We’ve been making a lot of noise about our new UK dedicated servers of late. And there’s a reason behind it. No one else is offering such a great value combination of server price, enterprise server hardware, a super-fast network backed by WebHostingBuzz’s award winning support.
To give you an idea of just how good our new servers are, we’ve built a dedicated server comparison page that stacks us against some of our competition in the UK. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how well we do compare against some of the big names in UK hosting. And we hope that this server comparison will help you decide which dedicated server to order. We’ll add more competitors to the comparison page in future.
We’re also working on an extended datacentre tour to show off our Tier 3+ Midlands datacentre in which these servers are housed. Stay tuned for this. And also be sure to check out our recently re-designed server pages based on some early feedback we’ve faced from you.
Our 50% off first month dedicated server offer is continuing through May, so now is the time to act and get a great deal on of your dedicated hosting.
One of the easiest content management systems to set up and use is WordPress, the largest self-hosted blogging platform in the world, powering more than 60 million websites worldwide.
That fact may be a key reason why WordPress is in the news right now as the subject of a large-scale attack from a huge number of computers from across the internet – known as an automated botnet attack – attempting to take over servers that run WordPress.
Some are saying that this current attack is the precursor of a botnet of infected computers vastly stronger and more destructive than those of today. That’s because the servers have bandwidth connections that are typically tens, hundreds, or even thousands of times faster than botnets made of infected machines in homes and small businesses.
WordPress’ popularity comes at a price in a situation like this, as a perceived vulnerability in the platform’s ease of use is weak security by users.
That weak security typically means continuing to use the word ‘admin’ as a user name – this is the default administration account that’s created when you first install WordPress – along with a password that brute-force attempts to guess are likely to succeed, which is what’s happening with this attack.
If you’ve disabled the default ‘admin’ account in your WordPress installation – or, even better, you’ve deleted it – and have something else in its place as the main administrator of your WordPress dashboard, that will likely take you out of the immediate target area of the attackers.
And if you’ve set a strong password – at least eight characters and in a combination of upper- and lower-case letters along with numbers and extended characters – you’re in a good position to be passed by if or when a botnet comes calling at your WordPress front door.
Don’t be complacent, though – this attack serves as a great reminder that securing your WordPress blog or website so that no one can get into it unless they’re invited is something you do need to be sure about.
So what can you do to make your site secure enough right now to deter such attacks in the future?
First, make sure you have the latest WordPress version installed. As of today, that version is 3.5.1.
If you still have an administrative user called ‘admin,’ there are two steps to take:
- Create a new admin account with a different name and give it a strong password.
- Delete the ‘admin’ user account; during that procedure, you’ll be asked by WordPress which other account should you assign posts, pages, etc, created by ‘admin’ to. Choose the new admin account name you just created.
Next, enable two-step verification for each user in your WordPress account. The simplest such service for a WordPress user to install and implement is the open source Google Authenticator. If you have that enabled for your Google account, or other services such as Dropbox or Amazon S3, then you’ll be familiar with how it works.
And you’re in luck for your self-hosted WordPress site as there’s an excellent plugin that sets it up for you – Google Authenticator plugin for WordPress.
Grab it now, either by downloading it from the WordPress plugin repository or installing it via the ‘add new plugin’ function in your WordPress dashboard.
You’ll need the free Google Authenticator app for your smartphone in order to use this security feature. There are versions for Android, Blackberry and iOS.
And if you then follow the excellent “How To Enable 2-Step Authentication On Your Self-Hosted WordPress.org Site” guide published last week by Techfleece, you’ll be up and running in no time with a WordPress site that will give you more peace of mind than you had before.
In my view, this is the bare minimum you should have set up in your self-hosted WordPress site that gives you a good level of security for your peace of mind. It would make it more difficult to hack into your site.
There’s a lot more you can do as well including steps to take to better secure the server on which your WordPress platform is installed. There’s a great tutorial on the WordPress Codex that can tell you more.
Don’t let spammers, hackers or botnets mess up your presence on the web. You can be secure.
(Cross-posted from the Web Hosting Buzz US blog.)
You may have seen us recently launch our brand new range of UK dedicated servers at http://www.webhostingbuzz.co.uk/dedicated-servers.php. We took pictures of the first batch of dedicated servers arriving onsite at our UK datacentre and us installing the servers in our colocation space. Pictures to tell the story are below…
Servers arriving onsite
Raritan PDUs providing full metered power control to each server
Top of rack gigabit switches (Cisco, HP)
We recycle all datacentre waste, including server boxes
Here are the first set of servers being installed into the rack
A neatly cabled server rack is important for airflow. We’re proud of our handiwork here
Close up of the servers showing public and private network links. Each server has 2 network connections.
In the last pictures you see our approach to rack cabling. For us, rack cabling HAS to be tidy. It means the airflow throughout the rack and servers remains good and helps keep the servers running cool. It also means identifying any particular server is much easier, and for this reason we also colour code the cables / wiring. The orange cables are power cables, the blue are public network and the red are private network. We’re offering a private network connection between servers for customers that run multiple dedicated servers or need a cluster. We do not charge for bandwidth / traffic costs between the servers, making it very cost effective for backups. And lastly, we use the private network connection for server initialisation. This reduces time to deploy, and we can setup servers same day (business hours) for all new orders and generally sub < 2 hours!
We’ll take some more pictures as we deploy the second batch of servers.
A few weeks ago I blogged about our partnership with the Woodland Trust and how this is driving our green and environmental efforts moving forward. They sent us a calendar, some swag but also this certificate. We’re proud of our efforts to reduce our environmental impact and will display this certificate in our office and on our website.
Certificate of our support for the Carbon Trust
If you care about the environment and host with a different hosting provider that claims to be green, do ask for proof. If they can’t provide it then think about moving to the green side…
Sometimes web hosts can have a bad day. We had one yesterday. We had a series of abnormal issues with one of our UK servers, UKRS5, over the duration of just over a week. The server would randomly reboot itself with no instruction from us from the command line,no instruction from us from the ILO card, no instruction from us at PDU level.
We’re very experienced at handling server issues; hardware, software, upstream network, etc. The hardware that we choose is always the best which minimises potential hardware issues (and maximises our credit card bills…) but it pays off in the stability and performance it offers.
In the UK specifically, we use HP and Supermicro exclusively. Around half our servers are HP Gen7 Xeon E3s and half are Supermicro Xeon E3s/E5s. All kitted out with tons of RAM, 4 x hard drives in RAID 10, RAID card, remote access card, etc. We really leave nothing to chance on hardware and we stock extensive spares just to be on the safe side.
So going back to UKRs5. The first port of call for a random reboot issue is the PDU, or power distribution unit. We use managed Raritan PDUs in our UK datacentre, giving full remote reboot capabilities and basically a fall back to reboot a server should the command line and the ILO / IPMI card be unavailable Unlikely, but redundancy is key. The Raritans have a great reputation and have caused us no issues elsewhere, and we could see nothing in the logs to suggest this particular one was powering the server down.
But just to be sure, we swapped the server to the B PDU in the rack (all racks run A + B PDUs).
So the next thing to check was the PSU, or power supply unit, in the server itself. We swapped the PSU overnight last week to a brand new PSU.
Next up, we did a complete system replacement. This is actually the cause of the extended downtime incident as we took the 4 hard drives from the old UKRS5 server to a brand new UKRS5 server. We keep spare servers of exactly the same specification (motherboard, RAM configuration, network card) so there are no driver compatibility issues. Even with a clean shutdown of the old UKRS5, we had to do a filesystem check and RAID rebuild in the new server and this took quite some time. This caused the downtime witnessed by some of you and we made the mistake of underestimating how long this would take.
Fast forward to today. The server rebooted itself again. Huge frustration in our team as other than underestimating the length of time for the RAID rebuild, we did everything by the book. Despite us being sure of the server’s health, the PSU’s health and the PDU’s health, the UPS (battery backup health), as a precaution we decided to bring in yet another PDU and connected to yet another power feed. So in effect, this is a C PDU connected to a 3rd UPS (PDU A is connected to UPS A, PDU B is connected to UPS B, etc). So far, things have been stable but we continue to monitor the situation closely. I actually travelled to be onsite at the datacentre to oversee the build out of the C phase / C PDU and the connecting of the server to this. I snapped a quick picture of the one of the power room A (holding the UPS and power switch gear for the A side UPS) while I was there. It’s only camera phone quality though.
UPS Room A – UK datacentre
So why this blog post? We got some very constructive feedback that customers want more information on what’s being done to rectify the issue and what happens behind the scenes. We’ve taken this on board and will post as much information as we have during any maintenance (scheduled or emergency) and do our level best to post a follow up / post-mortem like this afterwards.
We don’t actively write about our vendors or business suppliers. It isn’t good business practice and it isn’t professional. Yet today, I felt compelled to post something about traditional ISPs and how customer service can be a world apart from that of us web hosts.
We use Kingston Communications/KCOM/KC (this is one and the same but after recent name changes, I’m not sure which is technically correct) for our primary office connectivity in the UK. Kcom are one of the better business broadband ISPs and have a fast and mostly stable network. We like working with them. We have backup wireless (wifi) and wireless (mobile) connections meshed in to give us redundancy and it keeps us online around the clock.
We’re expanding our office in the UK to help accommodate and fuel future growth. As part of that expansion, we contacted Kcom to discuss additional connectivity/bandwidth options. After an initial phone call to discuss our requirements, several emails were exchanged while KCOM conducted a feasibility assessment with a view to coming back with us with some options. Today, I sent a follow up email asking for an update on the assessment and our options to be met with
Thanks you for getting in touch with the KC Business Care Team, Due to the high volume of emails, we endeavour to get back to your enquiry within 72 working hours.
Making sure you’re happy with the service we deliver is really important to us. If you would like to talk to a member of our team in the meantime give us a call on 0800 915 5777 which is a free number from your KC landline or why not use our Help & Support http://www.kcbusiness.co.uk/contact
section on the KC website you may find the answers you’re looking for here.
72 hours? That’s 3 days! Can you imagine waiting 3 days for a response to a sales enquiry or technical support enquiry to us? As a company that strives for 20 minute response times to all emails and tickets, 3 days seems like an eternity.
I feel bad for singling KCOM out here. They are definitely one of the better ISPs and we’ve mostly been happy with their service. This post is mostly to highlight the big gaps between leading web hosts and the service they provide versus traditional, older ISPs.
Stay tuned for pisc of our office expansion
Last month, digital measurement and analytics firm comScore published 2013 UK Digital Future in Focus, a comprehensive overview of the UK internet market.
The report is a rich resource of highly-useful insights, with a compelling assessment of the prevailing trends in web usage, online video, mobile and search, plus a special review of social, shopping and silver surfers.
According to the study, UK consumers are more digitally-engaged than ever before and their usage of mobile, internet-enabled devices is re-defining the UK media landscape.
ComScore’s UK Managing Director, Mike Read, says that two-thirds of UK mobile phone owners have smartphones, and devices such as smartphone and tablets now drive nearly a third of internet usage.
Here are five key takeaways from the report:
- 44.8 million people in the UK used the desktop-based internet in December 2012, a 5 percent increase over the past year. Brits also spent more time online than any other European country, highlighting the market’s fertile ground for digital marketers.
- Page views from non-PC devices reached an all-time high with nearly one-third of all UK page views now from smartphones and tablets.
- 64 percent of UK mobile users owned a smartphone, while 82 percent of new phones acquired in December 2012 were smartphones. The rapid adoption of internet-enabled devices is creating a more fragmented digital media landscape.
- Facebook remains the leading social network in the UK, capturing the greatest number of unique visitors. However, there are some rising stars on the horizon – Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads – that have all witnessed strong growth over the year across both PC and mobile.
- Online shopping now reaches 9 out of 10 UK internet users, while mobile shopping is growing rapidly as 1 in 5 Brits used their smartphone to purchase a good or service in December 2012.
It’s pretty clear that mobile is an area that will be increasingly significant for business in the immediate future (I wrote about getting ready for mobile on WebHostingBuzz’ US blog last week). If your web presence isn’t geared to delivering a great experience – fast and reliably – for people who come to see you on their mobile devices, you will soon be left behind.
ComScore’s report embraces a wide area of analysis and provides a great deal of credible information and useful metrics to help you understand what we saw happening in 2012 and what it means for you in 2013.
2013 UK Digital Future in Focus, a 75-page PDF packed with charts and graphs, is freely available for download.
We are launching iPad mini and Kindle giveaway for affiliates who perform most sales in March. This is on top of our already generous affiliate commissions!
We suggest you list WebHostingBuzz as the most prominent host on your website to increase your chances of winning. Need a custom coupon code, banner, graphic of landing page? Just email email@example.com and we’ll get this created for you.
1. First prize is an iPad mini 16GB for the affiliate who drives the most converted sales in March. Second prize is an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Wifi for the affiliate who sends the second highest amount of sales in March.
2. Affiliates from all networks (In-House, Share-A-Sale, CJ and Affiliate Window) can participate but if number of sales or earned amount is equal, the in-house affiliate program takes precedence.
3. The time period for this promo is March 1st – 31st. All signups outside of this period will receive commissions as normal.
4. The winners will be announced on May 30th, 2013 and will be contacted with details of how to claim their prize.
5. You can increase your chances of winning by sending sales to both WebHostingBuzz.com and .co.uk.
Register now to take advantage of our Easter deals and coupons and get most popular gadgets.
LinkedIn passed a big milestone in January when they noted that membership of the business social network passed 200 million people worldwide, with 11 million of them in the UK.
LinkedIn is widely seen as an important part of the social web. It’s the place to be if you want to connect and engage with others for reasons as varied as finding a new job, engaging in discussion on topics of interest, and showcasing your business or your subject-matter expertise. You can make of LinkedIn what you will depending on what you want to achieve.
For businesses – sole traders to SMBs to enterprises – starting and building a presence on LinkedIn is a good way to raise your profile and engage with others, and LinkedIn offers you a variety of ways to do this.
For many businesses, a LinkedIn Company Page is a great start, which offers some compelling benefits – showcase your business, for example, reach new customers or attract new talent.
Going about it is easy when you follow LinkedIn’s handy help including a PDF guide you can download. Your first step is to check that you meet the requirements to add a company page, and you’re off.
There are thousands of company pages on LinkedIn, so you will be in a crowded and noisy place! It’s worth thinking about how you can make yourself stand out, get people’s attention and be a place people you’re interested in want to get interested in you as well.
It’s actually quite simple.
LinkedIn recently showcased how twelve businesses and organizations are using their LinkedIn Company Page to showcase their brand and connect with their target audience in meaningful ways.
LinkedIn says each of them follows the four simple steps that are foundational to effective engagement on LinkedIn:
- Add an image that welcomes visitors to your page and showcases your brand.
- Post status updates to start a conversation with your target audience.
- Add your products or services so your target audience can learn about what you have to offer. And don’t forget to gather recommendations to bring your products and services to life.
- Feature relevant groups to attract a broader audience and extend your reach.
What are you waiting for? Get cracking!
We often get asked if we provide ‘SEO hosting’ and the answer is no. And we have our reasons. But in a short pre-sales call or live chat, it’s often difficult to explain why we do not and why SEO hosting is a myth that is best avoided. So to elaborate on SEO hosting and the detrimental impact it can have on organic search marketing, I’ve written the following blog post. Hopefully this will let you make an educated decision if you really wish to use one of these SEO hosting services.
A quick history lesson
SEO hosting came about through many black hat marketers wanting to completely separate out their websites on different IP C classes. The term ‘C class’ itself is actually obsolete and has been for some time, thanks to the not-so-recent introduction of CIDR (classless inter domain routing). The term ‘C class’ has stuck despite the origins of CIDR being back in 1993 but the correct way to describe the separate networks that these marketers want would be separate /24s. But to keep things simple and to clarify for those unfamiliar with the terminology, a request for this separation looks like:
Site A on 22.214.171.124
Site B on 126.96.36.199
This is obviously just an example and I’ve used it to show you a different /24 (or C class, using incorrect terminology).
Now that we’ve cleared up the language, let’s look at the traditional reasoning a marketer will use when wanting to separate out the sites.
Common myths associated with SEO hosting
SEOs will give many reasons for wanting sites on different IP addresses. I do agree that it is a good idea to separate websites between different servers and perhaps different locations as servers will inevitable face problems from time to time. Yes, even cloud servers – just look at how big an outage is when one of the major cloud providers goes down. The outages are generally measured in hours and days. But I don’t agree with using any of the following as the sole reason to separate out websites:
- Separating sites out on to separate IPs in separate /24s will make Google think the site has a different owner
- Linking from sites in a separate /24 will give a link more value
- If I’m building a link farm (don’t, please) then using different IPs will hide it better
- Any other boost that SEO hosting supposedly gives in organic search rankings
In fact, my argument is that using any type of SEO hosting service will do more bad than good. Let me explain.
SEO hosting does more harm than good
Think about the type of person that will actively use SEO hosting. These are hardcore SEO guys, and their techniques and methods may be entirely white hat, but I’d warrant a guess that most have tried techniques in varying shades of grey (and maybe more than 50?). Some of these methods will have fallen foul of Google guidelines, resulting in domain names and IP addresses being tarnished. And many of these SEOs will have opted for SEO hosting to power these websites. So think for a moment about any reputation that these SEO IPs will have. We have a lot of visibility into what IP reputation does in the spam/anti-spam arena and how IP reputation hugely influences email delivery. So it is a safe assumption that Google and Bing maintain similar private databases for web and SEO spam.
So consider the two main types of SEO hosting available:
1) Shared IP SEO Hosting – you get 10, 20 or more shared IPs that you can create an account on. These IPs are shared with other SEO hosting customers who also create sites on the same IPs. Any one particular IP may have several hundred websites or more hosted on it. And what happens if just one of those websites does something black hat that results in an IP reputation drop or even gets the IP black listed? It’s impossible to accurately measure the damage of how much of a lasting impact this may have. But it’s very easy to see that SEO IPs are at much higher risk of this happening than a traditional shared server IP addresses or non-SEO hosting.
2) Dedicated IP SEO Hosting – you get a number of IPs in different /24 ranges. The other IPs in these different /24 ranges will be in use by other SEO hosting customers. Google is undoubtedly aware of the ranges in use by the SEO hosting companies. Other IPs in the range may bet blacklisted or have a poor reputation probably, and this spreads to the other IPs in the range and possible in every range. So as a customer, you are faced with the same problem I outline in point 1.
Neither of the above examples are desirable. You want an IP address that is clean, that has been used normally and won’t have a detrimental or negative impact on your site. And consider:
- Google can link site ownership via Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Adwords, Adsense, Chrome sign-ins and more
- Google can link site ownership from whois information and nameserver records
So my question is – is it really worth attempting to separate your sites in such a way just for them to be tarnished by a low reputation IP address? Not in my book.
You should separate your sites
It is good practice to separate your websites and spread them between different IP addresses, different servers and different locations. But not just for SEO reasons, and not with a SEO hosting company. Servers are computers so they can and will have issues. We spend many thousands of pounds / dollars on each of our servers and house them in a truly redundant environment, but issues can occur. And even if the issue is just a 10 minute issue, if all of your sites are on one server, that means all of your sites will be affected by that one issue. This hurts your business and may also hurt your Google rankings.
So spread the load and don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Put your sites on different servers. WebHostingBuzz customers enjoy a choice of different servers in one location, different servers spread across multiple locations and even different continents. By having servers in NYC, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and the UK, we’re able to offer a very diverse set of locations (and yes, IP locations), although we don’t condone any blackhat marketing. And rest in the knowledge that your neighbours on the same IP or adjacent IPs are well behaved and not hurting your efforts.