Friday, 25 November 2016

In this article, we'll compare and contrast shared hosting versus VPS, and identify suitable use cases for each option.

Shared Hosting

As its name implies, shared hosting means your website will share the same server with many other websites. This is the most cost-effective option, as no dedicated resources are required to service each individual website/account. That said, server resources (RAM, CPU, storage) are spread--sometimes thinly--across multiple accounts, usually numbering in the hundreds or thousands. Because one server may host a myriad of websites with wide-ranging audiences, traffic patterns, and visitor types, a system compromise can bring down all hosted websites in one fell swoop.

Choosing Between VPS and Shared Hosting

Security is another concern: As server resources are shared across websites, there is a greater likelihood of systems being compromised. If an intruder or hacker gains access to a shared hosting server, all websites residing on that server are equally compromised. For budget-constrained organizations that can deal with the periodic downtime, decreased performance, and security implications of shared hosting, this can be a viable option.

Shared hosting accounts usually come with the hosting account, FTP access to upload files, and one (or more) email accounts per domain name. Additionally, a shared open source database like MySQL may come free of charge as well. Aside from these basic features, though, not much else comes with a shared hosting account, an important factor to keep in mind when comparing shared vs VPS.

VPS Hosting

In contrast, VPS hosting gives customers their own isolated environment for hosting websites. In reality, multiple websites may still be sharing the same physical server in a VPS setting, but a fundamental difference lies in how server resources are allocated to each user account. VPS users only share hardware resources with other accounts--everything else is dedicated to the specific account in question. This means VPS users are typically assigned and guaranteed a certain amount of server resources per account, whereas shared hosting customers are not.

Choosing Between VPS and Shared Hosting

When consider VPS vs shared hosting, organizations expecting to expand their websites in the future usually choose VPS for scalability and added security benefits. More often, shared hosting websites require significant legwork to upsize and scale, and involve some degree of downtime for site migration. On the other hand, VPS hosting resources are scalable and on-demand: If a website anticipates or is experiencing a dramatic spike in traffic, more memory and/or computing resources can be allocated immediately, usually with the click of a button. In terms of security, websites are essentially "sandboxed" in their own environments, so a compromised website will not impact others residing on the same server.

There's no arguing that an organization's professional website is critical for engaging in today's connected business landscape. That said, a plethora of hosting options exist to address a vast array of use cases, and comparing VPS versus shared hosting can be difficult. VPS hosting is significantly more expensive than shared hosting, but for good reason: if you anticipate a substantial amount of website traffic, and/or if the website is considered a mission-critical part of your business, shared hosting will not suffice. On the other hand, simple websites do not require the security, scalability, and high availability that VPS offers.

Choosing between VPS or shared hosting ultimately comes down to each business or organization's individual needs and requirements.

Monday, 14 November 2016

If you’ve been using WordPress with WebHostingPad you’ve become familiar with the authentication popup we’ve had to implement in order to stop the ongoing global brute force attacks on WordPress admin login pages. Several months ago, Google released an update for Chrome that essentially broke this autehntication popup by not displaying the information needed to get past the popup.

How to Find Your WordPress Authentication Information

If you compare the windows above, you’ll see the Chrome window on the left does not include the crucial username and password information needed to complete the form and get past the authentication window. This, pretty clearly, is quite the annoyance.

We understand that this is an issue, and as such we tried to remove the authentication popup to see if perhaps the brute force attacks had subsided, but unfortunately they have not as we almost instantly were attacked by it again. As such, we’ve had to re-add the popup.

Unfortunately this is a global attack on all WordPress accounts and the authentication popup is the most effective way we’ve found to stop it from affecting your services. Short of forcing all customers to install a plugin (which we don’t want to do), this is the safest thing for your websites and for our servers.

As an example, if you visit https://sucuri.net/security-reports/brute-force/ you’ll see just how many attacks are happening daily through this one firewall alone. They are being hit by anywhere between 12 million and 50 million fake WordPress admin login attempts a day.

So, how do you get the authentication info if you’re using Chrome?

Step 1: Log in to your Account Manager by clicking here.

How to Find Your WordPress Authentication Information

Step 2: In the navigation menu, click Support, then click on WordPress Auth Info from the dropdown menu.

How to Find Your WordPress Authentication Information

Step 3: Find the authentication info for the server where you’re hosted. This is the information you’ll input for the username and password in the authentication popup window.

If you’re unsure which server you’re hosted on, you can find out by clicking on Services in the navigation menu and selecting My Services from the dropdown. From there, click on the hosting package. Under the Hosting Information box you’ll see a server name.

As always, if you have any questions or need help with any of the information above feel free to contact us any time.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

If you run a business online or off then you understand the importance of having a website and online presence. However, if it’s your first website, or you designed your website yourself then you might have made mistakes. Luckily, a lot of these mistakes are easy to correct. If you’re relying on your website to drive traffic your way, then you’ll want your website to be a well-oiled machine. Below we highlight the ten mistakes that most beginners make, and what you can do to fix these issues.


1. Lack Of Vision

Your website needs to exist for a definite reason, not simply because you think you should have an online presence. You need to decide upon the purpose of your website before you even begin building.Your website must have a definite purpose, as every page on your website will work to fulfill this purpose. For example, your website could be used to build authority, source new leads, sell a product or service, give information about your business, and much more.You’ll want your user to land on your website and immediately know what your website is all about.

2. Rushing To Market

Instead of getting your website up as soon as possible it’s important you take time to research your market first. For example, if you have an older target market you’ll need to make sure your website is easy to read, digest, and navigate.By having an understanding of your market first you’ll be able to build a website that actually serves them, instead of simply taking up space.

3. Complicated Design

In order to have a successful website it needs to be simple, not flashy. Having an overcomplicated design will only lead to confusion.The goal of your design should be to create the best possible user experience across your website.

4. Design Is Too Trendy

Trends come and go, but timeless design lasts forever. By building your website on the back of solid design principles you’ll be able to create a website that outlasts certain trends and fads.Websites that rely on trends will become outdated very quickly.

5. Out-Of-Date Content

If you haven’t updated your content in years then chances are it’s not up to date with your current business, or the latest web standards. If you have older content your site your visitors may assume you’re out of business, or aren’t as innovative as your competition.If you have a blog make sure you update it on a regular basis, as nothing looks worse than a vacant blog.

6. Poor Quality Photography

Low-quality photography, or outdated stock photography gives your website an amateur feel and won’t do a lot to draw your visitor into your website.Images can help you build a connection with your audience, but only if they’re aligned with your message and business. Make sure you either hire a professional photographer, or use high-quality stock photos that aren’t cheesy.

7. Having Broken Elements/Links

Every element of your website needs to be working. This means you need to test all of your links and pages, so your users don’t end up with the dreaded 404 page.You’ll also want to check all of your internal links to make sure you’re not leading your users to a dead end.

8. Poorly Designed Logo

Your logo is a central piece of your branding.By designing your logo yourself, or getting a cheap logo designed, you won’t do much to further your branding or website. Although your logo is a subtle part of your design it can communicate a lot about your business.

9. Poor Font Choice

Font choice is another subtle element that most business owners neglect. The font you choose needs to compliment your design and increase the readability of your content.This is when it can be helpful to consult the opinion of a professional designer. But, if you’re choosing your own font choice the simpler font is often the better choice.

10. No Call-To-Action

You must lead your visitors somewhere. A website without a call-to-action is akin to nothing more than a virtual business card. Once you’ve proven yourself valuable to your visitors you need to direct them to take action.That action can be signing up for your email list, giving your business a call, or a multitude of other options.Getting your website into tip top shape can take a lot of work. But, it’s time well spent because a well functioning website will help your business grow for the long-term.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Setting up an Email Account was never this easy. Follow the steps in our tutorial below to get your Email Account setup in minutes.

1.Login to your customer panel
HOW TO USE FREE EMAIL SERVICES
2. Click on Manage Orders >> and then ‘List/Search Orders’

HOW TO USE FREE EMAIL SERVICES

3. Click on the domain name and scroll down to locate the Email category.

HOW TO USE FREE EMAIL SERVICES

4. Click on ‘Manage Email‘

HOW TO USE FREE EMAIL SERVICES

5. A new pop-up window will open. Click on Add User

HOW TO USE FREE EMAIL SERVICES

6. Fill in the information and then click on ‘Add User‘ to create an email account. Email account password will be shown once the user is created.

NOTE:
Visit webmail.yourdomainname.com to access your email account.
Input your complete email ID and password.
Your email account is all set up. Now you can send and receive emails.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Managing a website is easier than ever nowadays, but that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. Your website could get hacked, it could break after an update, or you could delete critical files by mistake – and that’s just for starters.

A single backup could save your skin in each of the situations we mentioned, and they’re not hard to create. All you need to do is implement an effective backup process and make sure your backups are stored securely.

By the time this article is over, you’ll know how to do both. However, before we jump into the ‘how’, let’s take a minute to go over some backup basics you need to know.

The Fundamentals of Website Backups

A good backup solution needs to fulfill two criteria:

1. They’re stored in more than one location.
2. They’re created on a regular basis.

We recommend keeping a local backup copy (on your computer or an external drive), and another in the cloud. This may seem redundant, but it adds an extra layer of security in case one of your backups gets deleted. If you’re not a fan of local storage, consider using two cloud storage services just to be on the safe side.

If you only backup your site once every year, you might as well not do it in the first place. Your backup schedule will need to reflect the frequency with which you update your website. If you’re always publishing new content and getting lots of comments, you should consider weekly or even daily backups. If you don’t update things that frequently, you might get away with bi-weekly or monthly backups.

With that in mind, let’s move on to the ‘how’.

How to Backup Your Site

Before we go any further, we should note that any one of the three methods we are about to explore should be enough on its own – so you can pick whichever one is right for you.

1. Backing Up a WordPress Website With a Plugin

When it comes to WordPress backups, we’re big fans of the UpdraftPlus plugin. Let’s go through the setup process together.


Once the plugin is activated, you’ll find a new tab under Settings in your WordPress dashboard. The UpdraftPlus command center has several options, but its most important functions are plain to see: Backup Now, Restore, and Clone/Migrate.


Clicking on Backup Now will bring up a straightforward screen including a few settings: whether to include the database and files in your backup and the option to disable the remote storage option. We recommend leaving the settings as is and clicking on the Backup Now confirmation button.

Wait a minute or two (depending on the size of your site and server performance), and your backup will be ready. It’s that simple! Restoring a backup is pretty easy too, just click on Restore and select one of your backups from the list.


This entire process can be automated from the Settings tab. Here you can set a schedule for your file and database backups, and limit the number of copies stored at any time. This last feature prevents old backups from taking up too much space on your server or cloud storage accounts.


You can connect your UpdraftPlus account to a cloud storage platform by selecting one from the Settings tab. Clicking on any option will display the setup instructions for that particular platform.


Once that step is complete, you’re ready to roll. Your website will backup automatically on the schedule you’ve set, and store copies of itself on your hosting account (which you can easily download to store a local copy) and cloud storage accounts.

2. Backing Up Your Website Through Your Host

Depending on your web host, you might have access to one or more backup tools. For example, here at A2 Hosting, we provide two options to help you manage backups: the Backup Wizard and Server Rewind tools. Not all hosts offer these features, so we recommend that you log into your hosting account control panel to see what tools are at your disposal.

As for our Backup Wizard, all you need to do is click on Backup to download a copy of your website, which you can then upload to cloud storage. There’s also a Restore option, which works with any backups you’ve created.


Server Rewind is a little less straightforward but still easy to get the hang of. It enables you to rewind your server to a former state, which we store automatically. Just pick a date from the drop-down list and click on Restore!, then do the same for the Restore Databases tab, and you’re in business.


3. Backup Your Website Manually to Cloud Storage

Performing a manual backup is not as complicated as you might imagine. All you need is direct access to your web server, be it via a hosting account file manager or FTP. In our case, we’re going to stick with FTP and use FileZilla.

Depending on how your server is configured, the following steps may or not be applicable to you. However, in most cases you will need to access the public_html folder. Inside, you’ll find all the files that power your site.


To backup your website files, simply download a copy of all of the files in public_html to your computer.

If your website is powered by WordPress, all you really need is a copy of the wp-content directory and wp-config.php file. Those two items contain everything that makes your site unique: themes, plugins, and configuration details. The rest of the files and folders are part of every WordPress installation, so you don’t need to lug them around unless you just want to.


Right-click and use the Download command to create copies of your selection on a local hard drive, then upload them to any cloud storage service.

That’s it for your website files, but unless your site is just a set of static files you’ll still need to backup your website database. The simplest way to do this is with a database management tool such as phpMyAdmin.


If your host provides phpMyAdmin, access the tool and go to the Export tab, then use the Quick Export method. Here, stick with SQL as the output format, and click on Go.


You’ll download a single SQL file, which you can then upload to your cloud storage platform of choice.

To prevent confusion, we recommend using an organizational system for your backups. One easy system to implement is to store each complete backup – files and database – in a new directory named with the date of the backup.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Picking the right domain name for a web project is by no means a simple task. Although domain names are, in most cases, cheap and easy to acquire, finding the perfect name can be a real hassle – especially when you take into consideration that over 311 million of them are already taken.

While finding the perfect combination of characters is indeed difficult, it’s not impossible. In fact, there are several tools and strategies that can help you do it.

5 Steps for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

If you’re currently considering buying a new domain, then take a few minutes to walk through these five simple steps. They should make your search a whole lot easier.

Step 1: Use Relevant Keywords

One of the best indicators of a domain’s effectiveness is whether it gives you a clue to the kind of content you can expect to find inside. Keywords are your best friend in this regard. For example, if you were in the wigs business, a bit of research would reveal that there is some real demand for wigs for children. A savvy businessperson would then consider buying a related domain, such as wigsforkids.com.

5 Steps for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

Despite the effectiveness of this strategy, there’s no rule that says that you must use related keywords in your domain. Plenty of large companies, such as Google and Twitter, get away with creating brands and growing them despite their silly names. This is entirely possible, as long as you’re committed to expanding your reach over an extended period of time.

Finally, there’s another option which we’re quite fond of, which is using your name as a domain. This is a perfect choice for personal portfolio sites or About Me pages since it enables you to brand yourself, so to speak. The only downside is your name alone won’t provide any clues as to the content of your site, but that can be an acceptable compromise.

If you choose to go the keyword route, we recommend using Keyword Tools to research topics of interest for potential domain name ideas.

Step 2: Keep it Concise

Ideally, your domain name should be short and simple. Short domains are easy to remember and easy to type making it less likely that visitors will end up somewhere else by mistake.

An interesting bit of research – which, to be fair, is a bit dated – found that the most popular sites on the web tend to have domain names of up to 6 characters. Think Google, Amazon, Reddit, Ebay, etc. They’re all easy to remember and hard to mistype.

Following the advice we outlined in step number one – you should take your list of keywords and the various combinations that you’ve put together, and slash any that are long and complicated.

Step 3: Look Into Alternative Top-Level Domains

By now, you should have a decent list of domain possibilities. However, the chances are that as far as suffixes go, you’re thinking about .com. We can’t blame you for that – after all, .com domains are highly desirable, but they’re far from the only domain name game in town anymore.

In fact, there are plenty of niches where different types of suffixes, also known as top-level domains (TLDs), are in vogue. Dot io is a hit in tech and startup circles. Meanwhile, local businesses should consider regional TLDs, such as .co.uk, which are more likely to be available than plain .com domains.

Some TLDs, on the other hand, have gotten a bad reputation. For example, .xyz domains are now being automatically flagged as spam by some systems. As a rule of thumb, if a TLD is offered for free (as .xyz often is), chances are that spammers will ruin it for everyone sooner or later.

The process of looking for alternative TLDs is pretty simple. When you check the availability of your domain name candidates, most domain registrars will list alternative TLDs alongside regular suffixes and provide you with up-to-date pricing information.

Step 4: Consider Not Buying a Domain Right Away

This piece of advice might seem counterintuitive, but bear with us. Nowadays, most web hosts will provide a way to create and access your websites using a temporary subdomain even if you haven’t purchased a domain name yet.

Sticking with a host-provided temporary URL for the long haul, is, of course, a terrible idea. They’re usually complicated and impossible to remember. But the option does remove some of the pressure to settle on a domain name right away.

This way, you can begin working on your site’s design and content right away – a process that will sometimes lead to a burst of naming inspiration that you might not have had otherwise.

So, if you’re still feeling undecided after the first three steps, take a little time to mull things over. Find a good host that won’t force you to pick a domain right away, and begin working on your new project.

Step 5: Take Social Network Availability Into Account

Plain old domain availability isn’t the only factor to consider nowadays – you also need to take social media into account. After all, you don’t want to spend hundreds of hours working on your site only to find that its name is already taken on social media.

Before you make a final decision on your domain name. You need to take the time to consider which social media networks you will want to use alongside it. Then visit each network to find out whether the name you want to use is available, and snap it up if it is.

If the account name you want to use is already taken, you could always choose to alter your account name slightly until you locate an acceptable alternative that is available. In our case, the wigsforkids.com dream can’t take off since that Twitter handle is already taken by a good cause.

5 Steps for Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

At this point, you should have a few stellar candidates for the position of your next domain name. We’ve already run through all the practical considerations, so all that’s left to consider are your particular preferences. We’re sure you’ll make the right choice!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Nowadays, anyone can get an online store up and running in a matter of hours. That’s all well and good, unless, in your hurry, you pick the wrong type of platform and are forced to either start from scratch or live with a store that is less than perfect.

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

There is a multitude of e-commerce platforms available nowadays, each with its own unique features. The first step you need to take is to choose one to serve as the backbone of your e-commerce empire. And it all begins with a simple decision: hosted or self-hosted?

Hosted and self-hosted platforms each come with their own set of pros and cons, let’s find out what they are and why you should care.

Self-Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

When we say self-hosted e-commerce platforms, we’re referring to a variety of open source applications that require web hosting to function. Think of purchasing a hosting package and installing WordPress. Self-hosted e-commerce is pretty much the same thing. Only, rather than setting up a blog, you’ll be installing a platform for an e-commerce website.

Pick an open source e-commerce platform and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. The most popular platforms are well-documented and you (or your developer) can make any changes you require. This gives you a degree of control over your online store that hosted platforms simply cannot match. If you need additional features, you can either find plugins and extensions to enable them, create them yourself, or hire someone to build them for you.

Since self-hosted platforms can be set up anywhere, you’re free to choose your preferred hosting service. Not being tied to a centralized service means you can move your store if you outgrow your provider or find a better deal elsewhere. It may sound complicated, but these days most hosts, including us, will help you set things up.

Self-hosted platforms sound pretty great, right? However, you shouldn’t make up your mind just yet. Let’s move on to discussing their shortcomings before jumping to any conclusions.

The Cons of Self-Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

They are usually harder to set up than their hosted counterparts. At the very least, you will need to find a hosting provider, choose your e-commerce platform, and go through an installation and setup process.
In most cases, there is no centralized support system you can contact if you need help or run into an error. So you will need to become adept at looking through the documentation and searching community resources to troubleshoot problems for yourself, or hire a qualified developer to help you.
Depending on your hosting provider, costs can pile up once your store begins to grow.

Now that we’ve detailed both sides of the coin let’s take a look at two examples of self-hosted e-commerce platforms.

WooCommerce

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Technically, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, but that doesn’t make it any less potent. This platform powers 30% of all online stores and is part of the Automattic family of WordPress products.

What’s more, the WooCommerce team will happily answer support questions through their help desk. This platform is a great fit for users that are comfortable using WordPress and can be used to power stores of all sizes.

Magento

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Magento is a leading e-commerce platform which powers over $50 billion in transactions per year. It’s not as easy to pick up as WooCommerce, but most people would agree that it’s a more robust platform.

That being said, we would recommend Magento only to users with at least some basic level of web development experience. Despite its thorough documentation, the platform can be a bit much for first-time e-commerce users. It’s overkill for small operations, but a perfect solution for professional businesses.

PrestaShop

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

PrestaShop may not be as popular as the previous two entries on this list, but this scrappy open source e-commerce solution shouldn’t be discounted. The platform has grown tremendously over the past few years and is now used to power over 250,000 storefronts.

PrestaShop is remarkably simple to use. It’s a perfect fit for users looking for a free and open-source platform with a friendly interface and powerful shop-building capabilities. In addition, PrestaShop maintains a roster of partner agencies that will happily set up shop for new users who don’t want to do it themselves.

OpenCart

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Despite its somewhat-outdated website, OpenCart remains a strong contender among self-hosted e-commerce platforms. Its setup process is as simple as any of the other three we’ve mentioned so far – anyone who knows their way around a web host should be just fine.

As far as features go, OpenCart integrates 20 payment gateways right out of the box, supports multiple currencies, and enables you to sell digital products. These features make it a solid pick for users that wish to support sales across the globe instead of focusing exclusively on local markets.

Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

Hosted e-commerce platforms are another option worth considering. These platforms provide an all-in-one e-commerce solution that includes hosting, a shopping cart function, and technical support. In most cases, you pay a monthly fee that varies depending on the size of your store, and most hosted e-commerce platforms offer reasonable prices and discounts if you pay for several months in advance.

Moreover, hosted services have a clear advantage over their self-hosted counterparts: they are far simpler to manage. In exchange for a fixed rate, you get hosting and access to a support team that takes care of any issues for you. You will, of course, still have to add items and customize your store yourself, but everything else is taken care of.

To put it simply, hosted platforms lower the technical barriers to entry, and offer premium support and customization capabilities (usually in the form of themes and plugins). That’s a pretty sweet deal. So you must be asking yourself, what’s the downside?

The Cons of Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

Hosted e-commerce platforms generally cost more than their self-hosted counterparts.
Your monthly or annual fees will grow as your store attracts more traffic and requires more powerful features.
Customization possibilities, while available, will be limited. You will only be able to use pre-approved themes and plugins. This protects you from a security standpoint but can be stifling in terms of creativity and limit the store features you can implement.
Switching platforms is costly and time-consuming, if not impossible, depending on the scope of your store.


With those caveats in mind, lets check out two popular hosted e-commerce platforms.

Shopify
 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms around these days. It powers more than 300,000 stores which, together, have made approximately $20 billion in sales. On top of powering complete online stores, Shopify also provides basic shopping cart functionality for websites built using other platforms such as WordPress.

BigCommerce

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

BigCommerce is an ambitious platform that markets itself to both small businesses and enterprises. Some well-known brands, such as Toyota and Martha Stewart, have built their online businesses on the BigCommerce platform. Despite being a hosted solution, it offers in-depth customization and a robust set of features.

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