plesk are very popular and extremely easy to use for Linux systems. While MSPControl is a viable option for Windows systems.

20 Sep

Some Software Choices You Inevitably Need To Be Installed On Your Dedicated Server

Most web hosting providers deliver a dedicated server with just OS installed and a few bare minimum components. Right after receiving server logins, you’d need some important software on your server to make it more secure and easy to manage. In this post, we have compiled a list of software that will help you with easy server management and better security.

Software For Windows Dedicated Server

The software choice for Windows systems mainly depends on the fact how you are going to utilize your server. Let’s say, you are going to use it as an ASP.NET development machine, you’ll need the complete Visual Studio suite installed then.

Similarly, to host a Radio server or Forex trading platform, you are required to install respective software on the server. In such a way, we’ll discuss some generic software every Windows server must be installed with.

Web Control Panel

Unless you hold the years of experience with Windows systems, it’s a bit difficult to manage Windows servers through remote desktop connection. That’s where control panel comes into play.

A hosting control panel gives you web-based GUI which helps you manage all web services under single login very efficiently and quickly. It also allows you to manage websites, domains, SQL databases, DNS records, email accounts, FTP accounts, file functions, disk space availability, bandwidth usage, and lot more.

WebsitePanel, SolidCP, and MSPControl are the most popular free control panels. If you’d like to have some paid alternative, you can go with the Plesk panel.

Microsoft Web Platform Installer

Unlike Linux systems, Windows server requires a lots of individual components to build a functional web server. Having said that, you are required to go to individual websites, find the compatible dedicated server software version and install it manually. This sounds a little bit tedious and takes hours to complete. To get rid of this, you should install Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI) even before you run Windows updates.

It’s a tiny tool that fetches the latest components of the Microsoft Web Platform, including Internet Information Services (IIS), SQL Server Express, .NET Framework, PHP, MySQL Server and lot more. It can also install the most popular free scripts for blogging, and content management system (CMS) within a few clicks.

Software Firewall

To ensure your dedicated server is protected against online threats and malicious traffic, a solid firewall is a must have thing. As we know that Windows systems also come with an effective built-in firewall that adds a layer of protection to your server. This default firewall is powerful enough and works quite well for most of the servers.

In case you’d like to make your server more secure than you can consider personal software firewall. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall and Comodo Free Firewall are both excellent free alternatives you can think of.

Antivirus & Anti-Malware Software

Malware is no imaginary problem, especially for the Windows servers. Hundreds of new virus definitions are spread daily across Internet and antivirus labs have to detect them and find solutions.

Having RDP access for the dedicated server, if you or one of your colleagues visit a phishing website or download uncertain files by mistake, your dedicated hosting platform may infected by dangerous malware.

Even some viruses are distributed through emails, freeware tools, and pop-up messages. As such malicious software can completely damage your dedicated server functionality, compromise security or erase sensitive data.

So, it is essential to have a good antivirus software to detect & remove viruses before they harm your system. Antivirus software detects suspicious websites and files that contain malicious programs before they enter your server and blocks malicious scripts from being downloaded.

ClamWin is an excellent free antivirus program supporting most of the Windows desktop and server OS. There are also plenty of paid alternatives available on the market so you can choose according to your requirements and budget.

Remote Desktop Guard

RDP (Remote Desktop) allows users to connect to a remote server from anywhere. Indeed RDP is a very useful feature however, it also has several security issues. When a malicious user launches the network/port scanners or RDP brute-force attacks on Windows servers, thousands of failed login attempts are generated and pages of events are being logged. Such attacks abuse your dedicated server resources (CPU, RAM, Disk Space and Network Bandwidth) and degrade the overall functionality of the server.

To prevent them, host-based intrusion prevention system (HIPS) like RdpGuard is implemented.  This protects servers from brute-force attacks on various protocols and services (RDP, FTP, SMTP, MySQL, MS-SQL, IIS Web Login, etc). It monitors the audit logs and detects failed login attempts. If the number of failed login attempts from a single IP address exceeds the normal limit, the IP address will be blocked immediately.

Conclusion

Above listed dedicated hosting programs are currently configured on our own servers and so far so good for the production usage as well. Of course, you may also need some other specific tools based your requirements, so you may subscribe to our managed dedicated server plans directly for guaranteed security and support.