Free SSL Certificates for All Accounts

HOSTkabob is pleased to announce the addition of free SSL certificates for all hosting accounts.

Google encourages web sites to install a SSL certificate even if they do not handle sensitive data, and makes the existence of SSL as a point in your favor when ranking websites. Getting higher rankings in Google is important, but even more so is the confidence customers will have in your site when they see the tell-tale HTTPS: protocol and lock symbol in their browser address bar.

We enable SSL for all new accounts by default. Existing clients should contact us and we will determine if there’s any reason why you should not have an SSL certificate. One possible problem is that the default (free!) Cloudflare service is incompatible with our free SSL certificates, requiring you to purchase a Cloudflare pro account. There may be other, less expensive solutions after we consider your particular needs.

WordPress Site Management

We Manage Your WordPress Site

One of the frequent issues small businesses face is the demand to ensure their website is updated. Without regular updates, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities and compromise the website. Imagine waking up to find an offensive message defacing your home page, or getting angry calls from people who claim you are sending them emails advertising porn sites, or prescription drugs.

We have clients who USED to have these problems.In almost every case they had an outdated program that exposed their site to hackers.

Updating is Key

We track all the WordPress updates, and all the updates for plugins. We add a plugin to your site named “InfiniteWP – Client” that allows us to securely monitor your site from a common control panel. A companion “InfiniteWP” plugin is hosted on our support site. As our number of managed sites has risen above 20, we have found this plugin very valuable.
Our WordPress Management Control Panel

Automation Saves Time

Automating our daily+ check of your WordPress site helps us control costs, and keep things running smoothly.

Why Backups Are Essential

Backups ARE Necessary

RightScale, a cloud management company, introduced an infographic that shows the major Internet failures in 2012, proving once again the necessity of having multiple copies of your data in multiple locations. Even the large, expensive cloud solutions faced outages, comprising 26% of the total. The average outage was 7.5 hours.
rightscale-2012-outages

How We Handle Backups

We explain how we handle backups in this post. The infographic covers all cases of outages, and most won’t result in data loss or corruption. But the “What went wrong?” bar chart has four items at the bottom that could be accompanied by data loss or corruption. And they comprise 24% of the total.

Infrastructure

HOSTkabob’s Infrastructure

While we don’t “sell” technical details, preferring to simply take care of our customer’s needs without the “baffle ’em with BS” techniques other guys use, some customers are interested in the boring details.

Hosting Server

Our Dalls-based hosting is served from VPS (“Virtual Private Server”) servers housed in the TierPoint data center. With 68,000 square feet of environmentally controlled, secure data center space, TierPoint’s Dallas facility offers true 2N power and multi-homed connectivity from leading Tier 1 carriers. Six backup generators and 50,000 gallons of fuel ensure that power is maintained at all times.

DNS Servers

DNS ServersHOSTkabob operates four “Domain Name System” servers to provide redundant access to your sites. The DNS server provides information to web browsers, connecting the machine-readable IP address to your domain name. When someone types a domain name we host into their browser, the browser asks the nearest name server where that domain is hosted. The name server closest to them – most likely at their ISP – has a lookup table to see where our accounts are hosted, and refers the web browser to our DNS servers. Our DNS servers, in turn, tell the browser the specific IP address, in effect telling the browser “Go look on this server located in the TierPoint data center in Dallas!”

One DNS server is located on a separate VPS in Los Angeles in the Quadranet data center. Another one is hosted in the Caro Net data center in Charlotte, NC. The third and fourth name servers are located in New Jersey and Las Vegas. This provides HOSTkabob with geographically distinct DNS servers for redundancy.

Backup Servers

HOSTkabob also maintains copies of your website in three different locations. First, our server in Texas, of course, where your website is hosted. Another server in the Caro Net data center in NC stores a full copy of all your web files, including databases, updating daily. A cloud based copy is kept in Amazon’s well regarded S3 Storage service and finally, daily and historical copies are kept on a server in our office in California.

Enough!

The techy stuff bores most people to death. But some clients are reassured that HOSTkabob uses the same data centers as “the big guys” with far more backup copies than they keep (if they keep any at all).

Backup Policy

How We Backup Your Data

At HOSTkabob, we believe in a multi-pronged approach to data backup. We realize we need to protect against data loss due to three things: Man, Machine and God. Protecting against “man” and “machine” are usually included in any backup plan. Restoring files deleted accidentally (“man”) or because a hard drive failed (“machine”) can be accomplished by restoring the files from a backup hard drive. But the hardest thing to plan for is the natural disaster that destroys both the original file and the copy stored on the backup disk. Natural disasters are often referred to as “acts of God” to indicate they are things that happen that we can’t possibly control.

Geographically Distributed Backup

Our server in Texas backs up your content to another storage server in the same facility. In addition, it runs a program daily to export your content to a folder on the hosting server for fast and easy restoration. That backup copy is then copied to a secure cloud storage service in the north east (Amazon S3), and a local server in my office in California. This wide geographical distribution of backup locations protects against a natural disaster in Texas destroying all the data, or a service outage with Amazon preventing a backup from being made.

Multiple Copies of Data

At any point in time, there are at least 3 separate copies of customer files stored across three locations and four physical devices.

File Level Restoration

Our backup is at the file level, providing what techies call “granularity”. We can restore a single file, or work with a MySQL database to extract certain information. We continue to investigate methods to ensure web site continuity in the case of disaster. Customers who need more information can feel free to contact Frank.

CloudFlare Partnership Announced

HOSTkabob is proud to announce it has obtained Certified Partner status with CloudFlare, a web performance and security company. CloudFlare uses a network of servers to speed up and protect individual websites from web threats.

Cloudflare is free to all HOSTkabob customers, and activated upon request. Cloudflare powers more than “65 billion monthly page views—more than Amazon, Wikipedia, Twitter, Zynga, AOL, Apple, Bing, eBay, PayPal and Instagram combined—and over 25% of the Internet’s population regularly passes through our network.”

Faster web performance

CloudFlare runs 23 data centers strategically located around the world. When a site has CloudFlare activated, your content is stored in each of these servers, and a request from a web browser is served from the nearest data center.

cf-network

As your traffic passes through the data centers, CloudFlare intelligently determine what parts of your website are static versus dynamic. The static portions are cached on their servers for a short period of time, typically less than 2 hours before they check to see if they’ve been updated. By automatically moving the static parts of your site closer to your visitors, the overall performance of your site improves significantly.

CloudFlare’s intelligent caching system also saves bandwidth and decreases the load on our servers. On average, CloudFlare customers see a 60% decrease in bandwidth usage, and a 65% in total requests to their servers. The overall effect is that CloudFlare will typically cut the load time for pages on your site by 50% which means higher engagement and happier visitors.

Broad web security

In 2011, CloudFlare identified a 700% increase in the number of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) tracked on the Internet (see the chart below). As attacks like these increase, CloudFlare is stepping up to protect sites.

2011 DDOS Attacks

CloudFlare’s security protections offer a broad range of protections against attacks such as DDoS, hacking or spam submitted to a blog or comment form. CloudFlare analyzes the traffic patterns of hundreds of millions of visitors in real time and adapts security to ensure the good traffic gets through and the bad traffic is stopped.

Signing up

Basic CloudFlare protection is free at HOSTkabob. CloudFlare also offers paid “Pro” subscriptions for sites with SSL certificates, e-commerce, etc. Most of our customers will find the basic CloudFlare offering sufficient for their small business site. As always, we will help you determine if your site can benefit from their Pro version. HOSTkabob does not accept commissions, referral fees, or other compensation from CloudFlare, so our recommendation will be based on the best interests of your site.