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Cloud Alternatives: Going Beyond The Obvious Applications

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Are you in the clouds trying to keep up with all the new and improved cloud-based technologies? Whether you’re relying on a third-party managed-services company for some or all of your company technology, cloud computing’s future growth is inevitable. Companies worldwide are planning cloud-based migrations, or they’ve already migrated their IT functions to the cloud, since many of the issues holding them back are being resolved. The “old cloud” concerns are the next-generation “new cloud” innovations.

Tried and True Cloud Functions

Cloud technology over recent years has allowed businesses to upgrade their IT processes, components and services and gain new efficiencies in the process. Certain Internet services, such as Web-based email, are good examples of what the cloud can do, in that you can send and receive messages anytime, from any location, and you rely on a service provider to do so. To gain the same kinds of benefits, companies around the world have migrated to hosted service providers for the management and support of some or certain IT activities:

· Application hosting

· Cloud data backup and storage

· Customer relationship management (CRM)

· Database services

· Document collaboration and sharing

· Office software applications

· Servers

If your company is not yet using cloud computing for these aspects of the business, it’s time to get up to speed. Much like upgrading to new computers and software, if companies don’t get on board with technology as it advances, the next generation of advances will leave you behind.

Cloud Alternatives: Going Beyond The Obvious Applications

The New Cloud

With new cloud concepts being implemented and other cloud trends well on their way into the marketplace, companies will not want to miss an opportunity to gain a competitive edge. In this online mobile and social atmosphere where users have high expectations for their online experiences, and ecommerce companies are flooding the Internet, it will pay to be prepared. Some cloud trends for 2014 are already coming to fruition:

· You may have the ability to access personal data and information in non-mobile electronic devices such as smart TVs and Internet-equipped automobiles — not just cell phones and tablets.

· Cloud analytics will become more readily available, enhancing research and industry opportunities for broader efficiencies of every kind, including the use of cloud-based applications for data gathering and response.

· New cloud trends will allow companies to reach their clients in unprecedented ways, from online performances to media-based training and education sources.

· Speed and security improvements are changing how companies who use online data to identify and engage their customers.

Cloud computing is being embraced by more companies, but the issues of security and stability are still ongoing concerns for those who are already implementing cloud-based strategies. Now more than ever, the concerns are getting a lot of attention and with the right plans in place cloud databases and storage are likely to be safer than on-premise solutions. Online Cloud Storage computing is being embraced by more companies, but the issues of security and stability are still ongoing concerns for those who are already implementing cloud-based strategies.

Cloud Transformation

With the Internet, cloud technology and mobile and social architecture driving changes in ecommerce and business models across the world, exciting global opportunities exist for both cloud providers and enterprises leveraging cloud computing. The cloud transformation is changing the IT industry and businesses in many different industries are taking advantage of the efficiencies that it offers.

Debunking Cloud Concerns

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Cloud computing models offer businesses a cost-effective way to outsource IT applications and infrastructure services to a third-party service provider. It allows them to use applications and store data hosted on servers and databases that are owned, managed and supported by the service provider. A company simply pays for the cost of using the on-demand service and leaves the management, upgrades, maintenance and support tasks to the cloud vendor.

Over the past few years, a growing number of large, medium and small companies have moved to the cloud to reduce the complexity and costs of their on-site IT infrastructure. Technology consulting firm Gartner Inc. expects that a majority of firms will have their IT applications delivered as a cloud service over the next few years. According to the International Data Corporation, spending on cloud computing in 2014 will be over $100 billion.

Popular Misconceptions

Despite the tangible benefits of the cloud, several misconceptions have persisted in the industry over the viability of cloud computing. One of the biggest concerns involves data security and data availability. Cloud vendors typically use a shared infrastructure to host and deliver their services. Applications and data from multiple companies are often hosted on the same server, prompting some to raise questions about data leakage, improper access, data theft and loss of confidentiality. Many also worry about catastrophic service disruptions as the result of cloud hardware and network failures.

Debunking Cloud Concerns

Another popular misconception involves data residency. Many organizations in regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare have strict requirements about how their data is handled and where it’s stored. Large cloud vendors typically have highly distributed architectures and many of them use servers located around the world to host customer applications and data. As a result, companies that have data residency requirements have been reluctant to use cloud services for fear of transgressing regulations.

Perhaps the biggest misconception involves a loss of control. Many believe that outsourcing to the cloud results in an automatic loss of control over IT functions. Since enterprise data is hosted on servers owned and managed by a third party, companies often fear they have less control, or even no control over their critical data assets.

Vendor Investments

Although such concerns may have been valid a few years ago, they certainly are not true these days. Cloud vendors are acutely aware of how such issues can affect adoption decisions. Most cloud providers offer secure access control, user authentication, intrusion detection and encryption tools for protecting information in hosted cloud databases. Many have highly redundant architectures for handling server and network failures. Though vendors may use a shared infrastructure to host data, most have technologies and procedures in place to ensure proper data segregation and access control. Many vendors also offer contractual guarantees and service level agreements to ensure that data residency requirements are met. Plus, a plethora of hosting options is available for companies concerned about a loss of control.

Planning for the Cloud

As a small business owner, you should certainly be aware of all these issues, but you shouldn’t let them deter you from taking advantage of the cloud. The best way to move to the cloud is to do it in small steps. Cloud vendors allow you to outsource as little or as much of your IT operations as you want. Many companies start by migrating common applications such as e-mail and office productivity to the cloud.

Most large cloud vendors also offer a choice between a hosted and a fully managed model. With a hosted model, the vendor will let you use its infrastructure to run your applications, but you’re ultimately responsible for managing the application. With a cloud-managed IT service, the vendor assumes full responsibility for hosting and managing your IT applications and services. If security is a primary concern, vendors offer a dedicated hosting model under which your applications and data will be hosted on a server reserved exclusively for your use.

The key to a successful cloud deployment lies in knowing what questions to ask. Before you embark on a journey to the cloud, ask why you are doing it. Is it for the cost savings, for the flexibility or the reduction in complexity? Make sure you have a realistic idea of the return on investment. If you already have a large IT infrastructure in place, your real ROI may lie in the reduced complexity and not necessarily in reduced costs. Make sure you understand the operational and technical issues you’ll need to overcome for cloud computing to work in your environment. Most importantly, vet your vendor thoroughly. Before you hand over your corporate jewels to a cloud vendor, make sure the company has the technical and professional resources to handle your data in a safe and responsible manner.

Cloud computing is here to stay. The benefits are real and tangible for companies that take the time to understand cloud computing and how to take advantage of its innovations.

Tips For Site Migration

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Site migration can be a difficult process on both a technical and marketing level, but it can sometimes be necessary to further grow your company and your brand. Site migration that isn’t handled in the right way can have devastating effects on a company’s online marketing and lasting effects on a company’s growth.

What is Site Migration?

Site migration occurs any time a website is moved from one URL to another or from one host to another. It’s important to understand that site migration could occur on either a user level or a server level. A URL can change from one URL or another without any physical change to the location of the website’s files. At the same time, the physical location of the website’s files could also change without a change to the URL. Before committing to a site migration, you should properly understand the type of migration you require.

Tips For Site Migration

Why would you need to Migrate your Site?

Site migration can become necessary for a few reasons. You may be changing your company’s branding or you could be merging with another company. Both could necessitate the adoption of different domain names and a change in the structure of your website.

If you’re not changing the URL of your website, you may simply be changing hosts. Changing hosts can become necessary if your prior host no longer suits your needs. When changing hosts, many will offer seamless transitions that occur during your website’s slowest hours and do not affect your users at all.

How does Site Migration Affect your Company?

If you are abandoning your old domain, you may find that much of your search engine optimization will be lost. This can be extraordinarily detrimental to your online marketing strategy. To minimize this loss, ensure that all of your URLs from your old website redirect appropriately and make sure that everything on your website is functioning as it should.

When keeping your domain and simply migrating your files, your task is much easier. You simply need to ensure that you transfer your files correctly. If you don’t test your new website thoroughly, you could find unexpected issues that could cost you customers. You might even lose some data permanently if you didn’t backup your data from your old host properly.

The DNS transition from your old server to your new server may take as much as 72 hours, so you shouldn’t take down your old site immediately. Instead, you should transfer your old site to your new server and then thoroughly test the site on the new server. Once you are certain that all of the data transferred correctly, you can start the process that will send users to your new site.

How can you make your Site Migration Easier?

External hosting services can make the entire process of site migration much easier. External hosting services often offer features that will automatically transfer your website from host to host. This takes the burden off of you and your IT department and ensures that everything will transfer correctly, no data will be lost and your users may never even realize that there was a change. An external hosting service will be able to mirror your website from server to server, eliminating the potential for costly mistakes.

If you’re transitioning to a cloud server, make life easier for you and your IT team by switching to the same or similar operating system. For instance, if your servers all run Windows right now, find a Windows cloud host that has baked-in support for your platform so you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.

Site migration is best done early on in a company’s online development. Once you begin to feel that you are outgrowing your current host or that you will eventually need more than your host can give, you should begin your migration. A preemptive migration will save you from larger costs down the line.

The Hosting Question: Cloud Server or Dedicated Server?

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Cloud servers are great, but dedicated servers are still hanging on. If you’re considering which would be the best choice for your company’s needs, it’s tough to find information on cloud servers that isn’t glowing, but that’s for good reason. Virtual storage and virtual computing power are a huge step forward. In the last few years, companies of all sizes have been able to realize new efficiencies while saving money, and team members can now collaborate and share data on projects, regardless of where individuals are located.

If you do a comparison of cloud services versus dedicated servers, you could reach the conclusion that taking the cloud route can offer many more options, such as more choices for operating systems and faster provisioning speeds. So is the dedicated server on the way out? Is our future going only “to the cloud!” as the Microsoft commercials shout at us? Not necessarily, or at least not necessarily right now.

Dedicated servers definitely have appropriate uses, especially for newer, smaller companies that may not want everything that public or private clouds have to offer. Also, clouds aren’t perfect, and concerns still exist when it comes to access, security, and the challenges of downtime. Here we’ll examine a couple of snapshots of each option and discuss what works and what concerns exist.

The Hosting Question: Cloud Server or Dedicated Server?

Dedicated Server Breakdown

If you love control and don’t have traffic concerns, then a managed dedicated server will be best for you. All the hardware is right where you need it to be. You don’t have to worry about your system resources slowing because of other people’s traffic. You’re also the only one to access your server, a big plus for security fans. Plus, it’s also easy to upgrade physical hardware, such as memory and disk space, and to customize software to work exactly for your company’s needs, rather than a uniform upgrade through the cloud that needs to be tinkered with later.

Cloud Server Breakdown

Security is definitely a big reason why we can’t conclude that the cloud is the end-all, be-all. No matter how much encryption exists for your data, it may still have some vulnerabilities when it leaves your possession. Hackers also could try to access your system, actively steal or alter your customer’s data as well or just monitor your process.

On the other hand, companies going the cloud route can find it to be a definite cost-effective IT solution. You have a lot of redundancy, and you don’t have to pay for a lot of hardware and maintenance, although you will have to pay for extra bandwidth and hosting costs. For special projects, you may even find ways to access a virtual system and pay by the month.

Overall, do the advantages of the cloud outweigh the concerns, especially if you have active security protocols in place? As long as they match up with your business requirements. Clouds of any kind can connect with physical servers, and there isn’t a single point of failure as there might be with a dedicated server. Yet if your business wants to avoid any security uncertainties and ensure that your server is being monitored around the clock, a dedicated server may be the best choice to make.

What Plugins Are Helpful For Business?

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WordPress is a valuable tool that businesses can use to create a blog or even a website. However, the most basic version of WordPress doesn’t provide all of the features a business needs to create a fully functional website. In order to create a more advanced website, businesses can install some of the many plugins WordPress offers to increase functionality.

What Plugins Are Helpful For Business?

Beneficial WordPress Plugins

Some of the WordPress plugins that are most helpful for businesses include:

· Broken Link Checker: Checks the website for broken links and images.

· WordPress Live Chat: Adds a live chat box to the site that the business can use to communicate with users.

· WPtouch: Transforms a desktop website into a mobile version in a matter of minutes.

· 404 Redirected: Eliminates 404 pages from the website by redirecting users elsewhere when a page isn’t functioning properly or doesn’t exist.

· ShareBar: Incorporates a toolbar on the page that allows users to share content via social media websites.

· Contact Form 7: Allows users to contact the business using a simple online form.

· Ninja Pop-Ups: Allows a business to create its own pop-ups that will appear to users at times the business designates.

· Google Analytics: Keeps track of search traffic, page views and other valuable information the business can use to gauge the effectiveness of its website.

· Related Posts by Zementa: Places a footer on the webpage that directs users to related articles or pages on the site.

Are these Plugins Necessary?

The plugins listed above may not be appropriate for every business website. However, by incorporating a selection of these plugins, a business can transform a basic WordPress blog into a full-service website with a professional appeal. For example, the incorporation of WordPress Live Chat and Contact Form 7 make the site more engaging to users by encouraging them to connect directly with the company. Likewise, social plugins like ShareBar encourage users to share website content with friends, which increases their level of involvement and invites other users to visit the site. Furthermore, adding other plugins like Google Analytics allows the business to evaluate and increase its website traffic, while plugins like 404 Redirect and the Broken Link Checker can be used to prevent malfunctions and keep the site running smoothly.

The importance of a Good Foundation

Although adding these plugins to a website can increase its appeal to users, the site won’t be a success unless it’s built on a solid foundation. Websites that malfunction frequently become inaccessible on a regular basis or load slowly will drive users away before they have a chance to enjoy the benefits of any installed plugins. For this reason, it’s essential for businesses to choose a reputable Web hosting company capable of managing all of the site’s traffic with minimal downtime.

To thrive in today’s world, businesses need a high quality, professional website capable of answering users’ questions and encouraging them to connect with the company. By building a WordPress site on a solid foundation and adding the right plugins, businesses can enjoy all of the advantages of a full-service website.

What You Need To Focus On When You Are Looking For Hosting Services

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Among the many things that you require in order to create a website, the most crucial is looking for a web hosting service. Just like you need a piece of land to build your home, a web hosting service is needed to launch your website. The success of your website is directly proportional to your web hosting service. If it offers you excellent service you will be able to create a website that your visitors can trust and rely on.

Whether you are interested in e-commerce or want to create an informational website, the key to attracting visitors is to be up and running every time they come back. Faulty or poor web hosting services not only cause problems and frustration but ensure that your website doesn’t get the traction it needs to survive. Therefore choosing a web hosting service is an imperative task for the creation of your website. Gathered here in this article are a few things that you need to focus on when looking for the ideal web hosting services for your new website.

What You Need To Focus On When You Are Looking For Hosting Services

Customer Care

Websites need to be running and working perfectly as expected for whenever a potential customer visits. Imagine if in the middle of night you find that your website is down and upon running a quick diagnosis of the problem it turns out that the source of the problem happens to be the hosting service. Now, if you call their helpline and don’t get a response how frustrating can that be? It is therefore important that you focus on a quick and effective customer care service when looking for a web hosting service.

Performance of the Server

A server is the crux of any web hosting service. For any service to be top notch it is important that they have servers that are reliable and fast. You can check the speed of the server free of cost in advance. Many companies are happy to allow you to test their services since they are well aware that servers are important for their clients and they want your trust. Companies that are not willing to offer this check can be ignored since the market is overflowing with more reliable hosting services that you can choose from. You should make a list of characteristics or features that you expect from a good quality server and this list should include;

1)      Network speed,

2)      DNS

3)      Connect time,

4)      Downloading time

5)      Absence of timeouts.

What Space is allowed to you?

Space is important when you are about to create a website. A number of excellent websites lose many visitors when they are unable to get more space and exceed the bandwidth resulting in their websites crashing down. It is important that you consider the space factor since different services charge differently. For instance, some ask for very little when you are using your prescribed space but will ask for an exponentially higher amount of money when you start using extra. So planning beforehand is of the essence. Meticulously plan your future goals for the website and get space accordingly.

Cost Factor

Many webmasters fall prey to cheap web hosting services that tend to offer services at a below market rate. As allusive as this sounds, unfortunately it is also something that can seriously endanger your ambition to create a website. The reason is that cheap services also mean you will get fewer features. Secondly, many cheaper companies tend to provide a bad service and server facilities that can frustrate you in the long run.

When you are focusing on cost, it is imperative that you check with scrutiny the different hidden costs involved in the contracts and other statements which you sign off. Remember, there are different things that you need to be wary of. These are mentioned below,

1)      Many companies tend to ask for a small price in exchange for a longer commitment. This can cause you to sign up with a company that offers you services with fewer features and you cannot switch to another one without losing your security or paying more.

2)      Some companies ask for a small price at first and slowly increase it to a much higher one that you don’t want to pay. So be careful of this and read the terms and conditions of every web hosting service before you sign up with them.

There are many more things that you need to focus on but the important part is that you stay committed to create a website that will one day be recognized and renowned for its matter and content.

Author bio:

Kevin James has been working with web hosting companies both as an employee and as a customer. He says, “My review on products and web hosting services are based on my experience as a customer and as an employee”. He talks here about the things that you should focus on when getting a web hosting service.

Andrew Argue Next Level Firm Program Cost

Things You Need To Consider When Dealing With Web Hosting Services

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Things You Need To Consider When Dealing With Web Hosting ServicesSelecting a good web hosting service provider is perhaps more difficult than actually developing the website. This is due to the fact that a web hosting service provider provides a pivotal service to any website: it launches the website on the internet for the world to see. Hence it is imperative that a web hosting provider is reliable, because nobody likes a website which is down, even once.

 

How to make the Ultimate Choice

It may seem like a walk in the park to select the best webhosting service provider; however the choice is anything but easy. Here is a list of all the factors which you must consider when dealing with web hosting providers:

  • The Price:
  • Cheap is not always the best; however you may get your hands on a pretty good deal in the market which is both cheap and of a high quality. This principle, unfortunately, does not apply to web hosting service providers, as they are bound to compromise on quality services to compensate for the cheap cost. Remember, if you want a lot of traffic on your website, then look for the high-end options, price wise, because they are much more reliable with excellent customer support (and busy websites need extensive customer support). If you are not planning on monetizing your website, then an option at the cheaper end will be a much wiser one;

  • Technical Specifications:
  • Again, the purpose you are launching your website for will be the deciding factor in this particular scenario. If you are planning to put rich content on your website such as videos and music, then you need space as well as a lot of bandwidth. Space and bandwidth come with a higher price tag, and not all web hosting service providers offer great bandwidth options. Make sure the web hosting service provider you are going for offers up bandwidth as well as space options which are well suited to the purpose of your website;

  • Hardware:
  • This will require some research on your part, as you will have to inquire about the hardware your web hosting service provider is using. You should look for a webhosting company which has state of the art technology that does not break down often. With hardware defects comes downtime, and downtime is never good for a website’s image.

  • Customer Reviews:
  • Most of the time, whenever you are about to purchase a particular good, you always try to know what other people think about it. All the companies of the world market their products as being the best of the best; however the customers know the real deal. To get to customer reviews regarding the web hosting service provider you are interested in, try running a search around the internet. You are bound to come to many positive and negative reviews of the webhosting service provider which will give you an authentic picture of how your experience will be with that particular service provider.

  • User Interface:
  • You will be working on the control panel of the hosting service provider for hours every day, either to upload a chunk of your website, or to remove some etc. To do all this, you need a user friendly user interface, one which is well responsive to your commands. Do check out the interface to see if it matches your requirements and preferences.

  • Option to upgrade:
  • As your website grows, so will your requirements. Make sure you sign up with a website hosting service provider which has a vast range of upgrade plans, even up to unlimited bandwidth and space, because you never know how far up your website will go as far as traffic is concerned. The more traffic your website will have, the more bandwidth it will need to function properly. So keep this in mind.

Closing Note

Even though web hosting service providers will tell you they have all you need, always research for options as thoroughly as you can. Also, focus upon technical functionality, and make an educated decision at the end. The information provided above should be enough for you to make an informed decision, but if you think you need some technical assistance, hiring a hardware professional is not such a bad idea.

Author Bio:

Derek Lee rose to fame on internet forums with his review of iPage, which garnered tremendous response, and has been providing advise on website hosting ever since. He has a Masters degree in Computer Science and works as a web developer at a major company.

Why Investing In A Dedicated Server Makes Sense

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When it comes to web hosting, enterprises must make two major choices from the get-go. The first is the choice between a dedicated or shared server, and the second is whether to opt for a managed server or one handled by a firm’s own IT team. While selecting a shared server managed by an in-house IT team may appear to be the less costly choice at the onset, it can end up costing an enterprise far more in the end.

Why Investing In A Dedicated Server Makes Sense

Managed Dedicated Server Explained

Managed dedicated servers are servers devoted specifically to an individual firm. The company does not have to share its server with the any other companies, which automatically makes the server more secure, more effective and better able to handle large volumes of content. Adding a management team to the equation means someone else handles all the daily maintenance, operations and troubleshooting for the server, leaving the in-house IT team to attend to other tasks.

Top Strengths of Outsourcing Server Infrastructure

Business Intelligence

Outsourcing server infrastructure creates opportunities for business intelligence for any size firm. It gives smaller firms the same high-level data collection and analysis capabilities only enjoyed by firms with vaster resources, namely the IT labor to perform the collection and analysis.

Outsourcing ensures the team is in place without sacrificing any in-house staff and it ensures the team is always at the ready. Larger enterprises benefit by not having to wait until their own IT team is freed up from other duties to tackle business intelligence needs, providing rapid implementation to keep up with the smaller firms’ newfound capabilities.

Support

Outsourcing server infrastructure provides continuous IT attention and support for any infrastructure needs, Business2Community reports. A managed server offers technical support for any number of issues that can crop up any given time. It also means the troubleshooting headaches no longer fall on the shoulders of in-house IT staff. Ongoing support results in high network availability and less risk of downtime that can cripple a business.

Flexibility

Server management agreements come in a variety of flavors, so to speak, with various options available for companies of various sizes and requirements. This allows enterprises to handpick a plan that fits their needs as well as their budget without paying too much for excessive services they may neither need nor use.

What a Managed Dedicated Server Does for IT Efficiency

One of the greatest benefits of opting for a managed server is the boost it can give to IT efficiency. Instead of focusing on the daily duties of infrastructure management and maintenance, the IT team can instead focus its efforts on improving the overall efficiency and power of the enterprise.

The IT team can do this by using its freed-up time for the maintenance and updating of company software pieces. Software is what allows a company to stand out and thrive, and putting the IT team on software maintenance puts company resources where they matter most. With mundane infrastructure maintenance, troubleshooting and support no longer on the IT team’s agenda, the team can play a more vital role in growing the business rather spending all its energies maintaining it.

Learning About Customers Through Site Engagement

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More than a decade ago, Bill Gates made an ominous prediction that, by the end of 2002, any business without an online presence would no longer be in business, as reported by Entrepreneur. Despite the rush of users to the Internet—nearly 79 percent of people in North America are online, according to the Internet World Stats website—amazingly enough, some operations can be successful without being online. Local diners, childcare facilities and retail stores still manage to do business quite well through drop-in visitors and word of mouth alone.

Learning About Customers Through Site Engagement

The ability of the Internet, however, to help a business grow is unsurpassed. A consumer survey conducted by business review website Yelp found that 85 percent of consumers use the Internet to get information on local businesses. A company that’s online will be able to draw in a greater audience, but, perhaps more importantly, having an online presence also makes consumers visible to a company. This allows a business owner to learn more about current customers, potential customers and where the business’s services are most in need.

Physical Location Data

Let’s say a restaurant is located in a trendy neighborhood where a select group of locals come to shop and hang out on weekends. Enough of them pass by from Friday night through Sunday afternoon to make weekend sales the backbone of the business. The rest of the week, between paying staff and utilities, the restaurant only breaks even, despite the killer two-hand tacos that come out of the kitchen. There just isn’t enough interest in chowing down on the best Mexican in town from Monday through Thursday. Or is there?

Some of the website analytics and statistical data that can be garnered from online traffic will tell you where site visitors are geographically located. Plug-ins that record this type of statistical data are available even with the simplest (and freest) of website frameworks, such as WordPress. If that Mexican restaurant in the trendy neighborhood gets enough hits from IP addresses assigned to a college 10 miles away, it indicates a high level of interest in that area. Might it be worth opening a branch near the college, or even moving operations? Or is it already in the ideal location?

The point of any business is to convert curious site visitors to customers, and knowing where a business is drawing interest can be a game changer when it comes to keeping a full house every night of the week.

Virtual Location Data

The physical location of site visitors is just one important facet when it comes to analyzing online traffic. How a user found your site is equally important. If half the traffic on a site gets there from a specific review page on Yelp or Citysearch, that’s a good place to expand company information or even to advertise. By knowing how users found their way to the site, a business owner knows where to focus attention.

Increasing Exposure while Gaining Vital Information

Although some businesses can take their chances on surviving without it, having a solid website means being visible to those who rely on the Internet to discover local businesses. In the example of our Mexican restaurant, an online presence can help the place expand its profitability by introducing it to potential customers on the other side of the city who may be willing to drive out of their way for the best taco in town.

Keep in mind that a website doesn’t need to be complex. A basic WordPress site with a good WordPress hosting company that ensures minimal downtime will get the job done. Just make sure your site is easy to navigate and provides useful information, such as contact information, business hours and info on products and services. An effective site will achieve two goals for your company simultaneously: help consumers find the business and help the business learn more about its consumers.

5 Facts You Have To Consider Before Choosing Your Hosting Provider

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Hosting is an important consideration when it comes to creating your own website. It is a platform via which websites exist on the internet. Without proper hosting services you will not be able to capitalize on your website since bad hosting services come with an array of problems. So it is imperative that you select a hosting service which offers you better service with different benefits instead of opting for a cheap service that will only result in frustration and anger later on.

5 Facts You Have To Consider Before Choosing Your Hosting Provider

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There are numerous concerns when it comes to choosing a hosting service provider. This article will discuss the five foremost considerations that you need to bear in mind when choosing an ideal hosting solution for your website.

Know thy Hosting Provider

It is important to know the company or hosting provider that you are selecting for your website. This will enable you to decide whether it is an effective hosting service or not.  Consider how many websites will be sharing the server with you. Also find out what makes connection speed you will be receiving from the server. Technical details like these help you know more about the company and the hosting service which allows you to create effective websites.

Type of Hosting

There are different types of hosting that you can choose from. It is important that you make this decision carefully since every type of hosting has its own benefits and caveats. It is necessary that you make a list of these pros and cons before you start with one. For instance shared hosting offers you same space and hosting service at a small cost compared to dedicated hosting service. On the other hand dedicated hosting service ensures that you get greater protection and better speed compared to shared hosting. Things like these have a great impact on your website and therefore must be considered carefully.

Customer Support

Hosting is a complicated business that creates issues for everyone. For that reason effective and cooperative customer support is important.  Imagine if in the middle of night you come to find out that your website is down. It is bound to have you worried especially if it’s an e-commerce website. So it is imperative that the hosting service you are interested in should offer you excellent customer support. Remember, you don’t need a mere voice on the telephone but someone who can actually help you when a technical issue arises. A recorded message or an inept person will certainly not do the trick.

Price

One of the foremost considerations is how much you pay for hosting services. Many companies in the market have competitive rates whereas hosting services like GoDaddy.com that have created a name for themselves happen to be more costly. Price is also dependent on the type of hosting you want. If you are looking for an affordable solution then opt for shared hosting. Bear in mind that when it comes to hosting services, price is an important indicator of the company or hosting service’s prowess and effectiveness. While it is important to consider the cost, make sure you do not compromise on the quality of the service since it will only cause you frustration later on.

Features of the Hosting Service

Finding the unique selling proposition of the hosting company is important. This will allow you to compare it with other probable options. What added feature the hosting service provider offers you and at what price can be a good deciding factor for the final deal. This added feature can be in terms of its technology, data backups offer or working with many data centres. In essence, hosting companies competing with each other are constantly struggling to get more customers and so they tend to come up with unique selling propositions.

These chief five considerations will result in you choosing a company that will help create an effective web presence. There can be other concerns as well pertaining to your specific needs and wants. Just keep these in mind before making a final decision. Remember that a hosting service is the soul of your website and if there is one aspect that you must carefully consider, it is choosing the right hosting provider for your website.

Bio:

William Jones is an ardent gamer, a brilliant web developer and a freelancer. He writes about the foremost considerations when it comes to choosing a hosting provider and states that “my review allows people to make smart choices when it comes to web development and web hosting”. This is clear from the article above which extensively describes the factors imperative for choosing the right hosting company.

Website Applications Improved Through The Cloud

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Having fast application speeds isn’t just a bonus for today’s customer—it’s absolutely vital. Customers expect your applications to perform at a level that’s comparable to what they’re used to. If yours don’t meet their expectations, they can easily find an alternative that does. Taking advantage of the cloud is one affordable solution that small businesses have embraced to improve Web applications and step ahead of the competition.

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How it Works

For those who don’t know much about the technology involved, it’s worth offering a brief explanation of exactly how cloud computing functions. Local, in-house computers no longer have to be your sole operation systems. With the cloud, an entire network of computers orchestrates the running of your applications, offering better reliability and speed. The user only needs the cloud computing system’s interface software, typically just a Web browser, and your cloud’s network handles everything from there.

Benefits for your Brand

Businesses often forget that their brand image doesn’t just stop at the marketing campaign. One of the best ways to attract and maintain customers is by simply offering good service. Of course, this alone isn’t exactly the best business strategy, but service can often speak louder than social media. Faster services equal a positive brand image and sends the message that your company is innovative and on the cutting edge of modern technology.

What about Security?

With headlines about hacking and information lost due to server failures, it would be negligent not to ask questions about the security of cloud computing. According to CTO and cloud expert David Grimes, “Cloud computing is as secure as other forms of computing.” Cloud systems can be both public and private configurations, the latter of which eliminates many questions about security. They also offer security in the nature of their construction. If a physical computer fails, the virtual machine can automatically restart on another physical computer within a short time frame. This ensures resilience and reliable access to your important information.

Ahead of the Game

PC Mag contributor Samara Lynn claims it’s a myth that small businesses are flocking to the cloud. She cites a business survey conducted by Brother that revealed 42 percent of small business owners aren’t using the cloud for their business. Of course, this also means that the majority of small business owners are, in fact, using the cloud, just not for that specific purpose. However, adapting to this trend would put your business further ahead of the substantial 42 percent that simply makes do without the cloud. Since customers expect faster, better and more reliable services, this could give you a significant edge over the competition.

Taking Advantage of the Improvements

With its ongoing acceptance throughout the IT community, cloud computing is on its way to being the undisputed champion of today’s computing systems. Cloud databases offer efficiency that can’t be beat and at a cost that’s viable for small businesses on a budget. Because technology evolves at such a fast rate, it’s especially important not to delay when keeping up with new trends. Innovation often works by building off of the inventions and technologies of the past, so keeping up with current tech developments ensures a smoother transition into future progress.

A Tale Of Two Entrepreneurs: Why A Small Business Should Use Cloud Computing

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This is the story of two entrepreneurs, Gus and Stan. Gus is an online retailer and a pretty slick guy who can figure out almost anything with time and the right references. Stan knows what he knows and he knows website design.

Gus decides he’s going to run his online business entirely on his own since he knows he can do it. By doing everything himself, he knows he’ll save money. Stan, however, decides to get some help since he knows he can’t do it all himself. He contacts a cloud hosting company and even though he knows it will cost him, he simply doesn’t have the know-how to do it himself.

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The Set-up

The two entrepreneurs happen to launch their businesses on the same day. Gus spends a few thousand dollars on a server and programs, and spends his first day reading manuals, installing programs, and setting up databases. By the end of the day, his website is up and running, his programs are installed and he’s ready to take orders. Stan spends $150 dollars on a cloud server, gets some help from tech support to get his website up by 10 a.m. and has his first paying client by the end of the day.

The Attack

Two months after Gus and Stan go into business, a virus is unleashed by nefarious hackers. Beware, small businesses, the reports say, the hackers are targeting your websites. Gus desperately figures out what he must do to protect his server. He takes his website offline just to be safe and spends the day installing upgraded antivirus and firewall protection.

Stan? He’s cool. The cloud company sends him an email. “Don’t worry about your data,” it says. “We upgrade our security measures constantly and all safeguards are already in place.”

Business Booms

Six months down the road, Gus and Stan are still in business and doing pretty well. So well, in fact, they need more data storage. For Gus, it’s back to square one, and he spends a day installing another server. Stan simply contacts his cloud hosting company’s website and asks them to add cloud block storage to his plan, increasing the size of his storage server within the day.

The Downfall

A year in, Gus’s business is slipping. He fell behind in answering a few emails and was a bit slow on some shipments, but he got it done. Unfortunately, he ended up with a few dissatisfied customers in the process and word has gotten out. His sales have fallen off, and bill time is a little rough. He wants to repair his reputation, but with everything else he has to do, he simply doesn’t have the time.

A year in, Stan’s business is a verifiable success. He has a reputation for getting jobs done on time consistently and for responding quickly to customers’ questions. A month later, Stan is still in business and Gus wonders what he could have done differently.

Epilogue

As Gus looks for answers on what he did wrong, evidence suggests taking Stan’s small business route might have proven beneficial. In a survey reported in Time Magazine and conducted by Manchester Business School and hosting company Rackspace, 90 percent of small business owners said they saved time and money with cloud services. Half credited the cloud with helping their businesses grow.

The services provided by cloud hosting, including website hosting, application hosting, data storage, and file system backups provide small businesses with everything they need to stay in operation, eliminating the need for equipment and IT. This saves on upfront costs, an important factor in any small business’ success.

With ever-changing storage options, such as cloud block storage, which allows cloud users to add file storage space without increasing server size, many choices are available for storing data on the cloud. The best thing about cloud services for small business owners, though, as Stan discovered, is that it takes unfamiliar tasks out of your hands, freeing you to run your business successfully.

Trim Your Budget With The Cloud

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What’s the primary trait shared by all successful companies? Positive cash flow. Admittedly, that’s a lousy answer. Still, companies that manage to provide products or services for less than customers pay will stick around. That’s the tricky part, though. There are only two basic ways to do that: charge more or spend less. You can’t keep raising your prices whenever your profit margins slip, so you have to find ways to trim your budget, making your business leaner and more efficient. Fortunately, cloud computing provides five easy ways to do just that.

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No Hardware

Buying, maintaining and upgrading physical servers can quickly eat up an IT budget. Even if your business is too small to need racks of servers, just one file server can cost thousands of dollars. Enter cloud computing. With no initial investment, you can deploy any type of server you need.

Dynamic Resources

The biggest benefit cloud computing offers e-commerce businesses — and any other field with predictable ebbs and flows in sales — is the ability to dynamically scale servers. Gone are the days when a company had to maintain spare capacity in its servers in case users began flooding the website. Now, when there’s a traffic spike or a lull, cloud hosting clients can scale back resources, saving money by only paying for capacity currently in use.

Reduced Staffing

The monthly fee your company pays for its cloud services covers the costs of maintenance and hardware upgrades. That frees up more money for expanding the business’s product line or increasing customer support staff. IT staff employees are expensive, because they’re so valuable and a necessary part of any company with in-house servers. With cloud computing, however, you’re paying for a small portion of the host’s staff and are effectively splitting the cost with the cloud host’s other clients.

Increased Resilience

Cloud hosts often have multiple physical data centers in geographically distant locations. The host mirrors client data at multiple sites, so if there’s an outage, disaster or server failure, your server will be back up and running quickly, often within just a few minutes.

Backup Services

Even if you’re not using cloud hosting or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), your business can benefit from cloud backup. Decades ago, when companies backed up their files locally onto reels of magnetic tape, IT departments made sure to keep full copies of all data off-site. By doing so, they mitigated the risk of fire, natural disasters or a costly mistake. If anything happened to the local data, someone could retrieve the tapes and restore everything. Now that the cloud’s available, nobody has to haul around physical storage or spend hours overseeing the backup process. Instead, businesses can store data on cloud servers and access it at any time.

In order to keep your business competitive, you must find ways to reduce your expenses without reducing the quality of your infrastructure. By subscribing to whatever cloud service meets your needs, you can maintain an inexpensive, flexible, robust infrastructure and focus more on your primary business goals than whether to hire a new server administrator.

In Case of Emergency: Being Prepared for Web Outages

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Just like in any emergency it is important for your business to have a back up plan for when your website is out of commission. Being prepared for these type of emergencies will help you survive and make it through the outage.

Even just a few minutes of downtime can cost your company revenue, let alone the cost to get things back up and running. Can you imagine how much it could cost you if you were down for hours, or even days?
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Back up

When your website goes down you run the risk of losing data that is stored on the site. Regularly back up your site and you will be save a lot of important data when this happens. You may still lose some data, but at least you have a starting point when the site comes back up. It is best to conduct these back ups on a daily basis, preferably overnight when traffic is at its lowest. Should the site go down, it should only take approximately 30 minutes for the wbe host to retrieve your data and get you back up and running.

Web Hosting

No web host can guarantee 100 percent that your site will never experience any outages. They all experience this now and then. Find a dependable web hosting company will reduce the chances of the website going down and one that will offer you the customer service you need. Find one that will be accessible, abe and willing to respond to your needs during an outage. Get everything in writing and have a plan that both of your agree on. Make sure the plan meets your needs, as well as your budget limitations.

Static Page

Many web hosting providers offer what is known as a static page option. This is a service that will tell customers a customized message on a dedicated page. This message tells them the site is currently down and to check back at a later time.

Customer Service

Determine how will you contact your customers to inform them of the outage. Send messages through email or text messages. Put notices up on Twitter and Facebook alerting fans and followers that the website is down and you are working on it.

Technical Staff

Hire a technical staff that will be able to work together with the web hosting company to get your site back up and running. This will reduce the length of time you experience the outage and they may even be able to notice the signs an outage is coming, such as programming errors and data overloads.

Should you experience an outage the first thing you need to do is contact your web hosting provider. From there you can contact customers through social media networking sites alerting them of the outage. Be prepared to help customers over the phone place their orders when the site is down. Remain calm and help your customers through the outage.

Print is Not Dead…Totally

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Though we live in a technologically-based environment, print media is still an important part in our day-to-day lives. Contrary to popular belief, print media is not dead, well, at least not yet anyway. Because it is still alive, there is no reason why you, a small business owner, cannot take advantage of print media advertising.

As a small business owner you are aware of the struggles and concerns for ensuring your business is a success. It costs money to properly utilize online advertising and hiring social media networkers to run the online part of your business. Because print media is not as popular any more, it is still one of the more cost effective methods for advertising a small business to the local community.

Types

There are many different types of printing services you can use to promote your small business. These include flyers, doorknob hangers, business cards and newspaper ads. All of these mediums are effective when they are delivered to the right people. Flyers can be hung on billboards at stores, in community centers and at parks throughout town. They can also be left on car windshields during a big event in the community. Door hangers can be hung throughout the community on front doors or on mailboxes. Business cards can be left everywhere you go, including stores, restaurants and offices.

Needs

Find out what the community needs from your business. Ask yourself what you can offer residents that they truly need, not just what theywant. Discover if certain areas of your community need your products and services. Do this by asking your customers where they live or conducting a survey in various neighborhoods in the community. This will tell you where to concentrate your print advertising efforts.

Business to Business

Go to other local businesses and offer a swap advertising plan. This is where you offer to have flyers and business cards posted in your place of business in exchange for them to do the same with yours. Go around town introducing yourself to other business owners and make a connection with them. Do not solicit other businesses, offer them a networking option with your business. This works great, especially if the products and services you offer complement those in a neighboring business.

Enhance the Online Presence

Print media can be used in conjunction with your online marketing endeavours. Think of print media as another way to get the word out about your Facebook page or website address. Print these locations on all of your print media advertising, especially on your business cards. Make it your mission to get your printed materials in the hands of everyone who comes within five feet of you and your business.

As you can see, print media is not quite dead yet and until it does die, there is no reason why you cannot take full advantage of its potential. Making print ads and delivering them to the right people in your community will help get the word out about your business and drive those new customers to your store. If you already have an online presence, this is another way to also drive customers to your website, where they will turn into loyal customers.

 

Paid Over Free Web Hosting

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Many times the allure of free web hosting is one of the reasons people decide it’s time for them to put something on the Internet and start to build a web empire. However, as you’ll soon read there is really only one advantage to free web hosting over paid and that is that it’s: Free.

Other than that, and with the extremely reasonable rates available in the paid hosting market, the reasons to choose paid over free web hosting are numerous. I would like to preface this by saying that there are a number of amazing free web hosting providers on the Internet and if paid hosting is seriously not in your budget, you will be able to find some free services that can rival some paid.

With that being said, perhaps the most important aspect to choose paid over free web hosting is the fact that there are many free web hosting services that simply go under. When they go out of business, so does your site and all that is with it. More often than not, the reason for this is not unscrupulous activities by the provider’s owners, but because they failed to recognize how quickly their service would grow and simply could not afford to upgrade or keep up with this fast enough.

Although many free web hosting providers have moved to the practice of allowing users to use their own domain name, there are many still that do not. As such, by choosing a free web hosting company your website may wind up with an address like: http://yoursite.theirsite.com or http://www.theirsite.com/yoursite.

Even though URLs such as these are still functional and will work just fine, they leave you extremely limited as far site recognition and growth goes. So, if you do choose a free web hosting provider and it’s in your budget to purchase a domain, it is often advisable to go with a free host that allows you to do so.

One of the largest reasons to choose paid over free web hosting is that on a paid host you’re guaranteed your website will be free of all ads except those that you put up. One of the ways a free web hosting company covers their costs is to put their ads on every page they serve, thus, it’s not really free hosting after all.

Another possible downside to free web hosting is bandwidth and server speed. To help keep costs low, many free web hosting companies will stuff their servers as full as possible with as many websites as they can. This can cause your site to be slow or even go down and become unresponsive. Thus, these issues could render some of your marketing either useless or not as effective as it could be.

Finally, if you’re still looking at choosing a free web hosting service for your website you should make sure they offer the requirements you may want from your site. For example, some free hosts provide PHP and MySQL while some do not. If you think this is a feature you will be wanting to take advantage, verify that the host does indeed provide it.

Whichever route you choose, it’s important to remember that there are good services and reasons for either hosting type. However, more often than not you’ll be much happier in the long run if you do choose paid over free web hosting.

Chris is a web designer and a  blogger who loves to write on latest in the world of website development. He understands the importance of having a reliable web hosting provider and he occasionally refers to http://top10webhosting.com/ to find out and compare list of paypal hosting Companies Online.