How a VPN works – then next, How to Setup your own VPN on a VPS

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4GoodHosting-VPNs

If you are not currently using a VPN ( a “Virtual Private Network” [remote server connection]) to help restore privacy to your online world, then you probably are not aware that about 20% internet users worldwide in 2016 already periodically use a VPN to help them connect to the full global internet; especially in totalitarian countries that ban such services such as youtube.

People’s motivations vary from reason to reason (and there are quite a number of good reasons; many of them we’ll cover in this article). Reasons typically vary from a desire for privacy & increased anonyminity and general security, to overcoming censorship, and even *improving* their internet connection globally as some ISP restrict, limit (or as it is termed “shape”), connection speeds to certain websites – making them less attractive to use, some ISPs block p2p (peer to peer connection such as torrents) , and some VPNs supply data buffering to help even out slower, or shaped/moderated, connections.

How did VPNs come about? In this article we will go over the history of this technology of how VPN use has generally progressed over time. In a subsequent article we’ll go more into advanced topics such as encryption.

The Beginnings of a Secure Internet

In the late 1990s, PPTP (that is “Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol”) was developed. PPTP was the first internet protocol for creating virtual networks. This is one aspect of technology Microsoft was a leader (instead of a follower or hijacker in some cases) in pioneering; as much of PTPP was initially developed in-house at Microsoft. Microsoft saw the growing need to allow internet users to have a secure/encrypted connection to work effectively and securely from home – for companies to be able to provide a work-from-anywhere infrastructure. PTPP a big milestone event and henceforth set the stage for the birth and evolution Virtual Private Networks.

VPN Technology

Over the years, different types of VPN technology have come about. Today there are different types of VPNs (mainly Personal and Corporate) with different protocols (PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, SoftEther, SSTP).

How does VPN security work?

A VPN is technically a WAN (Wide Area Network). the front end (that is, your browser or other connected application) retains the same functionality and appearance as it would your ISPs unsecured, point or origin, network.

You are probably wondering just how it all works. It can appear to be a complicated business, with unfamiliar words like ‘encapsulation’ and ‘tunnelling’. Don’t be scared though, using a VPN just requires a couple of mouse clicks, and sometimes, depending on your setup – a user name and or perhaps just a password to log into the remote VPN server.

You already know from having read the above, a VPN secures traffic to & from your computer straight through your ISP connection; so hackers nor creepy spies (creepies) will be able see your data or keyboard inputs while it is in transmission (and most importantly your IP address is changed to your VPN ip-address).

Why Shared Hosting Is Here to Stay

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4GoodHosting-shared-hostingThere has been a lot of buzz recently about “Cloud Hosting”. But how does that really relate to how websites are hosted, with the great majority of hosting accounts hosted in a manner known as ‘shared hosting’. Cloud offers distributed scale-out storage as well as virtualized infrastructure.

However, more than 9 of 10 websites out there are small business, personal or hobbyist websites – which see no visible benefit to the site administrators or the site visitor when served from a conventional standalone shared server compared to from a virtualized and distributed cluster of servers.

The benefits of a cloud or hosting based on a clustered arrangement of servers are recognized with larger scale websites, deploying enterprise level applications, or websites is expected to suddenly serve enormous spike in traffic at times – such as hosting a video conference with hundreds or thousands of participants.

At 4GoodHosting, we have been serving out thousands of long-term (and happy) hosting customers for well over a decade. Our servers today are state-of-the-art and powerful. About every two years, we upgrade our shared hosting server with new faster equipment, RAID hard-drive data redundancy, plus disaster recover servers, and also solid-state SSD storage for SSD-hosting customers.

Our up-time for the past year has been better than 99.9%; and besides infrequent server restarts, our shared hosting servers have been 100% reliable. Whenever a hard-drive, in one of our dozens of shared hosting servers, starts showing a sign of wear-and-tear (and we have special monitoring software for that), we replace it immediately with no downtime for our clients – due to our redundant RAID storage architecture. So, in order to keep our hosting consistently low, we plan to continue hosting our customer’s website on state-of-the-art stand-alone shared hosting servers.

We don’t see shared hosting or virtual private server (VPS) hosting going away, we see it continuing strong into the future.
Also, we believe in standard monthly pricing to give our customer’s more peace of mind; as we strive to keep our prices as low as possible across the board. Shared hosting and virtual private servers have traditionally offered standardized pricing which is not variable. In contrast, the cloud offers “elastic-pricing” or scalable buckets of compute and storage. However, our clients enjoy better peace of mind knowing exactly that their bill will the same each month, or year; so simple or proper budgeting can be made. It is simply better to know that one will be charged say $4.95/month for personal website hosting, instead of some variable between $2 and perhaps $20.

4GoodHosting isn’t a company that tries hard to upsell customers on new services and products. We only suggest a hosting upgrade when it becomes critically needed. We will open a support ticket showing our customers if and when their website is using resources beyond their current hosting plan, and that actually quite infrequently.

If your website is a start-up with applications or other services that might rapidly grow with demand, then our specialized server monitoring software will alert us if a particular domain account is approaching its resource allocation. In that case, it is a quick and seamless process for us to upgrade a customer to another hosting plan, a VPS, or perhaps even a dedicated server for high resource demand scenarios. From a pricing perspective, our goal has been to have a model that is easily understandable, easily fits into our client’s monthly or yearly accounting and doesn’t expose individual customer to unexpected variability in monthly costs.

Also, what we like to focus on is security, from various types of attacks on our customer’s account of servers. Cloud security is relatively a new frontier in server (and website) security. Shared hosting has been around for about 2 decades and has become very reliable and robust. We have protected our servers with hardware and software firewalls and we have tuned all settings to guard against all known attacks, hacking, spoof attempts, etc. This has made 4GoodHosting one of the top-most hosting customers in terms of reliability. Also our 24/7 support is excellent, as reflected in our long-time A+ BBB rating. We have become masters of support and website security.

NoSQL Databases – The Next Step In Database Design Evolution In the Big Data Age

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4goodhosting_nosqlWhat is meant by NoSQL databases? NoSQL databases schemas and applications have now emerged into the mainstream as a modern tool for organizations battling big data requirements.

But what does NoSQL actually imply, and what advantages and disadvantages does NoSQL deliver for data storage? Here is everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask about NoSQL.

To begin with, NoSQL”is not a specific database product. It is a term that refers to a general category of database methodology and techniques; and a handful of vendors have implemented NoSQL administration in different ways.

Yet all NoSQL products share a basic defining characteristic; which is that NoSQL implementations do not use the “relational-database” model of traditional SQL-style databases; such as currently ubiquitous in shared hosting “MySQL”.

“Traditional” DBs



Gaining an understanding of exactly what NoSQL means requires a recap on how most databases today have typically functioned for the past several decades.
With a relational database like MySQL, the database architect or programmer needs to define and detail in advance where the data is going to be stored. Different tables are created, different pieces of data are stored inside different tables, and data is retrieved based on table structure.

 

So MySQL, and other relational databases, are close to perfect if you know ahead of time what structure your data will be represented in; and also have a sense of how much data that will need to be stored.

 

But what happens when your storage needs not so predictable? What if your applications data storage needs to be highly scalable? Relational databases don’t work quite so well in those situations.

 

Simplicity, Openness, and Scalability

NoSQL allow you to stream data into a database without defining a formal storage structure ahead of time. As a result you do not need to write as much cryptic code for an application to interact with the database. Also you can retrieve data quickly without having to tell your application where precisely to pinpoint what data you want within a large, rigid, syntactically very sensitive database structure.

 

NoSQL DB’s also tends to scale better as they are designed to be able to run easily on distributed or clustered environments. NoSQL databases are designed to run across multiple servers – at the same time – and still appear to your application like a single database. This methodology makes it alot easier to add more storage quickly whenever alot more data is to be stored. This is a key advantage in an era when cloud & “internet of Things” devices are creating an environment of rapidly changing data storage needs.

 

Traditional databases were designed before clusters, and “the cloud”, became the norm. Distributing databases across multiple hosts, or “shard”ing relational databases is more complicated than using NoSQL databases. Relational databases also tend to require more expensive servers, but NoSQL databases have proven to be able to shard on cheaper commodity hardware.

 

The 3rd big advantage which most NoSQL databases offer is “open source”-ness. True, several relational databases, including MySQL, are now open source as well – but they were not always so open.

Migrating Your Website to 4GoodHosting is as easy as 1..2..3..4..

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4goodhosting_website-migrationMigrating to a better web hosting company is so risky or difficult risky as you might think. 4GoodHosting makes it easy to migrate all of your data, domains, emails, and entire websites – with our *free* (that is; no hidden strings attached) transfer/migration service; while all you have to do is relax and trust our A+ BBB rating.

4GoodHosting’s server engineers, or admins/technicians are already in place to guide you through the process and ensure your migration is completed successfully to your full satisfaction. Our experienced professionals are expertly trained at transferring websites: your files, applications, databases, and email accounts.

Our service agents will guide you through all the typical steps, and we will begin your website transfer the very same day that you sign up for web hosting with 4GoodHosting! Note: If your previous host utilizes cPanel (control panel), then your website can be migrated seamlessly with zero downtime!

We’ve even have a special offer for those customers who are reading this blog and have decided to switch from a competitor! You just need to ask for it by writing us at support @ 4goodhosting.com You will receive an extra complimentary month (for shared hosting accounts) with a year of pre-paid hosting (13 months – a baker’s dozen if you will). Note: we do require a yearly billing schedule and 1-year pre-payment 4 our free transfer service.

  1. Make the decision to signupfor hosting with 4GoodHosting

4GoodHosting has been dedicated to providing Canadian based web hosting solutions for small, medium & large scale businesses as well as hobbiest websites for folks from around the world. See our web hosting plans.

(link: http://4goodhosting.com/linux-web-hosting )

Once you have signed up (and paid up), you will receive a 4GoodHosting welcome email in your inbox. Save this email as it will contain the login details for your cPanel (that is, control panel) – as well as 4GoodHosting’s domain name servers (DNS).

  1. Ready – Set –Transfer Your Site!

Now that you have an active account with 4GoodHosting, please then submit a support ticket for your transfer request from customer portal account. (or you can simply email us at support@4goodhosting.com).

Just let us know how we can best help you, and a technician will reply as soon as possible to begin the migration. Our team will begin working on the migration and will handle everything related to transferring your files, emails, DNS settings, etc. When you submit your transfer request ticket – provide us with access to your current hosting providers control panel. If your current host uses cPanel we would need the login information. If your host does not use cPanel then we’ll need access to their control panel interface to download your files, email, and databases.

At some point during this process, you will receive an email asking to update the DNS on your domain to our name servers. Our super-duper friendly support team will detail to you exactly how to do this, step by step. Website transfers can take from 1 hour to 48 hours (average 4 hours) depending on the size of your website(s). 4GoodHosting will ensure your website is transferred correctly without any issues or downtime!

Periodically Plan for your Website’s Redesign

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4goodhosting_websitedesign

Once in a while, about every 3-4 years of years, your website should be updated ensuring it has a fresh modern look; utilizing the latest and greatest web design methods.
A website which looks outdated can damage your credibility & ultimately cost you new customers. A redesign starts by planning what you want create from your existing website into the next finished upgrade.

Step 1 – Planning the project…

A good exercise is to list what you like about other websites that you have encountered and bookmarked. Consider how you can integrate the features that you like into your own website. While perusing through other websites you will also get a better feel for what your site already does well and where it doesn’t shine so well.
Before you begin, you have to work out what you want your website to do exactly. The goals should be realistic and specific.
Ask yourself: who and what is my website for ?

· A means to communicate with customers?
· To build brand awareness?
· Is it’s main function to be a sales funnel?

Every website has a slightly different purpose. Define what your website’s purpose is precisely.

At the start of your project you should create time-line of of what needs to be done; and when. If you have a project team of other people you should also include who is responsible for each part.

Step 2 – Design for building a high level of trust between yourself & your audience

Getting your visitor(s) to trust your brand should be the overall goal.
Mostly your website to be considered credible & trustworthy is to continuously update it with original high-quality content.
Original content helps customer prospects find you in search engines; and in turn establishes you as a thought leader in your market segment. Also keep in mind that you don’t want your visitors to see you as just selling something. The first goal should be to get your visitors to trust your website as an authority.
The other avenue to build trust with your customers is to create and maintain an active social media presence. Today’s consumers expect some communication interactivity before to forking over their money. With openly communicating with customers through Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc. then you paint a human face on your business. This also creates the perception that you are interested in hearing what your customers have to say.

Step 3 – Examine current analytics/metrics to better identify which parts of your website is worth keeping and what needs to be reworked.

4GoodHosting’s websites, through cPanel, have analytics applications installed, but it is a skill and passion to know how to leverage analytic data to increase traffic and sales.
While analyzing matters, identify on which pages are attracting the most hits – and which ones are keeping visitors around for the longest amount of time. Look into what is making those pages more successful than others.

Also focus on where your traffic is coming from and which of your marketing strategies have been the most successful in the past. This knowledge will help you further experiment to see what creates the best results.

What you learn should ultimately influence your redesign.
Key analytics metrics consider most: High bounce rates, High exit rates, low rime on page(s)
If you have any questions, on this topic or of any sort, always feel free to contact us at support @ 4 goodhosting.com

Hosting Upgrade Considerations

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4GoodHosting_upgrade
Is your website becoming much more popular?



If you are searching for reliable yet inexpensive, and fast loading website hosting, “shared web hosting” or “V.P.S.” (Virtual Private Server hosting) service are two good, but not identical, options. The most common choice, to do it at rock bottom costs, shared hosting, but for many businesses the limitations of shared hosting eventually becomes outgrown.

Migrating from a shared server plan to a VPS (or an entirely “Dedicated” or “Standalone Server) is typically the next step.

4GoodHosintg provides free upgrade migration services; to solve any nervousness when you may decide to upgrade your website to its own server.

Some signs you have outgrown Shared Web Hosting:

Skyrocketting Traffic



For low traffic websites shared hosting is ideal. If you are noticing your traffic increase consistently, or if you are offering high-bandwidth content such as video(s); you may need to upgrade to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) for dedicated bandwidth, and for a lower-latency (faster) less congested network connections.

When your business/website grows in size: your email, disk space, CPU & RAM (Random access memory) requirements will also eventually surpass your existing shared hosting plan. The growth of your business will often dictate the need for upgrades.

Choosing between VPS and dedicated server



Perhaps you would feel best serving your website by renting your own private server (standalone web server with it’s own dual power supply). However, first consider the differences between VPS and Dedicated servers – to find out which one is best for your application; including cost, as VPS are less expensive than leasing dedicated equipment in our data center.

In either case, 4GoodHosting offers numerous advantages: such as 24/7 customer support, “RAID” hard drive and SSD redundancy, dual-coast back-ups, disaster recovery servers, plus the flexibility of upgrading or downgrading your server hosting package whenever you need with free migrations.

A new trend for 2016: Flat Design for Websites

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4GH-FlatDesign.jpgSince about the beginning of 2016 a new simplifying trend in website design is coaxing website managers and businesses to rethink their web presence strategy. A significant number of websites have begun redesign sites that have visual depth and 3d-elements to flattened out plainer versions which project more “flat” “single-surface” experiences. “Flat design” is becoming one of the hottest trends in 2016 web design.

Looking into this trending web design model is, we can consider both the pros & cons. Here is a great gallery of flat design examples:

http://www.awwwards.com/websites/flat-design/ (Make sure you give this a look to see better what is being talked about.)

1 step flatwards, 2 steps forwards…

There is an age-old theory that simply states that history repeats itself, – fashion trends, hairstyles, marketing campaigns. Flat design isn’t new. However in 2016 taken on a fresh modern flair; which appears to be resonating with “millennials” who are most tethered to their handheld computers.

Using smartphones by default demands bigger text and larger images; which happen to be key elements in flat site design. The advent of responsive design considerations for mobile screen necessitated a need for easily scrollable 2-dimensional designs which depend more on unique colors & shapes rather than realistic-looking 3d graphics and animated GIFs; popular on “skeuomorphic“ designs.

Efficient responsive design, with faster page load time along with with a sleek appearance, all which is great on on mobile devices, is the main advantage to flat design for websites.

Form & Function

What is a flat website designs? And what isn’t.

Flat designers take a minimalistic approach that values function over most everything, except the content itself. Today mobile-active consumers today are looking for responsive brands, mobile friendly and functional.

When online forms social share buttons first appeared, people were unfamiliar with these design elements and had to guided through the process. One example is fields forms. Before people needed to be helped by stating “Type your e-mail address here” or “Type First name”. Nowadays, the average person knows more intuitively about how to get around a web page or site; therefore the simplicity of flat design are became more popular.

With flat design there is minimal uses of familiar stylistic effects, Look for popular brands on your mobile device using color combinations and unique shapes to deliver a simpler and more streamlined web design; concentrated with value-added content.

How to Choose the Best Theme for your WordPress (or other CMS) Website or Blog

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After you have secured hosting and installed WordPress (or another CMS), it is time to pick out a theme. Figuring out which theme is best is definitely overwhelming at first because there are about 40,000, free and fee, templates and themes to choose from. In order to help you get through the process of theme selection, the most important things to consider while choosing a theme are listed below. If you utilize these tips, you will have an easier time getting started in the right direction.

Customization

One of the great things about themes is that it gives you a place to start and you don’t have to spend days or weeks of work to make it all look good. Another more expensive option is to hire a talented designer to create a personalized blog theme for you, but it’s also great to have some customizable options. This details include being able to alter the general color of your theme, being able to change the header image, and perhaps also the ability to tailor the theme code, that is – if you know what you are doing. The more options you have for customization, the better.

High Readability

A very important aspect of theme selection to consider is to make sure it provides for high readability. The main point of getting visitors to your website or blog is for them, not just to see colors and fancy graphics, but to actually consume and be influenced by your content. So you should choose a theme that utilizes a font which is easy on the eyes and consistent. Even if you think a particular font is cute – if it makes the word is hard to read; then skip that theme if you are unable to easily customize the overall font.

Some additional tips to increase the readability of your website/blog:

* The important of adequate amounts of “whitespace”. Try to find a theme that allows plenty of blank whitespace. Pictures, graphics, text and other design elements can go a long way – there also should plenty of whitespace, in between blocks, in order to give your visitor’s eyes a break.

* Line spacing. Another easy way to make your blog readable is to use line spacing to your advantage; use double spacing between your paragraphs rather than just indents.

* Font selection: Pick a theme with only one or two fonts that are easy to read. Arial, Courier, Verdana, and Times New Roman are always safe fonts to use.

On Current Web Standards

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html5.1

In this article we will help bring you up to date with current website development standards.

HTML5 was a many year project that was launched in 2014; mostly as the concerted effort by the W3C organization. The plan was, from that point forward to continue to publish regular incremental updates to the HTML standard; but a few things didn’t happen as planned. Now a newly named organization, the Web Platform Working Group (WP WG) is working towards a HTML5.1 to be released within the next 6 months. The project centers around a general workflow; which means the group will be releasing a stable version of HTML, as a W3C recommendation, about once annually moving forward.

HTML Specification Goals

The core goals for future HTML specifications are to:
* match reality better,
* make the specification as clear as possible to readers,
* to make it possible for all stakeholders to propose improvements,
* and to understand what makes changes to HTML successful.

HTML 5.1 Timeline

The current schedule is to ship an HTML5.1 recommendation in September 2016. This implies they will need to have a Candidate Recommendation by the middle of June 2016, following a “Call For Consensus” based on the most recent working draft. The updated working draft is published approximately once a month; changes are noted within the specification itself.

They practice an evolutionary schedule of “rinsing and repeating”; making regular incremental updates to HTML that is relatively straightforward to implement. If you are interested you can see current chatter from the working group members @HTMLWG on Twitter.

On webmaster responsibilities for securing their website

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websitesecurity
Every day across the internet, hackers, malicious users, and cybercriminals, for whatever motive they may have, compromise thousands of websites. Their hacks are even sometimes invisible to users, but can remain harmful to visitors viewing the page, including the site owner. Unbeknownst to webmasters for some amount of time, their site has become infected with various forms of harmful code; some have shown able to record keystrokes on visitor’s computers, and even steal login credentials for financial account or online banking.

You may ask: Is it my web host’s responsibility to protect my website? The answer is: both yes & no. Your web host, like 4GoodHosting, has implemented strong network security mechanisms and various other security measures to ensure your website works optimally. However, keeping each website secure is also the responsibility of the webmaster. Shared hosting is also by nature an “unmanaged” environment. This implies that each customer is responsible for updating their applications, website code and implementing security precautions to protect their website files and CMS (Content Management Service – such as WordPress/Drupal/Joomla). Over the years we have seen various and some recent vulnerabilities with popular applications such as WordPress. Sometimes these breaches through WordPress have impacted customer websites; because the site owners’ did not keep their applications up to date – even after receiving notifications that their installation needs to be patched due to vulnerabilities that have been identified. Some examples of these attacks are: SQL injections, Code injections, template holes and many more.

If your site gets hacked what should you do? Here is where you should ask yourself: “Do I want to handle it myself? Or get help?” Here at 4GoodHosting we follow a well thought out and rigid methodology that enables us to automatically scan for and identify malware/hacks on our customers’ sites. We have built a rigorous process to resolve and fix the attack, “hack” as soon as possible.

We employ the following steps:

1) 24/7 Monitoring

2) Scanning of the site

3) Assessing the damage (hacked with spam or malware)

4) Identify the vulnerability

5) If necessary, Quarantining the site

6) Validating backup files

7) Clean and maintain the website