Website Disaster Recovery

Most businesses lack the financial backing to deploy a completely redundant and reliable web hosting platform. However, that doesn’t mean that business owners have to encounter hours of downtime during hardware failure. Most small business owners pay less than $25 per month to host their website. Some even pay as little as $5.00 per month but in the event of hardware failure they risk losing thousands in lost sales and emails. Thankfully, this is a risk that they can mitigate while keeping their technology costs down.

A domain is pointed to a web location or IP address through a service called DNS (Domain Name System). The best analogy that I can use is to explain DNS is to think of it as a virtual traffic cop that tells clients what IP address or location on the web to visit when they enter in a website. By default the traffic cop tells prospective clients and website visitors to check this location every 24 hours. Unfortunately since the traffic cop is only checked every 24 hours a website can change locations but it will take at least that long for the traffic cops to complete the task of broadcasting the new website location. This is known as the TTL (Time To Live) and as a small business owner it’s a feature of hosting that should be controlled. Every small business owner has heard of web hosting, domain registration, WordPress hosting, however very few of them are aware of the value provided by managing your own TTL values.

Website downtime is always taxing on a business and our research has identified a few ways that business owners can avoid it entirely. The first key is contacting the web hosting provider and requesting that the TTL be lowered from the default of 24 hours down to three minutes. This will ensure that the web’s traffic cops check websites every three minutes instead of once in a 24 hour period. This small change empowers site owners and gives them the ability to redirect their website to a new location within minutes. If a small business owner needs to quickly change their website location the traffic cops will work to update the entire Internet within three minutes instead of 24 hours.

Small business owners that can’t afford redundant multi-server clusters can still enjoy the benefits of redundancy by simply setting up a second hosting account, keeping the files updated (that’s another article) and lowering their TTL. The monthly web hosting fee may increase, however the added cost is minimal and when the next outage occurs a business using this method can recover within an hour instead of hours, days, or even weeks.

Small businesses that risk losing out on sales or important emails due to hardware failure or downtime are encouraged to setup a second web hosting account. Additionally, the site owner should lower the TTL on their domain’s DNS record to three minutes, and establish a good method for updating the secondary account on regular intervals. Updating the secondary hosting account on regular intervals will ensure it’s up to date and ready when tragedy strikes.  This is the best method we’ve found for website cheap disaster recovery.

 

 

Disable Conversations in Thunderbird

A new feature in thunderbird is the ability to sort email using the conversation method. In my opinion it’s convoluted and it makes it difficult to follow the flow of email. Here’s how to disable conversations in thunderbird so related emails or replies still appear as individual emails.

Steps:
Click “View.”
Choose “Sort by.”
Click “Unthreaded.”

 

How To Upload My Website

This page is currently under maintenance.

 

What is SSL and why should I use it

SSL means Secure Socket Layer. This is a method which encrypts the session of the person browsing your website so nobody else can ‘listen in’. You most likely have seen this hundreds of times without realizing it. A site using SSL is identified in your browser by the little padlock in the URL bar. This indicates the session is encrypted so its ‘safe’ to provide private information like passwords, credit card numbers, etc. SSL certificates are registered by the year. Thus, you can have an SSL cert registered until next year. Or you can order an SSL cert that will exist for 10 years. This is chosen at the time of purchase.

How SSL works is somewhat technical. However, from a layman’s point of view, its really simple. Once you have your SSL certificate installed to your account, its ‘always on’. Meaning you don’t need to activate it in a special way. To invoke SSL on your website, you just need to make sure your links include ‘https://’ rather than just ‘http’. Most CMS’s or shopping carts have an area for configuring this. It ‘forces’ the browser to switch from ‘http’ mode to ‘https’ mode automatically.

Generally speaking its a good idea to have SSL on any website.

 

Choosing a Linux Hosting Service

What should you ask yourself when looking for a good Linux Hosting Service? There are the most obvious things:

Reliability of the network
Age of the host
Policies
Location of the company
Price

But there are some less obvious questions you should ask:

Availability of support
Location of support

Some web hosts outsource their support. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they offer poor service (Server Sitters is known to be one of the leaders of Webhosting Support in the world) but if a Webhost outsources their work outside of their own country, there can be language barriers that can cause frustration and diminish the Webhosting experience. The last thing you need when faced with an already frustrating problem, is trying to get help from a support team who clearly doesn’t know the product and who you can barely understand.

Linux Hosting is by far the most common Webhosting available on the Internet today. Balance the pros and cons when you make your decision and you will have a very satisfactory experience.

 

What is Shared Web Hosting

Shared Web Hosting is the ability to have the resources of a powerful, dedicated service available for your use, but those resources are shared amongst other users like yourself.

The main benefit is power versus cost.  This is akin to a lease on a car.  You get more car for your money with a lease.  With Shared Web Hosting, you get more resources for your money.

The main hindrance to Shared Web Hosting is that since you share the resources with other people, there is a chance of having your site be impacted by something someone else does.  For example, one of the other users on the same server as you gets their email address hacked and used to send spam.  This can cause the server to become blacklisted for a period of time.  This affects you by having your email be rejected by those you are sending to until the server is delisted.

Generally speaking, Shared Web Hosting is a smart move in the early days of your website. However, after you have gained good SEO, and are generating a lot of traffic to your site, you may want to consider moving over to a VPS, VDS, or a dedicated server.

 

Block image hotlinking using Apache

Tired of people stealing your images and bandwith by using your images?

If your web server is apache you can place the following in a .htaccess file to stop image hotlinking:

Create a .htaccess file in your public web folder.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www.)?yourdomain.com(/)?.*$     [NC]
RewriteRule .*.(gif|jpg|jpeg|bmp)$ – [F,NC]

 

hostname – set your server hostname

Login via SSH:

1.) hostname $servername

2.) vi /etc/hosts
update file with new hostname

3.) vi /etc/sysconfig/network
update file with new hostname

 

Custom 404 error page

To create a custom 404 page you must first create a .htaccess file in your public web folder.

Create a .htaccess file in your public web folder.
Then place this in the .htaccess file – this is the only line of code to be placed in it

ErrorDocument 404 http://yourdomain.com/file.html

Then the error 404 would go to the page file.html – similarly for creating a custom 403 error page you would do the same thing.

ErrorDocument 403 http://yourdomain.com/file.html

 

Hide your email address

One of the best methods that I’ve found to hide your email address from spammers is email obfuscation.
That’s a big word that means use javascript so bots can’t easily steal your email address from your website.

Using this method will greatly reduce your spam.

Here’s an example:

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE=”JavaScript”>
user = ‘user’;
site = ‘doman.com’;
document.write(‘<a class=”footmen” href=”mailto:’ + user + ‘@’ + site + ‘”>’);
document.write(user + ‘@’ + site + ‘</a>’);
</SCRIPT>

This will produce an email link that looks like the following:
user@domain.com

 


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