24 Aug

The Ultimate Checklist To Starting an Online Business

The Complete Checklist To Starting an Online Business

Starting an online business is an exciting endeavor, but starting one the right way can also be daunting. This checklist provides all of the steps you need to take before starting an online business and tips on making your business successful.

This post is designed for those looking to start their own online business, but even experienced business owners can gain insight from this list of helpful tips!

  1. Research Your Idea
  2. Determine Your Target Audience
  3. Create a Business Plan
  4. Find a Company Name
  5. Register a Business Entity
  6. Register a Trademark
  7. Set Up Your Bank Account
  8. Register a Domain
  9. Find a Reliable Hosting Provider
  10. Design a Logo
  11. Build Your Website
  12. Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate
  13. Enable Plugins and Widgets
  14. Set up Business Email Accounts
  15. Add Content to Your Website
  16. Create a Google Analytics Account
  17. Use Google Ads To Get More Website Traffic
  18. Set up Social Media Accounts
  19. Setup Email Marketing
  20. Wrapping Up

Research Your Idea

Starting an online business might seem like an easy project, but it often takes more research than you might expect.

To be well prepared when starting your online business you should:

  • Research the market for your product or service to see if there’s a demand.
  • Find out how much competition exists in this space.
  • Do some preliminary financial planning so you can figure out how much starting capital you need.

Determine Your Target Audience

It is essential to define your target audience and understand who they are before starting an online business. This will help you design your website, products, or services in a way that is appealing to your audience.

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a document that details the steps you will take in starting and running your company. It can include short and mid-term goals you hope to achieve and how much money it will take to do so. A well-crafted and compelling business plan can help you get the necessary funds to start your business or find strategic partnerships.

Find a Company Name

The company name is often the first impression you give a potential customer. Your brand name can resonate with potential clients or give them second thoughts about doing business with you.

When choosing your company name, think of what you want your business to stand for? Take time out now to start brainstorming some company names that will set up an excellent foundation!

Register a Business Entity

Before starting an online business, it’s essential to figure out which legal structure is best for you. Different types of businesses have different tax burdens and benefits associated with them, so research your options carefully before deciding on one.

In the U.S., registering a business entity is usually done at the state level.

Register a Trademark

Once you’ve come up with a good name, it is important to register your trademark for that business or product(s) to prevent other companies from using the same name. In the United States, this can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Set Up Your Bank Account

You’ll want to set up a business bank account before starting your online business so that you can keep business-related expenses/income separate from your personal ones. Your business bank account will also be used for tax purposes.

Register a Domain

Choose a website name with an easy-to-remember URL. In most cases, your website name will be the same as the company name. Once you have found the right website name, register your domain. You can register your domain for a minimum of one (1) year.

Find a Reliable Hosting Provider

Choose a web hosting provider that offers reliable services and 24/7 customer support. Depending on your needs, you may also want to check if the hosting provider offers full server management, email services, and backup protection.

A logo is a vital part of your website and branding strategy. Your logo will help you distinguish your business itself from other businesses in the same industry.

Make sure to find a design that is visually appealing and reflects your company’s identity. If you need assistance in designing a logo, you can hire a freelancer from Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.

Build Your Website

Once you have your domain name and hosting account, it’s high time to start developing your website. Create a clean and mobile-friendly design for your website that is easy to navigate.

Select the type of website that best suits your business needs – whether eCommerce or a CMS site, like WordPress.

Secure Your Website With an SSL Certificate

When starting an online business use an SSL certificate to secure your website

Website security is critical when starting an online business. The first step you should take towards securing your website is to get an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.

When installed on a server, the SSL certificate will activate an HTTPS protocol and encrypt information between the server and a user’s browser. The SSL certificate

ensures that your website users can safely submit their information without the risk of being hacked or have personal data stolen.

All major browsers will now flag your website as “Not Secured” if you don’t have an SSL certificate set up.

Enable Plugins and Widgets

Add Relevant Plugins and Widgets to Your Website such as SEO tools, social media sharing widgets, Google Analytics, GDPR consent tool, live chat, etc. These plugins and widgets will help you provide a better user experience to your website visitors.

Set up Business Email Accounts

These will be email addresses that your customers, potential clients, and partners can use when reaching out for support or other inquiries about your company.

Your business email should reflect a professional image, so make sure you choose something memorable like ‘[email protected]’ or ‘[email protected]’ or [email protected]’.

Add Content to Your Website

Once you have a website up and running, you need to add some content relevant to what you are offering. Such content might include service or product descriptions, images, videos, text articles, blog posts.

Relevant content will help your website visitors learn more about your company and help with SEO rankings because search engines will index your content when they crawl your site for updates.

Create a Google Analytics Account

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that helps you track traffic on your website and provides valuable insights into what people are doing on your site. You can learn which are your most popular web pages, which pages have low traffic, how users get to your website, and more.

Google Ads can help get more traffic to your website. This is especially important when you are just getting started with your online business.

With the right keywords in your ad copy, you can get in front of potential customers. You can also use retargeting to stay top of mind for those users that visited your website but didn’t make a purchase/decision right away.

Set up Social Media Accounts for Your Online Business

Social media has become an essential part of starting and running any type of online business. Set up accounts on the major networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. to follow and engage with your target audience.

Choose accounts on those social networks where you can best engage with potential customers.

Setup Email Marketing

Set up email marketing software like Mailchimp, Constant Contact or ActiveCampaign, to send regular newsletters to subscribers who want updates from you via email rather than social media channels.

Wrapping Up

Once everything has been set up according to our checklist, go ahead and get those sales rolling in by following marketing strategies and data-driven insights from experts in the field.

P.S. If you need some inspiration for your business, check out Best Online Business Ideas for 2021-2022.

30 Mar

Critical IT Infrastructure Required To Ensure Business Success

It’s no secret that IT infrastructure plays a key role in the success of any business. Can you try picturing a scenario where your IT infrastructure that hosts your business-critical application or website fails? Imagine the time it would take to restore your data and apps. You may be losing thousands of dollars or even be out of business before you have a chance to be back online.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, businesses need to have a secure and reliable IT infrastructure in place.

Moreover, they need an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to adapt to their ever-changing business needs, yet robust and resilient enough to withstand potential system disruptions.

What Is IT Infrastructure?

The term IT infrastructure refers to the underlying framework for how technology services are delivered. These technologies include servers, storage devices, routers, operating systems and software applications, and other tools that support business processes.

The purpose of a critical IT infrastructure is to ensure business continuity by ensuring that you can run your business smoothly without any glitches or interruptions.

What Are the Key Components of IT Infrastructure?

Every IT infrastructure has key components that need to work together. The two main groups are hardware and software:

Hardware – includes everything from facilities, data centers, servers, storage devices, network switches, routers, to the physical workstations or laptops.

Software – includes operating systems (OS), web applications such as PHP or Java applications, database systems such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) & more.

Types of IT Infrastructure

There are two primary types of IT infrastructure:

Traditional IT Infrastructure

A traditional IT infrastructure consists of physical servers and desktop computers that are typically installed on-premise for a single company or organization.

Benefits of Traditional IT Infrastructure

One of the major benefits of traditional IT infrastructure is increased security. With all hardware being set up on-premise and access being restricted, there are fewer risks for vulnerabilities. Increased data security and compliance requirements are the reasons why some organizations might still opt for this type of infrastructure.

On the other hand, it is more expensive to set up and maintain traditional IT infrastructure. It requires large upfront investments and a dedicated IT team within the organization that can maintain the infrastructure. Changes to resources or software upgrades are also not as flexible as with a cloud infrastructure.

Cloud Infrastructure

A cloud infrastructure, also referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), is an infrastructure that can be provisioned and managed over the internet from anywhere in the world! IaaS it’s one of the three main types of cloud computing service models along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). In a cloud infrastructure, hosting providers can deliver resources that are typically bound to physical hardware, virtually, in any location around the world that is accessible via the Internet. The process that makes this possible is known as virtualization technology.

Cloud IT Infrastructure

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure

  • Lower Cost – A cloud infrastructure requires a lower upfront investment since the hosting provider is responsible for acquiring and maintaining the underlying hardware.
  • Flexible Commitments – Most hosting providers will offer flexible terms of contracts with monthly, quarterly, or annual billing options. Some services might even include a pay-as-you-go billing model.
  • Improved Agility and Flexibility – Thanks to the cloud, you can now have your software and application up-and-running in no time. That means small businesses and start-ups can remain agile with their IT needs while also being able to use resources at a much lower cost than if they had invested in traditional IT infrastructure. Similarly, businesses can use their time more wisely by being able to quickly set up multiple virtual machines from different locations around the world. In other words, you no longer have to deal with all the heavy lifting that comes with setting up and maintaining your own servers.
  • More Efficient Resource Scaling – In a cloud infrastructure, you can easily scale your business without having to worry about what type of equipment you’ll be using down the line. You can scale servers vertically (upgrade specific resources) or horizontally (add more servers) as needed. When you need more computing resources for your business, you or your hosting provider can easily upgrade/downgrade resources, typically with just a few clicks.

Minimize Downtime, Maximize Success!

Network availability, or uptime, is one of the critical features to look for when choosing a web hosting provider. A study performed by Gartner in 2014, estimated the average cost of downtime to be $5,600 per minute, well over $300K per hour.

What is the cost of downtime

These numbers are reinforced by a 2019 survey by Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC). In their 2019 Global Server Hardware Server OS Reliability Report, which polled over 1,000 businesses worldwide, 86% of the respondents indicated that one hour of downtime can cost their organization $300.000 or more.

Furthermore, from the 1,000 businesses polled by ITIC, almost 300 indicated the cost of one hour of downtime exceeds $1 million.

Best Practice: To maintain critical business functions or quickly recover in the event of an unplanned downtime all companies and organizations should have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Why Every Business Needs An Effective Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan will outline the procedures that you need to follow to be up and running in the event of a major infrastructure disaster or unplanned downtime.

There is a common misconception that natural disasters are unlikely to affect a datacenter. Anyone who has ever lost data due to natural disasters knows it can happen at any time. The recent fire at the OVH datacenter in Strasbourg, France is a clear example of this.

Having a business continuity plan can save your business not only millions of dollars but years’ worth of work.

Tip: Think of a business continuity plan as a checklist that you can follow to bring your website and applications back online in the event of a major natural disaster or cyberattack.

Five Key Services to Improve Website Availability

Along with the business continuity plan you should consider the following key services when thinking of your IT infrastructure:

Service Level Agreement (SLA) – Your web hosting provider should have an SLA of at least 99.9%. Anything less than “three nines” is something to be concerned about.

Redundancy – Verify that the hardware that your IT infrastructure runs on has an additional redundant layer to eliminate single points of failure.

Uptime Monitoring – Having a monitoring system in place will help you track availability and know right away if there’s an issue. SNMP and PING are commonly used at the server or router level while advanced monitoring tools can be set up for HTTP/SMTP/SQL services.

Backup Policy – Make sure you always have at least one automated backup policy with multiple days or even weeks of backup retentions.

Best Practice: In addition to automated backups keep also an additional local copy of your critical data. You can never have too many backups!

Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP) – In a major disaster, such as the OVH datacenter fire, or unplanned downtime you will want to have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place. These can vary based on an organization’s requirements.

An effective way to implement a disaster recovery plan is by using replicated servers. With replicated servers, you have an identical copy of your primary server that can be spun up in the event of a disaster. Servers can be replicated:

  • In the same datacenter – which would ensure that your websites are up and running in the event in which the underlying hardware that hosts your primary server fails.
  • In different datacenters/locations – this adds an additional layer of uptime protection, in case of a major disaster that affects the entire datacenter, as in the case of the OVH fire.

The Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan are both designed with maximum availability in mind in case of a major disaster or cyberattack. The primary difference between them is WHEN they are implemented. A Business Continuity Plan will focus on keeping your business up for as long as possible DURING a major incident while a Disaster Recovery Plan is focused on bringing your website/applications up as soon as possible AFTER a major incident.

Conclusion

Today’s businesses need more than just an IT team, they need a reliable hosting infrastructure and the tools and means to ensure continuous data availability.

Hosting critical websites and applications can often be a burden for businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. By having a Disaster Recovery Plan and Business Continuity Plan plan in place you can ensure that your website is always up and running in the event of a disaster.

About SoftSys Hosting

At SoftSys Hosting we use 100% redundant Juniper network devices that eliminate single points of failure and can handle more packets with higher throughput.

With a team of 24×7 in-house experienced sysadmins and a 99.9% uptime guarantee, we take care of your entire IT requirements so that you can focus on growing your business.

If you are looking for high availability and disaster recovery solutions from a reliable web hosting provider, please get in touch. We’d love to learn more about your business and provide solutions that will empower your team to accelerate growth.

25 Jan

Key Features To Consider When Choosing a Web Hosting Company | Part II

Last week we’ve provided you with some of our best tips to help you choose a reliable hosting provider

This week, we’re taking it a step further.

We’ve talked to clients, partners, developers, and more to identify the top things to look for when choosing a reliable web hosting provider. 

Based on this we’ve settled on four features that are essential to any good web hosting provider:

  1. Speed
  2. Uptime
  3. Technical Support
  4. Security

1. Speed (Fast Servers/Website)

We’ve recently asked developers and IT professionals across several LinkedIn groups which feature was most critical to their business. 

We’ve got a response from 79 users over three days. Yes, we know that number of respondents is not high enough. Nevertheless, we enjoyed seeing how everyone responded and we want to share the results with you.

These four features were ranked according to the percentage of total votes that we’ve received.  More than half of the respondents said that speed is the most critical feature they were looking for. 

Critical Web Hosting Features

So WHY does speed matter?

A website’s speed or load time is significant for a variety of reasons:

  • It affects your bounce rate – slow pages lose website users fast! In a 2019 report by Unbounce nearly 70% of the respondents admitted they are less likely to make a purchase from a slow website.
  • It affects conversion rate – a 1-second delay in page response can drop your conversion rate by 7%!
  • Has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and as a result, can affect your churn.
  • It affects how your website ranks in search results. In 2010 Google officially introduced speed as one of the ranking factors for desktop and in 2018 they’ve applied this to mobile searches as well. The recommended page load time is under 3 seconds, says Google.

What’s the solution?

While there are many factors that can affect a website’s speed you should verify that your web hosting provider has up to date technology and hardware to ensure that your website runs at a fast speed.

Here are three questions to ask when evaluating the server speed of a hosting provider:

SSD or HDD Storage?

HDD (hard disk drives) use platters that move and spin. Eventually, these platters will wear out and start failing. Unlike HDD, SSDs (Solid State Drives) have no moving parts that can break or fail. SSDs use flash memory-based transistors which offer faster data transfer speeds.  In other words, SSDs are architecturally designed for higher performance, providing faster storage and lower latency than HDD.  If you have a choice always choose a server with SSD.

What Type of RAID Is Used?

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks. It’s a way of storing data across multiple physical disks for increased speed and performance. 

There are different levels of RAID. 

A RAID 10 disk is one of the most efficient and highest performing levels, combining both RAID 1 (mirroring – or writing data on two or more drives) + RAID 0 (striping – or dividing data across multiple areas).

A RAID 10 disk will deliver a fast and redundant solution.

Check out this video from Spiceworks to learn more about RAID and the different levels.

Is There a Content Delivery Network (CDN) Service?

A CDN is a highly distributed network of servers or POPs (Points of Presence) that work together to provide fast delivery of content over the Internet.

This is possible by caching the content of your website and delivering it from a server closest to your website’s users. In most cases, the content cached is only static content, but some providers, such as Cloudflare, also offer options to cache dynamic content, through their Railgun web proxy system.

There are different CDN services out there but the most popular by far is Cloudflare CDN. With POPs in over 200 cities in more than 100 countries, Cloudflare has become the CDN of choice for many website owners today.

Some hosting providers will offer a CDN service as an included or optional service because it is highly effective in increasing a website’s speed.

2. Uptime Guarantee (Availability)

One crucial thing to consider when choosing a web hosting provider is the Uptime Guarantee or service availability. Uptime is important because it ensures your website is available online to your users. Poor uptime will have a direct impact on your business.

Let me start by saying this: no web hosting provider can guarantee 100% uptime all the time! Not unless you have a complex setup with replicated servers across multiple data centers.

There are some things a hosting provider can do to ensure high uptime. 

Here are three things to consider when evaluating a web hosting provider’s uptime:

Redundant Network Devices

Redundant network devices highly reduce the risk of downtime in the event of network failure by swapping network operations to the redundant device in an outage.

ISP Connections

Something that is not often taken into account is the type of ISP connection a web hosting provider uses to connect their routers to the Internet.  The ISP connections can be single-homed, dual-homed, or multi-homed.

  • Single-homed connection – means that you have a single connection to a single ISP. While this highly reduces costs for the hosting provider and for you, the end-user, this is the least reliable connection. If the ISP goes down or if there is any breakage in the connectivity, it will cause downtime.
  • Dual-homed connections – you still connect to a single ISP but with two routers, so you have two separate connections, two circuits. This approach offers some degree of redundancy, since it has two connections. However, it still poses a lot of risk if the ISP goes down, has a maintenance event, or has internal routing issues.
  • Multi-homed connections – also known as multihoming, means you connect to two or more ISPs. This type of connection offers the highest degree of redundancy, performance and stability. Any reliable hosting provider should offer a multi-homed connection.

Another thing to consider with multi-homed connection is the routing. You need to ensure a web hosting provider has an optimized routing process that can analyze traffic and choose the best and fastest path for your traffic.

At SoftSys Hosting we do this by using Noction Intelligent Routing Platform (IRP) to route our traffic through our multi-homed connections. By analyzing traffic at the network edge (WAN edge), Noction identifies congestions and blackouts and reroutes your traffic towards the fastest and best-performing path. This in turn reduces latency by up to 40% and increases performance.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

A reliable hosting provider should have a documented SLA publicly available on the website. The SLA will define the level of service that you can expect from your hosting provider. It will also address financial penalties for cases in which the hosting provider fails to meet the level of service that was stated. The SLA should also include the Network SLA which states the uptime guarantee.

3. Technical Support

“It’s the level of support that makes a great host stand out! The others should really be a given.” – says Alex Wells, Website Developer at Simpsons Creative, a full-service creative agency based in the UK.

Technical support is the backbone of any reliable hosting company.

Here are some critical things to consider when evaluating a web hosting company’s support:

Support Staff Available 24/7

best technical support

Issues can occur at any time, and often are beyond your control. A reliable web hosting provider should have staff available 24/7 to support your business. Response time – in a lot of cases the SLA will define the response times based on issue priority. If it’s not stated in the SLA find out what the average response times are so you are not caught off guard.

In-House Support

A support staff that’s available in-house and not outsourced will always provide superior technical support. In-house technicians have excellent knowledge of the company’s services and can respond immediately when issues arise.

Managed Server or Unmanaged Server

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different priorities. If you have an in-house IT department or prefer to manage everything yourself you might choose to have an unmanaged server.

However, if you don’t have an IT department, if you don’t have the time to manage a server, or simply prefer to have an additional layer of support you can opt to have your server fully managed by the hosting provider.

Typically, that includes at a minimum system/server administration support, server and application updates and patches, managed backups, and proactive monitoring.

4. Enhanced Security

Every day we read about a new cyberattack taking down well-established businesses. What does this tell us? Security cannot be overlooked these days!

Good security starts at the data center level and goes down up to the individual server level.

A reliable web hosting provider should take and offer a variety of security measures. We’ve got six for you:

SOC compliance

A System and Organization Control audit (SOC) certifies that an organization protects and securely manages a customer’s information. It audits how a service provider complies with one or more of the following principles: security (required), confidentiality, processing integrity, privacy, and availability.

24/7 Network Monitoring

All network infrastructure should be monitored 24/7 to quickly identify any potential issues.

DDoS Protection

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are growing rapidly in volume and frequency and becoming one of the most. DDoS attacks are anticipated to grow to 15.4 million by 2023. That’s nearly double the number of attacks since 2018. DDoS protection, either at the data center level or the server level is thus a critical security measure to consider when evaluating hosting providers.

Network Security Solutions

Network security solutions such as firewalls, IDS, and IPS are critical for cybersecurity.

A firewall keeps hackers and bad actors out of your server. An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) identifies possible security breaches or intrusions at the network or server level. An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) creates rules to automatically block malicious access identified by the IDS. All of these are critical security solutions that the hosting provider should make available either as part of your plan or as an added service.

Malware and Ransomware Solutions

With the high increase in cyberattacks, you need to pay extra attention to server security. A good web hosting provider should be prepared to offer solutions that can protect your server from malware and ransomware attacks

Ongoing Backup Solutions

Backups are often underrated. But the truth is anything that is not properly backed up could be lost in seconds. A good web hosting provider should offer ongoing backups solutions with multiple retention options that allow for easy restores.

About SoftSys Hosting

At SoftSys Hosting we provide a complete suite of web hosting and related business services from our 4 datacenter locations: Denver, Chicago, London & Singapore.

Our primary goal is to help your business succeed. When you’re doing great, so are we!

We provide high-performance servers with pure SSD RAID 10 disk array. We use 100% redundant Juniper network devices that eliminate single points of failure and can handle more packets with higher throughput.

With a team of 24×7 in-house experienced sysadmins and a 99.9% uptime guarantee, we take care of your entire IT requirements so that you can focus on growing your business.

If you are looking for a reliable web hosting company with stellar technical support, fast SSD servers, great uptime, and enhanced security solutions please get in touch. We’d love to learn more about your business and provide solutions that will empower your team to accelerate growth.

Contact us at [email protected] or +1-862-214-2255 (Ext 203).

19 Jan

How To Find a Reliable Web Hosting Company | Part I

Best Web Hosting

So, you’ve decided to bite the bullet and take your business online.

Or perhaps you already have a successful online business and are looking for a reliable hosting provider to partner with as you continue to grow.

But what makes a web hosting provider reliable?

With hundreds of hosting providers out there finding the best one for your website is not an easy task. Don’t worry, we’ve got you!

We’ve rounded up some of our best tips on helping you choose a reliable hosting provider.

What Is a Web Hosting Service and How Does It Work?

For those unfamiliar, a web hosting service is a type of service that stores the files and data of your website or application and serves them, or makes them available, over the Internet. These files can be web pages (text content), images, media content, scripts, and more.

Each website needs a home where it can live.

When you get a web hosting service you basically rent a space on a server for your website. In other words, a web hosting provider is like a digital landlord. Instead of leasing or renting space in a building, it rents space on the Internet.

A web hosting provider, therefore, is a company that leases or rents the technology and resources needed to make your website accessible over the Internet.

What is Web Hosting
When website visitors type your website URL in their browser, the browser requests the website information from the server that stores it, downloads the files, and displays the web content.

To make your website accessible over the Internet you need to:

  • Own a domain name.
  • Purchase a hosting plan.
  • Upload your files into your web server.
  • Point your domain to the server’s IP.

When your website visitors type your website URL in their browser (Google Chrome, Safari, etc.), the browser requests the website information from the server that stores it, downloads the files, and displays the web page.

How Many Types of Web Hosting Services Are There?

Web Hosting Services
The most common types of web hosting services are shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server hosting.

There are a few different types of web hosting services. The most common types are shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server hosting.

Shared Hosting

As the name indicates you are sharing your hosting with many other users, sometimes hundreds of users. So, if your web hosting provider is your landlord, shared hosting is like having a small apartment unit in a large apartment complex. You share the complex with hundreds of other tenants.

The advantage of shared hosting is that the prices are lower. The server is also maintained and managed by the hosting provider. All you have to do is upload your website and start growing your business.

The disadvantage of shared hosting is that you get a small allotment of resources and you have less control over the server. You cannot upload custom applications or access the server from the command line.

In some cases, there is not a lot of insulation between the different users. If one tenant overuses their resource allotment it could have a negative impact on your service. This can be significantly reduced if the hosting providers use an Operating System such as CloudLinux OS, which offers better isolation and increased performance.

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

A private server, as the name suggests, is a server where all the resources are dedicated to you. If shared hosting is like renting a small apartment unit, with VPS hosting you get your own condo.

The advantage of VPS hosting is that you get more resources, better insulation, and full control over your server (SSH/RDP).

A VPS server also allows you to scale as needed. You can also choose if you want to manage the server yourself or have the hosting provider manage it for you.

The disadvantage of VPS hosting is that it’s more expensive than shared hosting.

Dedicated Server

A dedicated server is like having your own private house. It provides the highest level of privacy and you don’t share the building with anyone.

The advantage of dedicated servers is it can include a large number of resources.

The disadvantage of dedicated servers is cost. Dedicated server hosting is typically the most expensive type of hosting. Dedicated servers are also more difficult to manage and maintain.

There are VPS servers that can be just as large or powerful as a dedicated server.  However, some companies might still prefer to use a dedicated server due to the higher degree of privacy offered, or due to various compliance requirements.

How To Find a Web Hosting Provider?

Ask a friend

If you have a friend, colleague, or business partner who has a website, ask for web hosting referrals. This is the BEST way to find a reliable hosting provider. You can learn from someone else’s experience.

But make sure the referrals you are getting are meeting your requirements and expectations.

Everyone has different needs.

Just because your friend/business partner is pleased with his/her Windows hosting provider, it doesn’t mean it will work for you, if you are looking for a Linux provider.

Go through your list and get specific information based on your own requirements.

Do Your Own Research

Another good way to find a good web hosting provider is through old fashion research.

Start with the obvious. Do a Google search and be as specific as possible.

Some examples of popular searches include: “managed vps hosting,” ”linux vps hosting,” “shared windows hosting”.

Check Online Reviews

Once you have identified your requirements and done your research, make a list of all the hosting providers that fit your needs.

Do your due diligence and find user reviews for the providers that match your requirements. Make sure you use reviews from reliable sources such as Trustpilot, Google Reviews, or G2.

Check Blogs and Social Channels

To a lesser extent, check which providers have a social media presence and periodic website updates. This will give you a sense of whether or not the hosting company is actively working on improving its services and communicating with its online community.

Is It Easy To Change Web Hosting Providers?  

Changing web hosting providers can be a daunting task. If you use a Control Panel such as cPanel/WHM or Plesk and the destination provider uses the same Control Panel it’s a matter of copying your data from the old server to the new server using internal migration tools.

If you migrate to a different Control Panel or don’t use one at all, it’s a much more complicated task. In either case, if you’re not a developer yourself you need to make sure you have your developer on standby to test the migration and assist with any possible issues that arise.

A reliable web hosting company should offer you either a free migration or a discounted quote for assisting with the migration.

When choosing your web hosting provider, you should:

  • Have a monthly budget.
  • Estimate your monthly traffic.
  • Understand the different types of web hosting services (Shared, VPS, Dedicated).
  • Estimate your server’s resource requirements.
  • Define the location – where are you and your website visitors are located.
  • Know what application your website is built with (Java, WordPress, Magento, etc.)
  • Get a sense of how much support you expect to require. Do you need a fully managed server, unmanaged, or something in between?

Most of these are pretty straight forward, but identifying the resource requirements often poses a challenge.

If you are completely new to web hosting, your web developer should give you an idea about the resource requirements.

If this is an existing website you can get this information from your current web hosting provider.

Coming Up Next

You are now equipped with all the tips needed to find a reliable web hosting provider.

If you’ve enjoyed this article check out the second part of this blog post series: Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Web Hosting Company

Need assistance choosing the best web hosting plan for your needs?

Get in touch!

We would love to learn more about your business and provide a solution that will accelerate your online growth.

Contact us at [email protected] or +1-862-214-2255 (Ext 203). 

19 Nov

SoftSys Hosting Black Friday 2020 Deals You Cannot Miss

Black Friday Hosting Deals

This Black Friday we’re going all in! We’re offering a 90% discount on selected VPS servers + 1 Month free on Acronis Backup or Acronis Cyber Protect.

SoftSys Hosting Black Friday – 90% OFF x 1 Month With Self-Managed VPS Servers

Get a high-performance Linux VPS or Windows VPS for less than $1 during your first month of service.

Save 90% on the first month of a monthly based service, when ordering a new VPS server in our US (Denver/Chicago), Singapore, or UK datacenters (Linux).

All our Linux VPS servers include root SSH access.

All Windows VPS servers include full administrative RDP access and a free SolidCP Control Panel.

Get 90% OFF on Your New VPS server. Use coupon code: BF2020

Applicable services:

Terms of Use:

  • New and current customers are eligible for this promotion
  • The promotion code can be applied ONCE per account
  • The promotion code must be entered at the time of placing the order. Discounts will NOT be applied after the purchase
  • The 90% discount will be applied to the FIRST order of a monthly-based service! It is not an ongoing discount. After the promotion ends, the services will renew at the regular price.
  • The discounted price applies only to NEW servers in the listed datacenter locations and cannot be applied retroactively to existing servers or servers in the process of being migrated.
  • Offer expires 12/01/2020 at 11:59PM EST

SoftSys Hosting Black Friday – FREE x 1 Month Enterprise Backup/Data Recovery Service + Cybersecurity Solutions

More often than not you can find yourself in a situation in which you need to restore your data from a backup. Some of the most common situations that we’ve run into over the years are:

  • Human Error (#1 reason) – Human error (accidental deletion of files, overwrites, loss of access, etc.) is the most common situation in which users might require a restore from backup.
  • Corrupt Database – bad updates, file corruption, missing files, etc.
  • Security Incidents – malware, ransomware, brute-force attacks, etc.
  • Software Updates Gone Wrong – updating applications and software can often time break a fast website and a restore from backup will be required.
  • Hardware Failure – incorrect drive information, outages, the drive does not power on, file corruption, etc.
  • Physical Disasters – hurricane, fire, flood, etc.

Any of these situations can result in a permanent loss of data if you don’t have a backup. We have partnered with Acronis to deliver a reliable and easy-to-use backup solution and cybersecurity solution.

Protect Your Critical Data With Acronis Cyber Backup or Acronis Cyber Protect. Activate 1 Month FREE!

Applicable services:

Terms of Use:

  • New and current customers are eligible for this promotion
  • The promotion code can be applied ONCE per account
  • The promotion code must be entered at the time of placing the order. Discounts will NOT be applied after the purchase
  • The promotion applies to the FIRST order of a monthly-based service! It is not an ongoing discount. After the promotion ends, the services will renew at the regular price.
  • The discounted price applies only to newly purchased Acronis services and cannot be applied retroactively to existing services.
  • Offer expires 12/01/2020 at 11:59PM EST

MORE SOFTSYS HOSTING DEALS

50% OFF x 3 Months With Fully Managed Linux and Windows VPS Servers

New customers can save 50% on the first 3 months of service when ordering a new monthly based managed VPS server. Use coupon code: 50OFF_3Mon

Applicable services:

Managed Hosting Benefits

  • Fully Managed Service Level
  • Peace of Mind with 24×7 Proactive Server Monitoring
  • Full Control with RDP/SSH Access
  • Service Flexibility with Custom Software Installation
  • Host Unlimited Websites/Databases

Terms of Use:

  • Only new customers are eligible for this promotion
  • The promotion code can be applied ONCE per account
  • The promotion code must be entered at the time of placing the order. Discounts will NOT be applied after the purchase
  • The 50% discount will be applied to the FIRST 3 MONTHS of monthly-based service! It is not an ongoing discount. After the promotion ends, the services will renew at the regular price.
  • The discounted price applies only to NEW servers in the following datacenter locations: US (5), Canada, UK, Germany, Ireland, France, India, Singapore, Australia, Tokyo & S Korea
  • The discounted price cannot be applied retroactively to existing servers or servers in the process of being migrated.

Secure, High Performance Shared Windows Hosting – Start as Low as $1

Save 90% on the first month of service when ordering a new monthly-based WordPress Hosting server. Use coupon code: WP90OFF

WordPress Hosting Benefits

  • Managed WordPress hosting at very accessible pricing
  • Increased speed and high-performance WordPress with Free LiteSpeed Caching Plugin
  • Advanced protection from DoS and hacking attempts with free IDS/IPS/WAF
  • Protect your WordPress website from hackers with on-demand & real-time malware scanning/quarantine
  • Get peace of mind for your WordPress website with free included backups
  • Expecting higher traffic? Get free on-demand resource increase for up to 24 hours

90% OFF x 1 Month High Performance Shared Linux Hosting

Save 90% on the first month of service when ordering a new monthly-based Linux Cloud Hosting server. Use coupon code: GET90OFF

Linux Cloud Hosting Benefits

  • Increased speed with fast SSD Storage
  • Support for popular apps: WordPress, Magento, Drupal, Joomla, WooCommerce
  • High-performance with Free LiteSpeed Caching Plugin
  • Advanced protection from DoS and hacking attempts with free IDS/IPS/WAF
  • Protect your website from hackers with next-gen on-demand & real-time malware scanning/quarantine
  • Free included backups
  • On-demand resource increase for up to 24 hours

Secure, High Performance Shared Windows Hosting – Start as Low as $1

Get a secure, high-performance Windows Hosting for as low as $1 during your first month of service. Use coupon code: 1DOLLAR

Windows Hosting Benefits

  • Increased speed with fast SSD Storage
  • Support for popular apps: DotNetNuke, nopCommcerce, Umbraco CMS
  • Protect your website from hackers with built-in Ransomware and Malware Protection
  • Free included backups

Do you need help finding the best hosting solution for your needs? Contact [email protected] or call +1-862-214-2255 (x3)

12 Nov

Hosting Infrastructure Required To Feel Confident During Holiday Traffic Splash

Imagine, hundreds of users are rushing to your website at the same time to purchase products which you actively marketed for this holiday. Your ads are now running, you are getting visitors more than you calculated or more than your server can handle. So what is going to happen with this sudden traffic spike?

Prepare for the Worst or If You Want Peace, Prepare for War

Online website performance

You should be always prepared for the worst (means best for your business) during this holiday shopping fest. Because the year 2020 proved to be one of the toughest years so far. But this might be the good opportunity for your online business because people will hesitate to go out in malls during this Covid-19 pandemic and you may expect getting more online traffic than ever before. In that case you should be prepared to avoid 2 major disasters. So how are you going to be prepared?

Check your Website Performance

You can check the current performance of your website easily with the online tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights. Open PageSpeed Insights, enter the URL of your website and hit the Analyze button. This test will show you result for both mobile and desktop versions of your website. And you will get the detailed audit of your website code and receive suggestions on how to optimize it. But still if you don’t have enough computing power to run your website easily during this traffic spike, you may get time-out errors and your customers will flow away without making any purchases.

Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)

The best way to cope with the traffic load on your website is not follow all traffic to your single web hosting server. CDN can do it very effectively by storing the cached content of your website on multiple CDN servers located around the globe. But you will have to implement CDN before the traffic starts hitting your website because it will be very difficult to implement the CDN once your website is under heavy traffic load.

Opt for the Scalable Hosting Solution

Scalable Hosting

The most straightforward way to deal with increased traffic is to upgrade your hosting account. For example, if you are using shared hosting you can go with VPS which will give you isolated resources like RAM, CPU and storage at a more affordable price if compare to dedicated solutions. You should contact your web hosting provider before your customers start contacting you. And if you are a Softsys Hosting client then you can directly get in touch with our support team and we will provide you the most suitable VPS plans or you can choose on your own from our extensive range of cloud-based Windows VPS, Linux VPS or Special eCommerce (nopCommerce, Magento) and CMS (WordPress, Joomla, Umbraco) hosting solutions.

04 Oct

The Best Killer Features You Should Expect From A Hosting Service

There was a time when having a website for your business was optional. Today, many businesses can’t afford even a few minutes of downtime when their customers can’t access their site. That means, choosing a reliable web hosting service has become mission critical for most business owners. But that can be easier said than done, given the hundreds of options out there that range from providers , all of which differ in terms of their price and service offerings. But how do you know whether you need to spend $10 a month or $100 when it comes to a web hosting service? We would like to mention here some of the key tips, from business owners and experts alike, about the types of questions and issues you want to think about before deciding where to host your website:

Support

cloud hosting support

Nobody can guarantee a 100% uptime. Incidents happen and the worst thing for a customer is having their business-critical website down. These are the times when support can truly make a difference. “Support has always been quick with everything and understood what I was asking them meaning they are knowledgeable as well. Never felt like these guys were reading from a script, they are real bonafied human beings and I like that.” says Yves Lacombe a long-time SoftSys customer.    
That means looking for providers that offer 24/7 support with customer service reps who are available for assistance immediately. SoftSys Hosting support has a stellar background, as we are always willing to go one step ahead in providing a fast and speedy resolution to customer issues.

Parking Service

Most companies buy their .com, .net, .org, etc. versions of their brand name, misspellings, service names, and more. It’s most efficient and convenient for brand management to have these in one control panel and know that you’re not going to lose any traffic. Softsys Hosting offers multiple domain aliases even on basic hosting plans thus allows even the smallest customers to park multiple domains on their plans without any additional charges.

Backup

Make sure your web hosting service provides adequate backup. There have been instances when customers mistakenly delete the entire  directory of their website. Some have their websites compromised, while some got their account terminated and removed from the server due to payment glitches and came back later expected their account worked as before after making the payment. A regular backup is always able to save from these losses. Softsys Hosting provides multiple backup options including R1Soft and Acronis that  offer the ability to restore backups with just a click and  bring the website back up within no time. Support also plays a critical role in this time in assisting customer in faster recovery and restoring services with minimal downtime.

Uptime Guarantee

The last thing you want your customers to experience is a blank/error message when they type in your URL, so a hosting service with a strong reputation for uptime and redundancy is the one you should be looking for Opt for an uptime guarantee of 99 percent or more.

Accessibility

Accessibility

You might find that some hosting services make it difficult to make changes to your site. If so, avoid them. Make sure the host you choose gives you access to the server so that you can easily create new email accounts, make changes to server settings, etc. Softsys Hosting uses Plesk, cPanel, etc. which provides customers with the ability to have complete control over their hosting account. Almost all the features are available so customers are able to manage hosting themselves without the need to contact support frequently.

Shared Or VPS

For small websites and on a limited budget, customers prefer a shared hosting service, which basically means that your site is being hosted along with dozens  of other sites which is why you might pay as little as $7 a month for hosting fees. The downside, though, can be that troubles with one of those sites could lead to problems for all the sites hosted on that . Having a fast website response time is crucial so that your visitors don’t grow impatient and click away and that Google uses page load speed as one of its many factors in determining whether your page will be shown high in search results. That’s why some customers prefer to pay more for access to a Virtual Private Server (VPS). VPS is a bit more complicated to set up, but from as low as $8 a month, customers have a much higher quality web server and faster performance.

Scalability

While you might be shopping for a hosting service for your small business, you should consider partnering with a service that can scale with you as you get bigger. That can mean that the service offers different tiers of service based on the number of expected visitors you receive each month where, as your business takes off, you can easily upgrade your plan. You must make sure that your service provider – or at least your service plan – are capable of dealing with spikes.

Exit Strategy

Even if you’re excited about everything your new web hosting service has to offer, make sure you read the fine print about what they will say if you decide to take your business elsewhere. Softsys Hosting offers such services when most of customers are able to cancel their service simply by submitting a cancellation request.

05 Sep

Ways To Battle cPanel Price Increase

cPanel has surprised a lot of us (partners and customers) with their announcement of massive price increase lately. There was a lot of speculation that they will be reversing this sudden and exorbitant increase in costs. However, this hasn’t been the case and they have pretty much confirmed that the new pricing is to stay.

We, at Softsys, have been evaluating and speaking with cPanel to minimize the impact of price change on our customers. As of now, you (our customers) have below options:

  • Move to another control panel- DirectAdmin to keep your costs at same level as cPanel (DirectAdmin unlimited domains is $15/m). There is migration path available from cPanel to DirectAdmin and it has been tested to be working fine and smoothly.
  • Move to another control panel- Plesk – however, the only concern is that Plesk is owned by same company as cPanel – Oakley Capital. Hence, it is just matter of time that we’ll see similar price change in Plesk too.
  • Move to new discounted cPanel Pricing from Softsys – We have worked out below special pricing for cPanel based on # of accounts that you host along with a special “Plus Plan” if you are having up to 50 cPanel accounts. Please review the pricing table below – pricing is based on your server (cloud or dedicated) and your service level (self managed or fully managed):

 

  • If you are a Self Managed Softsys Customer, upgrade to Fully Managed Cloud VPS or Dedicated server for deeper pricing benefits. With our fully managed services, we bundle several services so that our customers can keep their hands (and minds) clean from server management tasks. Our bundled managed services include, free daily backups, free setup, ongoing pro-active server management, 24/7 monitoring, regular pro-active security audits, 24/7 priority support, hardening and securing the server, managed OS updates and patches, one-on-one scheduling or management tasks (at your preferred time slot), discounted software bundles (like cPanel price above) and much more.

If you have any queries or if you’d like to upgrade your self-managed services to fully managed or if you’d like to move from cPanel to DirectAdmin or from another provider to Softsys, get in touch and we’ll help you the best we can.

12 Jun

Planning For The Unexpected

By its very nature, the unexpected is difficult to plan for. That makes it easy to push down to the bottom of the to-do list while there are more pressing, very real, issues to address.

Taking a few easy steps to help your business prepare for unexpected challenges like changes in the market or natural disasters will help minimize your exposure and give you the peace of mind you need to grow your business.

Unexpected Planning

So, we’ve compiled some tips to prepare for…

Economic Downturn

Economic downturn is inevitable. If you’re in business long enough, you’ll experience seasons of prosperity as well as leaner years. Take advantage of the prosperous times by preparing for a future downturn to protect your business from the whims of the market.

Start by establishing an emergency fund that can go towards essential expenses in the event that revenue starts to slow. Once you’ve begun contributing to that “insurance policy” of sorts, set aside time to develop a business plan based on reduced expenses. What functions could be reduced or eliminated? How would you maximize your marketing budget without compromising operations?

Planning ahead will help you avoid making knee jerk, and potentially detrimental, decisions when a downturn arrives.

Disaster Preparedness

While half of business owners own an insurance policy in case of natural disaster, far fewer have taken the additional steps necessary to ensure business continuity in the event of flood, fire, or other disaster.

While your technology partner can help with this, it’s important to understand your company’s process for backing up files and data. Replicated cloud services are a great start to avoid disaster.

You might also consider making structural updates to your physical location if you are more prone to certain disasters – for example those in a flood zone.

Cybersecurity

As high-profile cyber attacks have been featured in the press in recent years, most companies have taken some steps to secure their data. However, you might be shocked to learn that less than half have secured their customer data and consistently dispose of confidential documents securely. Even fewer (27%) have trained their employees on confidentiality protocols.

Those numbers are truly shocking when you consider the volume of sensitive data transmitted each day.

At Softsys Hosting, we recommend implementing a third-party security management program managed by our professional team that is dedicated to keeping your data secure. More best practices for data security can be found here.

Online Reviews

For a largely digital world, businesses are disproportionately prepared for online reputation management. In fact, only 24% have a crisis-management plan in place to address negativity online.

Online Reviews

That number makes sense when you consider that nearly a third of businesses who have had a negative review believe that it led to a loss of business.

Competition

Planning for competitors encroaching on your market share is the first step to winning in business. After all, keeping the customers you have is often much less expensive than acquiring new customers. Prepare for new competition by maintaining a high customer retention rate and constantly re-assessing the value you provide to your customers.

*All statistics pulled from the Bank of America Business Advantage Spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report
18 Mar

3 Keys To Successful Data Backups

IDC estimates that by 2020 business transactions on the Internet business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) will reach 450 billion per day. Is your company among the millions worldwide handling consumer or corporate data collected online? If so, protecting that data should be your top priority.

Look at your data as an investment – you’ve dedicated time, resources, and money to collecting, storing, and analyzing data to grow your business. But, if the worst happens, how will you recover that investment?

That’s why, if your data is important and key for your business, you must have robust data backup plan. Outsourcing this to cloud backup providers like Softsys Hosting ensures that your data is safe from disaster and accessible whenever you need it.

We help make sure that your data backups are…

Comprehensive

Most industry professionals recommend that you store your data in at least three places, on two storage types, with one copy stored off-site. Don’t trust something as precious as your data to anyone other than true professionals. Our cloud backup services provide a second copy of your data to ensure that nothing gets lost in translation and our professional teams monitor each backup to avoid any mistakes.

Our cloud offerings also give you a secondary type of storage – and one that is separate from your physical location and therefore lower risk for natural disasters such as fire, water, etc.

Consistent

Data backups tend to be a topic of conversation only once something has gone wrong. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your backup routine until you need it. Daily backups help make sure that all of your data is secure in the event of a disaster. This is especially true for businesses where colleagues are constantly adding or updating data. Ask yourself, what period of time are you comfortable losing as a result of a loss event? Most businesses can’t afford to lose more than a day’s worth of data.

If daily backups sound daunting, let us handle them automatically so that you have peace of mind knowing that your data is protected.

Recoverable

What benefit does a data backup offer if the data isn’t usable? Our professionals monitor and manage backups so that your data is in a good recoverable state when you need it. This management lessons the recovery time – or time needed to return to normal operations after a disaster event.

Backup and Restore

At Softsys Hosting, we know that when your systems are down, your company is losing money. Therefore, we work to make sure that you are up and running as soon as possible – typically within a few hours.

Forty percent of companies that do not have proper backup or disaster recovery plans in place do not survive a disaster. In short, your company depends on your data. Work with us to determine and implement a data backup solution that fits your company’s needs and let us do the heavy lifting to monitor and execute the backups – leaving you to do what you do best.