16 Mar 2018

WordPress in 2018

Wordpress LogosWordPress has long been one of the most popular tools for developing new websites and blogs. This platform has already come a long way from its humble origins as a simple blog creation tool, and 2018 is one of its biggest years yet. The CMS is turning 15, and its developers have promised that they already have the biggest software update to the platform since 2014 in the works to celebrate.

It’s undeniable that WordPress 5.0 promises some special changes to come, but what exactly does that mean for the webmasters, bloggers, and small businesses who already make use of WordPress for web design? Whether readers are already avid users of WordPress or are simply trying to plan ahead for future blogs and websites, they can read on to find out about some of the exciting changes that are in the works and anticipated WordPress Trends in 2018.

A Brand New Editor

According to WordPress’s own official development cycle page, the Gutenberg editor, which is the newest version of its already popular editing platform, will bring with it some major changes to themes, designs, and the editor itself.  These changes will include plenty of new features and updates to the CMS admin user interface. The largest part of these updates should be a revamping of the editor used for writing and managing blog posts and web pages, but of course, WordPress’s impressive development team didn’t stop at optimizing its page editor.

Current WordPress users can preview the new features, but it’s unclear as to whether the exact design being previewed will be released as part of the new WordPress 5.0 software package. It’s also important to note that WordPress almost always releases its biggest updates to its paid platform well in advance of releasing them for its free software. Ultimately, no one will know for sure what’s in store until the new editor is officially released in this year.

Changes in Themes

A WordPress Design ThemeThe original WordPress was more or less just a user-friendly platform for creating simple blogs. Of course, the platform has already come a long way from there. Currently, it can handle everything from creating fully-equipped online stores with hundreds of product pages and integrated shopping carts to massive news websites, so it’s safe to assume that future changes will incorporate even more user freedom and personalization of content.

Today’s online marketplace requires more versatile themes and more advanced websites, and WordPress is responding to the changing needs of the online marketplace through offering more themes created with page builders like Visual Composer. These themes should offer users more freedom to create personalized features and incorporate rich content on their sites via the WordPress platform. There are already advanced themes available that incorporate built-in shopping carts and online check-out, with more similar features promised for next year’s update.

Better UX

Microinteraction is the buzzword of the day in the wide world of web design. Webmasters and browsers alike have likely already seen how these changes have begun to manifest themselves on popular apps and websites, and this trend is positioned to make its move to WordPress themes in 2018 as well.

For those who are not yet in the know, microinteractions consist of small interactional elements incorporated into websites with the intent of improving user experience. Current examples of microinteractions include icons that animate when browsers hover over them and visual check marks that appear after users submit forms. While these microinteractions are quite simple, they are also quite effective at encouraging users to interact with websites and remain engaged.

Duotone Themes

2017 was a big year for duotone web design, with more websites adopting this colorful style every day. It’s safe to assume that WordPress 5.0 will incorporate more official themes developed with this new design style in mind. This trend is unsurprising when one considers how the duotone effect is able to help highlight a website’s typography, making it simultaneously more readable and more visually appealing.

Photo-Based Sites

It’s long been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and web designers have begun to catch on to the wisdom behind this old axiom. Today, webmasters using WordPress can create page designs that rely heavily on images to capture the attention of browsers and showcase products or services at the same time.  Similarly, many of the new WordPress themes set to be released for 2018 make heavy use of images and large photo-based site designs.

Virtual Reality

Woman wearing virtual reality glasses

While virtual reality used to be a concept that was only found within the realm of science fiction, today it is a reality that is slowly gaining in popularity among mainstream markets. New virtual reality gadgets, devices, games, and tours are being developed all the time, so it’s safe to assume that 2018 should herald in the support of virtual reality on websites as well.

While WordPress does fully support devices like Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, its developers have yet to release any themes specifically focused on virtual reality features. Virtual reality enthusiasts are hoping that the coming updates will include at least one WordPress theme that focuses on built-in virtual reality features. In the meantime, though, developers can at least optimize their websites for virtual reality compatibility through using plugins like VR image galleries, product tours, and videos.

The Future of WordPress

2017 was undeniably a big year for WordPress, and 2018 is already set to follow in last year’s footsteps. Despite the fact that WordPress 5.0 has yet to be officially released, developers are already hard at work on future releases as well. Arguably the most exciting of these is the WordPress REST API, which will be designed to let users build mobile apps using the WordPress platform as a framework.

Like all major changes, this process will take time. However, REST API’s lead developer has already expressed confidence that these changes will be implemented by the year 2020. While it’s difficult to imagine what other changes WordPress’s incredible development team has in store, it’s all but guaranteed that they will be just as exciting.

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28 Feb 2018

6 Tips on Running a Secure Server

Although it can be difficult and time-consuming to run a secure server, it is far from impossible. By putting in a few hours of research and hard work now, owners can save themselves from data breaches and long nights in the future. Regardless of which OS and server software a company runs, out-of-the-box configurations are typically insecure.

Below are several steps to achieve a more secure web server.

Eliminate Unnecessary Services

As mentioned previously, default configurations are insecure. In the average default installation, many unused services such as RAS, remote registry, and print servers are included. The more services an OS is running, the more ports are open, which allows an easier insertion of malicious code. By disabling unnecessary services, a user can make a server more secure and boost performance at the same time.

Remote Access Controls

Although it is not always practical, administrators should try to log into servers locally. If they need remote access, the user should ensure the security of the connection with encryption protocols and tunneling. Single-use sign-ons are a good secure server practice, and remote access should be limited to specific accounts and IPs. Corporate servers should not be accessed on public PCs or networks, such as those in internet cafes.

Keep Production, Testing and Development Environments Separate

Because it is easier and quicker for a developer to assemble a new version of a web app on production servers, it is common that testing and development are done there. It is common to find newer versions of sites, as well as other restricted content, in /new/, /test/ and other sub-directories. Because these apps are in the development stage, they have many vulnerabilities and handle exceptions poorly. These flaws can easily be exploited with widely available tools. In an ideal situation, testing, and development should be done on an isolated, secure server.

Privileges and Permissions

Network and file permissions play a critical role in running a secure server. If a server engine is breached via network services software, a malicious user can use the account to execute files and carry out other tasks. It is important to assign the lowest privilege level needed to run certain services and to anonymous users.

Audit and Monitor Servers

Server logs should be stored in secured areas. All website access, network services, database secure server and OS logs should be checked frequently. Log files offer information on attempted and successful attacks, but these are ignored most of the time. If a user notices strange activities, they should immediately investigate and escalate the issue.

Eliminate Unused Accounts

Default accounts created during OS installs should be eliminated or disabled. When certain software is installed, user accounts are created, and permissions for these should be changed as required. The admin account should be re-named, and every admin with access to the web server should have his or her own account with the correct privileges.

Web servers have a variety of purposes, but they only fulfill their intended roles when they are kept secure. By following the tips mentioned here, business owners and others can have a secure server while protecting the sensitive data contained within.

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10 Dec 2017

The Best File Hosting Solutions for Single Files

Before the advent of secure file hosting platforms, people used email to share personal and business files. However, this strategy has one problem: most email accounts have a file size limit, and large files are hard to send. Additionally, risk management experts understand the dangers of using an unsecured platform to send proprietary files. Secure sharing platforms address these concerns because top vendors offer data and security controls, including collaboration tools, that allow only necessary personnel to have access.

A Brief Overview of Secure File Sharing Platforms

Cloud technology offers a variety of products for business users looking to protect data and streamline operations. From online document management and cloud storage to data rooms and online backup, many options are available for businesses and individuals needing to share single files. There is a significant amount of overlap in the functions and purposes of these file sharing services because they all use internal servers to warehouse data.

For instance, many online file hosting services permit users to share single files, and many file hosting options back up users’ data on corporate servers. However, there are notable differences in the functionality and features of secured document sharing services and online file sharing platforms. Secure platforms offer great security while allowing users to collaborate on documents.

Benefits of Secure File Sharing

For users with sensitive data, email file sharing is not an appropriate option. Secure file sharing services offer software platforms that have much tighter security when compared to email exchange programs. Many business clients use FTP (file transfer protocol) to receive and send large, single files, and this strategy offers some security benefits when compared to email. Despite its capabilities as an in-house file hosting program, FTP does have some drawbacks.

File Security

There are frequent reports of security breaches at businesses of all sizes. Part of doing business involves understanding the concepts of data security. Today’s best file hosting programs include a minimum of 256-bit encryption. Below is a brief list of the top sharing services for single files.

  • Google Drive. This platform became popular because it allows users to edit files simultaneously. The free plan includes 15 GB of storage. The Premium version, Google Drive for Work, offers unlimited storage and additional functionalities like encrypted data storage.
  • Dropbox. Known as a consumer cloud service, Dropbox also provides secure single file hosting for business clients. Dropbox automatically syncs files and allow users to share them even if the recipient does not have a Dropbox account. Trial users get 2GB of storage space, and the largest business plan available offers 1TB.

Platform Considerations

From increased reliability and tracking capabilities to enhanced collaboration, more businesses are counting on file hosting services to get things done. Technology is forever improving, and competition continues to encourage a downward trend in prices. Secure file sharing services are becoming the next popular service among businesses.

Secure hosting software is rapidly becoming a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes as well as startups looking for a quick, painless way to share single files. The benefits of these platforms are difficult to ignore, making the file sharing industry an option that every organization should consider.

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14 Jun 2017

Understanding the Website Migration Process

While there are numerous rationales for migrating a website from one domain to another, there are specific questions site owners should always investigate prior to initiating any type of website migration. If your organization is currently considering migrating to a new domain, consider this website migration checklist first.

Explore the Available Options for Web Hosting

It generally pays to start planning a website transfer well in advance of the anticipated date for the move. One of the reasons organizations routinely consider a website migration is an unhappiness with the current provider. That means any provider selected must have the capability of meeting the organization’s current needs and, almost more importantly, have the capability to meet future needs as well. A successful website migration strategy must anticipate future needs and ensure the new provider has the capability of adapting to new technology and software.

Backup All Existing Website Files First

Backup your files before website migrationTo avoid losing valuable data, back up all files to a safe location before starting the website migration process. Consider using experts to ensure the backup process goes smoothly. While there are numerous plugins and applications available to assist with the process, it pays to work closely with a professional to prevent problems from developing. Having a complete backup available is a safety measure and should not be ignored under any circumstances.

Transfer Data Files and Website Files

Here’s another place where the assistance of experts can be helpful. All files must first be uploaded to a public_html directory using the new web hosting account. It’s vitally important that every step in the process be completed correctly to avoid issues when establishing the new website. The ultimate goal is to ensure the new site runs properly once the website migration is complete. When all necessary steps are completed correctly, the new site should function exactly as the old one did. If changes are being made to the site, discuss how to best implement those changes with a website expert.

Transferring the Domain Name

Here is another issue commonly causing issues during a website migration. In many cases, an organization’s domain name is registered along with the existing web hosting company. If that’s the case, the host should provide a guide outlining the steps required to successfully transfer the domain name. Determining how best to register a domain name when migrating can be complex, and there are a couple of options available. It pays, at this point, to discuss the pros and cons of each option with website migration experts, as doing so can prevent future complications and, in some cases, save money.

Moving Email Information to the New Site

Also transfer your emails when moving to a new hostThe majority of site owners elect to have their email accounts managed by their hosting company. If that’s the case, there is also a procedure available to ensure all email is transferred properly. If you’ve elected to host your email accounts elsewhere, the transfer process is simplified, as only the DNS information will have to be modified.

Finalizing the Process

Once the files are transferred to the new host and any required modifications are made to the configurations, the process is nearly complete. At this point, it’s vitally important to verify the site functions properly. Testing procedures are used to ensure all the site’s features are functioning properly. Hosting companies routinely provide some assistance with this process, but the onus to make sure all aspects of the site operate as needed is normally on the site owner.

If everything functions properly, now is the time to end the relationship with the former hosting organization and delete all files from their old locations. If all the files were properly transferred during the website migration, the site should operate seamlessly, with visitors being completely unaware of the changes. However, it’s common to encounter some issues during the migration, suggesting it is advisable to have some level of expert assistance available to deal with any problems encountered during the migration or when testing the site in its new location.

Once the website is up and running, it pays to continually monitor it to quickly identify potential issues and ensure the site’s search engine rankings don’t suffer. SEO efforts should continue unabated to further ensure the site fulfills its objectives.

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20 Apr 2017

Tips for Improving WordPress Pagespeed

It seems like everyone has a website. When it comes to creating an effective site, having a beautifully designed and easy to use website is important, but it just isn’t enough. Other considerations, search engine ranking, play a huge role in determining the amount of traffic that will be directed to any particular site. WordPress has made establishing a well-designed personal or company website extremely simple, and tons of internet users have taken advantage of the platform as a result. Once viewers are there, though, there is one aspect of user experience that can literally make or break their viewing experience: WordPress Pagespeed.

Why Speed Matters

Modern man has an attention span that is practically growing shorter by the day. This shortened attention span dramatically impacts how internet users navigate around the web. Recent reports have indicated that even a 2-second delay in load times can reduce visitor satisfaction by almost 4%, leading to a lower conversion rate and lost revenue. Website speed is so important that many potential customers will not even wait around for the initial page to load before deciding whether they are interested in a company’s product or service. If the load time is too long, they’ll go elsewhere.

On top of all that, many search engines, including Google, have begun to include site speed in their site ranking algorithms. That means faster-loading websites get ranked higher on their search results, driving more traffic to them.

How to Tell if a WordPress Page is Slow

It’s important to take note of the fact that website load times are not consistent across every user’s computer. All too often a site’s creator will simply load the page on his or her browser, note that everything pops up quickly and looks correct, and call it a day. This is a huge mistake.

Modern internet browsers cache data for easy retrieval, so revisiting a site causes load times to decrease substantially. WordPress Pagespeed will appear to be extremely quick, but this will not necessarily reflect the experience of the average visitor. The best way to tell how quickly a site will load on an unfamiliar computer is to perform a speed test, which can easily be found online.

Common Reasons for Slow WordPress Pages

Large images and other files that are not optimized for web use can cause slow load times, as can poorly coded plug-ins and external scripts. Web Hosting servers that are not properly configured can also cause slow a page down, as can server overloads. Of course, individual users have more control over some of these factors than others. Most WordPress users don’t necessarily have the extensive coding experience necessary to improve plug-in codes. There are, however, some simple steps that just about anyone can take to improve load times.

Find a Better Host

How to improve wordpress pagespeedThis might seem obvious, but many users just don’t give it much thought: shared hosting leads to slower response times. It’s always a better idea to entrust hosting to a managed hosting service than it is to share resources blindly with other WordPress Users.

Use a Better Caching Plugin

Plugins are extremely useful. Those that utilize web caching can even be useful in improving response times. They generally work by causing certain elements of the page to be cached for easier retrieval, and thankfully, they are plentiful on the internet. Just be sure to find a reputable source for the download.

Optimize Images

As noted above, large images can seriously slow down a website. However, poor quality images that load quickly won’t be getting any business or individual any points when it comes to professionalism. The best solution is, once again, plugins. Simply download a plugin that automatically optimizes images for use online by reducing file size without reducing image quality.

Optimize the WordPress Database

Optimizing a website’s database can be extremely time-consuming and boring if performed by hand. Thankfully, there’s a plugin for that. Whether using a plugin or performing these changes manually, the goal is the same: to reduce the overhead of unnecessary files such as post revisions, drafts, and span.

Keep the Site Updated

It’s important to update frequently in order to address any potential bugs and other issues. Failing to keep a WordPress site up-to-date can lead to slower load times, as themes and plugins may end up falling behind on updates as a result.

Split Up Comments

It’s a good idea to include a blog on just about any website, and tons of comments on those blog posts are a sure sign of a generally engaged audience. Unfortunately, though, they can really take their toll on site speed. Be sure to break them up for best results.

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24 Feb 2017

Exploring the Options for a New Domain Name

While the domain names currently in use have proven useful, the available options are shrinking fast. That’s especially true with the ideal combinations so often touted by internet experts providing clues for new organizations seeking to enter the online fray. That’s why a plethora of new options are becoming available. Before delving into the newest options, it’s important to grasp the historical significance of domain names and why new trends are so important in 2017.

Domain Names Are a Recent Development

Relatively speaking, the entire concept of domain names is new. The very first .com address wasn’t registered until the mid-1980s, but the trends in the naming of domains have rapidly evolved. What was fashionable even a few years ago now appears trite. However, that doesn’t mean some of the original ideas aren’t still sound. For example, virtually every industry expert suggests shorter names are far more effective than longer, complex ones.

That ideal presents some very real problems. There simply are too few combinations of four or five letters available to meet the needs of businesses exploring their online marketing options. According to industry data, every possible four letter combination is already owned by someone. Not every owner of a name actually uses the name, and domain name owners are all too willing to sell a name for the right price. In other words, early adopters grabbed all the combinations as investments knowing new organizations needing specific companies would be willing to pay the price for a name later.

Are Trendy Names Good Options?

trendy-domain-names

Just like questionable fashion choices from the 90’s, “trendy” domain names are outdated fast

One of the ways to obtain an original domain name is to get creative with the process. For some startup companies, their company name may not be an actual word or series of words. Rather, it will be something simply made up as a way to find a way around having to purchase a domain name from a dealer. While that won’t work with four-letter names, it’s a viable approach for slightly longer names.

New trends also follow any initial success of a product. Apple is a good example and is often cited as a case in point. Once the company introduced the iPhone, iPad, and other devices, copycats quickly grabbed up just about i-Everything name available. That might, in fact, work in some cases, but not in most. There are simply too many options to purchase in the off chance the right one may actually become valuable.

While using trendy name options for domains may seem clever, the majority of “cute” names so commonly used in the past now seem hopelessly banal and dated. It’s far better to take the time necessary to develop a name that’s both unique and memorable rather than be limited to the holy grail of a four-letter name. However, in 2017, there are more options available than ever before.

Looking Into the Future

Even though those great four-letter names are already claimed for the .com domain, that doesn’t mean new businesses won’t be able to come up with something truly unique and meaningful in 2017 and beyond. That’s simply because the floodgates have opened, and new top-level domain name options are springing up everywhere. Even though the prevalence of .com names will continue to dominate the online environment into the future, newer options are making it possible for companies to explore other domain naming choices.

Country-specific domains are now commonly used in addition to .com, .net, .org, and other top-level domains. In addition, new top-level domains are already approved and will be seen more commonly. For examples, .chat and .blog are new entries in the naming battles for 2017, and many others are in the works. Hundreds of applications have been received by ICANN in just the past few months, and the organization is anticipating many new top-level domains will be approved in the near future. That will open new options for specific industries, making it once again possible to check domain options and register names that are easier for anyone to remember and use.

Staying on Top of Industry Trends

The best way for any type of organization to stay on top of new and emerging domain name trends is to work with industry experts familiar with not only the existing top-level domains but also emerging ones. New organizations or those seeking to update their branding efforts are strongly encouraged to work with internet industry experts from the very beginning of those efforts to ensure the names being considered are available and, if not available in the .com environment, what top-level domains may be workable.

Top service providers have the resources available to help clients resolve all their cloud, server, hosting, and managed services needs. They understand how important your success is and take the steps necessary to make sure your organization reaches its short- and long-term objectives. Those companies also tailor services to meet your needs—both existing and anticipated.

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02 Jan 2017

How to Avoid Data Loss and Protect Your Company and Customers

Whenever anyone hears a news report about some company’s massive data loss, the instinctive reaction is a sigh of relief that this happened to someone else. The sad truth is that everyone needs to know how to Avoid Data Loss.

Most data loss can be avoided. It would take far more time, effort, and money to recover from a data loss than to prevent it from happening. There are several common causes of data loss.

Files Deleted Accidentally

Probably most people have discovered they didn’t have a current backup after accidentally deleting an important file. It’s so common that this is not always thought of as data loss, but it can serve as a wake-up call that better backup procedures are needed.

Hard Drive Failures

online backupEvery week, about 140,000 hard drives crash in the U.S., approximately 60% from a mechanical failure and the remainder from general misuse.

A hard drive can fail because of:

  • Wearing out, overheating, exposure to magnetic fields or power surges
  • Being dropped
  • A failure in the internal file system
  • Human error, such as improper formatting or tampering
  • A single catastrophic event such as hot computer temperatures or repeated hard reboots

Malware and Virus Infections

A survey of IT specialists found that 35% of their companies had lost data because of a malware infection. Email-based attacks and phishing are the most common means of entry. Data can be lost, stolen, or encrypted. One computer or the entire network can be infiltrated.

Ransomware attacks are increasing. A hacker infiltrates the system with a virus, steals or encrypts the data, and demands a ransom. Master hackers now sell ransomware software to others as a business opportunity. One stolen health record sells for several hundred dollars on the black market.

Tips on Protecting Your Data

Data Storage

  • Avoid Data Loss by storing data in different locations. Create two or more partitions if the system has only one hard disk
  • Store data on an external hard drive

Control Access to Data

  • A significant amount of data is stolen by employees
  • Stringent security precautions and procedures will protect data by restricting access

Backups

  • Backup data on a regular schedule
  • Ensure the backup is not in the same physical location. Backing up to the cloud is the ideal solution for most people
  • If backups are made to an external hard drive, do not leave it in the same location as the computer(s) where it would be vulnerable to fire or other catastrophes
  • Adopt proper data protection strategies and workflow processes.

Antivirus Software and Firewalls

  • Use high-quality antivirus software and keep it up to date
  • Use both hardware and software firewalls
  • Professional IT support will monitor systems 24/7, use more effective antivirus software that is available over-the-counter, and ensure backups are always current and protected.

Power Failures and Power Surges

  • Unexpected shutdowns can crash computers and destroy data
  • Surge protectors with battery backups allow the user to save files and shut down their system normally.

Current and protected backups are the primary way to prevent data loss. An online backup service will be worth its weight in gold if the unexpected happens and they have preserved the only copy of your most critical data. Protecting the hard drive and other hardware is also important, but hardware can easily be replaced. Confidential and proprietary data are irreplaceable.

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26 Nov 2016

7 Benefits of an Online Backup Service

As internet connections become faster and servers become more affordable, online backup has changed from a concept to an indispensable service for many businesses. There are many benefits of online data backup that just aren’t found in USB flash drives, CDs, and external drives. While some of these benefits are obvious, others are less apparent.

1. Extra Security with Online Backup

While some users rely on USB drives, these have little value if they are lost or damaged. Many risks, such as computer viruses, fire, flooding, theft, and hardware failures can occur when backup copies are stored away from the computer. When the main drive is lost, a user can recover all important data from an Online Backup and keep all valuable files.

2. Fully Automated Backups

Companies should create their own protocols, such as making weekly backups to external hard drives or DVDs. However, copying files in this way takes considerable effort, and there’s always a risk of forgetting files or skipping backups. Luckily, top quality online backup providers offer a fully-automated solution that makes backups on a regular basis.

3. Recovery is Easier When Online Backups are Used

When crisis strikes, the importance of a backup plan becomes very apparent. The best solutions allow companies to recover their lost data quickly without any disturbance in the organization’s workflow. The best providers offer fast recovery and free trials so clients can determine whether the service fulfills their needs.

4. Data Versioning and Retaining Earlier Copies

Some things just can’t be done via manual data backups, and versioning is one of these things. Online data backup providers keep sequential copies of data, and clients can search or recover data from these earlier copies. This service offers a true value if a client works with regularly updated data files and they need to recover information that was inadvertently deleted or overwritten.

5. Syncing Data on Multiple Devices

Synchronization is another important feature that just can’t be done with an old backup system. Fortunately, clients can easily sync data with an online backup provider. It is possible to start with a file on the desktop, work with it on a laptop, and provide finished products on a tablet. It is amazing how much a client can achieve with a decent productivity tool.

6. Saving Time and Cost

Buying backup media and drives can be expensive because they need maintenance, upgrades, and time to work properly. Many clients admit that the time-saving capability of online data backup is the biggest benefit. For small and medium companies, outsourced backup solutions from an online provider can result in significant savings.

7. Peace of Mind

It is nearly impossible to assign a dollar value to peace of mind. However, by using an online data storage solution, a client can have fewer worries about losing important data. By letting the professionals take care of the hard work involved in data storage and retrieval, a client can save money and time while gaining reassurance. When partnering with a reliable provider, clients can spend less time worrying about data and more time running the business.

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24 Oct 2016

What is SSL and Why is It Important?

With a seemingly endless number of customers electing to purchase products or services online, the importance of security protocols can’t be overstated. Shoppers simply won’t buy if they lack confidence in a supplier’s site security. Today, SSL(or Secure Socket Layer) has, for quite some time, been the primary means of establishing an encrypted link between devices, generally defined as a server and a client. However, the relationships between clients and servers are becoming muddied as technologies develop.

Understanding the Definition of SSL

When trying to grasp the underlying concepts of online security, it’s important to ask what is SSL? Simply knowing it’s a technology to provide a secure link between machines is important, but it’s also important to understand the necessity for an SSL. A Secure Socket Layer is, in effect, a strategy to enhance the ubiquitous http protocol. HTTP itself is not especially secure, meaning it’s rather easy for others to intercept information being transmitted.

That’s where the newer HTTPS entered the picture. The extra “S” at the end allows consumers to know the site has taken steps to protect the content of the messages being transmitted between the client and the server. So, what is SSL? SSL is a protocol allowing individuals to feel more secure when dealing with a website.

Business Owners Need to Take Things a Little Further

Although clients may not need to grasp all the nuances of an SSL, business owners need to understand a few concepts related to keeping their websites secure. Because the very idea of an SSL is confusing to most people, business owners are strongly encouraged to work closely with experts to establish security protocols for their sites and keep those security measures up to date.

Hosting experts can easily help clients determine whether or not their sites are secure. A simple SSL test, for example, will quickly determine if vulnerabilities exist that undermine a site’s security.

Securing a Site Does Not Need to Be Difficult

Because security is an absolute requirement for websites engaged in any types of financial transactions, the availability of software solutions designed to provide secure connections is now readily available. In fact, open SSL software is available to make the securing communications between online merchants and clients. The open-source software is constantly being upgraded to deal with evolving security issues.

Who Needs It?

Any business accepting credit or debit card information (or any other form of confidential data) must have SSL technology in place to protect both clients and themselves. Banks, insurance companies, and virtually any other business conducting business online will typically need to utilize SSL technology. While no one wants to think their data can be compromised, it’s entirely possible it will happen if an opportunity presents itself. Compromised data can quickly sour the relationships between companies and their clients.

With so much emphasis now placed on the growing online marketplace, the need for maintaining consumer confidence is not likely to lessen in the future. That means every website owner must be cognizant of their site’s vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate security issues.

The Needs are Changing

No matter how secure a system is, eventually someone will find a way to breach it. That’s why security protocols are constantly being improved. Today, for example, TLS, an enhanced version of SSL, is frequently being used as it adds new features to make system security protocols more robust. So again, what is SSL? It is an ever-changing strategy to make sure both merchants and clients are protected when engaging in everyday business transactions.

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12 Jun 2016

4 Benefits of Using a Managed Server

When it’s time to compare the costs and benefits of third-party hosting versus in-house server maintenance, companies should note that the benefits are mostly in support, security, scalability, and reliability. By leaving the IT duties to the experts, business owners can save money and devote more time to daily operations. Below are some of the other advantages of  Managed Server services.

Security

The best data centers will invest the time and money on audits that ensure their network security, company policies, and employee training meet the nation’s standards. The old standard, SAS 70, was originally used for financial reports, but it has been replaced by SSAE 16 and/or SOC 2 and 3 as a measure of excellence in a data center.

Managed hosting providers also offer timely, relevant software updates that ensure a customer’s servers are fully protected against the newest malware and viruses. Offsite backup is a crucial service that can save a business from disaster by keeping vital data and critical applications available and safe.

Top-Quality Support

When customers hire a company for managed server services, they get the benefits of a team of responsive, certified, and experienced staff who can offer 24/7 server and physical data center monitoring to stay on top of any issues that may arise. While some companies have not yet grown to the point where they need a dedicated, in-house IT support team, a managed server comes with the highest level of support. Professional support saves customers money and time that is better spent on running the business. When a company outsources its hosting and IT duties, it can save money in two ways. Firstly, fewer new hires will need to be made. Secondly, the company will spend less of its valuable time training those new employees.

Reliability

When a company is not exclusively focused on information technology, managing servers in-house can be a significant burden. Concerns over uptime can inhibit the company’s growth, and they can gradually become a big distraction. Managed and dedicated server hosts can offer quality data infrastructure to ensure maximum uptime and reliability. Because these companies are dedicated to data center operations, they should already have an uninterrupted network connection and power supply with no single failure point. This reliability makes managed hosting a worthwhile investment for a company of any size.

Scalability

Dealing with an outage during a time when the business is outgrowing its service or product demands can be a real inconvenience, and it can be costly. A managed, dedicated server host typically has the additional space to support corporate clients’ future expansion needs. With the support of experienced, professional staff, clients can deploy a new server and rely on full support. Additional managed services can make it easier to update or monitor bandwidth, CPU, and disk space usage by sending a request or logging onto a portal.

Running a business is difficult enough without having to worry about server downtime, data loss, and unauthorized access. With managed server and IT services from a local company, corporate clients can be assured of flawless server deployment, maximum uptime, and minimal hassle or delay.

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Cloud-Hosting, Virtual Servers & Managed Services