Do You Need Shared Hosting, a VPS or a Dedicated Server

Posted at June 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm by admin

Whether you’re just starting a brand new website or you’ve got an established and successful site up and running, you’ll need to make sure you are always using the proper web hosting.  There are three main categories of web hosting, which are shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPS), and dedicated server(s).  Within each category, there are several different levels of service to choose from as well.

Before you make any decisions, it is important to have a good understanding of what each of these types of hosting are, and a little bit about how they work.  From there, you can evaluate your specific needs based on a variety of factors about your site.

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a service provided by hosting companies where multiple customers host their websites on a single web server.  Each customer is given a partition of the server where they can upload their website files, and edit them as needed.  The partitions also help to ensure that the different customers can only access their own files, and not the files of other people on the same server

The web hosting company will manage the hardware of the server, including monitoring it to ensure there are not any problems, performing any necessary upgrades, and replacing any parts when problems arise.  In addition, they will manage the software of the system to ensure the traffic coming into that server is directed to the right website.  There are many benefits to shared hosting, including the following:

  • Price – Since several individuals are all using the same physical hardware, the cost of this service is quite inexpensive.  In most cases, shared web hosting can be purchased for under $5 per month.  Here at Interserver, you can get high quality shared hosting for just $3.96 per month when you pay in advance.
  • Minimal Technical Knowledge Required – Since the web hosting company handles all the technical requirements, you really don’t have to be an IT expert to get your site up and running properly.  Even for basic technical things like entering name servers, the hosting company will provide detailed instructions on how to do it.
  • Rapid Setup – Since this type of hosting is used primarily for people who operate standard websites, there is no advanced setup required.  You can typically have your hosting up and ready to go in well under an hour.

For most people, there are only two real downsides to shared hosting.  The first is that eventually, your site may ‘outgrow’ the resources offered by the shared server.  When this happens, your site may begin to operate slowly or have other issues.  Fortunately, upgrading to a VPS or dedicated server is quite simple.  The other downside is that you have limited control over the server itself, because you are sharing the resources with other sites. All the customers are under the same operating system, which means what is done to one customer can have an effect on the others.

What is a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A VPS is essentially a cross between shared hosting and a dedicated server.  Several customers will share the same physical hardware, but rather than sharing one operating system, each customer gets their own OS installed.

From the point of view of the customer, it appears as though they have their own dedicated server, even though in reality they don’t.  Another benefit to the VPS is that hosting companies typically only put a few customers on each physical server (depending on the hardware specs of the server).  Since the customer has their own operating system installed on the server, they will enjoy much more control over how it is set up and operates.  Some key benefits of a VPS include:

  • Price – A VPS is still going to be significantly less expensive than a dedicated server, though quite a bit more than shared hosting.
  • Control – When you have a VPS you can typically install any web applications or other software onto your virtual server.  You are also able to reboot your server any time you would like, since it won’t affect the other customers on the server.
  • Power – Rather than sharing resources with other customers, you are allocated a set amount of resources from the server that will be dedicated to your account.  When you sign up for a VPS you can typically choose how much hard disk space you need, how much memory, and even how much of the CPU you will need to utilize.
  • Upgradability – Since your VPS is assigned resources, you can often upgrade on the fly.  If you find that your site is growing to the point where you need more memory, for example, you can work with the hosting company to allocate the additional memory needed.

For many people, the VPS is the perfect solution for running sites that either need more resources, or more control than a typical site normally would. Since you can negotiate the exact technical specs you need, it is possible to operate sites that get a high amount of traffic, while still saving a lot of money.  The only potential down side is that you may need some level of technical understanding if you want to make specific changes.  Of course, you can always request technical support to help you along the way.

What is a Dedicated Server?

The highest level of web hosting is the dedicated server.  With this type of solution you will essentially be leasing an entire server to run your website.  Since you’re not sharing any of the resources with any other customers, you will have full control over how you want the server to operate.

Within this category, you can choose from a wide range of different hardware specs based on your specific requirements.  Web hosting companies like InterServer have some servers available for rapid deployment, but if you need a custom build, that is often an option as well.  You’ll enjoy the following benefits if you choose to go with a dedicated server:

  • High End Power – Since the entire server is dedicated only to your site, or sites, you will enjoy the full computing power of all the resources on the server.
  • Customizable – If you ever find that you need more resources, you can pay to have your server upgraded at any time.  If necessary, it is even possible to use two or more dedicated servers to operate a single site.
  • Absolute Control – Since you are essentially leasing the full server, you can set it up and configure it in any way you desire.  Most people who go with a dedicated server manage the entire system themselves, and only rely on the web hosting company for housing the server and managing the hardware and internet lines.

The two biggest problems people have with dedicated servers is that they can be quite expensive, and that you need to have the technical ability to configure and operate it properly.  When sites get to the point where they require this type of solution, however, these types of concerns aren’t typically going to cause any issues.

Which One is Right for You?

There are a number of different things to consider when deciding which level of hosting you will need.  Some of the most important factors to consider are the following:

  • Number of Visitors – Even shared hosting can handle a large number of visitors per day.  The issues can come in if the majority of your visitors come in at the same time of the day.  Handling thousands of people at once will cause you to overload your shared hosting.  The real issue with visitors, however, is actually with the next point, database queries.
  • Number of Database Queries – When it comes to traffic related hosting issues, most of them are caused by the number of queries the visitors are making.  If each page on your site makes multiple queries per visitor, it can get overloaded.
  • Database Size – As you add more content to your site, your database will grow.  The bigger it gets, the more resources are required to pull each piece of data.
  • Number of Items Loaded per Page – Each file that is displayed on your page requires your web hosting server to process the request and serve it.  Every picture, video, audio file and others require their own requests to the server, so if your pages are graphically intense, for example, it may cause issues.

When you look at the stats of your website, you can get the information you need to decide what type of server you require.  If you’re not familiar with this type of information, you can pull logs and ask the technical team at InterServer to review them and make a recommendation.

For most people, however, a shared hosting solution is sufficient for their websites.  VPS accounts are only really needed for very busy sites, or those where a lot of resource intensive activity is being performed (such as forums or video sharing).  Dedicated servers are only needed by the largest sites, so unless you are quite sure that this is what you need, the chances are you can go with a shared or VPS solution.  No matter which option you choose, always remember that this isn’t a permanent choice.  You can upgrade, or downgrade at any time by simply submitting a request to your support team.

Why Paid Hosting is Superior to Free Hosting

Posted at June 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm by admin

If you’re thinking about starting a website, you’ll need to decide what type of hosting service you need.  There are many different options to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages.  To narrow it down for the purposes of this article, however, the two main categories are free hosting and paid hosting.  As the name implies, free hosting doesn’t charge you, the customer, for their services.  Paid hosting, on the other hand, require you to pay a set amount each month.

At first glance you might be thinking that free hosting is the obvious choice, however, that is not necessary the case.  As you might expect, there is a catch.  After all, webhosting can’t be given away by a company if they want to stay in business.

Problems with Free Hosting Companies

There are many different types of hosting companies that offer their services free of charge.  Rather than charging their customers directly, they make money through advertising or other methods.  This type of hosting is sufficient for certain projects, but it also comes with a variety of different problems, including the following:

  • Disruptive Advertising – Almost all free hosting companies make money by displaying advertisements on your site.  Since they are not concerned with the actual users visiting your page, they often use disruptive ads that make the user experience almost unbearable.  So, for example, if you use a free host, visitors to your website may see nothing but advertisements when your site loads, and your content will only be displayed if the visitors scroll down.
  • Limited Advertising Options – Another concern is that since the hosting company is displaying ads on your site, they typically don’t allow you to run your own ads.  If you’re hoping to make money off of your page, you will be severely limited in your monetization options if you choose to go with a free hosting company.
  • Increased Downtime – Companies that don’t charge for web hosting often have to do all they can to keep their costs down, which typically translates into increased down time.  Since their customers are not paying for the service, they have virtually no leverage when attempting to get better service.
  • Slow Site Speeds – Similar to the increased down time, sites that are hosted on free hosting accounts typically respond far slower than with paid options.
  • Long Domain Names – Most free webhosting services don’t allow you to use your own domain name. Instead, you’ll get something like YourSite.FreeWebHosting.com.  This type of domain is extremely difficult to remember, and does not sound professional at all.
  • Limited Storage & Bandwidth – In order to ensure they can make a profit through advertising, free hosting companies put a variety of limitations on each account. This typically comes in the form of restrictions on the amount of disk space you can use, and how much bandwidth per month you are allocated.
  • File Type Limitations – Another way these hosting companies limit the resources that are being used is by blocking certain file types that take up a lot of system resources.  Things like videos and flash files are often not permitted.

It is important to keep in mind that free hosting companies don’t typically have all of these shortcomings.  They may even actively advertise the fact that, for example, they offer unlimited bandwidth (or any other feature) to their customers.  When you look into it further, however, you’ll find that they never account for all of the above mentioned issues.

Benefits of Paid Hosting

Paid web hosting services typically don’t have any of the restrictions or problems associated with them.  In addition to simply overcoming the short falls of free web hosting, however, a good hosting company, like InterServer, provides customers with a variety of additional benefits:

  • Exceptional Customer Support – When people are paying for a service, they demand the best customer support possible.  Paid web hosting company’s offer 24/7 technical support to respond to any site problems immediately.
  • Advanced Monitoring – In order to make sure all their paying customers are happy, web hosting companies use advanced software to monitor the status of all their hardware and websites.  This allows them to identify problems and fix them, often before there is any impact to the accessibility of the sites.
  • Upgradeability – You can start out on a very inexpensive web hosting plan, and if the site gets too popular, you can upgrade to a faster, more powerful solution to ensure your site is always ready to meet the needs of your visitors.
  • Professional Appearance – There are never any ads or other intrusive things added to your website when you use a paid host.  The only thing your customers will see is what you put up on your website, which helps to ensure you have a professional appearance.
  • Latest Hardware & Software – Paid hosting companies have to keep their hardware and software up to date with the latest advancements or their customers will move to another company.
  • Advanced Security – Paid hosting companies are also committed to keeping all the sites on their system safe from hackers, DDOS attacks and other security problems.  With this in mind, paid web hosting packages typically include a variety of advanced security features built right in.

Still Very Affordable

There is really no debate that paid hosting is far superior to free hosting, but is it really worth the money?  The fact is, even paid hosting packages are extremely affordable.  The vast majority of sites, especially when they are new, can operate flawlessly on a hosting plan that costs just a few dollars per month.  For example, here at InterServer, you can get industry leading hosting for just $4.95 per month with no long term contract.  If you choose to pay up front for a longer period of time, that price drops down as low as $3.96 per month.

With prices this low, there is really no reason to put up with all the problems associated with free hosting, or to turn down the many great benefits you’ll get from a paid host.  So, when you’re ready to get your website up and running, be sure you go with paid hosting.  You’ll be glad you did.

OpenSSL Security Bug

Posted at April 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm by admin

OpenSSL exploit and vulnerability has recently been discovered.  It is highly recommended that servers running the vulnerable version of OpenSSL (1.0.1 and 1.0.2beta) are upgraded immediately.


https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20140407.txt

OpenSSL Security Advisory [07 Apr 2014]
========================================
TLS heartbeat read overrun (CVE-2014-0160)
==========================================
A missing bounds check in the handling of the TLS heartbeat extension can be
used to reveal up to 64k of memory to a connected client or server.
Only 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta releases of OpenSSL are affected including
1.0.1f and 1.0.2-beta1.
Thanks for Neel Mehta of Google Security for discovering this bug and to
Adam Langley <agl@chromium.org> and Bodo Moeller <bmoeller@acm.org> for
preparing the fix.
Affected users should upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g. Users unable to immediately
upgrade can alternatively recompile OpenSSL with -DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS.
1.0.2 will be fixed in 1.0.2-beta2.

Introduction to SSL / Secure Certificate

Posted at March 19, 2014 at 9:22 pm by admin

lock greenIntroduction to SSL / Secure Certificate

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a set of cryptographic protocols commonly used for  encrypting the data being sent between a server and a user visiting a website.  While most websites don’t require this advanced security, it is essential for others.  The following introduction to SLL and Secure Certificates will help determine whether or not you require this type of security, and show how you can obtain it.

What is Required

In order to use SSL, you will need to acquire a SSL Certificate (AKA a Secure Certificate) and have it installed on your server.  If you are an Interserver client, our technical staff can help with this installation.  In addition, you’ll need a dedicated IP address.  Finally, visitors to your website will need to use a modern web browser that supports SSL.  Virtually all browsers today do support it, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

What is it Used For?

This technology is most often used for websites that want the ability to accept credit card payments directly on the website.  All credit card companies require any site directly accepting these payments to have this type of advanced security *Note that you can have third party processors like PayPal on your site without the use of SSL.  SSL is also a requirement for a website to become PCI compliant, which is important for some specific types of companies.

The other reason some website owners want to use SSL is because they have confidential information stored on their website, which should only be accessed by authorized users.  The SSL can help protect usernames and passwords from being compromised, so the data on the website is much safer.

Types of Security Certificates

When looking into adding SSL to your website, you’ll have several different options to choose from.  Each type of security certificate is designed for different types of businesses.  If you need assistance choosing the right certificate for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to our technical support team.  The following are the different options to consider:

  • Shared Certificates – These certificates are not registered to a single domain or company name, and are shared between many sites, typically based on the hosting company.  The advantage is that you don’t have to pay to get the certificate yourself, as you’re just part of a group that is sharing it.  The disadvantage is these certificates often trigger browser security pages, and you normally can’t access the SSL technology from your main domain name.  This is a good option if you want the added security just for yourself, but not the general public users of your page.
  • Domain Validated Certificate – This type of certificate is registered to your specific domain name.  This is commonly used for accepting credit card payments and validating usernames and passwords.  This provides excellent security for any individual website.
  • Company Validated Certificate – This option is similar to the domain validated certificate, except it is tied to the company rather than just the domain.  This can provide some added benefits, but does require additional documentation concerning the company applying for the certificate.
  • Extended Validation Certificates – These certificates actually provide added checks and validations to combat fraud.  This higher level of security is required for certain businesses that have financial transactions or host highly sensitive data.
  • Wildcard Certificates – This option provides the security certificate for a main domain name, plus all subdomains that have the same second level domain name.  If, for example, you run a lot of ‘how to’ sites with domains such as, ‘auto.howto.com’ ‘home.howto.com’ and so on, this would be the best option if you need SSL.

Getting a Security Certificate

If you decide that your site or company requires a security certificate, the first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to our support team and open a ticket.  Explain that you would like to get a security certificate installed on your server.  Our technical support team will work with you to ensure your hosting package meets all the requirements, and if it doesn’t, we’ll help you get everything setup the way it needs to be.  In many cases, our technical teams can also help you through the process of obtaining a security certificate as well.

Keep in mind; this is an advanced security technology that is not required for most general websites.  If you’re not sure whether or not you need one, don’t hesitate to ask.  We can discuss your specific situation and help you make the right decision about SSL.

 

 

Cloud Computing: Predictions for 2014

Posted at February 11, 2014 at 8:21 pm by admin

Future of cloud computingIn the previous year, the cloud industry hit a major milestone. As clearly indicated by the substantial surge in users and slew of cloud service providers and vendors now available, cloud computing went from being a buzzword to a highly feasible infrastructure widely implemented by large enterprises and small business alike. 2013 also revealed how susceptible cloud users are in terms of security. This year, the cloud industry is definitely going to aim to change that.

What will 2014 hold for the cloud computing? Here are a few predictions:

Greater Emphasis on Data Privacy

The famous NSA scandal in the U.S. coupled with new data-privacy regulations in the EU has turned data protection into a hot button issue. Reportedly, there are countless companies out there that have amplified their drives into new cloud-based services in the wake of the data security scandal. While some see it as a reason to be infuriated, others see it as an opportunity.

Service Providers Finally Seem to Wake Up to the Huge Demand for Cloud

It has been revealed by a survey carried by IBA that the strategic importance of cloud computing to decision makers, like CMOs, CEOs, HR, procurement and Finance executives, is poised to increase from 34% to 72% – leaping over their IT competitors at 58%. Since the public cloud spending is expected to augment over time, more service providers are going to understand the need to enter the market quickly.  Demand for cloud computing is likely to accelerate this year since enterprises and other small businesses have started to move production workload to the cloud. Therefore, cloud-service-providers have to create offerings that distinguish against Google and AWS to become attractive to the customers.

More Mobile Usage

The mobile era seems to have arrived, and the cloud is most definitely playing a very significant role in its progression. It does not end with tablets and smartphones. Cloud computing is going to extend to wearable technology and serve as an important platform that aids social and mobile interactions.

More Emphasis on Customer Retention

Since cloud computing has started to become more widely adopted with new, innovative solutions offered by a huge number of companies, cloud computing providers will face stiffer competition in 2014. Therefore, a greater emphasis on the retention of end customers will be required.

More Collaboration

Online collaboration is very closely related to mobile cloud computing. Workers, in the recent times, are geographically diverse. Thus, collaborative cloud computing is expected to become increasingly embedded in different business processes.

Cloud computing will continue to grow, prompting countless opportunities for businesses. Who will lead the way? Well, we can’t predict that! Only time will tell.