Choosing the Right IoT Platform

No doubt the Internet of Things needs no introduction here given how the latest big wrinkle in the application of World Wide Web-based technology has become so integrally involved in both our private and working lives. As it stands currently, working with IoT applies to some businesses more than others, but it’s fair to say that any of them that put a premium on customer accessibility and control will need to be adhering to IoT realities.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a good Canadian web hosting provider like any other in that we prefer to keep our thumbs on the pulse of certain trends in the greater industry more so than others. IoT is definitely one of them, and it continues to be interesting to watch how it reaches further into our digital world every day. Consumers are going to expect more and more ‘smartness’ from their ‘things’ going forward, and businesses of course need to be receptive to that.

This makes choosing the right IoT platform a complex endeavor. The landscape can be confusing for IoT hobbyists, experienced developers, and senior executives alike. Today we’ll give you a quick overview of the IoT platform landscape and how you should evaluate IoT platforms based on your needs.

Defining an IoT Platform

Quite simply, an IoT platform is an integrated service offering what’s needed to bring physical objects online. Supporting millions of simultaneous device connections is the challenge, and your platform needs to allow you to configure your devices for optimized communication between machines. The consensus among developers is that it’s really quite difficult to build a well-functioning IoT product.

IoT Platform Types

End-to-end IoT Platforms

End-to-end IoT platforms provide hardware, software, connectivity, security, and device management tools to handle the massive numbers of concurrent device connections. They also provide all managed integrations needed, which can include OTA firmware updates, device management, cloud connection, cellular modem and more, all of which connect and monitor a fleet of devices online.

Connectivity Management Platforms

These platforms offer low-power and low-cost connectivity management solutions via Wi-Fi and cellular technologies. Connectivity hardware, cellular networks, and data routing features are all part of connectivity management platforms in IoT.

IoT Cloud Platforms

Cloud platforms are very beneficial, serving to get rid of the complexity of building your own complex network stack and offering backend and other services to monitor and track millions of device connections that are occurring simultaneously.

Data Platform

As you’d imagine, every type of IoT platform deals with data in some way. IoT data platforms serve the function of combining many of the tools you need to manage / visualize data analytics and them route them as needed.

IoT Platform Verticals

Placing these IoT platforms into categories is really being too simple with them. The breadth of functionality for each makes it so that they don’t fit into a single category. The most logical way of looking at them is what they offer for different interests and related users:

Hobbyists / Prototyping Solutions / Utilities / Live Search (A.I.) Applications / Development Kits / DIY solutions / Consumer Electronics / Home automation / Wearables / Industrial IoT (IIoT) Solutions / Smart factory warehousing applications / Predictive and remote maintenance / Industrial security systems / Asset tracking and smart logistics/ Transportation monitoring / Energy optimization / Connected logistics / Agriculture Industry / Healthcare Industry / Energy Industry / Smart Cities

What to Look for When Examining Platforms

It’s definitely helpful to know what you should be looking for, based on your intended solution:

  1. Connectivity

How effectively is the vendor’s network coverage fitting your business’ current and future initiatives?

  1. Method of Connectivity

What type of connectivity is needed? Will a Wi-Fi or cellular solution be best for your IoT product? Assess these needs and then determine how the vendor can address them.

  1. Market Longevity

Looking at how long the IoT platform been in business is helpful. The space itself is relatively new, but building has occurred quickly and a lot can and will change in a very short period of time. Aim to find an IoT platform that has been offering services for 4+ years at a minimum.

  1. Type of Service

How does the IoT platform describe and sell themselves? Some will be purely connectivity platforms, some will be end-to-end solutions that offer hardware and software to go along with connectivity. How one will suit you best comes about after assessing your business needs. How will they change over time?

  1. Geographic Coverage

Is an embedded sim with global support provided? Is this IoT platform one that covers the regions your business needs? Looking over all aspects of your global reach needs should be part of the consideration as well.

  1. Data Plan

Is a fair data plan included with the platform? The ability to pause or suspend your data services at any time and the ability to control how much data that is used should be on your checklist.

  1. Security / Privacy

Look into the platform and specifically how they’ve dealt with security and privacy issues and reviewed their security content as needed to date. Evaluate how their platform combats security issues frees you from having to do that yourself.

  1. Managed Integrations / API Access

How does the vendor integrate every complexity required for the IoT connectivity you’re after – cellular modems, carrier / sim cards, device diagnostics, firmware updates, cloud connections, security, application layer, RTOS. The best ones will consolidate all into a simple package that works out to very little of it ending up on your plate.

  1. Data Access

How easy does it look to be to take the data acquired through the IoT platform and then integrate it with your enterprise back ends and current cloud service? How will this data then be used? Does the service match those needs?

  1. IoT Ecosystem

The relationships between the services the IoT platform offers should be clearly understood. This will help you learn how their services can be of assistance in helping you build your product

  1. IoT Roadmap

The expansion of IoT platforms is going to continue ahead at full steam. Does this IoT platform’s roadmap match your organization’s needs, and will expansions into connectivity, data, and hardware be helpful for you?

  1. OTA Firmware Updates

How does the vendor allow you to send updates and fix bugs on your devices remotely? It is a simple process, or a complex one. Obviously, simpler is far preferable.

Good Ones

  • Particle — Particle is an enterprise IoT platform that’s ideal for building an IoT product, from Device to Cloud.
  • Salesforce IoT — Maximizes your business efforts with IoT cloud services.
  • Microsoft IoT Azure — Very popular, and enhances operational productivity and profitability by means of a preconfigured connected factory solution.
  • Artik Cloud — The ARTIK IoT platform is ideal for IoT open data exchange
  • Google Cloud’s IoT Platform — integrated services that get high marks from end users and allow you to easily and securely connect, manage, and internalize IoT data
  • IBM Watson IoT — IBM’s new Watson Internet of Things (IoT) is a cognitive system that picks up on AI and then practicalizes it for use within IoT functionality.
  • Xively Platform — an enterprise IoT platform to help accelerate your connected product or service.

These are just a few of many that seem well-received by developers.

5 Ways to Speed Up Your PC Running Windows 10

One of the unfortunate realities for human beings is that as we get older, it’s not as easy for us to perform athletically like we once did. When we’re on the right side of 30 it’s not too challenging to run fast, jump high, and turn on a dime. The 30s are a bit of a transition, and once the 40s arrive it’s pretty clear we’re past our prime. Computers slow down as they age too, but that’s a situation that is remedied a lot more easily.

You can take your OS back to it’s virtual 20s quite straightforwardly if you know what to do. That’ll be the topic of discussion here today, and for the world’s most common OS specifically – Windows 10. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a good Canadian web hosting provider like any other in that we can relate to how it’s frustrating to have to deal with a device – desktop, tablet, smartphone – that’s more putt-putt than vroom-vroom. What we’ve put together here today is 5 ways to speed up your PC running Windows 10, and they’re all fairly easy to implement.

  1. Change your power settings

Those of you using Windows 10’s Power saver plan should be aware that you’re actually slowing down your PC. It reduces your PC’s performance in order to save energy (most desktop PCs will usually have a Power saver plan of some sort). Switching your power plan from Power Saver to High Performance or Balanced will provide you with an instant performance boost.

Here’s how to do it in Windows 10;

  • Launch Control Panel, then select Hardware and Sound > Power Options

You’ll then see two options: Balanced (recommended) and Power Saver. (Certain makes and models will have other plans here as well, including manufacturer-branded ones with some.) Clicking the down arrow will show any additional plans that are options to the High Power setting.

To change your power setting, simply choose the one you want, then leave then the Control Panel. High performance will provide the most oomph, but as you’d expect it uses the most power; Balanced finds a nice medium between power use and better performance; Power saver scales everything back for as much battery life as possible. Desktop users will of course have no reason to choose Power saver. The balanced option is a good choice for Laptop users when unplugged, and then moving to high performance when enjoying a power source.

  1. Disable Programs Running on Startup

Another cause for your Windows 10 PC being slow and sluggish is that you’ve got too many programs running in the background. Often these are programs that most people never use, or only very rarely. Prevent them from launching and running on start-up can free up your PC’s engine quite effectively. Here’s how to get at them:

  • Launch Task Manager / Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc or right-click the lower right corner of your screen and select Task Manager

A different scenario may be that Task Manager launches as a compact app with no tabs, and if so you can then click “More details” at the bottom of the screen. The Task Manager should then be made accessible.

Now click the Startup tab. You’ll be provided with a list of the programs and services that launch when you Windows starts. Each program’s name as well as its publisher will be listed, and it will indicate whether the program or services is enabled to run on start-up. More importantly, you’ll also be shown its ‘start-up impact’ – how much it slows down your OS. Very valuable info here and really lets you be judicious about what stays and what goes.

So to stop a program or service from launching at start-up, you simply right-click it and select ‘Disable’. This doesn’t disable the program entirely, rather it only will prevent it from launching at start-up. You’re still able to manually run the application after launch anytime you like. Further, you can follow the same steps and reenable it any time you like.

  1. Shut Down Windows Tips and Tricks

While you’re using your Windows 10 PC normally, Windows tracks what you’re doing and offers tips about steps you might want to take with the operating system based on your usage patterns. Most people don’t find these tips helpful, and research has indicated that the vast majority of users ignore them. So it’s pretty safe to say they’re likely not going to be helpful for you either.

Fortunately, you can tell Windows to stop giving you advice. Here’s how:

  • Click Start button / Select the Settings icon / Go to System > Notifications & Actions / Scroll down to the Notifications section and turn off ‘Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows’

Simple as that, and more resources dedicated to where you want them to be.

  1. Stop OneDrive from Synching

Microsoft’s cloud-based OneDrive file storage is built into Windows 10, and it serves to keep files synched and up-to-date on all of your PCs. It’s also a useful backup tool that will keep files intact if your PC or its hard disk fails. You’ll still have to restore those files, but you can know they’ll be there. If that’s not something that’s a priority for you, then you likely can really speed up your OS by turning off this function. You’ll want to be certain of that before you disable it, and this is how you can do that:

  • Right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area on the right side of the taskbar / Choose ‘pause syncing’ from the popup screen that appears and select either 2 hours, 8 hours or 24 hours

You’ll now have a chance to evaluate whether you’re seeing a noticeable boost in your computer’s operating speeds. If that’s the case, and you decide you do wish to turn off synching, this is the next step

  • Right-click the OneDrive icon / select Setting > Account / Click ‘Unlink this PC’ / From the screen that appears, click ‘Unlink account’

You’ll now still be able to save your files to your local OneDrive folder, but it won’t synch with the cloud.

  1. Turn Off Search Indexing

Windows 10 indexes your hard disk in the background, and this lets you search your PC more speedily than you’d be able to if no indexing were being done. Slower PCs that use indexing inevitably experience a decline in performance. It’s possible to give them a speed boost by turning off indexing. This is true even if you have an SSD disk, and turning off indexing can improve speeds in these instances as well. The constant writing to disk that indexing does will even slow down SSDs over time.

To gain maximum benefit in Windows 10, turning off indexing off entirely is highly recommended. Doing it is fairly simple:

  • Type index in the Start Menu search box / Click the Indexing Options result that appears / Once Indexing Options page of Control Panel appears, click the Modify button / From the list of locations being indexed, you can now uncheck the boxes next to any location to make it so that it will no longer be indexed.

Searches may be slightly slower after this, but for most users the difference will be negligible. You should get a nice overall performance boost once you put a stop to search indexing.

These are just a few of the many ways to increase the overall speed of your Windows 10 PC, and a quick Google search should be all that’s necessary for you to find much more information on this subject.

.Inc Domains Now Available for Business Websites

For the longest time the .com domain extension was the one and only in the world of domains. In the early days of the Internet that wasn’t an issue, but as ever-greater numbers of sites – literally thousands of them – came onboard there became a need for alternative domain extensions. With a quick nod of acknowledgement to the .org and .net domains of the world, the most noteworthy development was the creation of country-specific domain name extensions. For example, if you’re here in Canada you’ll know that .ca domains are pretty much as numerous as .com ones.

All of this is why news like this is going to be of interest to any leading Canadian web hosting provider, whether their way out west like us here at 4GoodHosting or anywhere between here and St. John’s. And to get right to it, that news is that a new top-level domain is now available for registration.

Introducing .inc domains!

Most will be aware that inc. is short for incorporated, and without going into great detail that means that a business acts and exists independently of its owners.

Back to relevant information, however – the appeal of these new .inc domains is obviously that they’ll be an immediate indicator of a website being a business one. It’s likely that many decision makers will also perceive a greater sense of authority to having a .inc domain. This new option joins Google making the .dev domain name available for developers.

Specifically for Businesses

The new .inc TLD will be operated by Intercap Registry Inc., and their belief is that any business that ends its title with ‘Incorporated’ will be quite keen to have a domain that allows to have the website address end the same way. And it’s not just a select few who’ll be able to go this route if they’d like to. The .inc domain name will be available to register in the official language of more than 190 countries and used by any business—from start-ups to established major players in many different industries.

It’s safe to say that having a .inc at the end of a web address can help businesses gain credibility and, as mentioned, add a certain level of inherent authority to their website.

Bonuses

If that’s not incentive enough for incorporated businesses all over the globe, there’s some perks available for those ready to make the switch – free member benefits worth $2500 from leading brands. Among others, they are:

  • $1,000 in free transaction fee credits from Square
  • Free press release on GlobeNewsWire to announce the new .inc website
  • Free $100 credit for sponsored job listings on Indeed
  • $150 ad spending match for Google Ads

Converts are also encouraged to know that website migration to the .inc domain will not include downtime or a negative impacting of search engine optimization (SEO).

Harder to Cybersquat

Now here’s a term that should be much more foreign to many of you. Cybersquatting is registering, selling, or using a domain name with intent of profiting on the goodwill of another person or organization’s trademark. It’s generally done by buying up domain names that use the name of existing businesses with the intent of selling them for a profit later on.

It is also hoped that these .inc TLDs will prevent cybersquatting, allowing businesses to avoid having to deal with pre-registered domains related to their business name being held for ransom. The .inc TLDs are now available for priority trademark registration till April 30, and can be registered here.

After April 30 and until May 7 they will be available for priority public registration, and then after that for global public registration. Priority trademark registration is expected to set businesses back around $3,500. Definitely not cheap for the average individual, but not doubt a good many businesses will see that as money reasonably well spent all things considered.

If you’d like to know more about these domains, or have any questions about domain names and domain name extensions in general, we’d be happy to answer them for you. Contact us anytime.

5G Networks: What to Expect

We don’t know about you, but for those of us here it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that 3G Internet speeds were being revelled in as the latest and greatest. Things obviously change fast, as 3G has been in the rear view mirror for a long time now, and the reality is that the newest latest and greatest – 4G – is about to join it there.

Here at 4GoodHosting, the fact we’re a leading Canadian web host makes us as keen to learn more about what the new 5G networks have in store for us as anyone else who’s in the digital space day in and out. It appears that we’re in for quite a treat, although there are some who suggest tempering expectations. That’s to be expected anytime wholesale changes to infrastructure key to big-picture operations are forthcoming.

Nonetheless, we’re supposed to be immersed in the 5G world before the end of next year. Mobile 5G is expected to start making appearances in cities around North America this year, with much more extensive rollouts expected in 2020 so a discussion of what we can all expect from 5G is definitely in order. Let’s do it.

What is 5G, and How’s It Going to Work?

To cut right to it, 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will augment 4G LTE connections for now before eventually replacing them. 5G is promising to deliver exponentially faster download and upload speeds along with drastically reduced latency – the time it takes devices to communicate with each other across wireless networks. Right, that alone is worthy of some serious fanfare, but fortunately there’s even more to this.

But before getting into additional benefits expected to be seen with 5G networks, let’s have a look at what makes them different from 4G ones and how exactly these new super networks are predicted to function.

Spectrum-Specific Band Function

It’s important to start with an understanding of the fact that unlike LTE, 5G is going to operate on three different spectrum brands. The lowest one will be the sub-1GHz spectrum bands like GSMA / ITU. They are what’s known as low-band spectrums, and they’re the ones used for LTE by most carriers in North America. This spectrum is quite literally running out of steam, so it’s ready to be replaced. It does provide great area coverage and signal penetration but peak data speeds never exceed 100Mbps and often you’re not even anywhere close to that even.

Mid-band spectrums provides faster coverage and lower latency but the long-standing complaint related to them is that they fail to penetrate buildings and peak speeds top out at around 1GB

High-band spectrums (aka mmWave) are what most people think of when they think of 5G, and high-band spectrums can offer peak speeds up to 10 Gbps along with impressively low latency most of the time. The major drawback here though? It has low coverage area and building penetration is poor.

It appears that most carriers are going to start out by piggybacking 5G on top of their 4G LTE networks to start, and then nationwide 5G-exclusive networks will be built. Providers are very aware that small cells are going to required so that these suped-up 4G LTE networks don’t have their 5G appeal diminished with poor penetration rates and intermittently average download speeds.

In this regard, we all stand to benefit from the industry being cautious about not rolling out 5G on its own and then having growing pains with these networks.

Right, some people may not be familiar with small cells. They’re low-power base stations that cover small geographic areas that allow carriers using mmWave for 5G to offer better overall coverage area. Beamforming will be used to improve 5G service on the mid-band by sending a single focused signal to each and every user in the cell, while systems using it monitor each user to make sure they have a consistent signal.

Latency promises to be nearly if not entirely non-existent between the small cells and beamforming within 5-G enabled 4G LTE networks.

Examples of How 5G SHOULD Make Things Better

  1. Improved broadband

The reality today is that carriers are running out of LTE capacity in many major metropolitan areas. In some spots, users are already experiencing noticeable slowdowns during busy times of day. 5G will add huge amounts of spectrum in bands that have not been dedicated for commercial broadband traffic.

  1. Autonomous vehicles

Uber may have a devil of a time getting footed in Vancouver, but you can likely expect to see autonomous vehicles made possible with ubiquitous 5G deployment. The belief is that it will make it possible for your vehicle to communicate with other vehicles on the road, provide information to other vehicles regarding road conditions, and share performance information with both drivers and automakers.

This applications has a TON of promise, and it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

  1. Public Infrastructure & Safety

It’s also predicated that 5G will allow cities and other municipalities to operate with greater efficiency. All sorts of civic maintenance process will be made more efficient by means of 5G networks.

  1. Remote Device Control

The remarkably low levels of latency expected with 5G make it so that remote control of heavy machinery may become possible. This means fewer actual people in hazardous environments, and it will also allow technicians with specialized skills to control machinery from any location around the globe.

  1. Health Care

5G and its super low latency may also be huge for health care applications. Since URLLC reduces 5G latency even further than what you’ll see with enhanced mobile broadband, we may see big improvements in telemedicine, remote recovery and physical therapy via AR, precision surgery, and even remote surgery in the very near future once 5G becomes the norm.

One of the most beneficial potential advances that may come with 5G as it concerns healthcare is that hospitals may be able to create massive sensor networks to monitor patients, allow physicians to prescribe smart pills to track compliance, and let insurers monitor subscribers to determine appropriate treatments and processes.

  1. IoT

Last but certainly not least is the way 5G will benefit the Internet of Things. As it is now, sensors that can communicate with each other tend to require a lot of resources and really drain LTE data capacity.

With 5G and it’s fast speeds and low latencies, the IoT will be powered by communications among sensors and smart devices. These devices will require fewer resources than ones that are currently in use, and there’s huge efficiencies to be had with connecting to a single base station.

It’s interesting to think that one day 5G will probably be as long-gone and forgotten as 3G is now, despite the fanfare we all gave it many years ago. You can’t stop progress in the digital world, and it’s fair to say that 99% of us wouldn’t want to even if we could.

 

What’s Best? Sleep, Hibernate, or Shut Down Your Computer at Night

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Most people are perfectly fine with prompting their desktop or notebook to ‘nod off’ at the end of a day, and especially for those who work on their device and will be back in front of the screen first thing tomorrow morning. It’s true that they can go into a low-power mode and there’ll be no light coming from the screen and illuminating the room once you tell your computer to go to sleep. Others who aren’t going to be using theirs as regularly may instead choose to shut those down and be perfectly all right with the time it takes to get it booted up and running again once they do want to use it again.

The majority won’t really give it much more than that, and here at 4GoodHosting we’re like any other good Canadian web hosting provider with a good reputation in that we’ve got our minds on much more detailed and relevant aspects of what’s going in the digital world. But like any of you we’ve got desktops and notebooks at home too. That’s why we found a certain article on this topic to be informative in just the type of way we aim to offer our weekly blog content, and so here it is for you too!

Let’s have a look at this, and try to come to a consensus on what’s the best choice for you when you’re doing using your computer – put it to sleep, have it hibernate, or shut it down entirely.

Popular Thinking

The standard belief is that choosing not to turn your computer off at night is preferable, because shut downs and start ups tax the computer and lead to some of its components wearing out more quickly. Alternately, leaving it on does the same for other ones that never get to rest when the computer is still running, and even if it’s long since asleep.

There’s some truth to each of them, so the question then becomes which is the better of the two choices. Here’s the skinny on all of that.

The Issue

It’s easy to understand why believing that cutting the power with shutting down properly has the potential to do damage to your computer’s hardware. But can frequent shutdowns and restarts do the same? What are the comparison between turning the device off and leaving it on but in low-power ‘sleep’ or ‘hibernate’ states when not in use?

The source turned to for a definitive answer in this case was Best Buy’s Geek Squad, and here’s what they had do say on a topic that most would agree there very well qualified to comment on. So they were asked very plainly – is it best to leave my computer on and let it go to sleep and eventually hibernate if I’m done using it, or is it best to shut it down and then restart it then.

The Verdict, and Reasoning

According to the knowledgeable guys and gals at Geek Squad, the answer as to which choice is best depends on how often you use your computer. Those who use it more than a few times every day are best to leave it on and let it drift off into a sleep. Alternately, those who use it for an hour or two a day and here and there should go ahead and turn it off between usages.

The long and short explanation for this – and the most relevant piece of information regarding resultant wear & tear on the device – is that leaving a computer on indefinitely is less stressful overall than turning it on and off, especially if you were to do that several times a day.

Every time a computer turns on, the surge of power required for the boot up isn’t harmful in itself, but over years the repeating of that power surge can shorten the computer’s lifespan. These risks are of course greater for an older computer, and in particular for ones that have a traditional hard disk drive with moving parts rather than a solid state drive that’s more robust.

That said, all mechanical parts will fail eventually, and using them constantly will inevitably wear them down. There’s drawbacks to leaving devices on too; computers heat up more and more as they work and certain processes continue even when the device is asleep. Heat is detrimental for all components, and with computers left on you have a steady supply of it at varying moderate levels.

However, the heat and gear grinding that goes on with start up IS more detrimental long term. The exception to this would be with LCD panel displays if they weren’t timed out to go dark after certain timed period of inactivity. If they weren’t, leaving your computer on would be much more problematic – not to mention the nuisance of never-ending illumination of your workspace area.

Batteries and hard drives also have a limited life cycle. Allowing them to turn off (or sleep) and spin down when not being used will extend the life of these components, and especially if you’re only restarting the computer once or twice in a week if at all.

Even Better Reasoning

Some people will aim to refute this belief, stating that the very concept that shut downs and start ups make for damaging stress on components is a very dated way of looking at things. There are arguments to be made for both sides.

Reasons to leave it on

  • Using the PC as a server means you want to be able to remotely access it.
  • Background updates, virus scans, or other activities are welcome to go ahead while you’re away.
  • Long waits during start ups are unacceptable.

Reasons to turn it off

  • Conserving electricity and can slightly increase your power bill.
  • Wishing to not be disturbed by notifications or fan noise.
  • Rebooting does improve computer performance inherently

Having It Sleep, Or Hibernate?

Sleep puts a computer into a low power state without turning it completely off, while when hibernating your computer stops using power and resumes where it was when you put it in that mode. Overall, the consensus seems to be that sleep mode is preferable to hibernate because hibernate produces wear and tear that is similar to start and stop.

The recommendation is that if you’re going to leave it on all the time, make sure that you have the right sleep options set up in the Shut down menu. Saving a lot of power with no real downside becomes possible

Surge Protectors a Must

We’re going a little off topic here to wrap this up, but it really is worth relating the importance of using a surge protector between your computer and the wall outlet. Unless you actually like the idea of having expensive componentry fried by an electrical spike that arrives without warning, a surge protector is going to be a nice defense that hopefully you never need.

The best choice is to get an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which is basically a battery backed-up surge protector. These help condition power to even it out, and power spikes that can do irreparable damage to your computer’s components.

Lastly, keep your computer clean. Spend some time now and then to open it up and get rid of dust and debris. Uninstalls of old software and cleaning up old files and processes is recommended too.

The Final Decision

Here it is – if you use your computer more than once a day, leave it on at least all day. If you use it only briefly during the morning and at night, leaving it on overnight is probably best. Those who use their computer for only a few hours once a day or even less that should go ahead and turn it off when they’re done.

 

Google Chrome Solution for ‘History Manipulation’ On Its Way

No one will need to be convinced of the fact there’s a massive number of shady websites out there designed to ensnare you for any number of no-good purposes. Usually you’re rerouted to them when you take a seemingly harmless action and then often you’re unable to back <- yourself out of the site once you’ve unwilling landed on it. Nobody wants to be on these spammy or malicious pages and you’re stressing out every second longer that you’re there.

The well being of web surfers who also happen to be customers or friends here at 4GoodHosting is important to us, and being proactive in sharing all our wisdom about anything and everything related to the web is a part of what makes one of the best Canadian web hosting providers.

It’s that aim that has us sharing this news with you here today – that Google understands the unpleasantness that comes with this being locked into a website and has plans to make it remediable pretty quick here.

The first time something like this occurs you’ll almost certainly be clicking on the back button repeatedly before realizing it’s got no function. Eventually you’ll come to realize that you’ve got no other recourse than to close the browser, and most often times you’ll quit Chrome altogether ASAP and then launch it again for fear of inheriting a virus or something of the sort from the nefarious site.

How History Manipulation Works, and what Google is Doing About It

You’ll be pleased to hear the Chrome browser will soon be armed with specific protection measures to prevent this happening. The way the ‘back’ button is broken here is something called ‘history manipulation’ by the Chrome team. What it involves is that the malicious site stacks dummy pages onto your browsing history, and these work to fast-forward you back to the unintended destination page you were trying to get away from.

Fortunately, Chrome developers aren’t letting this slide. There are upcoming changes to Chromium’s code which will facilitate the detection of these dummy history entries and then flag sites that use them.

The aim is to allow Chrome to ignore the entirety of these false history entries to make it so that you’re not buried in a site that you had no intention of landing on and the back button functions just as you expect it to.

This development is still in its formative stages, and we should be aware that these countermeasures aren’t even in the pre-release test versions of Chrome yet. However, industry insiders report that testing should begin within the next few weeks or so, and all signs point towards the new feature being part of the full release version of the web browser.

In addition, this being a change to the Chromium engine makes it so that it may eventually benefit other browsers based on it. Most notable of these is Microsoft Edge, making it so that the frustrations of a paralyzed back button will be a thing of the past for either popular web browser. So far there’s no industry talk of Apple doing the same for Safari, but one can imagine they’ll be equally on top of this in much the same way.

Merry Christmas from 4GoodHosting

Given it’s the 24th of December here we of course would like to take this opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas to one and all. We hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family and this last week of 2018 is an especially good one. We can reflect on 2018, and look forward to an even more prosperous year in 2019.

Happy Holidays and best wishes, from all of us to all of you!

Linux or Windows

The vast majority of websites are hosted on either Linux or Windows OS servers, and the market share is now shifting towards Linux according to a recent report from W3tech. Consumer surveys indicated that Unix servers make up some 66% of all web servers while Windows accounts for just over 33%. For most this isn’t going to be something they’ll give any consideration to, and it’s true that websites with standard HTML pages will be served equally well with either OS.

These days greater numbers of websites have been ‘revamped’ since their inception and now feature dynamic design elements that enhance the UX experience for viewers. If you are planning to design or redesign your website to be much more engaging, you should work with forms and execute web applications both systems will serve your needs.

Linux and Windows are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to functionality. Each works with a number of frameworks and front end programming languages, and have impressive features when it comes to hosting. Linux and Windows handle data in the same way too, and both sport easy, convenient and fast FTP tools to serve a wide range of file management functions.

Nine times out of 10 you’ll be at your best with either, and at 4GoodHosting our Linux and Windows web hosting specs make us one of the best Canadian web hosting providers with data centers in both Eastern and Western Canada.

Our standard web hosting is via ultra-fast, dual-parallel processing Hexa Core Xeon Linux-based web servers with the latest server software installations, and our Windows hosting includes full support for the entire spectrum of frameworks and languages: ASP.NET, Frontpage, Choice of MySQL, MSSQL 2000 or 2005 DB, ATLAS, Silverlight, ASP 3.0, PHP4 & PHP5, and Plesk.

Let’s have a look at the difference with each.

Price

The most significant difference between Linux and Windows web hosting is the core operating system on which the server(s) and user interface run. Linux uses some form of the Linux kernel, and these are usually free. There are some paid distributions, Red Hat being a good one, which comes with a number of special features aimed at better server performance. With Windows you’ll have a licensing fee because Microsoft develops and owns its OS and hardware upgrade needs can be a possibility too. We like Linux because over its lifespan, Linux servers generally cost significantly less than a similar one that’s Windows-based.

Software Support

Before choosing an OS, you’ll also have to consider the script languages and database applications that are required to host the website on it. If your website needs Windows-based scripts or database applications to display correctly, then a Windows web hosting platform is probably best for you. Sites developed with Microsoft ASP.NET, ASP Classic, MSSSQL, MS Access, SharePoint technologies will also head over to the Windows side.

Conversely, if your website requires Linux-based script or database software, then a Linux-based web hosting platform is going to be your best choice. Plus, anyone planning to use Apache modules, NGINX or development tools like Perl, PHP, or Python with a MySQL database will enjoy the large support structure for these formats found with Linux.

Control Panel And Dev Tools

Another consideration with these two web hosting options is that Linux offers control panels like cPanel or WHM, and Windows uses Plesk. There are fundamental differences between them. cPanel has a simple user-friendly interface and users can download applications, such as WordPress, phpBB, Drupal, Joomla, and more with super simple one-click installs. Creating and manage MySQL databases and configuring PHP is easy, and cPanel automatically updates software packages too. Plus, we like our Linux hosted websites for people new to the web. cPanel makes it easy for even people with no coding knowledge to create websites, blogs, and wiki pages. You can get tasks done faster without having to learn the details of every package installed.

Plesk is very versatile in that it can help you run the Windows version of the Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP stack. Plesk also supports Docker, Git, and other advanced security extensions. Windows servers have many unique and practical tools available as well, such as the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (Web PI) for speedier installation of the IIS (Internet Information System web server), MSSQL, and ASP.NET stack.

Because it’s been on the field longer, there are loads of open-source Linux applications available online. Windows hosting has fewer apps to choose from, but you have the security of knowing they are all from from vetted licensed providers. This increases the rate you can move ahead with database deployment.

Performance And Security

A reputable Canadian web host can be expected to secure your website within its data centres, but online attacks on Windows servers over the last few years show that they may be more of a red flag here than with Linux servers. That’s not to say that Linux – or any OS that has been or ever will be developed – will not have any security issues. Solid security is a product of good passwords, applying necessary patches, and using the rack for support.

Further, Linux server is pretty much universally considered to superior to Windows for stability and reliability. They rarely need to be rebooted and configuration changes rarely require a restart. Running multiple database and file servers on Windows can make it unstable, and another small difference is that Linux files are case-sensitive and Windows files are not.

Penguin for the Win

Your choice of server should be dictated by the features & database application needed for the proper functioning of your hosting or website development project. Those of you working on your own external-facing site and looking for a combination of flexibility and stability will be set up perfectly with Linux and cPanel. Those working in a complex IT environment with existing databases and legacy applications running on Windows servers will be best served being hosted on a Windows OS server.

Site Isolation from Google Promises to Repel More Malware Attacks

Against malware

Against malware

Security in the digital business world is really a challenge these days, and the world wide web is becoming as full of nefarious characters at the town of Machine, the ‘End of the Line’ as it were in the cool monochrome Western Dead Man with Johnny Depp from the ‘90s. A few months back we had detailed the big bad Spectre virus that had come onto the scene and posed major threats as regarded the insecurity of data for any type of website handling sensitive personal information.

It continues to be a ‘thing’, and in response to it Google recently enabled a new security feature in Chrome that secures users from malicious attacks like Spectre. It’s called Site Isolation, and is a new feature available with Chrome 67 on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re a Canadian web hosting provider that puts an emphasis on this for obvious reasons, always seeking to be as on top of our clients’ web hosting needs as effectively as possible.

Google’s experimentation with Site Isolation has been going on since Chrome 63, and they’ve patched a lot of issues before enabling it by default for all Chrome users on desktop.

Chrome’s multi-process architecture allows different tabs to employ different renderer processes. Site Isolation functions by limiting each renderer process to documents from a single site. Chrome then relies on the operating system, and mitigates attacks between processes and any site.

Google has stated that in Chrome 67, Site Isolation has been enabled for 99% of users on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS, according to a recent post on their company blog, stating further that ‘even if a Spectre attack were to occur in a malicious web page, data from other websites would generally not be loaded into the same process, and so there would be much less data available to the attacker. This significantly reduces the threat posed by Spectre.’

Additional known issues in Chrome for Android have been identified and are being worked on. Site Isolation for Chrome for Android should be ready with Chrome 68.

Need for Speed

Quick mention as well to Speed Update for Google Search on mobile. With this new feature the speed of pages will be a ranking factor for mobile searches. Of course, page speed has already been factoring into search engine rankings for some time now, but it was primarily based on desktop searches.

All of this is based on unsurprising finding showing people want to find answer to their searches as fast as possible, and page loading speed is an issue. Keeping that in mind, Google’s new feature for mobile users will only affect the pages that are painfully slow, and that has to be considered a good thing. Average pages should remain unaffected by and large.

We’re always happy to discuss in more detail how our web hosting service comes with the best in security and protective measures for your website when it’s hosted with us, and we also offer very competitively priced SSL certificates for Canadian websites that go a long way in securing your site reliably. Talk to us on the phone or email our support team.

The Appeal of Hybrid Cloud Hosting

Most of you will need no introduction to the functionality and application of cloud computing, but those of who aren’t loaded with insight into the ins and outs of web hosting may be less familiar with cloud hosting and what makes it significantly different from standard web hosting. Fewer still will likely know of hybrid hosting and the way it’s made significant inroads into the hosting market with very specific appeals for certain web users with business and / or management interests.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’ve done well establishing ourselves as a quality Canadian web hosting provider, and a part of what’s allowed us to do that is by having our thumb on the pulse of our industry and sharing those developments with our customers in language they can understand. Hybrid hosting may well be a good fit for you, and as such we’re happy to share what we know regarding it.

If we had to give a brief overview of it, we’d say that hybrid hosting is meant for site owners that want the highest level of data security along with the economic benefits of the public cloud. Privacy continues to be of a primary importance, but the mix of public and private cloud environments and the specific security, storage, and / or computing capacities that come along with the pairing are very appealing.

What Exactly is the Hybrid Cloud?

This combination of private and public cloud services communicate via encrypted technology that allows for data and / or app portability, consisting of three individual parts; the public cloud / the private cloud / a cloud service and management platform.

Both the public and private clouds are independent elements, allowing you to store and protect your data in your private cloud while employing all of the advanced computing resources of the public cloud. To summarize, it’s a very beneficial arrangement where your data is especially secure but you’re still able to bring in all the advanced functionality and streamlining of processes that come with cloud computing.

If you have no concerns regarding the security of your data, you are; a) lucky, and b) likely to be quite fine with a standard cloud hosting arrangement.

If that’s not you, read on…

The Benefits of Hybrid Clouds

One of the big pluses for hybrid cloud hosting is being able to keep your private data private in an on-prem, easily accessible private infrastructure, which means you don’t need to push all your information through the public Internet, yet you’re still able to utilize the economical resources of the public cloud.

Further, hybrid hosting allows you to leverage the flexibility of the cloud, taking advantage of computing resources only as needed, and – most relevantly – also without offloading ALL your data to a 3rd-party datacenter. You’re still in possession of an infrastructure to support your work and development on site, but when that workload exceeds the capacity of your private cloud, you’re still in good hands via the failover safety net that the public cloud provides.

Utilizing a hybrid cloud can be especially appealing for small and medium-sized business offices, with an ability to keep company systems like CRMS, scheduling tools, and messaging portals plus fax machines, security cameras, and other security / safety fixtures like smoke or carbon monoxide detectors connected and working together as needed without the same risk of web-connection hardware failure or security compromise.

The Drawbacks of Hybrid Clouds

The opposite side of the hybrid cloud pros and cons is that it can be something of a demanding task to maintain and manage such a massive, complex, and expensive infrastructure. Assembling your hybrid cloud can also cost a pretty penny, so it should only be considered if it promises to be REALLY beneficial for you, and keep in mind as well that hybrid hosting is also less than ideal in instances where data transport on both ends is sensitive to latency, which of course makes offloading to the cloud impractical for the most part.

Good Fits for Hybrid Clouds

It tends to be a more suitable fit for businesses that have an emphasis on security, or others with extensive and unique physical data needs. Here’s a list of a few sectors, industries, and markets that have been eagerly embracing the hybrid cloud model:

  • Finance sector – the appeal for them is in the decreased on-site physical storage needs and lowered latency
  • Healthcare industry – often to overcome regulatory hurdles put in place by compliance agencies
  • Law firms – protecting against data loss and security breaches
  • Retail market – for handling compute-heavy analytics data tasks

We’re fortunate that these types of technologies continue to evolve as they have, especially considering the ever-growing predominance of web-based business and communication infrastructures in our lives and the data storage demands and security breach risks that go along with them.

Go Local With Your Web Host Provider – Here’s Why

Web Hosting written on a wooden cube in a office desk

Here at 4GoodHosting, we take pride in being a premier Canadian web hosting provider that serves customers from Victoria all the way to St. John’s. But we’d like to take a moment to explain why we’re an even better choice for those of you who are also residents of the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver. Read on.

The Internet has been of tremendous benefit for nearly everyone on the planet and for pretty much every conceivable objective out there, and accordingly greater and greater numbers of web hosting providers have popped up to meet demand as people realize the value in taking whatever it is they have – be it a business, blog, personal venture, or anything else – onto the web. In the early years of the web, there was not much in the way of any connection to providers outside of your immediate locale

Of course, that’s no longer the case. Your web hosting provider can be located on the other side of the planet if you’re pleased with their rates, service, and the reliability of the web hosting. You may well find that a provider that’s nowhere near where you’re located is offering some very attractive features or offers like more storage, lower price points and other additions. Without a doubt, more than a few web hosting customers in our B.C. backyard have taken their hosting business elsewhere, and that’s honestly as it should have been.

However, more recent developments in the big picture of the world of Internet marketing has made it that there are advantages to having a local web hosting provider. Let’s discuss them.

Impact on Google Ranking

When a website is first created, it will assume an Internet Protocol, or IP address, that is assigned to it. It references the location, geographically, where the website was created, it’s ‘original location’. However, If you are a B.C. company that has acquired your hosting from an American provider, for example, your website’s IP address will be an American based on wherever it is they’re located.

This influences the way Google views your website, as despite the fact you are a BC user, you have an overseas IP address location. The relevance of this is that your webpage isn’t considered as a local one, which influences your SEO and overall google ranking within BC – and your local prospective clientele in particular.

Time Zone Considerations

One of the most tangible benefits of having your website hosted locally in BC is that you and your host will share the same time zone. Should any issues arise, you will be much more likely to be able to get someone on the phone. BC residents that use overseas or cross-continent hosting may find themselves in a situation where support technicians are unavailable , which of course can be a huge disadvantage if a problem occurs with your website and can be very problematic if your site is serving e-commerce aims.

In addition to that consideration, your own website will also be configured to the time zone of your hosting provider. When your site is aligned with a differing time zone, it can be confusing when looking at the analytical side of your website.

Further, an overseas time zone can also result in the website being completely unavailable during the day. How’s that? Well, hosting providers will do routine updates and maintenance overnight from time to time, to avoid clashing with high traffic times of the day for their recipients. Although this isn’t likely to be a major risk, it still is something to consider – particularly if your customer base is global in nature – and a reason to consider going with local hosting.

Variances in Loading Time

Webpage visitors tend to be impatient. That’s common knowledge, and you’re probably somewhat intolerant of slow-to-load pages yourself. All webpages feed off the information that it located within their host. When a visitor wants to view your site, and information request is sent. If that information is housed with an overseas host, it will delay the time it takes for someone back here in BC to gain the information. They may find themselves thinking ‘what the heck, these guys are local and they can’t open a webpage for me within __ seconds? See ya.’

This extra time it takes to load information could be crucial, and lead to potential customers moving on from your site due to slow loading times. Surely most of you will agree that the possibility of losing customers and damaging your reputation isn’t worth the risk.

The Local Trends Factor

Many hosting providers will offer web design or web marketing consulting services. If you choose to take advantage of them, the individuals you’ll be in consultation with will have their thumbs on the pulse of web design trends that are prominent in your area, and that can extend – albeit to a lesser extent – to what’s ‘hot’ locally with regards to Internet Marketing approaches. Take a look, for example, at business websites located in Toronto versus those in Vancouver. There are subtle differences, and they generally surround the different aesthetic preferences of the general public in a certain location.

Unpredictability of Exchange Rates

Not surprisingly, it will be more affordable rates that will woo B.C. website owners away from local providers most of the time. Keep in mind, however, that you are paying the outlined rate to your overseas host, and that will likely depend on the current exchange rate for your Canadian currency. Exchange rates are known to vary, and sometimes wildly so.

Should any change occur, your payment will be automatically recalculated and you won’t necessarily be appraised of the change. Further, it won’t be convenient to discuss it with them unless you’re okay with email exchanges or expensive long distance phone charges. Local hosting providers offer the benefit of working with the same currency you do, which means that you will not be taken by surprise should that exchange rate fluctuate

Ensure your website is always prepared for success, and trust a local web hosting service in Vancouver if this is where you call home as well. We’re but one of the good ones around here, but we do have rock-solid reliable hosting at competitive prices and our service is equally impressive. Let’s keep it local!