10 Dec

3 Ways To Use Data To Inform Business Decisions

It’s no secret that we’re living in a world that is overflowing with DATA. According to a study conducted in 2015, 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data are created every day. Over 63,000 search queries are performed per second on Google alone. In just 5 years the number of smart connected devices in the world will be more than 50 billion – all of which will create data that can be shared, collected and analyzed.

As a business owner, the question is no longer “Should I invest in data analysis”, but “How can I use this wealth of information to my advantage.” From a pure cost perspective, you’re likely investing in data storage for compliance purposes – it’s time to put that data to work!

Using data to search for deeper insights into your customers’ purchase journey, psyche, and experience can inform your business decisions and help your company become more customer-focused. This helps you win in your competitive space by identifying new opportunities that enable your company to grow. Ultimately, business data-driven companies are better prepared to compete and respond to market change because they’ve built a foundation of agility based on data.

Organize Existing Data To Improve Customer Experience

Organize data

Analyze your current data and determine how it may be useful for your customers. One company that has provided a great example of this is Delta Air Lines. They check millions of bags for travelers every year and it’s a point of stress for many of their customers. Through their internal tracking system, which they had invested millions of dollars into, Delta employees were able to keep tabs on luggage as it made its way to a final destination.

By taking a fresh look at their data, they realized that they could organize the tracking data that they had available and provide that information to customers to ease their minds as they travelled. As one Delta spokesman, Paul Skrbec, noted, “We’ve had all this tracking data available, but one of the things we realized about two years ago is that customers would benefit from having that information.”

Thus, Delta developed a mobile app that tracks luggage and has since been downloaded more than 11 million times.

Think what data do you collect and use internally that may be beneficial for your customers?

Leverage Data To Increase Marketing Efficiency

One of the most effective ways to utilize data is to improve your marketing efforts. The more you know about your customers, the more you can create campaigns that will provide a return on your marketing spend. Narellan Pools, an Australian-based swimming pool company, experienced this first-hand. After several years in business, they experienced a decline in revenue of about 25% from 2007 to 2013. Determined to understand the reason for the slowing demand, Narellan and their marketing partner, Affinity, turned to the data.

Searching for customer insights, they compiled seven terabytes of data – both internally and externally sourced- to reach a key customer insight. When the current temperature, in a given locale, was higher than the mean rolling monthly average for two days or more, customer leads converted to sales at up to 800% of the norm.

Armed with this information, they launched a digital campaign that engaged only when those criteria were met. This campaign increased sales by 23% in the first year and generated a ration of revenue to expenses of 54:1.

Share Data To Empower Partners

Share Data

Anyone in the retail space knows how crucial presentation and shelf management is to sales. For years, distributors relied on manual measurements in-store or phone conversations to understand how their products were displayed in their retail outlets.

Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products in the Asia Pacific region and they were looking for ways to address retail issues in real-time. So, they sourced image-based technology to empower their sales reps to identify performance gaps and apply corrective actions in store.

Basically, reps were able to take pictures of the store shelves, send them off to be analyzed, and receive actionable reports within minutes.

Not only did the sales reps benefit, management received the data and were able to use it to develop retail strategies and communicate more effectively with store managers. Within 5 months of implementing this data-driven strategy, Coca-Cola Amatil gained 1.3% market share in the region.

As these examples suggest, putting your business data to use is an increasingly important aspect of business growth. Not sure where to start? The experts at Softsys Hosting will help you develop a strategy for collecting and storing the crucial data that will drive your decisions.

06 Dec

4 Reasons Take Your Business To The Next Level With PaaS Cloud Migration

Do you feel like you’re starting to outgrow your current SaaS cloud hosting provider? Google Apps, Salesforce, GoToMeeting, and other providers are a great start for businesses that are looking to explore cloud computing, but have many limitations for true growth. While SaaS is accessible for businesses of any size, there comes a time when more customization options are required to enable your business to take advantage of the power of cloud computing.

Enter Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud migration. This model allows you to build on top of the components of cloud computing while developing customized applications for your specific business needs.

In other words, PaaS cloud hosting allows you to focus on coding and developing applications without worrying about the IT infrastructure installation and maintenance.

Scale With PaaS Cloud Hosting

Above and beyond the customization options, there are several advantages to taking your business to the next level with PaaS Cloud Migration.

Flexibility

The PaaS cloud environment supports various technologies like Java, PHP, NodeJS, and Ruby along with 100+ ready to use applications like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, etc. out of the box – hence, you are free to use this setup for any of your requirements. It is completely flexible in terms of technology, use case, and budget.

This flexibility allows you to develop and test applications quickly and efficiently – often with less complexity – saving you time and money. Increasing the speed to market for your business with PaaS cloud computing ensures a competitive advantage and positive effect on your bottom line.

Automatic Scalability

Automatic Scalable Cloud

Scale the services up and down (automatically). This means you’re safe from unexpected surge in traffic or resources (due to marketing campaigns or referrals) as system will automatically scale their environments to sufficient size. This elasticity gives you the peace of mind you need to run your business without stressing that your technology will support your marketing campaigns.

It also prevents you from overspending on resources that you aren’t using. In short, this scalability allows your business the agility to reach to changes and opportunities in the market without the costs associated with typical development and deployment.

Pay-Per-Use Billing Format

You are no longer required to pay for limits but just for the usage. This helps in reducing your bills by over 80% compared to traditional VPS or dedicated servers. So, if you need additional resources during development and deployment, you can essentially “rent” those while you need them and scale back when you don’t.

Next Gen Tech Support

Migrating to a PaaS cloud solution provides your business the support you need to grow. The platform itself supports the latest and next generation technologies like Docker and Kubernetes – hence, you can deploy your updated projects and our platform is ready for it. Our tech support staff is also here to make sure everything runs smoothly from the migration onward. No more stress about IT personnel and keeping your systems up and running. We take on the responsibility and leave you to more important business functions. Refocus your team to less routine tasks to move your business forward.

Talk with an expert at Softsys Hosting today to explore how PaaS Cloud Computing can take your business to the next level!

19 Nov

How To Sell The Important Technical Features To The CEO

As the technical expert in your company, it may often fall on you to recommend various technological upgrades to your leadership team. However, do you find that your pitches often fall on seemingly deaf ears? It can be difficult to garner support from the CEO without an appropriate approach to introduce recommended change.

Too often, we get bogged down in the technological capabilities and neglect the big picture. While the features and benefits are important, it’s up to you to paint the full picture of the impact your recommendations will have on your company and its employees.

Here are the keys to a successful pitch to your CEO:

Understanding CEO Priorities

The first step to selling key technical features to your leadership team is to understand that their priorities differ from yours. While you may be focused on the features and benefits of a new technology or service, the CEO is often more interested in the strategic aspects of a potential change.

CEOs are often focused on two categories – growth opportunities and risk avoidance. So, for example, autoscaling with a product like ScalElastic Cloud would represent an opportunity to grow and scale for your company. On the other hand, presenting a scenario in which technical features would help avoid downtime or technical issues, would appeal to the risk avoidance factor.

CEO Priorities

 

Going into a meeting with that perspective, you’ll be prepared to listen and understand which will enable you to sell the features that mean the most to your CEO.

Present the Bottom Line

Knowing how your CEO makes business decisions, you can sell the features that are important to both of you by focusing on the bottom line. Recognize that you are the technical expert while they typically focus on the big picture – revenue and profit. To that end, present the impact that the technical features will have on the business as a whole.

Ask yourself how your recommendations will impact each department of your company. Presenting those larger implications will not only help your CEO understand the impacts of your recommendations, but will also help other members of the leadership team advocate on your behalf.

Dig Deeper

Once you’ve identified how your recommendations will affect the bottom line, dig a bit deeper. When presenting to the CEO, connect the dots for them to describe the far-reaching effects of your proposed change. How does this change impact your company in the long-term?

Teamwork

Showcase the vision for your team as well as the company as a whole and use the technology as the building blocks to achieve that vision. You could describe how individuals will work differently in the future. Describe how they will spend more time on value-add vs. non-value-add activities.

13 Nov

4 Reasons to Choose ScalElastic Cloud Services for Growth in 2019

Are you spending the last couple of months of the year preparing for growth in 2019? Don’t overlook your technology and web hosting infrastructure as the building blocks of your expansion.

At Softsys Hosting, we’re here to help ensure that you have the tools you need to achieve all of your goals in the coming year. To that end, we’re offering a 14-day free trial of our BRAND NEW ScalElastic Cloud hosting product.

PaaS Cloud Services

We’re so excited to be able to offer this to our clients as it will allow companies to easily scale and deploy complex environments within minutes while only paying for the computing power they actually use.

Not sure if ScalElastic Cloud is the right fit for your business? Here are 4 reasons to make the switch:

Speed

In business, speed to deployment can mean the difference between winning and losing customers. With ScalElastic Cloud, you can deploy customer applications faster, easier, and even automatically – as needed. We offer standard stacks for commonly used systems that are tried and tested which means they can be spun up at a moment’s notice.

With ScalElastic Cloud, you’ll also have access to over 100 pre-configured applications in a marketplace that offers single click activation.

Flexibility

ScalElastic containers have the ability to scale both vertically and horizontally, automatically. This makes hosting your applications truly flexible and enables you to scale your services easily. Essentially, this means we can set a limit for the maximum number of resources for every instance. Then, the system automatically allocates the necessary amount needed. Not only does this make for an efficient and flexible platform, but also eliminates the need for changes in architecture while scaling legacy applications.

This flexibility is made possible by the smallest ScalElastic component, called the cloudlet. This unit equals 128 MB of RAM and 400 MHz of CPU power simultaneously. Because the system is composed of such granular resources, we are able to allocate the exact capacity for every infrastructure.

Leading to…

Cost Savings

The efficient nature of ScalElastic Cloud computing ensures that you are only charged for the computing power that you utilize.

ScalElastic Cloud Benefits

ScalElastic Cloud also helps reduce costs by optimizing the management and support for your technology. The self-service portal for developers means that you can reduce spending on management and leave the infrastructure support to the experts. When you can save time and money on administration of infrastructure and development, it frees you to invest in future growth.

Reliability

Let’s face it, at the end of the day, the biggest factor in changing technology is reliability. With ScalElastic Cloud, you’ll benefit from a reliable elastic cloud hosting infrastructure. We manage daily backups, recovery containers without downtime, and full server isolation.

ScalElastic Cloud also offers a fault-tolerant infrastructure to give you peace of mind that your servers and applications will be fully functional when you need them most.

Sign up for 14-day Free Trial 
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.

07 Aug

How Can Microsoft Office 365 Help Your Business?

No matter the size of your business, you need professional, affordable productivity technology to aid in growth and organizational agency.  Accessible from anywhere on almost any device, Microsoft Office 365’s turn-key, modernized products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint software give small and large businesses the edge of on-the-go, collaborative freedom.

Updated features like Editor and Researcher in Word and Designer in PowerPoint enhance creativity and tighten performance, and extra services like Exchange emails, SharePoint and Skype for business are instrumental for increasing workplace demands.

Microsoft Office 365 has endless features to strengthen business practices.  Here are 6 reasons how Office 365 can help your business, and read below to find out how to get Microsoft Office 365 at a discounted rate.

Office For Your Business

Multi-Dimensional Elements

The ability to switch between devices makes Office 365 an invaluable asset for on-the-go employees and entrepreneurs.  Microsoft Office 365 integrates across almost any device, including PC’s, Androids, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.  Each user’s individual license is tethered to them through their accounts instead of stuck to one device.  And the best part?  You’ll be able to log into Microsoft Office and access your data whether you’re online or offline.

Exchange Emails

Businesses that turn to Microsoft Exchange Emails are exceptionally pleased with offerings of stringent email security, diligent anti-spam filters that eliminate threats before they hit inboxes, email encryption with advanced email protection, and much more.  Exchange is praised among employers of all sizes for protecting sensitive data and keeping employees connected with dependable access to emails, calendars, and contacts.  Exchange is now fully customizable, integrating web-based apps through a user-friendly plugin.

Data Control and Cloud Storage

With Office 365, your data is protected by tight security measures.  Data is encrypted when stored locally or while traveling between devices, and files are never scanned or accessed.  Because you have the freedom to choose whether files are stored locally or in the Cloud, you can limit sensitive data to one personal device.  OneDrive Cloud-based storage keeps your files safe in the event of an emergency, so no matter what happens, your valuable business files are still handy.

Flexible Payment Plans

Cloud computing prevents high up-front costs of software and equipment, instead utilizing a scalable, streamlined system free of surprises or hidden charges.  The flexible monthly payment structure offers personal and business users a no-contract plan that doesn’t penalize for continually adding or removing users.  You can alter plans at any time to suit your individual business needs.

Collaborative Technology

With one-click screen sharing and the ability for many users to access a single document, spreadsheet, or presentation, Microsoft Office 365’s collaborative technology makes it easier than ever for team-based performance.  Create online documents with a shareable link and control each user’s accessibility level for each document, picking and choosing who gets to see what. Join online meetings and see any user’s availability using Microsoft Lync through almost any device, and utilize HD video conferencing for your most formal web meetings.

Build A Website

Making a website has never been easier with Microsoft Office 365’s ready-to-go templates.  No hosting fees and personalized domain names, along with business-class, professional emails attached to that domain are a perfect way to strengthen and professionalize your online presence.  No web design or coding experience is needed—Office 365 makes it smooth and seamless to construct your own website from the ground up.

Want Microsoft Office 365 at A Discounted Rate?

Softsys Hosting partners with Microsoft to offer small businesses and individual users Microsoft Office 365 services at flat, low rates.  Enjoy all the benefits of MS Office 365, starting at $3.77 per user per month.

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.