Managed Hosting – The Pros and Cons

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Managing something usually has the context of getting greater productivity out of whatever it is. So if it’s always a plus, does that apply to managed web hosting the same way? The appeal is easy to see, and if you don’t know what managed hosting is it’s where the web hosting provider manages the system for you. As you’d expect, that means additional cost for the client but many businesses and ventures will come to see that as money well spent. This is particularly true if time and manpower aren’t resources you have in abundance and you need to focus more on content rather than workings of the site.

Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other quality Canadian web hosting provider in that what we do makes us fairly knowledgeable on matter like this one. While we think managed web hosting is great for some people, we also feel that with a little bit of self-initiative paired with ease of use offered by cPanel standard with our web hosting packages that you can be fairly productive on your own. That likely won’t be true for those operating larger e-commerce websites but for anyone that’s – for example – selling their pottery online or something similar you’d be surprised how proactive you can be.

So that’s what we’re going to do with our entry this week, look at what’s good about managed web hosting and also looking at what’s not so good about it.

Pros of Managed Hosting

Being successful and / or profitable with website can take up a lot of time and effort, and primarily for content updates, design tweaks, and digital marketing activity. When you add ongoing technical maintenance on top of that, it can be overwhelming for some and especially if you’re the type who’s a webmaster in title while not being particularly web savvy in the first place. Everyone needs to start somewhere though.

The advantage of managed hosting is how it lets you focus on the specifics of your business without additional worries of any sort related to site performance or security. E-commerce merchants will always need speedy loading times but often won’t have the time, ability, or inclination to see to ensuring that on their own. Managed hosting is also called fully-serviced hosting and for anyone who’s not inclined or capable of doing the mechanic’s work for website performance it may well be worth what you will pay additionally each month.

Either way, it is true that you need to factor in the value of your time. Many of us don’t have much of it that isn’t spoken for when it comes to our livelihoods, so if that’s you and much of that livelihood is facilitated by a website(s) then managed hosting may be the right fit for you.

Cons of Managed Hosting

Oppositely, if have solid IT skills and see the value in having more immediate and hands-on control over your website then managed hosting may be something you don’t really need or want. Many people don’t want to relinquish control over the fundamentals, and there is some merit to that as while most web hosting providers run reputable operations there is always the chance of a bad actor doing harm.

(Yes, we can assure you that would never happen here)


As you might guess, this is in fact the most common reason people go with manual hosting. Let’s also consider a scenario where you want to make an immediate change but there’s a delay in response from your hosting company and a window of opportunity is lost. Another instance might be wanting to use a particular CMS but not having the needed support for it. Others will not want to have the chance of being in a situation where there’s no choice but to outsource important tasks due to time constraints or anything similar that’s putting you in a pinch.

Keep in mind two other concerns related to managed hosting. The first is cost, and for anyone who thinks changes to their initial setup are very unlikely it doesn’t make sense to continue pay additional for site management through managed hosting. Plus, the greater control that comes with manual hosting allows you to switch to a new host with minimal hassle or anything else if terms or prices change.

The last thing we’ll mention here today is one more advantage of good managed hosting, and specifically with the fact that you’ll have more immediate defensive responses if your site is attacked or a server fails. If you have any interest in migrating your website to a better Canadian web hosting provider then we’d be very happy to hear from you.


From VPS to VDS

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We’ve been pretty emphatic with promoting virtual private servers here over the years, and nothing has changed with how they’re a much better choice for websites that need more bandwidth and performance resources at their disposal. That’s not going to be the scenario for the vast majority of people having their websites hosted, and every one of those guys and gals will be just fine paying as little as possible for web hosting by going with a shared hosting plan. It’s especially the best choice for anyone whose site is simply a blog.

One of the things that makes us a top Canadian web hosting provider is the way we are able to pivot and turn with industry trends, and that’s what we’ll be doing with one of the more promising ones these days. VPS continue to be a good option, but now VDS servers are the even better choice for a lot of people who made the move to VPS a while ago. VPS is virtual private server while VDS is virtual dedicated server.

So what’s the difference and what makes VDS better for some? That’s what we’ll look at with this week’s entry.

Bare Metal Alternative for Bigger Boys

Most people that have their website as a primary resource for e-commerce interests are going to operating it on behalf on some business. Not surprising that bigger businesses will have bigger websites and ones that have plenty of size and dynamic content components as compared to what the average website on shared hosting is going to have.

These people needed powerful servers with predictable performance and for many years that meant going with a bare metal server. But now it’s changed to be that a VDS server is a better option when dedicated resources are needed. Previously you would probably rent a bare metal server and have it collocated it in a data center. The problem here is that the server is not going to scalable, and the bare metal servers have always tended to be expensive to maintain.

So Why VDS?

Change became possible when hypervisor technologies started making it so that multiple virtual machines could be run on the same hardware. The completely individual virtual servers would have their own CPU, RAM, Disk storage and more and so before long VPS servers arrived on the scene.

How VPS and VDS are different starts with one or more resources being shared between the virtual machines. With VDS users receive a virtual server with guaranteed resources, including 100% of the CPU which that’s entirely at your disposal and can be spun up as much as you need. RAM and other resources are also attached for you.

It is also superior because these new generation servers deliver the flexibility to upgrade resources instantly at any time. You can also manually bring up or down the number of CPU cores, increase or decrease RAM capacity, or add to or take away from disk storage capacity. With a physical server any of that would be one heck of a chore. You’d be buying parts, installing them on your own, and probably creating a whole lot of downtime for the site.

Who Will VDS Fit Best?

Sites that are not accommodated by the capabilities of conventional hosting, high-load network services are going to be the best fit for VDS, and that will also be true for ones where web masters are actively involved in design, development, and testing of software. Closed corporate projects with increased requirements for security and data confidentiality will also find virtual dedicated servers to be ideal, and smaller big companies that would struggle to buy or lease a physical server will want to look into this alternative too.

Reliability is always a priority, and the dedicated resources of a VDS server makes these more reliable too. Many will offer multiple cores, and being able to tailor RAM is an advantage in this regard too. Last but not least, this type of separate server offers full control over the system. From managing user accounts and installing software to network interfaces configuration and firewall settings.

Supreme Versatility

As-a-Service software is increasingly becoming the norm in the digital work and commerce worlds, and VDS servers join the trends as an example of IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and immediately become the most versatile cloud service consumption model. You are able to build any information system you need, install any operating system and software, or add configurations to any network easily.

Last but not least, a VDS server also outdistances a bare metal server with the way they allow for a quick upgrade or downgrade of computing power. VDS servers also make it easier to host and manage applications flexibly.

Stay tuned for new and appealing web hosting options available to customers here at 4GoodHosting.

‘Chaos’ a Means to Foil Hackers with Digital Fingerprints

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The past 3 years or so in the world of cybersecurity have really made clear that hackers have expanded their reach and capability in a big way over that time, and it’s fair to say that cyber security interests have struggled to keep pace in protecting digital interests from being hacked into. The single individual doesn’t have as much to worry about when it comes to being hacked as a business or large enterprise does, but that doesn’t mean that they should be unconcerned.

Here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other good Canadian web hosting provider in that making sure our servers are as secure as possible, but when also know that we’ve got it pretty good in comparison to some others who have way, way more in the way of data that needs to be protected. Researchers have been stepping up their efforts to keep hackers more in check, and that’s a very good thing.

Specifically what’s happened recently is they’ve found a way to use chaos to help create digital fingerprints for electronic devices that may be so thoroughly unique that even the most sophisticated hackers can’t get past them. And that’s based on just the sheer volume of possible combinations that will be possible meaning it would take an incomprehensibly long time to go through and try every one of them.

How long? Well, we’ll get to that as we move further into discussing this very interesting development in web security.

That Long!

It’s believed that these Chaos fingerprints ahave so many layers of unique patterning to them that it would take longer than the lifetime of the universe to test for every possible combination available. Behind all of this is an emerging technology called physically unclonable functions – PUFs – which are built into computer chips.

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s possible that these new PUFs could possibly be used to create super-secure ID cards and reliably track goods in supply chains and as part of authentication applications. Ones where it is vital to know the individual you’re communicating or sharing information with is legit. The recent SolarWinds hack on the US Gov’t has really prompted interest groups to stop being complacent here and find much more reliable cyber security methods and approaches.

The key feature with PUFs here is that there are tiny manufacturing variations found in each computer chip, and they’re ones that are so small they aren’t something the end user is going to notice. Often the variations are only seen at the atomic level, and in industry logo they’re starting to become known as ‘secrets’.

More Secrets Required

The shortcoming with current PUFs is that they only contain a limited number of secrets. Ones with anywhere between 1,000 or up to a million aren’t enough to prevent a hacker from getting it right if they’re got the will to persevere and eventually find their way in. Ones that have the right technology and enough time can figure out all the secrets on the chip.

But now it’s believed that chaos makes it possible to have an uncountably large number of secrets layered on top of each other, with so many of them and such unique detail between them that it’s going to be way too much of a challenge for even the most capable hackers.

What’s Chaos Then?

Right, before we go any further we need to define briefly what ‘chaos’ is when it comes to superconductor chips. A basic definition is when the output of a semiconductor laser and its parameters are tweaked – often by modulating the electric current pumping the laser or by feeding back some of the laser’s light from an external mirror – to make the overall laser output chaotic and unpredictable.

Unpredictable is the key word there, there’s nothing in the way of patterns or logic to be determined, and so the hackers standard effective approaches aren’t effective anymore.

The recent noteworthy developments with all of this have been researchers creating a complex network in their PUFs using a web of randomly interconnected logic gates. By taking two electric signals and using them to create a new signal, a repeating variance pattern is established and the layers become increasingly unique and undecipherable.

This then amplifies the small manufacturing variations found on the chip. Every slight difference amplified by chaos generates an entirely new set of possible outcomes, and the layers then start to come in waves with each new one making it even more difficulty for a hacker to operate successfully.

Just Right

One thing that’s important with this new advance is to know just what’s the right amount of chaos to be implementing. It’s important to have chaos running for the right length of time, too little and you won’t get the security level you’re after, and too long and things then become way too chaotic.

It’s estimated that these new PUFs are capable of creating more than 1000 secrets EACH. That works out to even if a hacker could crack one secret every microsecond it would still take them about 20 billion years to crack every one of them factored into that single microchip.

The protection is far reaching too. Machine learning attacks, including deep learning-based methods and model-based attacks, all failed when put to the tests against these new digital fingerprints. The hope is that PUFs like this could massively enhance security against even the most sophisticated and well-armed hacker attacks that are backed up with a lot of computer resources.

It will be interesting to see how pervasive this cybersecurity technology becomes, but it’s easy to see how it would immediately appeal to Federal Governments in particular. And we can probably safely assume with widespread adoption it will be frustrating more than a few residents in the world’s geographically largest country.

Microsoft and Intel Team Up to Make it Hard for Crypto Miner Crooks

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It’s been a while since we had an entry talking about the much-buzzed about topic of cryptocurrency, and it’s not like we’ll never have some new fold on the page with the stuff given how much uncertainty there still is about whether cryptocurrencies are ever going to assume the central role in globally unregulated currency that some people still adamantly insist they will. Given how much actual crypto mining is going on out there and the lengths people are going to in order to get in on the action suggests there’s still plenty of belief out there.

Whether or not cryptocurrencies will be a legit option for paying for SaaS on PaaS products is something that might be of interest to a Canadian web hosting provider, and that definitely applies to us here at 4GoodHosting. Some say the real questions if Bitcoin are any cryptocurrency can ever be generated to the type of volume that would be needed to make it a legitimately exchanged currency. But like was said, the effort is definitely there to ‘obtain’ whatever there is to get out there, and the fact that there’s a criminal element in crypto mining furthers that fact even more.

A tool is always needed, and for these crypto miner crooks their implement of-choice is crypto-jacking malware. It’s like hijacking but it’s not planes being intercepted, it’s cryptocurrency.

But the good news is that tech giants are fighting back and making it so that it’s much more difficult to hijack someone’s else cryptocurrency who’s been mining it legitimately.

Super Defender

To get right down to it, what Microsoft is doing is integrating Intel Threat Detection Technology into Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and this revamped security product will help protect businesses from crypto-jacking malware. Up until now these crypto miners use only a small fraction of power depending on the device, so they often don’t end up on the radar of security teams.

It’s only more recently that larger sums have been lost to crypto jackers who’ve found ways to do what they do much more effectively and greater reach that it’s become more of a priority for everyone, even though crypto mining can be difficult to detect. Much of that has been due to slow or sluggish machines with bloated software and also because of inferior threat detection and automated upgrades being performed on them.

But again, this has changed and the rise of crypto jacking and the extent it’s taken a bite out of people or organizations has made it so that decision-makers aren’t ignoring it any more. Add the fact that not finding ways to threat crypto jackers means the cryptocurrency mined at these organizations is then used to fund criminal gangs or whoever else that wants ill-gained funds for whatever it is they’re aiming to do.

Better Performance

What these two have done extremely well is executing security tasks but keeping it all in-house within a hardware module. There are major performance advantages to this, and especially with having an identification process that is based on resource utilization that is made MUCH faster than it would be with software-based approaches.

There is also no need to deploy software that might be filled with bugs or potentially come with vulnerabilities. Intel has added a very valuable component with the CPU layer, making it more difficult for crypto jackers to hide their activities. Software solutions would be much more likely to lose the scent, if you know what we mean.

It can identify abnormal behavior that might otherwise be overlooked as normal activity by the malware.

Catching Coin Thieves at the CPU

Intel TDT applies machine learning to low-level hardware telemetry sourced directly from the CPU performance monitoring unit (PMU). What this does is put more of a brighter searchlight on the system to more likely identify the malware code execution and its ‘fingerprint’ at runtime. This is when it’s going to be most on display and ready to be caught by Defender.

Typical obfuscation techniques will make no difference here, and that will also be true even when malware hides within virtualized guests and or doesn’t intrusive techniques like code injection or performing complex hypervisor introspection.

In addition, some machine learning is offloaded to Intel’s integrated graphics processing unit (GPU). And in response to how coin miners make heavy use of repeated mathematical operations – when this activity is recorded by the PMU a signal is triggered when a certain usage threshold point is reached.

The entirety of these machine learning capabilities make it so that the footprint generated by the specific coin mining activity can be identified and recognized. Defender is unaffected by common antimalware evasion techniques such as binary obfuscation or memory-only payloads.

No-Agent Malware Detection

These TDT integrated solution can also expose coin miners using unprotected virtual machines or other containers as spots to hide in. By stopping the virtual machine itself or reporting virtual machine abuse, attacks are prevented AND resources are saved.

This no-agent malware detection means the asset from can be protected from the attacker without having to be in the same OS.

All of these advances are important, because criminal crypto miners are getting better all the time and so security measures that limit their effectiveness need to be improving in step too. One thing that is for sure is as cryptocurrency values continue to rise, crypto-jacking becomes much more attractive to a whole lot of people.

Pandemic Making Mobile Even More Prominent

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It’s almost a certainty that in say five to 10 years from now there’s going to be all sorts of conclusions identified about how the COVID years of ’20 and ’21 let to widespread fundamental changes to the lives of humans. Some of that will be good, some of that will be not so good. Some of them are already very apparent, like the explosion in popularity for online shopping. Others can’t be seen as easily and it takes data analysts and the like to dig up those realities and share them with the rest of us.

Which is fine. And leads us to the question – have you noticed your mobile device in your hands and ‘at work’ a whole lot more often since around about a year ago? For some people that may have been the reality long before early 2020, but as a collective whole it would seem that COVID-19 has somewhat subtly made our smartphones a whole lot more integral to our day to day. Here at 4GoodHosting, we imagine we’re like any good Canadian web hosting provider in that we’ve seen more interest in people having mobile-friendly websites.

So what’s behind all of this, and how is that a global pandemic is making mobile even more prominent in the digital lives of earth’s inhabitants?

App usage, purchasing, and time spent on apps have all gone up considerably as the world relied even more on mobile web access to weather the storm. In response to this more and more venture capital has gone into mobile web technology development, and industries that really saw a lot of it were financial services, transportation, commerce, and shopping. And that’s lead to what’s being seen now – 26% of total global VC funding is going into mobile-related ventures and $73 billion was directed into mobile just last year.

Attention and Engagement

There are a lot of different factors that are leading people to be approaching more and more tasks with their handheld device rather than a notebook or desktop. Mobile is increasingly the hub, both at home and at work and it’s a new reality driving considerable changes in how we spend our time. Look no further than recent study results that found our US neighbours now spend 8% more time on mobile devices than they do watching TV.

All around the world many countries have people that spend an average of more than 4 hours a day on their mobile devices. There’s always been an attention economy and now mobile is very much in the centre of it. Again looking to the USA, it’s estimated that people spend anywhere from 16 to 30% of their time using apps on mobile devices, and that’s for everyone from millennials all the way to Gen X and even for Baby Boomers too.

Add further that consumers spent $143 billion on apps – or in them – in 2020. That’s up 20% from the year previous.

Changing Enterprise is Front & Centre

Not surprisingly, Apple and their iOS14 are right on the cutting edge of the new mobile economy. iOS 14 quickly jumped out to higher adoption rates than previous OS generations, and that lead to mobile ad placements growing 95% across the year. Next we add to that the new work-from-home reality that many people now have, and all B2C and B2B communications that come along with that. A similar survey found that business apps grew 275% year over year the 4th quarter of 2020.

What this has created is a need for more consistent data usage and speed, and of course the best of that is coming with 5G. Or so we’ve been told. Then there’s also more and more people using mobile devise for inter-office communication when they’re away from their home workstation, often on apps like Microsoft Teams or Slack.

Communication apps like Twitch and Discord, community-focused apps including Nextdoor, and payment apps are also expanding in leaps and bounds in the space for the same reasons. The interest in better privacy and security for these apps is also pushing investment into mobile.

Industry Transformation

The shift doesn’t end there. Finance, investment, education, and keep-fit apps saw a noticeable use uptick too, and eBook revenues climbed 30%. Digital wallets are increasingly popular for people increasingly comfortable with mobile-based finances, and more and more people are investing through their smartphone too. Stock market activity on mobile climbed 55% globally with Robinhood, Cash App, TD Ameritrade, Yahoo Finance, and Webull Stocks coming in as the top-5 investment apps.

Using iOS within enterprise is also up quite a bit too, and notable here is HSBC embracing Apple’s ecosystem as a means of delivering cutting-edge mobile services that are customer facing.

Last but not least – how many have found you’re ordering in a LOT more than you used to? Food delivery services also saw use increases of more than 100% year-on-year across most markets.

Skipping the dishes fairly regularly these days? Joint the club it seems, and it’s for all the reasons that mobile is increasingly taking the lead given new world realties and expanding user preferences.