After 20 years of bright yellow covers (apparently Poor Visibility for Dummies isn’t offered), the For Dummies® series has returned to its roots: offering an olive branch to the technologically illiterate among us. With the new title Web Hosting for Dummies, the series brings back memories of classic titles like DOS for Dummies and Windows for Dummies, which helped make the line of books so wildly successful in the first place.
Just like those older programs, there can be an air of exclusivity that makes web hosting seem like an elite members’ club—For Nerds Only! But, just like with older versions of the For Dummies® books, this new version could make web hosting an approachable and maybe even fun experience for new users. By leveling the theoretical playing field, anyone (yes, even you!) could successfully and easily host a website thanks to easy to follow instructions and guides.
Author Peter Pollock covers such topics as switching to dedicated hosting, setting up emails, analyzing server logs, performing your own backups, installing a platform of your choosing and much more. Obviously, the breadth of these topics is already impressive; one must also consider, however, that these questions are simplistically explained (perhaps for the first time) to uninitiated site builders. What’s more, the manual is expected to utilize the typical For Dummies® blend of encouraging relatability that never turns into condescension. Especially for do-it-yourselfers (small business owners and bloggers come to mind) this could be a one-stop shop class of custom cyber carpentry.
Web Hosting for Dummies is available online, at book sellers, and in many e-book formats, making the information ever easier to access in whatever medium readers would prefer. Do you think that this could help initiate you or other newcomers to the webmaster game? Weigh in below, and let us know what you think.
You’re browsing the web, looking for some specific information and you come across a website which, from the preview in your search results, looks fairly promising. But when you open the page, the first thing you see is a large glittery pink hit counter on a dark background. All the text is in Comic Sans and the title of the website is in a scrolling marquee at the top. You’ll probably think one of two things: Either you’ve mysteriously traveled back in time to 2001, or this page is very obsolete. If you’re looking for a well informed and up to date source, you’ll probably go straight back to the search results before even reading the text or checking to see if you can find a recent date posted.
Whether or not they’re always accurate, using cues from our environment to draw conclusions saves us a lot of time. This means that when you’re designing your own website, whether from a template or from scratch, it’s important to give off the right impression. You want it to be clear at first glance that your site is sophisticated and cutting edge, even if your viewers can’t quite put their finger on where they got the idea.
To help you accomplish this, we’ve gathered a few of the trends that you should be aware of and see if you can implement when you set up your site. Don’t forget, the most important thing is that your site has well organized useful information but these extras can’t hurt.
First of all, make sure that your site will be easy to view on a mobile device. Often, this means using responsive layouts: making sure that your site can recognize and adapt to whatever device is displaying it. However, if you’re not a professional or are using a DIY design tool, this may not be an option. Instead, just make sure that your layout is as clean as possible. Neither your text nor graphics should be too small and fiddly, since small and fiddly are hard to see on a small smartphone screen. Even visitors who are using large desktop monitors will recognize the style and will know that you’re keeping up with the times.
In order to make a simple layout more efficient, many sites are getting creative with their navigation. Rather than using the more common drop down or list type menu, considering displaying different pages of your site in a slideshow style, or as multiple tabs.
Another trend that jives well with the minimalistic style and alternative navigations, is a new tendency to use large picture backgrounds. Instead of many small graphics illustrating different sections of text, a single large picture is used as the background and the content overlays it. A single large picture lets you make a powerful first impression on a homepage or landing page.
If you’re looking for something a little bit less subtle, let us remind you of social media badges. Any site that is active on social media has to be constantly updated with new content to be shared. That’s why putting badges to your social media accounts on your site can be a very good sign for new users.
Of course, the best way to get new traffic using social media badges is to actually use them. After all, your new site is going to be so hip and trendy, it’ll be worth spreading the word.
As most Americans are doing today, we’ll be recapping the Superbowl. Let’s see: the Ravens, the 49ers, football, a trophy… I think.
Maybe we should stick to what we know here at Consumer-Rankings. And as a website for savvy consumers, we know commercials. And as a reviewer of web hosting services, we know GoDaddy.
As in years past, GoDaddy got a lot of attention for their Superbowl commercial. If you’ve been keeping up with us here at Consumer Buzz, you’ll know that it’s something that’s fascinated us in the past, as you can see here and here. In June we speculated that GoDaddy’s new advertising campaign might be a little bit more traditional and possibly less blatantly sex-filled as in the past. We thought that maybe they would be focusing a little more on the useful product and less on scantily clad women. Turns out, we were wrong.
This year’s commercial showed a geeky looking young man, played by Jesse Heiman, alongside supermodel Bar Rafaeli who, while not nearly as half-naked as past GoDaddy girls have been, wasn’t exactly wearing a snowsuit. The idea is that one is sexy and one is smart enough to make you a killer website, and together they’re perfect. The two then proceed to noisily kiss for a full ten seconds. If that doesn’t sound very long to you, time it while make slow slurping sounds and you’ll see the problem.
Every year the GoDaddy commercial sparks a debate. On the one hand, are those who say that this is degrading and offensive to women, pretty people and smart people all at once. And there will be those who say that we’re silly to even bring it up, since it has nothing to do with their actual web hosting service.
The follow up then: If it has nothing to do with their web hosting service, what’s the point? GoDaddy clearly believes that there are enough people turned on by their, um, edgy advertising that it will help their image and their business. On the other hand, there seem to be plenty of people turned off by it too.
As a consumer site, we try to discuss all of the factors that you use when you’re choosing a product. For a lot of people, that includes the advertising, for better or for worse.
Besides wondering why GoDaddy chose to make this commercial, which is already being mentioned over and over as the worst Superbowl ad, we have to wonder why they’re the only web host whose advertising garners this kind of attention.
For example, we counted commercials for nine different cars and eleven for snack foods, including beverages. But as usual, GoDaddy was the only webhost. There were a few other websites that offered retail services, but none that were advertising small business products or website services like the kind that GoDaddy and other hosting providers do.
So what does GoDaddy think will result from their advertising campaigns and from their hugely expensive Superbowl ad? And more interestingly, what do you as the consumer think? Does it impact your web hosting choices?
There are a lot of things to complain about when it comes to web hosts. They range from tasteless advertising to automatically renewing services and continuing to charge you for things you never asked for. But recently, it’s gotten much worse than that. But don’t worry, this time it wasn’t the customers of web hosting services who were the victim.
Our story starts with one of the worst viruses that your computer can get: The Gozi virus. You would be sent a PDF attachment and Gozi would be released into your computer when you opened the file. Once it was in your computer, it could impact certain banking sites and collect information that you entered, like your pin number or security questions. After that, you can imagine how easy it would be to steal money from your account. Although for awhile it was mostly spread in Europe, it did eventually hit about 40,000 PCs in the U.S., even infecting NASA computers, and stealing tens of millions of dollars for the thieves that were running the scheme.
And that’s where it gets relevant to web hosting. One of the men charged with the crime is Mihai Ionut Paunescu, who ran a hosting service originally just for Gozi, although he eventually also rented out hosting space for other cyber-criminal endeavors.
Paunescu ran what’s known as a “bulletproof” hosting service. Besides the servers, he needed to set up all of the security features that are so important if you want to be a successful criminal. That means leasing server space from legitimate web hosts, masking your IPs using proxies and even shifting the addresses frequently.
The FBI cooperated with the Romanian police to track down Paunescu and right now they’re in the middle of the extradition process. Once he gets to the U.S., Paunescu could face up to sixty years in prison. Of the major operators of these crimes, he was the toughest to catch. Among all the other information they gathered about the criminals, there was a cell phone number with a Bucharest area code. The FBI got permission to tap the phone, then found out the name of the company it was registered to and the name of the person who registered that company. The smartphone was used to administer the servers and when the phone’s user eventually identified himself as the suspect, the FBI swooped in.
What does this mean for your average web hosting user? Well, not a lot. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that a web host can be secure enough that it’s even tough for the FBI to get in. On the other hand, it may be a little nerve-wracking to know that there are hackers out there that can keep the FBI on their toes. The most important thing however, is the insight this provides into what your web host faces. When your web hosting services seems to be fussy about the information they get from you, keep in mind that they may be concerned about leasing to criminals.
That’s right, the Pope tweets. Although Vatican staff have tried to take advantage of social media in the past, only recently have the tweets been addressed directly from the Pope. In what I consider a brilliant move, he has directly answered individually tweeters who have posted questions marked with #askpontifex. If you’re one of those people who spends a lot of their day online and on social media you can probably understand why this is a good idea. There has never been a clearer example of why even the most revered clergyman in the world can take advantage of what bloggers, marketers and social media experts around the world have learned in the last few years.
Don’t worry, nobody is saying that thousands of years of organized religion should be distilled into 140 characters. But when you’re only one man in Rome with millions upon millions of followers, it’s likely that a few of them are falling between the cracks and so simplifying things may not be a bad idea. Any social media campaign first involves connecting people to your network and only then giving them more information about your organization, product or idea.
Benedict XVI’s (or his social media manager’s) decision to respond to specific individuals is also something that those of us using social media can remember. Whether you’re trying to teach someone about godliness or your new blog about shuffleboard, giving out information isn’t enough. Instead, react to your followers. Hear what they’re saying and make sure they feel they’re being listened to. People are much more likely to take in what you have to say if they feel that it’s relevant to them. And even if it isn’t particularly, human nature makes us generally more likely to give attention in places where we’ve gotten attention in the past.
So while I’m sure that the Pope has a lot of great lessons about morality and prayer and whatnot on his Twitter feed, there are also a couple of good lessons about using social media. Can’t hurt to learn those lessons too.
You may remember when a little less than a year ago, Google began offering free web hosting for small businesses. Google, who seem to be aiming for world domination, claimed to be all about the little guy. They may have been right in saying that small businesses needed a web presence if they were going to be able to compete with bigger players in their industries. And so Google tried to help out those mom-and-pop enterprises by offering free hosting and help with web design to the least tech-savvy business owners.
This wasn’t the beginning of a revolution, nor did it sweep up all the remaining hold outs. Small retailers and other businesses are still trickling onto the internet. And even for those who have been here for awhile, the spread of mobile internet access means that they have to continue learning how to make their web presence effective. And this all comes down to web design. Because the chances are good that small businesses also have small budgets, many of them turn to DIY web design programs. These can save you a ton of money and many provide beautifully designed templates and color schemes that mean you don’t have to be a professional designer to make your site look good. On the other hand, as with anything DIY, there’s nobody there to stop you from messing things up badly.
So before the holiday shopping begins, we thought we’d remind the small retailers out there of a few tips.
First of all, make it clear. That means that navigation should be simple and easy and each page should have a call to action making it obvious what the next step should be. Otherwise, the next step may be leaving your site. Make sure that you don’t play around with all of the web design programs layout tools at once or you’ll risk cluttering up your page. Remember the KISS system.
Otherwise, it’s all about the content, which a DIY web design program can’t help you with. The most important thing is making sure that your customers have a reason to come to your site: Whether it’s to check out the cool new products you’ve just gotten in or to read a new article in your blog. There’s only so far that web design can take you, it’s up to you to do the rest.
Let’s be completely honest here: There are certain areas of life where you just aren’t going to take advantage of customer support and in most areas you never want to have to. Ideally, online backup should fall into that first category. It is meant to be an automatic process that you don’t really have to interact with very much past the initial setup. On the other hand, it’s there for emergencies and in those scenarios all bets are off. Even if it’s only because you’re panicking because your computer just exploded, you may want some help.
Keep in mind that you don’t always need a personal representative of the company to tell you what to do. A lot of online backup providers have very good FAQ sections that are easily searchable by keyword. The video tutorials tend to be more helpful when you’re getting things set up or want to change your options and settings. The new cool thing is customer support on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. The idea is that customer support representatives will monitor these accounts and answer questions but you can also find other users to interact with who may have encountered the same problem you’re having or may have a question that you can answer. Keep in mind however, that even if your company has one of these communities, it won’t be very helpful if it’s inactive. Before you start relying on that for information, check the dates on the last few posts to see how recent they are.
If none of those work, it’s time to move on to getting in touch with an actual person. A few online backup providers have a phone number to call and a few more offer live chat but the most common way of getting in touch is via email. That means that you can’t be sure what the response time will be. There is no norm, so be sure to check out reviews to find out who’s the best.
When you’re moving to a new home you’re forced to consider exactly how much stuff has been piling up in the back of closets and in boxes under your desk. It may not have made a different to you yet but now that’s just more stuff that you’re going to need to pack up and find a space for in your new place. Or else leave it on the street corner an hour before the movers arrive and hope that your trash is someone else’s treasure.
Well, it’s no different on your computer. If you’re getting a new computer or starting to back up your files (which you should be doing already anyway) you’ll have to start considering how much space you want and how much of your data you really need. Let’s focus here on how much space you’ll want when you’re starting to backup your data. Of course, that depends if you’re using an external hard-drive or an online backup service. Online backup is a small monthly expense, whereas an external hard drive has a larger one-time cost. So if you’ve bought a hard-drive once you don’t want to do it again anytime soon. That’s why it makes sense to invest in a larger one than you need. As your stuff inevitably accumulates, you don’t want to be stuck having to pick and choose which of your documents and photos will be protected and which will be left sitting on the street corner.
The decision is somewhat different with online backup. Because it’s a monthly plan, you can always upgrade if you see that your saved data is growing faster than you expected. Most online backup providers include 75GB of storage in a basic home plan and much larger amounts for a business plan. However, there are also some who offer home based users a variety of options ranging from 25GB to 150GB.Your best bet is to check how much data your computer is storing now and then round up. Make sure you’ve gotten a little bit more storage space than you strictly need and remember that you can always get more later.
The whole idea of switching to online backup is that it should be safer and easier than bothering with backing up your data on disks or an external hard drive. But if it’s not going to do that for you, then there’s not much point, is there?
That’s why it’s important to know some of the basics about how to choose your online backup service before you get started. There are a number of factors to consider and no provider that is universally the best. So here’s some of the stuff to look at:
1. Security- Whether you’re storing financial records or years and years worth of family photos, the loss of your data would be pretty devastating, which is of course why you’re backing it up in the first place. The security measures taken by most of the reputable online back-up services are more than enough, and so while this is the most important thing, it rarely becomes a factor in your choice.
2. Price- This will probably be a lot more relevant. Unlike an external hard-drive, which is a one-time cost, online backup is a monthly expense and so the price can really add up over the years. Fortunately, there are a range of costs depending on which company you choose, how much information you want to back up and what other features and assistance you might want. So don’t just choose the cheapest service but make sure to know what’s important to you so that you don’t end up paying for more than you need.
3. Ease of Use- Most online backup programs will do an automatic backup once a day, so slight differences in the interface shouldn’t really impact your convenience too much. Mostly, the navigation and ease of use will be important when something goes wrong. You don’t want to be dealing with a clumsy system when you’re already in a panic about your computer crashing.
4. Customer Support- This is a similar factor to what’s above. You shouldn’t need to contact customer support unless something goes wrong. However, since online backup is there specifically for the times when something has gone wrong, good customer support is important. Make sure that the company’s website provides lots of information that you can easily find on your own and check out how accessible their support representatives are.
5. Features- For most people, the basic daily backup is what’s important. But if your computer is vulnerable or the documents you’re working on are particularly important, you may want to backup more frequently. Or you may want to choose specific information to take special care of. These kinds of options are definitely available, but aren’t universal. Check out multiple backup providers to get ideas of what kind of features you think might be particularly helpful to you, especially if you’re looking for an additional factor to help you choose between services that are otherwise equal.
As my trusty laptop of many years begins to develop new quirks and habits in the winter of its life, I’m starting to consider the possibility that it could one day just die. It’s been known to happen. And while I back it up periodically on an external hard drive, I certainly don’t do it as often as I should and therefore I’m starting to feel strongly that it’s time I bit the bullet and began online backup.
In case this is something you’re unfamiliar with, it is exactly what it sounds like: It creates a backup of all of your computers files and folders into The Cloud. And while for most purposes, copying your data to disks or an external hard drive works just as well, there are some major advantages to using online backup instead.
First of all, you don’t have to remember to do it. For those of us who still sometimes forget to brush our teeth in the morning, this is not a trivial matter. Most online backup programs automatically refresh their backed up data once a day and some do it even more frequently as you make changes to your files. Plus you can set manually set up additional backups to run whenever you want without having to plug in the external hard drive. This of course also leads to a less cluttered desk and fewer wires hanging around.
The fact that you aren’t relying on a physical object that sits next to your computer also means that you have much higher security. Many of the things that would destroy the files you have saved on the computer are things that will also mean the loss of an external hard-drive, such a fire, flooding or theft. This is especially true since you are likely to store your computer and your external hard drive close together for the sake of convenience and to help you remember to back up your data.
The biggest downside to online backup is probably price. Rather than the one-time price of an external hard drive you will be paying a monthly fee that can really add up over time. However, consider it insurance. For the sake of my financial records, my work documents and my years and years worth of family photos (which I’ve never printed out or done anything with) I think that it’s worth it.