What Every Business Owner Needs to Know about Web Hosting

Recently, a friend looking for cheap hosting reached out to me and said the important things to know about web hosting seem to be disk usage and inodes and could I help him understand that?

I replied that in most cases inodes are not nearly important as several other factors. Here are the things I shared with him that every business owner should be aware of regarding their hosting.

What you need to know about web hosting:

Backups – Every site should be kept up to date. Every once in a while, an update will crash your site. If you have good backups, it is simple to restore the last backup and get the site up and running. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, you may need to go back several days or weeks. So make sure you know how long your backups are in place for.

Uptime – There are still some web hosts that struggle to keep their servers up – especially the kind that are in your friend’s basement – but even larger, more reputable firms can have problems. Our servers by contrast, were up five 9’s last year: 99.9992% of the time. You should look for a firm that is AT LEAST four 9’s: 99.99% of the time up.

Security – Hackers and others with ill-intent are constantly probing just about every website out there, looking for security holes and other ways to attack. I’ve heard business owners say things like “Well that isn’t important for us, there is nothing private or important on our site.” After a discussion about the ways that hackers can hijack a site to serve porn or other illegal or illicit content, these same business owners begin to ask me questions about enhanced security for their site. There are several things to consider for security. Among these are:

  1. Does your site have an SSL certificate that shows it is secure (does the url start with https://? If so you are good. If it starts with just http://, you need help!)?
  2. Do only the people who need elevated access to the site, have it? If there are accounts for former employees or vendors you no longer use, the accounts should be removed lest they be compromised.
  3. What kinds of security scans are performed routinely? As new vulnerabilities are discovered regularly, your website should be scanned daily or at the very least weekly.

PCI Compliance – If you conduct any kind of ecommerce directly on your website, you need to make sure your site meets the “Payment Card Industry” compliance standards. The standards here also change regularly as the industry matures and as the bad guys become more sophisticated. So you need to make sure your web host has your back.

Hidden Charges – Does your web host provide a low low price for hosting and then nickel and dime you for every little thing? That can get annoying really fast. “oh, you want an ssl certificate? We can certainly do that for $25. Oh, you another email account? $10 / month. Oh, need more bandwidth, $20 / 100 MB / month.” And so on. The key is to be prepared if you go the low end route to know how much each item will cost and is the host inexpensive or simply cheap?

Support – How does support work? Can you only open an email ticket or an online chat or can you talk to a real human being about your real issue?

For each of these items, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer – it is just important that you, as a business owner or website maintainer, knows about each of these so that when determining your hosting you can make informed choices.

And, as always, if you have questions about this, please give Brian a call at 303-268-2245

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Web Hosting Unraveled

There are lots of different web hosting levels. You can pick the web hosting company that most fits your needs and budget.

If you are a do-it-yourselfer that likes to geek out on all-things-technology, you can use an inexpensive host like GoDaddy or BlueHost. If you are focused on growing your business, you will want to find a managed hosting solution that will work with you, taking on all the parts you either don’t know about or don’t have the time to deal with.

At its most basic level, web hosting is simply reserving space on an Internet-connected server where the files and data that make up your website are. These files are then served up whenever someone visits your site. Here are some of the key terms you should know:

Choosing The Right Web Host

DNS: Domain Name Servers. This is where your domain name is managed. If you have, for example, mail through G Suite, there will be records that tell the internet where to send any messages going to that domain to find the G Suite account. If you have a VPN into your office, there might be records that tell the Internet where to find that location. And there will be records telling the internet where to find your website.

IP Address: There are now two types of IP addresses – IPv4 and IPv6. The v4 address is probably something you have seen before. It looks something like this: 211.39.43.12. As these numbers began to run out, v6 was created and has a combination of letters and numbers to expand the range that can be used. But in both cases, a Domain Name Server is used to translate an IP address into a domain name. For example, our website IP address is 69.16.227.153. DNS is used so that you don’t have to remember the address but can instead just use educyber.com to get there.

MX Records: These Mail Exchanger records are used to tell the internet how and where your email is handled. They might tell folks to go to Google if you use G Suite, to Microsoft if you use Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365).  And it is important to get all your mail records set correctly so you can send and receive messages.

Firewall: A well-configured firewall will go a long way towards blocking hackers and others with ill intent from even getting close to your site. It also picks up / records all kinds of information that business owners like – what IP addresses are accessing the site (understanding the geographic location of users) as well as being able, in some cases, to identify the specific user

Email: There are lots of possibilities for 3rd party email handlers like G Suite, Microsoft 365, and others but you can also have your email hosted through your web host. While not as full featured as the 3rd party services, it is usually included or much less than the 3rd party options. With email you can Track Deliverability (to see whether a message was received or not), set settings needed for email like SPF and DKIM as well as create and remove accounts, reset passwords, etc.

So how do you choose the right web host? If you are a startup on a shoestring budget, you may want to go the DIY route with a HostGator or BlueHost solution. If you are growing and want to free up your time to focus on growth and connecting with customers or training staff, then a managed solution is probably a better fit.

EduCyber is pleased to offer a managed webhosting solution. When it comes to websites, many business owners struggle with keeping their website current or just making simple changes. We have the staff and the resources to keep your site at its best, taking all the pain out of managing your website.

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Don’t Forget to Laugh

There are lots of things you can do for your business right now. But the single best thing you can do right now is laugh.

Yes, I mean it.

I was kind of freaking out when this all started. Business – new leads and new projects ground to a halt.

Or so I thought.

But the entrepreneurial spirit of America is alive and well.

Over the Easter weekend, I spent a lot of time with family. We laughed. A lot. And Monday morning I started fresh. I posted a blog about working from my basement and steps to keep engaged. And it worked. Folks reached out and, just from that blog, I began to get leads. And I would not have written that blog had I not spent time laughing.

And there is much to laugh about – not at others although I have seen some pretty funny stuff like the woman in the UK that took her device with her to the bathroom not realizing everyone in the meeting could see her – especially if you step outside of yourself and the crisis for just a minute and look in.

A couple of days ago I was on a zoom call and had set a background (I have a black curtain behind me). I happened to be wearing a black t-shirt with “I am Groot” in white lettering. This is kind of fuzzy but here is a screen capture of it:

Floating Head
Having fun with Zoom

I don’t know – what do you think? I think it looks kind of funny.

But whether you think that is funny or not, laugh a little. Then pick up the phone or hop on a screen share and talk to someone. Talk to a customer, a vendor, a colleague. You will be surprised to see how the conversation turns out after you have laughed.

Oh and as states and counties begin to open up, keep laughing. This is good advice for post COVID-19 just as it is for during. You will find you enjoy people more and they will find they enjoy you as well.

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Register TODAY! – Predators are Everywhere….Targeting small businesses

How do you keep your business and your website secure in this strange new cyber world where threats lurk behind every email and website?

Predator On A ComputerJoin us for a Cyber Security Seminar designed for SMALL BUSINESSES

  • Is your website secure?
  • More importantly, is your customer data secure?
  • What steps can you take to make it safer?
  • How do you know if your identity has been compromised?
  • How can you reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity fraud or cyber fraud?

You will learn:

  • Ways to identify threats that may exist on your website that could impact your business
  • How to protect your customer data
  • Basic steps you can take today to safeguard your information online
  • How to take concrete steps to protect your identity as well as your employees, customers, patients, and clients should a breach occur.

When:   8:00 – 9:30 am, Wednesday, March 4

Where: Beau’s Kitchen & Tavern, 360 Union Blvd – in the Sheraton Hotel, Lakewood

Breakfast included.  Register NOW at:     https://www.educyber.com/cyber-security-seminar/

Your Presenters:

Noah DeLaet and Brian DeLaet with EduCyber. EduCyber has been building and securing websites since 1998. The digital marketing firm that gets results, EduCyber puts your security at the front.

Cheryl Garcia, VP of Benefit Solutions, LegalShield & IDShield has been providing low or no cost employee benefits for small businesses, including identity theft workshops, for 20 years.

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Privacy vs. Business Intelligence

Here are some things any web site can find out about the visitor:

Data points I can know about you:

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Privacy on the Internet

  • Your IP address
  • Your physical location
  • Your computer name
  • Your operating system
  • Your browser
  • Your screen size
  • Your device (if mobile)
  • Potentially your phone number (if mobile)
  • How you got to my site (from search? From social? Referral? Typing the address directly in?)

Data points Google can tell me about you

  • What language you speak (or surf in)
  • Your location
  • Your interests
  • Your education level
  • Your age
  • Your gender

There are a number of things you can to protect yourself and to better control what information you share and with whom it gets shared.

The first and most obvious thing is to set privacy for social media sites. You should also set security on your mobile device(s) so that no one can access it if they find it. One of the biggest things you can do to protect your privacy is turn off all the convenient features on your mobile device like location awareness. You do lose the convenience but you do gain a degree of privacy – though keep in mind that as long as your cell phone is on, you are trackable.

Consumer reports has a list of 66 things you can do to protect your privacy. Try several of these to begin protecting your privacy.

One of the conundrums we face is who to let in to our “circle” and who to keep out. When I got my new phone with fingerprint unlocking technology, I was excited. But my son pointed out that Google now has my fingerprint.

As a business / web site owner, it is important to recognize that your visitors all want and expect some level of privacy. But we all want to understand the details of WHO is visiting the site, WHY they are there and WHAT they want to accomplish. Google, with its Analtyics tool, hides demographic and other data from you if there is so little of it that you could begin to identify actual people. Their idea if to give you broad information to understand the demographic groups that come to your site. But wow, wouldn’t it be cool to know that right now, Jim Adams, aged 39, with a wife, Naomi and two children in 1st and 3rd grade just clicked on a link in your web site – oh and by the way his phone number is ***. That info sounds great to business owners until they realize they don’t want the sites they visit to know that information about them.

If you are struggling to determine how much data to collect, how to interpret it, or how to organize the data, give us a call. We’d be glad to help. Reach Brian at 303-268-2245 ext. 4

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Take a Break from Technology

Step away from the technology

For a couple of years my email signature read “Go outside. The graphics are amazing.” Though it wasn’t original to me, I did have several people ask me if they could use it in their signature.

It’s important both for personal and professional reasons to step away from the technology. There are dozens of articles about why that is important for your personal well-being. I want to address the importance of stepping away for professional well-being.

  1. The Tyranny of Email. Us desk workers often have our email up on our computers all day long. The problem is with what I call the tyranny of email. Whenever a new message comes in, if you feel the need to stop whatever it is you’re doing and respond to the email, you have a problem. If getting away from your computer isn’t possible, close your email for a while. This morning I ignored email for more than an hour to work on a proposal. The proposal turned out well and I was still able to respond to the emails in a timely fashion, just not IMMEDIATELY.
  2. A Change of Pace. We are blessed to have offices on the north bank of Clear Creek. When we need a break, taking a walk along the creek is awesome. But you don’t need a creek to get away. Walk down the hall. Turn away from your computer and do a few stretches.  Close your office door and jump up and down. How does any of this contribute to your professional well-being? Often you can be much more productive by taking breaks throughout the day. I have to force some folks on staff to do this but when they do, they always come back refreshed and with a new perspective on the issue(s) they are addressing.
  3. A Different Medium. If you do all of your work on a computer, try using a different medium. Your brain actually thinks differently with different media. Use your white board instead of your keyboard. Try using a notepad (not a computer tablet! I’m talking about one of those yellow notepads with lines on them) to take notes or compose on. I’m not asking you to do this every time but by doing it from time to time it helps you use different parts of your brain and you might be surprised on the different kind of results you get.

You might be getting a raise sooner or landing more clients faster by trying one or more of these. The overall goal is to take steps to help you focus more or focus differently on what is really important. Technology is just a tool to help you do your job.

8/28/2013 update:

I just came across this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8. It explains it best!

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Change Your Perspective

I just took a look at my schedule. Next week I have lunch with Brian DeLaet twice. The problem you see is that I am Brian DeLaet.  Two different colleagues have sent me calendar invitations to have lunch with them. The problem is they didn’t think about it from my perspective.Lunch With Brian

So my calendar now says I’m having lunch with Brian. Not as helpful as I’d like. Now I have to open up the invitation to see who it is that Brian is dining with.

And a lot of businesses treat their customers the same way. They start off with the perspective that if you’ve arrived – either in person or online – then you’re “in” and they skip over foundational parts of the relationship. It becomes all about “us” – the company, rather than being all about “me” – the customer.

We experienced that today with a software company. We received a username and a password for the software we purchased. There was no mention of how or where to use this information. Just the codes. After some not insignificant searching, we discovered that once we had created an account on vendors site, we could use the codes to get access to the software and registration keys. Ooops. No one told us that.

So what is a business to do? Review your process from beginning to end and test it. Make sure it is customer friendly every step of the way. And a lot of businesses take this step. But this is only the first step. Every process gets changed over time. It gets “improved” when a new manager changes one part of the process but when another manager changes a different part of the process, bad things can happen.

What you need to do is build in a continuous review of your process. For example, if you sign up for EduNotes (our newsletter) you’ll likely be told to expect it weekly when in fact it is now only twice a month. Oops. That is a process that we are reviewing (should be fixed by the time you receive this) so that we are creating the correct expectations for people.

Obviously this applies in every aspect of business but here are just a few of the processes you should check on your web site:

  • FirProcessst and foremost, the sales funnel – are you guiding visitors down the best path for them to do business with you? Are calls to action clear and prominent?
  • Is the sign up for your email newsletter smooth, clear, and setting the right expectations?
  • How can I find your contact information?
  • How can I find your physical location?
  • If your site is set up for ecommerce, is it easy to put things in my shopping cart?
  • Is it easy to check out?
  • If your site is generating leads, are the forms easy to fill out? Are you asking for too much information?
  • Are the images on your site appropriate and do they facilitate your processes?
  • If you have complex activity (users in forums, members interacting, data being shared) are the instructions clear?
  • If you want people to engage with you via social media, are the links prominent and working? (I clicked a Twitter link last week that took me to twitter.com instead of to a user’s page)

Let me close with one last example illustrating the need to review and streamline your processes.

  1. I received an email from a vendor saying I need to renew a service for a client.
  2. I clicked the link they provided in the email and filled out the form.
  3. I received an email saying I filled out the wrong form and directing me to the right form.
  4. The next time I got a similar email, I remembered the link was wrong but couldn’t find the correct link.
  5. I started a chat with the vendor and was directed yet a different form.
  6. Suspecting something was amiss, I did a Google search, and found the form I’d used previously.
  7. I asked the support person about this other form and was told either one would work!
  8. I requested that the correct link be put in my emails moving forward so that I wouldn’t have to go through this again.
  9. I was told that would happen. Stay tuned to find out if it does.
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The Internet Comes Alive

Well really it is your computer that is getting livelier but it sounds better (scarier?) to say the Internet. I have asserted for years that my kids will be able to reminisce “remember when computers used to be 2D?” That time is quickly drawing near.

In the 70’s and 80’s we heard a lot about how technology built for NASA worked its way into our everyday lives. Now that model has changed – technology built for cutting edge games is working its way into our lives.  I thought it was kind of cool when ESPN set up cameras across the football field so they could give us views almost as though we were in the action – just like many of the video games my kids play.

But late last year Microsoft rolled out a new technology called Kinect that lets you be the game controller. That is pretty cool. Whether you’re driving, dancing or a variety of other activities, your movement is what controls what happens on screen. Seems pretty cool for game technology.

Now pause and think how that could affect your computing experience. If you’re creating a new design, instead of drawing with a mouse, wouldn’t it be cool to draw with your finger – not on the screen but on your desktop? If you’re an architect, wouldn’t it be cool to build a house or building with your hands and have it show up on screen? Med students could perform surgery, rocket scientists could build spacecraft, and the list of possible uses just goes on and on.

Some of the cool things that Tony Stark does in the Iron Man movie as he builds himself a new iron man suit might not be that far off. Add some Kinect-type technology to hologram technology, and you’ll be able to build your own Iron Man suit – well maybe we’re not quite there yet but these technologies are developing.

How does that affect you? You might be done with school but the technology will affect us all. Wouldn’t it be cool to flick your finger through your emails without holding on to a mouse or touching a keyboard? Kiss double-clicking goodbye and greet the finger tap? Be able to dictate (did I mention it also incorporates voice recognition?) a lengthy letter (or chapter of your book) and then edit with your hands instead of having to scroll and click with your mouse and type with your keyboard? The potential impact, on our everyday computing experience, is immense.

And surfing the internet? No more clicking links – just point at them. Marrying Kinect to the Internet could open up some amazing possibilities. Have you heard the stories about people in remote outposts getting sick? Now instead of needing a full time doctor, you could take the right tools and the doctor could operate in Antarctica while sitting in her office in Houston. And being able to operate a robot from afar? Well maybe the movie “Real Steel” is not that far off either but there are all kinds of potential uses.

Learn more about Kinect at the Microsoft Kinect website.

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Seminar: Is Your Site Mobile Ready? How do You Know?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
“Is Your Site Mobile Ready? How Do You Know?”

Pay online to reserve your spot >>

  • Do you know if your site is mobile ready?
  • What does mobile ready mean, anyway?
  • Should your site be mobile ready?
  • Do you need to have a separate site for mobile users?

These days everyone wants to make sure their web site is “mobile-ready”. But what is mobile ready? Is there one definition or is this a moving target?

How can you make sure you’ve got your bases covered? Come and check out this seminar to find out what the basic (and not so basic) steps are to make sure your site is indeed ready for mobile, no matter what the device is that is accessing your site.

Who should attend this seminar?
CEO’s, COO’s, Marketing Directors and IT Directors. Those
who make decisions regarding the company’s web presence.

Location: 4251 Kipling St.
(2nd Floor Conference Room)
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 am
Cost: $24.99 (includes a light breakfast)

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