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The ServInt Source

New Network Status Reporting Tools

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.35.46 PMEarlier this week, we launched two new tools designed to immediately inform our customers whenever issues emerge that may affect the performance or accessibility of their server.   In this brief blog post, we’ll explain how these new services work and how you can put them to use.

First, an important detail:  both of these notification services are hosted completely independent of the ServInt network — so, no network or datacenter event that impacts ServInt’s core infrastructure will prevent us from providing you with up-to-date information.  If you want to be certain you always have visibility into the ServInt nerve center in the event of performance issues that may affect your server, I strongly urge you to sign up for both of these services.

These systems were designed to alert you about two kinds of incidents:  those that affect specific infrastructure, where the larger ServInt network is functioning without incident; and events that are having an impact on entire segments of the larger ServInt network, affecting multiple customers at once.  We are very proud of our high levels of network redundancy and our enterprise-grade hardware, so incidents that involve our infrastructure are rare.  Even so, problems can and do occur, albeit rarely, despite our best efforts.  That’s why these systems exist.  We hope you never have to use them, but in the interest of full transparency, they are here for you.

For reporting on smaller pieces of infrastructure, we have launched an opt-in Twitter account called ‘@ServIntStatus’ (twitter.com/servintstatus).  Use of this system is simple:  items will pop up on this feed when we are investigating problems specific to a hardware or system component.  Of course, you also have the option of having Twitter send you push notifications from the account whenever an issue is discovered, or a maintenance requirement is being fulfilled — but this may result in information overload due to the size of our network. Please note that this feed will only display brief status updates that reflect initial investigation or discovery on our end.  For resolution and ongoing updates, please login to the customer portal.

The second of our two notification systems is called the “ServInt Status Report,” and it can be found at https://servint.statuspage.io/ This site was set up to display information about service issues that are affecting ServInt’s core network and/or datacenter, impacting multiple customers at once.  Sometimes, these issues can affect ServInt’s customer-facing systems at the same time they impact our datacenter — so, during the crucial minutes after disruptions are discovered, but before they’re fixed, this is the place to turn for immediate updates on what is happening.

Of course, this report is also capable of sending you push updates to let you know when our network is dealing with a service-impacting incident.  We strongly recommend you subscribe to these updates, since the number of alerts you are likely to receive will be small, and each of them could be of critical importance to your business.

In addition to providing a real-time network status monitor for ServInt’s Reston, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam datacenters, the ServInt Status Report portal also shows you the operational status of the ServInt customer portal and phone system.  In addition, it provides users with detailed updates on what is being done at the moment to address identified issues.  Lastly, it displays service incident reports for all events in the recent past, allowing you to better understand what happened to the ServInt network in retrospect — helpful if you only discovered a performance shortcoming after the root cause had been fixed.

Operating instructions for the ServInt Status Report can be found at the site, and they are very straightforward.  I strongly urge all ServInt customers to sign up — both for the Status Report and the ‘@ServIntStatus’ Twitter feed — as soon as possible.

Serious Horsepower, Incredible Value: ServInt’s New Flex v3 Dedicated Servers

servint flexServInt’s Flex line of dedicated servers launched in 2012 with the goal of providing dedicated server customers the best, most trustworthy hardware in the world, coupled with modern tools that give dedicated server customers the ability to upgrade, downgrade and scale easily to meet changing needs. Today I’m proud to announce the newest addition to our product line, the ServInt Flex v3 Dedicated server. We’ve incorporated the latest, most powerful hardware and technology into these servers, all while keeping costs low to put real power into the hands of the small-to-medium sized business consumers, bloggers, resellers, and start-ups.

The value proposition for the Flex line is simple: incredible power, easy scalability, top-notch server management, and fair pricing. The basic concept of the v3 line is no different. With the Flex v3 Dedicated server line we maintain the best value in the dedicated server marketplace and raise the stakes for our competition even more. Flex Dedicated servers start at $199 a month. And our most popular model, the Flex Pro, starts a $299. For server specifications and management similar to our $299 a month Flex Pro v3, you will pay up to 5x to 10x more at companies such as Rackspace and Media Temple. Read more

The Perils of Shared Hosting

8962261926_d543bc1c3cThe web hosting market is a pretty saturated one. With software such as cPanel and WHM, it’s very easy to set up a server and begin offering shared hosting packages to people. For less than the average cost of a quick bite to eat, companies are promising unlimited disk space and bandwidth to anyone willing to become a customer.

The main reason why there are so many web hosting companies offering shared hosting is the profit margin. The more customers they can cram on a server, the more profit they can make. There are, however, numerous drawbacks to selecting a hosting company based on the price of the service. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for and a low cost hosting package can sometimes end up costing you more than just money.

Know your shared hosting neighbors

Shared hosting services often use a single IP address for all customers on a single machine. One of the biggest issues with this type of setup is that if one of your neighbors on the same server gets identified for spam, malware or anything similar, everyone on the same IP address can end up suffering along with them. Not only can this seriously affect your search engine ranking and appearance, but it can also cause some web filtering and malware protection services to inadvertently block you along with everyone else on the same server.

Is unlimited really unlimited? Read more

Build your own business in 2014 — Start Today for $1

83108392_498ead76c5_nOver the years, countless businesses have started at ServInt. We are a hub for entrepreneurs looking to turn their dreams into reality. We have talked about Etsy as one of my favorite examples of this, but the list is long. We know what it’s like to start with a dollar and a dream, and we connect with the people who have that passion.

I don’t know if you know this, but ServInt doesn’t generally do a ton of coupons. Building the kind of value we have as an organization takes time and dedication, and we know our value. But it’s the end of the year, and one of my resolutions for 2014 is to find some new companies to help. I know that takes planning, and I want to give you the tools today to make that happen.

For one week only I’m offering you a coupon to start hosting on our recently upgraded VPS platform – the best enterprise-class managed hosting platform in the world — for $1: Read more

Web Hosting for Non-Technical People: What Are I/O, RAM and CPU?

Author, marketing VP and notorious luddite

Author, marketing VP and notorious luddite

ServInt has an excellent reputation for providing quality technical assistance for its customers. If something goes wrong with your web site, our techs will do everything they can to fix your problem and quickly get your online business running again. That’s great. Sort of.

The reason it’s only “sort of” great is because having a highly capable support backstop for your web site can easily lull you into thinking that you don’t really have to know anything about your server and how it works. The truth is, knowing just a little about how your server functions can make it much easier to talk to your tech support team — which can result in faster solutions to your problems when they arise.

Here’s the problem, though: for ordinary mortals, learning about how hosting works can seem tedious at best, and downright confusing at worst. Like many of you, I’m not a sysadmin, and I have to admit my path to semi-competency at managing my personal web site has been a bumpy one, full of (ahem) “learning moments.”

The last time I discovered a problem I could have prevented with a bit of foreknowledge, I resolved to do what I could for my fellow semi-hosting-literate, non-system-administrator online business owners out there, to make sure all their avoidable hosting risks were sucessfully mitigated. I hope to do this through a series of blog posts for non-technical readers, to share all the easy concepts I’ve learned over the years. Don’t be afraid — you’ll discover this stuff isn’t hard at all!

So let’s start at the very beginning: what you’ll need to understand to pick the right kind of server for your business. Read more

5 Secrets To Speed Up Your Website

 tech bench guest postEditor’s Note: From time to time, we receive questions that are beyond the scope of even our managed support. One of those questions involves how to speed up your website. To address this popular topic, we’ve asked Claire Broadley of WhoIsHostingThis.com to share some thoughts on optimizing websites.
 

Is your site slow? A website that takes an age to load isn’t just a drag for your users – it could be harming your search rankings, and it’s almost certainly costing your business money. When it comes to the web, users like content to load fast – or they’ll quickly lose interest and look elsewhere.

It’s possible to improve the speed of your site by upgrading your hosting package, but for many individuals and small businesses, cost is a major concern. Dedicated hosting offers tremendous power, but may be cost prohibitive for smaller operations. If you’re not ready to invest in a server, try some of these solutions first.

Using a combination of the following tips, we reduced our test blog’s load time from 4.5 seconds to 2 seconds. That’s a significant benefit, and one your readers and visitors will notice right away. Read more

A Short History of U.S. Internet Legislation: ECPA

173640514_aa2298e3a6Any discussion of U.S. government laws relating to the Internet and programs like PRISM inevitably begin all the way back in 1986 with the passage of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Written before the birth of the modern Internet, ECPA is a key law that enables law enforcement to have access to data while protecting the privacy rights of citizens. ECPA is not a scary law that steals people’s Internet freedom. ECPA is simply an outdated attempt to preserve freedom in the digital arena.

What it is:

At its heart, ECPA is an attempt to try to define the scope of the Fourth Amendment (the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable search and seizure, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause) when it comes to digital communication. Over time, both legislation and judicial precedent have told us what is and isn’t unreasonable search and seizure when it comes to law enforcement action at our home, place of business or on a public street, but in 1986, when Congress took up the task of creating ECPA, they were attempting to outline rules for search and seizure of remotely stored digital data.

ECPA outlines the relationship between data storage providers, their customers, and law enforcement. It acknowledges that providers act as custodians and not owners of information in their possession on behalf of their customers and subscribers. It actually serves to limit the ability of providers to voluntarily disclose customer information to the government.

What should concern you: Read more

A Short History of U.S. Internet Legislation

3756880888_88b531ab0bIf you’ve been following the news recently, you may have heard a lot about the US government’s PRISM program, led by the NSA. There has been a lot of talk about what the government can and cannot do (or will and will not do) under PRISM, and — frankly — a lot of fear as well.

But PRISM is not a US law, it is a government surveillance program built on US laws. To fully understand what kinds of digital information the U.S. government is capable of gathering and analyzing, and under what circumstances, we need to look at the various laws enacted over the years that govern law enforcement in the digital age.

Remember when ServInt was fighting to defeat SOPA and PIPA? Those bills were associated with an attempt to legislate the Internet in some potentially very destructive ways. But SOPA and PIPA are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to legislation you should know about if you make your living on the Internet. Some proposed laws pose serious risks to the basic concept of a free and open Internet, while others are quite well designed and deserve your full support.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be walking you through four major legislative initiatives and their associated amendments to give you a background on what legislation you should be aware of as an informed citizen and Internet business owner. Specifically, we’ll look at: Read more

Keeping Legitimate Email From Ending up in Your Clients’ Spam Folders

tech bench 2Editor’s note: A few months ago in the Tech Bench, we featured a support ticket between a customer of ours and our Director Network Compliance, Mike Witty. He had some great advice about controlling spam and blacklisted IPs.

A comment on that post about Mike’s preference for the spam software, SpamAssassin, prompted a reply from Mike that delves further into some of the nuances of spam software and how to prevent your legitimate correspondence from ending up in your clients’ spam folders.

Reader’s comment:

“[SpamAssassin] is smart and does a good job. But it still erroneously categorizes some kinds of email as spam when it is not. Deleting valid email that has been mis-categorized as spam is NOT acceptable except in special circumstances. For example, my web-based order form sends an automatic email to the customer giving them a code to enter on the form. This establishes the validity of an email address they have entered and proves it can reach the customer. But this automatic email looks like spam to SpamAssassin. So some of my customers don’t get the email and give up.”

Mike’s response: Read more

ServInt Wants to Give You Free Money

6341815679_ed031e8b20_bWho turns down free money?

Really, we want to know that.

Our guess is that nobody turns down free, no-strings-attached cash.

We’re asking because, everyday, we see forum posts on the Internet recommending web hosting with ServInt, and we see new customer comments saying how happy they are that their friends or colleagues told them about us. But inevitably, when we track these comments down, even if the source was a customer of ours, they didn’t ask for or receive a referral fee.

Did you know that you can receive up to $799 cash

for referring customers to ServInt?

Our PowerPartners program lets you earn discounts on multiple server purchases, save hosting packages in the Custom Shop, and earn cash or hosting credits for referring customers to us.

And you don’t even have to be a customer to earn those credits. Just use your PowerPartners customer URL on your website or as the hyperlink when you recommend us in a forum. Then watch the money roll in.

You earn the value of one month of the base price of any hosting package purchased through your link. That’s anywhere from $49-$799 dollars per referral!

(Remember, practice being a good netizen and always remember to let people know when you are receiving a referral fee for a recommendation. If you’re up front, they will understand.)

We have a strong and loyal fan base on the Internet, and we want you to share in the success you’ve helped us build.

So, if you find yourself recommending ServInt to your friends and fellow techies, stop turning down free money. Sign up for your PowerPartners account today.

Photo by tim ellis

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