Laugh Out Loud: 5 Writing Tips for a Humor Site

man and woman laughing over phone

So you’d like to write a funny blog, or at the very least, spice up the blog you’ve already got with a little more humor. After all, blogs are not just there to inform but also to entertain.

The only problem is, you’re not sure how to get started. Maybe you consider yourself a funny guy, based on others’ reactions. Or maybe you’ve been told you’re not that funny and you’d like to get some help.

Well, no problem! Here are some tips that can help you decide what to write about in a humor blog, or how to punch up a serious blog with a little levity.

1. The Unusual and Unexpected

A lot of people mistake shock comedy for the funniest type of comedy but all humor does tend to be based in eliciting some sort of surprise reaction from people. Think of slapstick.

Modern humor is a little more complicated than that, especially when it comes to the written word. But we’ve all had absurd “wtf” moments enter our lives out of nowhere.

Think of something that happened to you or someone you know, some anecdote that seemed really bizarre but still ended up okay. Cultivate a taste for the weird and learn how to spot it in everyday life.

2. Metaphors and Similes

A great way to punch up your writing with humor is to draw exaggerated, absurd comparisons between one set of circumstances and another.

Metaphors and similes often get confused: When you make a direct comparison between two things, that’s a metaphor, but when you say one thing is “like” another or “as” another, that’s a simile.

Wordplay, in general, is a great idea, but try to be witty about it: you shouldn’t use puns, for example, unless they fit the situation and the word perfectly. Bad puns are called “groaners” for a reason.

3. Sarcasm and Irony

These are two concepts that often get confused as well. Sarcasm occurs when you feel one way but pretend to feel the exact opposite; irony is what happens to all of us when life decides to reveal something we didn’t previously know.

Rain on your wedding day is not ironic, unless you’re marrying a meteorologist who insisted on having the wedding outside. If you sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her at the reception, that’s sarcasm.

4. Parody and Satire

Also confused at times, even though they form the backbone of a lot of today’s comedy. The “Family Guy” Star Wars episodes, for example, are parody: they take a sometimes loving, sometimes biting approach to something everyone loves.

Satire usually has a larger point to make about society itself. Think of the hilarious fake news site “The Onion” and all its many terrible imitators.

5. Quotes and Anecdotes

Finally, if you’re out of ideas, or you want to lighten the seriousness of your original ideas with some humor, you can always try funny quotes and anecdotes. Both work best when the subject is something people take pretty seriously: for example, football quotes or political anecdotes.

Again, you’re looking for an unusual or out of the ordinary situation or reaction.

So there you go!

Five pairs of ideas that can jumpstart your comedy blog or improve your serious one. Your tone can be as absurd or deadpan as you want it to be, but it’s your tone and you need to set it.

Laughs make your content memorable… and no matter what your blog is about, it’ll keep folks coming back!

What You Need To Know About Managing Your Digital Marketing Budget

digital marketing budget

In this day and age, marketing is all about dominating the digital space. According to Forbes, over the next five years, businesses in the United States will spend 120 billion on digital marketing alone.

Yes, you read that right. 120 Billion. With a “B.”

This spending shows the direction marketing trends are taking. With all that money swirling around, it’s important that businesses employ sound strategies to manage their marketing budgets.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies your company should be using to manage your budget smartly.

Budget, Plan, Forecast, and Actual

It may seem obvious, but many businesses overlook this essential, yet ever important step.

Using a three-pronged approach to managing your budget is a surefire way to ensure you spend your money wisely and that you’re on track with expectations.

Your budget dictates where to allocate funds over an extended period, such as a year. It should be directly inline with your goals. Once you set your budget, it should remain untouched. Knowing that priorities change, you now introduce the planning portion.

The planning stage is where you can make changes and indicate where you need to spend more or fewer funds. Planning allows you the flexibility to grow with the changing business environment. This part of your budget is perfect for quarterly planning.

The “Forecast” portion is where you input what you actually spend on each area. You should update this mid-month, and when the month ends, you change this over to “actual.”

Using this strategy helps keep a clear focus on spending and your needs as they change.

Diversify Your Budget

Diversifying a marketing budget is an excellent way to make sure you’re hitting all the vital areas for growth.

A good rule of thumb to start with is the 70/20/10 rule.

This rule dictates that 70% of your marketing budget is devoted to tried and true methods. This area would include strategies or products that have a proven ROI time and time again.

20% of the budget should be allocated to safer bets, perhaps products that are newer on the scene but shows real growth potential.

10% is devoted to experimental channels, ones that with some risk, may lead to significant payoffs.

By employing this strategy, you are making sure you’ll hit your marks monthly, quarterly, etc. but also leave room for expanding and getting in on new and profitable trends.

Feel free to change the percentages around, as this is just a general guideline. Do what works for your business and risk tolerance.

Check In Often

Any successful business will tell you a budget should not only help manage your money but provide important insight as well.

To fully utilize the knowledge your budget can give you, you need to check in often. Experts suggest checking in on your spending middle of the month, end of the month, mid-quarter, end of each quarter and yearly.

By taking full stock of your corporate accounting, you can avoid surprises and adjust accordingly.

It’s also important is to analyze your ROI by employing services such as Google Analytics to make sure your methods are working, and that you’re on target.

While just one of the strategies can help you better spend your marketing money, using them in conjunction with each other is an excellent way to maximize your ROI potential.

Use these three strategies for managing your digital marketing budget, and you’ll be sure to have wisely spent your portion of that 120 billion over the next five years.

 

How to Merge Animation With UX Workflow

motion design

The goal of any business is to make the customer experience as seamless as possible. Understanding the customer’s wants and needs is necessary to create this seamless experience.

Did you know that incorporating animation can help the user experience? When do you know the right time to use animation in your UX workflow?

We’re here to help. Read on to learn how to integrate animation to improve your workflow.

What are some of the benefits of animation?

You may be wondering how the use of animation can help users have a better experience. The first key is to understand what the user needs help with understanding. Any type of animation that you incorporate should be valuable to your customer.

Here are some ways that animation functions:

  • Clarify information for the user
  • Direct the customer to the appropriate place
  • Easily help the user navigate through a system
  • Communicate the brand’s message

In order to better incorporate animation, you’ll need to know exactly what issues the users are facing. You’ll need to do some research to clarify the most important user needs. For this, you have to speak directly with users through interviews and tests.

Ask questions such as:

  • Are you having trouble focusing on the platform?
  • Do you understand what the data is telling you?
  • Do you know what to do next?
  • Are you aware of the most important pieces?
  • Do you like to use this tool?

You may also need to use a CRM system that will provide you a better understanding of the customer.

Integrate Motion Design into UX Workflow

Now that you’ve done a bit of research and understand how animation can help, you need to learn how to place animation into your UX workflow.

Align

You already know what your users need in your design. So now you need to make sure that you’re incorporating them in a way that will be useful for the user.

Think of how it will help the customer as you go through your design workflow.

Design

Whether you’re using a storyboard or a sketch pad, you’ll need to start designing your animation. You can then share this information with your team to get feedback.

Prototype

Before your final product, you and your team members will want to see how the animation will play out in real time. Creating a prototype allows you to showcase your ideas before you spend the time and money on the final product.

There are a few approaches to your prototype. The one you decide on depends on the type of animation and your time schedule. Either you can use a fully coded prototype or a simple prototype that won’t take much time or effort.

Test

While your prototype is important, you’ll also need to make sure that your users, the ones who will actually be using the design, will be satisfied.

Choose a group of testers who will be aligned with your target audience. You’ll then conduct a test run through and have the users provide feedback. This feedback will be used to adjust in areas that users don’t find valuable.

Conclusion

Understanding a customer’s needs is imperative when you’re adding animation to UX design workflow. It requires a lot of research and testing in order to get everything right.

While it may be a process, providing your customers with the best possible experience is the most important result.

How have you incorporated animation into UX design? Let us know in the comments.

Are Your Web Pages Slow to Load? 5 Reasons that Might be to Blame

web pages slow to load

If you’ve ever observed a busy freeway system from the window of a high-rise or an airplane, you’ve probably noticed a certain chaotic order to it all.

But what happens when the chaos outweighs the order? Problems.

The internet is rather like that busy freeway system, but in high speed. With hundreds of requests zipping around the world, back and forth, to bring you images and text in a matter of seconds, chaos is bound to intervene.

With that chaos comes downtime, leaving web pages slow to load. And a slow site is an abandoned site.

All of the activity on the internet can render web pages slow to load and cost you thousands of visitors and conversions.

That’s a real problem and it’s to your benefit to get reliable website monitoring.

In the meanwhile, there are many reasons that you may find your web pages slow to load so we’ll take a look at five of those reasons.

1. Server performance and location

When someone clicks onto your website, it’s like they’re trying to turn on a light.

There’s an expectation that the light will come on immediately after the switch is flipped.

But if your server’s performance is poor, that “light” might take a while. It doesn’t even matter how quick and optimized everything else is. A slow server’s going to give you a slow start.

What’s happening with the flip of that switch is that your browser (Firefox, Safari, etc.) pings your server, asking for all the information and data so it can load up your website.

But if your server is feeling sluggish and not performing well, it’s going to take it’s time to respond.

Poor server performance can be most commonly traced down to your web host.

The cheaper web hosts usually give you a shared server. What that means is you’re sharing space and resources with any number of other websites.

Essentially, your site is standing in line with a slew of other sites, waiting its turn. So no wonder your web pages are slow to load.

Add to that the factor of your server location and things can get really dicey.

For instance, if someone on the other side of the world clicks on your website, they’re sending a message to the server asking it to load.

The information now has to travel all the way across the world to request access to your server. Then it has to travel all the way back to the other side of the world to show up on the screen.

We like to think that this all happens in “the cloud,” but the reality is that the data has to travel through cables and is then transmitted over satellites.

If the server is performing well, the extra distance won’t be nearly the challenge as it would be if it’s sluggish.

2. Extra large images

Back in the day of dial-up, a large image took forever to load.

Forever being several minutes.

With the advent of broadband, the definition of ‘forever’ changed considerably. Now it’s more like 5 seconds.

Still, that’s long enough for someone to bounce.

At any rate, if your site is chock full of huge images, they could be making your web pages slow to load.

Think of it this way.

If you order a burger and fries at a restaurant, the request goes to the kitchen, the two items are made and the server brings it to you. But add on a bunch of sides and special requests and it’s going to take longer to get your order. Plus, the server is going to have to carry a heavier load.

Same thing with your web server.

It has to carry every part of your website – content, text, and images – to your browser screen. Large images are the equivalent of that heavy tray of food. And if you have a lot of them, that’s a lot of heavy trays.

A large image is challenging, but the file format does make a difference. Stick with JPG, PNG, and GIF images because they load much more quickly.

Avoid the heavy formats like TIFF and BMP because, well, they’re heavy. And in this case, heavy means SLOW.

3. Lots of traffic

If you’re experiencing a lot of traffic, congratulations on your success!

But here’s the downside: it will eventually cause your website to slow down.

Your web server can only do so much. It’s the human equivalent of saying, “I’ve only got two hands!” And the more that is asked of it, the slower it’s going to be.

So then the harried web server has to call in extra help from the back. And soon enough, things are slowing down on the back end too.

Ah, success.

4. Network problems

If your web pages are slow to load, it may be due to your network connection being slow or intermittent.

You can troubleshoot this situation by trying to load your site using a proxy server or VPN.

Proxy servers use a third-party location to load your site. So if it’s a local network problem, the proxy server will usually bypass it. If the site still loads slowly, then you know you’ve got a network problem.

You may also need to test your local network/router, contact your internet service provider, wait until the network connection is resolved or go to the nearest coffeeshop and use their service.

Treat yourself to a mocha. It’s been a tough day.

5. Too many file requests and plugins

So we’ve covered the issue with large images.

But in this case, size isn’t everything. Big or small, you also need to consider to consider quantity.

Each small element on your site requires a different file request to load. So that means that every image, social sharing button, CSS file, and piece of Javascript is a new file request.

You may simply be asking too much of your server.

For instance, let’s just say that your website uses 40 file requests every time it loads up. Then 100 people come along and want to access your site all at once. If you’re doing the math, that’s 4,000 file requests in one second.

It’s unrealistic to expect a small server to perform quickly with that number of requests.

Plus, if you’re running WordPress, you’re probably backed by a whole team of behind-the-scenes plugins. And each of those equals its own file request.

If you’re running a lot of plugins, you need to ask yourself which ones you absolutely need. After all, there are only so many resources to serve up the files.

So if your web pages are slow to load, start by addressing these five possible reasons. The fix may be easier than you think.

Let us know what you do to optimize your webpages.

How to Send Email Notifications of Website Down and Uptime

email notifications

It’s a fact of the Internet that your website will go down on occasion. Whether it’s on purpose, or the fault of your host provider, eventually you’ll find yourself staring at 404 or 504 errors.

Instead of trying to fight the inevitable, it’s much more important to let your users know what’s going on.

Internet users are a fickle bunch. They don’t like waiting and won’t tolerate website downtime without some sort explanation.

When ESPN’s fantasy football website went down for the start of the 2016/2017 season, users voiced their displeasure (read: extreme anger) on Twitter.

Fantasy football is a big deal to some, but it’s nothing compared to managing a business where client’s bank accounts depend on your website.

The outrage from your specific demographic is liable to far exceed ESPN’s downed fantasy website.

An excellent way to notify your users of any website downtime is using simple email notifications.

Almost everyone has a smartphone that constantly pushes email to their pocket. Users can easily see the email, and acknowledge that your website is down.

Just like that, outrage averted.

Professional Monitoring Services

We’ll cut right to the case. Hiring a professional website monitoring service is the best way to ensure your customers know about downtime.

If your company has a dedicated IT guy that can write up a program to handle downtime monitoring, that’s great. Take advantage of him.

However, most website owners, and even large hosting companies, have other priorities. Coding a custom platform takes time and money.

Though hiring a professional service isn’t just about picking any old service and letting them have at your website.

You as the webmaster needs to decide how you’d like the monitoring setup.

Namely, what triggers email notifications? What will the emails say? Who receives these emails?

When Should Email Notifications Send

Website monitoring emails notifications should send out immediately after your website goes down.

Any reputable monitoring software will push these emails out as soon as possible.

These random errors are likely your 404 errors, where downtime could vary based on the problem.

This means you need to get the message out fast, and also let customers know as much information as possible.

With any luck, your monitoring program will figure out the problem quickly, and then shoot another optional email letting clients know the expected downtime.

Scheduled Updates

There will come a day when you have to take your website down for scheduled maintenance.

It’s annoying, but makes your site better in the long run.

Customers should know about maintenance well before it happens. If they don’t know until they see your redirect message, it’s far too late.

An excellent example of this predicament is online banking. There are some banks that only notify of scheduled maintenance through a brief homepage message.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t help at all for the people who don’t visit the website until they need to make a transaction.

Car payment due today? Should have visited our website yesterday to see our maintenance message.

Obviously, this isn’t the best way to run a business. It’s so much easier to push out email notifications announcing downtime to users.

A simple, “We’re taking our website offline next week at 5:50-7:50 pm for maintenance,” works perfectly fine.

It’s also not a bad idea to include what your maintenance actually does. People are more likely to accept (not get mad) updates that help their user experience.

Oh, and email reminders can also work well here. An email notification 24 before the downtime helps refresh people’s memory.

Who To Email?

Downtime emails should go out to the entirety of your email list.

Include everyone who’s ever voluntarily signed up for your email contact.

If someone gave out their email to your company, it’s likely they’re interested in your product.

If they’re interested in your product, it’s only logical that they would like to know when and for how long your website is down.

Even if you’re only running a personal website, if people signed up for your email list, email them!

For all of the promotional emails you send to your potential customers, an alert about website downtime will show them they’re worth more than dollar signs.

It also doesn’t hurt to set aside a special list of people who receive customized emails.

These are your high-value clients who need instant access to your company at all times.

Send them special emails that include your phone number and other contact information in case they need something while your website is down.

How Many Emails Is Too Many?

Your customers need information about your website downtime. We’ve established that this much is true.

However, what’s the limit? When do friendly informative emails become annoying “spam?”

It’s a question that gets asked over and over again, and one where there isn’t a real concrete answer.

What we do know, is that studies have linked high email volume and email “pressure” (constant email notifications) to high-stress levels.

This isn’t something you want to force on your customers. Your website needs to distance itself from stress at all costs.

If people are opening your emails and thinking, “NOT AGAIN. ANOTHER EMAIL,” you’re in for trouble.

We’d suggest sending emails when your website goes down, and again when it comes back online. Reminder emails are still ok for scheduled maintenance.

You might consider only emailing people who opt into a so-called “downtime” email list.

Opt-in lists are a double edge sword, as one day someone may not want to receive your email notifications, while the next they might.

Either way, don’t bombard people with emails.

Sending email notifications for uptime and downtime are essential parts of running a website. Customers deserve to know what’s happening with your site and why.

While it’s possible to handle this on your own, it’s much easier (and more efficient) to hire a professional monitoring service.

Most offer full monitoring suites that also integrate email notifications. Just pick what you want to say, and when you want to say it.

Your customers will thank you later (probably in sales).

5 Website Malware Removal Tips

website malware removal

In the past, it seemed that only major businesses and corporations had to worry about malware attacks. But today, website malware removal has become a hot button issue for individual website owners and small businesses owners alike.

In today’s online world, malware attacks on websites are becoming more and more common. And, more concerning than that, they are becoming increasingly more sophisticated.

Website Malware Removal

In recent times, business owners have not only had to monitor their website’s performance, they’ve had to become more security savvy too.

Protecting that website against cyber attacks of all kinds is now high up there on the priority list.

A hack or a breach of any kind can have serious consequences for your business.

You can lose days, weeks, months, or even years of work.

And, a malware attack will not only significantly reduce the amount of traffic your website will attract, it will cause considerable damage to your business reputation and your bottom line.

So, faced with the ever-increasing prospect of a malware attack, what can you do to protect your website?

The good news is, you can do quite a lot, and in this article, we’re going to show you how.

Want to ensure that your website is safe and sound? Looking for the best website malware removal advice?

If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Hackers don’t take days off. With the advice we’re about to share, your website won’t either.

Ready to begin?

Great! Let’s get right to it!

Malware Attacks – The Consequences

Before we take a look at how we can protect ourselves against cyber attacks on our websites, it’s important to understand why you should protect your website in the first place.

A malware attack on your website can make you lose traffic almost instantly. If your website is infected, then you’ll be blacklisted by Google or one of the many other malware watchdog sites.

This can be devastating to your business.

Here’s what happens once Google determines that your site is potentially harmful to visitors:

  • Your site is flagged
  • When users try to click through to your site from a search engine results page, the Google interstitial warning page will come up
  • That page will advise the user to visit at their own risk
  • Additionally, some users may get other warnings from other web browsers.

One-quarter of sites never get removed from the blacklist, and for the websites that do get removed, it takes an average time of 13 days.

We all know how inconvenient website downtime can be. Can you and your business afford 13 days of negative exposure?

5 Website Malware Removal Tips

1. Your Website Vulnerabilities

One way to remove malware attacks is to protect your site from all possible lines of attack to begin with.

Cyber criminals are very much like a horrible illness; they both attack you at your most vulnerable points.

If there are any vulnerabilities in your website, they’ll attack these first. As a result, it’s important to identify your vulnerabilities ahead of time.

Website Vulnerabilities

Many website owners want to create as engaging an experience as possible for the user. But, the more feature rich and complex your website is, the more vulnerable it is to attack.

Securing your web applications is a vital step to protect your site from malware attacks.

Server Vulnerabilities

It’s also important to make sure that the server you use has adequate protection against cyber attacks.

If your server has vulnerabilities, they will be exploited to the full.

2. Sucuri

As well as ensuring that your obvious vulnerabilities are taken care of, there is an impressive range of security options available, all aimed at protecting your website from attack.

Sucuri is one such option, and it’s one of the most popular choices for business owners.

Sucuri offers a layered approach to website security and includes the following:

  • Website Application Firewall (WAF)
  • Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  • Continuous website security monitoring
  • Incident response team available 24/7/365.

Not only will it clean your hacked site, it will stop attacks before they ever happen.

3. WordFence

One of the most popular security options for people with a WordPress website is the WordFence plugin.

If you have been subject to an attack and need website malware removal, WordFence will clean your site and restore it back to its former glory.

Whether your site has or hasn’t been attacked, installing WordFence offers the following:

  • Protection against any malicious code and malware links in your posts, pages, comments and source code
  • Continuous analyses of the latest threats to your system
  • Monitoring of the newest firewall rules, malware signatures, and malicious IP addresses
  • A web application firewall, a malware scanner, and other tools to secure your site.

4. Stop the Hacker

Another impressive security offering comes from Stop the Hacker

These guys take securing your website incredibly seriously, and they boast a variety of important services that will help to keep your website safe.

Here are some of the services they offer:

  • Detection of malware, even the ones that antivirus services miss
  • Automatic Cleanup if malware is detected
  • Blacklist Monitoring
  • Reputation Monitoring
  • Looking for and finding your security vulnerabilities

Another important feature of note here is the presence of artificial intelligence within the security technology itself. This means that new strains of malware will be monitored constantly.

5. SiteLock

With cyber attacks evolving each day, SiteLock offers complete cloud-based website protection, promising to find, fix and prevent your website from malware attacks.

Among the many security features offered by SiteLock, some of the more impressive include the following:

  • SiteLock has a SMART scanning feature that identifies and removes malware automatically
  • It has a web application firewall which blocks backdoor access and mitigates attacks. This puts a secure barrier between your important data and cyber criminals
  • It offers a TrueSpeed content delivery network. This means that latency becomes a non-issue, accelerating your website so you don’t have to sacrifice speed and customer satisfaction for added security benefits.

Website Malware Removal and Your Business

But, a malware attack is something that happens to other businesses, right?

Surely it won’t happen to you?

Sadly, the reality is stark. If your website has any hint of vulnerability, you and your business are at grave risk.

If your website is vulnerable to attack, the chances are that a malware attack will find you.

So, what’s the best thing to do?

Take the necessary steps, keep your site off Google’s blacklist, and protect your website from a crippling attack.

Your business and your bottom line will thank you.

Got any tech questions or need some advice? Don’t be shy, get in touch!

Top 5 IT Admin Errors that Lead to Network Downtime

downtimeCreating and maintaining a website is crucial for businesses today. And if you don’t want your customers to switch to one of your competitors, you better make sure your online presence is conveniently accessible.

But today it’s no longer enough to just have a website. You must be prepared to manage things like downtime.

Why Downtime Management Is So Important

Downtime refers to periods of time when a system, such as a network, becomes unavailable. This hiccup can have detrimental effects for your business. And it happens probably more than you think.

Businesses deal with unplanned downtime an average of 13 times per year. The average cost of just one hour of downtime for a highly critical application? More than $82K.

But network downtime costs affect more than real dollar amounts. It can also negatively affect a company’s reputation, SEO and SERPs, loss of data, and the customer experience.

All of these, of course, are bad news for a business’s bottom line.

Consider the fact that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Now, imagine someone was trying to either conduct further research on one of your products or was going back to your site to make a purchase.

If your site was down and refused to load because of an internal issue, chances are that person would do a Google search for the same type of product and look elsewhere.

After all, convenience and timeliness have everything to do with the customer experience and how customers—both new and existing ones—perceive your brand.

Research shows that companies that prioritize the customer experience earn 60% more profits than their competitors.

In August 2013, the New York Times’ site went down—but only for two hours. Still, one of its top competitors, the Wall Street Journal, took advantage. The Journal temporarily dropped its paywall in an effort to convert Times’ readers.

Additionally, the Times’ stock dropped.

Downtime can happen due to a number of reasons, some of which are within your control.

In fact, human error is the cause of as much as 75% of downtime.

Below, we discuss the top five preventable IT admin errors that can lead to network downtime.

Top 5 IT Admin Errors

1. Failure to backup systems.

This may sound like an amateur move for IT professionals, but it does happen.

In order to salvage intel if a system goes down, a clear backup plan is needed.

Make sure your backup is fully functioning the way it should be for whatever type of infrastructure you have.

Double check that all intended storage devices are included in the backup, and be aware that the backup you’re using is the most current.

Another error that some companies face is cutting corners by not investing in the most current updates or security measures.

These investments will actually benefit you in the long run.

2. Not getting everyone on board with policies and procedures.

Training is a crucial aspect of almost any job, but especially in a position where instrumental data is involved.

In this case, it’s important to make sure there are policies and plans in place for staff to follow consistently.

You want to make sure your IT team is following these procedures across the board. Aside from regular check-ups, make sure there are policies in place—what to do and when to execute on them—when things do go wrong.

This protocol should include a comprehensive checklist and regular testing procedures. Testing is non-negotiable but it’s important to also remember to test partial parts of a whole system.

Partial failures can occur in both the network hardware as well as in electrical switchgear.

What are your recovery options? Do you know how much storage your system can handle? Are you keeping up with updates necessary to speed up any slowdowns? Is your backup equipped with the most current information? And are you documenting the details of each issue?

Is your backup equipped with the most current information? And are you documenting the details of each issue?

These are questions your team should always be asking themselves and know how to answer.

Having post-procedures in place when things slow down or go down is key. It prevents more chaos around an already stressful situation when time is of the essence. It also minimizes downtime.

3. Taking security lightly.

Another cause of downtime is through intentional human error in the form of a cyber attack.

Cyber attacks occur when stored information systems are not fully secure. And they’re quite common.

The number of reported data breaches last year was 781. This number has increased 23% since 2013.

Cyber attacks do more than threaten the loyalty of your customer base and the reputation of your company. It also costs a lot of money in recovery.

The average total cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.5 million. And the global cost of cyber attacks in 2019 is projected to be $2.1 trillion.

Make sure your security systems are tight, consistently tested, and updated when necessary.

4. Not investing in redundant parts.

When purchasing parts of a system, such as CPUs, fans, and power supplies, an IT manager may initially choose the cheaper option to save the department money. Cheaper options usually include one set of parts to a system.

However, if downtime should occur, getting those redundant parts for backup errors will cost you time and money. And that’s something you’ll want to avoid for the sake of the company’s reputation as well as your own.

Preparing for an outage means investing in the protection of the parts needed for the system to run, even if that means it’ll cost you more to begin with.

Consider which elements should be redundant—from batteries to Internet providers, and everything in between.

5. Not investing in a real-time service.

It’s nearly impossible and unrealistic to manually check your website every few minutes.

As a business owner, you’ve got a million and one things on your to-do list. Your staff is busy with their respective tasks.

Even your IT team, the people in charge of making sure your systems are secure, has a lot of other responsibilities to manage.

It’s also important to note that your employees aren’t working 24 hours like your website is.

Investing in a service that notifies you in real-time if your site goes down is a big piece of the puzzle to minimize the duration of downtime.

Have questions about how this type of service could help your business, or just want more information? We’ve got you covered here.

Secure Web Hosting for Your Business: What to Watch For

secure web hosting Security. Sounds like a powerful word, doesn’t it?

Truth is, it is powerful.

Think about the difference between the term “web hosting” and the term “secure web hosting.” Sounds like you would consider choosing the second one, right?

Over the years, online security has become vital. Registering a domain name, designing a killer website and being online is no longer enough.

After all, when you create a website, it’s like you put all your information on a cyberspace where hackers can enter and grab all the information they might need. The first thing you want to do is look for a host which provides you with the security needed.

Before we start, let’s take a look at the types of people who might want to break your website’s security protocol:

Identity Thieves

These hackers have one simple goal: Gather essential information about their victims and use them for personal gain.

Either it is your e-mails or your clients’ information, these hackers will definitely benefit from you and move on to their next victim because that’s what they do.

Actual Thieves

Do you know how much money moves via wireless signals, optic fibers, or even cell phones? Literally billions. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there are people who have the knowledge and the resources to steal parts of these billions.

If you own or run an e-shop, secure web hosting is absolutely essential. Look for web hosts featuring SSL certificate, and secure all the data transmitted to and from your website.

The Tricksters

To be honest, they are the worst. They just hack a website, take it down or even destroy it just for fun. However, even though it is a hobby for them, their work can definitely cause a number of problems to you and your business (loss of revenue, your clients will lose their trust in you etc.)

Are you are an individual trying to secure their essential information or a company monitoring a bunch of websites? The list below will definitely help you with your web server’s security:

Secure Web Hosting Basic Tools

Before you go deeper into the world of secure web hosting, there are three basic tools you have to learn how to use. All three of them will add a basic layer of security to your website and they will help you avoid all the drama hacking comes with:

Anti-Virus Software

Think of the internet as a hospital where 50 percent of the people are affected by a virus and the other 50 percent are visiting. The point is that anything that is online is vulnerable to viruses and your website is not an exception.

Find an open-source cPanel or Plesk anti-virus software and scan all of your directories for suspicious files that could destroy your online presence in a snap. Two of the most popular ones are ClamAV are avast!

Rootkit Scanner

Think of rootkits as small spiders that sneak into your web server. These spiders are so tiny that your anti-virus is not always able to detect them, so you need a rootkit scanner to get rid of them.

Firewall

Sure, it sounds like a really fancy term. You have certainly watched movies about hackers trying to break a company’s firewall and get into the server to steal valuable data. However, the truth is that not all firewalls are equally strong.

Use a basic, free firewall to protect your server and block unauthorized access. It might not be as strong as CIA’s firewall, but it will get some job done.

Whatever you do, when looking for a host you have to make sure they offer you all these three basic applications to optimize and improve your server’s protection. Since they are not so sophisticated or that hard to find, they will most likely be free of charge.

FTP Settings

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. A useful protocol for every time you want to upload new files on your server. Generally speaking, FTP is a secure protocol, but this doesn’t mean that hackers are not able to attack it by modifying your uploaded files.

Talk with your web host provider and ask about SFTP availability. Yes, you guessed it right, that “S” stand for “secure”. This tiny little layer of protection will not be all you are going to need but it will be just another way to help you rest better at night.

After all, secure web hosting involves a number of steps.

Extra FTP tip: We are sure you already have, but we have to mention it. Uncheck that option which says “Allow Anonymous Uploads” and “Allow Anonymous Logins”. This will help you block strangers from uploading files to your web server. You’re welcome!

Updating Your Control Panel

Whatever your web hosting control panel is (Plesk or cPanel) make sure you always update it to the latest version. You see, the latest versions usually fix all the security bugs the previous ones had –and, trust us, you want that fix.

Talk with your host and ask them about your control panel’s updates. Do they automatically do it for you? How does your server’s updating process affect your website? Yes, all you have to do is ask.

Backup Like There is No Tomorrow

You already know how important backups are but, for some reason, we always feel the need to remind it. Because no matter how important backups are, people always tend to forget about them. If you are one of them, have one of your employees do it for you.

Even after you have done your best to protect your website from annoying intruders, unexpected things can always happen when you are at least prepared for them. There is only one solution to this –more common than you think— problem. BACKUPS.

No matter what attack or unlucky incident you may be dealing with, a backup will never disappoint you. It will always be there for you and help you get your website up and running at no time. Eat that, hackers!

Most hosts come with tools to help you manage your backups, but what about theirs? Ask them how often they backup their servers, what procedures they prefer, and where they store the data collected. After all, you have the right to know!

Monitoring your website 24/7 might sound hard and the truth is that it really is. Being on the constant lookout for cyber-attacks; trying to figure out what has gone wrong; searching for that part of your server that needs extra attention. It is a hard word.

If all of the above, sound intimidating, feel free to sign up today and get your own, personalized website report! We’ll be happy to help!

The Dyn DDoS Attack that Broke the Internet: Here’s What Happened

Dyn DDos AttackEven internet giants can’t consider themselves infallible in 2016. This is especially true after the most recent DDOS attack that took down websites like Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix.

Understanding DDOS attacks is helpful to knowing why your favorite websites are down. It’s also helpful when putting plans in place to protect your own website.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible from many points of the internet.

You’ll love our affordable service plans. SiteUpTime helps protect your website from hackers looking to steal information or bring your website down with a DDOS attack.

These attacks may seem random and unpredictable at times. There seems to be little anyone can do to prevent the internet from “breaking” during the time when these hackers wreck their havoc.

What a DDOS attack is

“DDOS” stands for Distributed Denial of Service. These attacks happen when a number of hackers and their bots go to a site all at once. This rush overwhelms the servers and causes the service to fail.

During this downtime, there isn’t much web hosts, web developers, and individual users can do to bring the website back to working order. This is evident in the latest DDOS attack on Dyn, a widely used internet performance manager.

These attacks, sometimes coming from the “darknet” can cost just $150 for a week-long DDOS attack. This makes the chances of a DDOS occurring higher since these cheap prices are in the budget for most people with malicious intent.

Interestingly enough, these attacks do not typically occur as an attempt to steal data from websites. But, in some attacks, this information can become compromised.

Instead, DDoS attacks block others from accessing the site and the information they have on it. Favorite videos on Youtube, sending out orders on Etsy or viewing your personal bank account information can all be stopped with an attack.

Ensuring that your website is secure is a first step in ensuring that a DDOS attack doesn’t harm your business.

There are ways to take steps that can help you avoid or prevent a DDoS attack. Try giving your employees additional training in online security and creating detailed online policies and strategies.

Botnets

Botnets are a network of computers that have been infected by malicious viruses that remain hidden on the computer until an event like a DDOS attack occurs.

During this time, the “botmaster” is able to coordinate an attack and collect control of infected computers. Just one botnet could bring down a website.

However, these botnets may work collectively to target larger websites and networks in order to bring down the sites for a longer period of time and over a larger geographical area.

In the case of the Dyn DDoS attack, a collective of hackers and botnets worked together across the globe.

Since they were located in different areas, the botnets completely took out Dyn databases on the east coast of the United States.

This was accomplished by them targeting the Dyn servers that linked back to the East Cost but were located in other countries.

The Dyn DDoS attack

On October 21st, 2016, your access to many favorite websites may have suddenly stopped working.

Some of the websites that were taken offline caused massive problems. Twitter, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Imgur, PayPal, Spotify, Yelp, and the PlayStation Network reported problems stemming from the Dyn DDos attack.

Problematically, this attack stopped users from accessing their information and cost these companies hours of business. For internet-based companies, this can be devasting.

SiteUptime aids in internet performance monitoring to find out exactly how much downtime your web site endures.

This information, along with the other data our services gather, can help with your personal understanding of DDos attacks in relation to your business.

As some have noted, DDoS attacks typically target a single website. Usually, this happens when someone or some group has a personal reason to remove that company from full online functionality for an uncertain amount of time.

In the case of the Dyn attack, the unprecedented incident took out a host that allowed multiple large websites to function.

Surprisingly, for this DDoS attack, Network World reported that only 10% of the world’s botnets were involved in the Dyn DDoS attack.

This particular DDoS attack took out websites for the east coast for almost the entire day– beginning at internet “primetime” in the morning and a third wave of the attack occurring just after 4pm est.

What’s happening now

As for Dyn, all of the websites taken down by the October 21st attack have returned to full function. Users can once again enjoy their services and business owners can go back to providing goods and making their living.

However, this massive attack has called for a review of the way websites and servers currently run.

Improving the technology and coding behind websites like Dyn may be able to prevent a future attack, but staying one step ahead of massive networks of hackers is a difficult task.

The remedy to this problem is not very clearly, unfortunately. As with many things coming from the dark side of the internet, finding out motives and solutions will be difficult.

Dyn has produced a piece that outlines the impact, timeline, and possible solutions to remove the possibility of DDoS attacks from happening in the future.

While SiteUptime is absolutely on board with fighting for a solution, it is our biggest priority to keep you up-to-date with the correct information.

We help your business by monitoring the internet performance of your website to provide great service to your customers.

Conclusion:

The DDoS attack on Dyn is a good example of why internet security is an important topic that should be at the forefront of any business owner’s mind. Security is important regardless of whether or not the company is small or large.

SiteUptime provides monitoring locations across the globe to test the functionality of your website from different points on the map.

With multiple locations, SiteUptime checks that problems like DDoS attacks don’t take down your website to different user groups.

Our locations are currently New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. Being across the globe is just another step we take to ensure that your website is monitoring and prepared for problems like DDoS attacks.

Network Performance Monitoring: 4 Reasons Your Site Goes Down

If you have a business, chances are you also have a website that brings in new customers from the web.

Providing network performance monitoring to over 125,000 websites, SiteUptime understands the necessity of having a funetwork performance monitoringnctional website that is reaching customers in order to keep businesses successful.

We know that a site that is up 99% of the time still equates to 7 hours out of every month where customers simply cannot reach your business website. For a new customer, this downtime is disastrous.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible throughout time and from multiple points of the internet. With our affordable service plans, you can be assured that your website stays available for your customers.

To best protect your business from the problems associated with websites going down, here are our top 4 reasons for site crashes.

What can network performance monitoring do for you?

Network performance monitoring can best be defined as the process of testing your website from multiple access points and time to check accessibility and the way your site is able to perform under various circumstances

SiteUptime has monitoring locations across the globe to test the network performance of your website from a comprehensive standpoint. Whether you are a web design or hosting company, or an individual website owner, network performance monitoring can help bring in a customer base you may have previously been missing.

With SiteUptime, your website will be monitored from varied geographical locations like New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. The scheduled testing that occurs from each of these locations will test the functionality of your website and verify any errors that occur.

Unfortunately, without a network performance monitoring system, it is difficult for website owners to effectively track what is going on.

The data you could be missing without network performance monitoring.

Network performance monitoring not only assists business owners in maintaining their e-consumer base through the knowledge of when their site is down, but it also offers an important mass of data that may otherwise be missed.

Shopping Cart Functionality

As a business that allows for online shopping, knowing if your customers are able to use their shopping carts and purchase their selections without error is integral to ensuring that customers can buy your products.

Uptime

As mentioned earlier, a website that is up 99% of the time is still down seven hours out of the month.

Studies have shown that 78% of customers have left without a sale or purchase due to bad service on a website, so knowing the amount of time that your site is properly working is key to understanding what you’re missing out on.

Website Visitors

Knowing how many people visit your website can also help business owners understand what functionalities can best provide service to their customers.

Similarly, business owners are able to tailor their specific web packages to match the hits they are getting.

Broken Links

Remember that blog you posted in 2012? The internet does, though you may not. That specific blog can still be getting hits in 2016 and onwards if your SEO is still hitting the right marks.

It’s not reasonable for you to have an eye on every single link you’ve ever used to ensure that it is still working, but a network performance monitoring system is able to do so for you.

Page Speed

Knowing how quickly your page loads can help you understand whether or not customers are likely to stick around until your website is fully accessible to them. As we all remember the days of dial-up, slow web access is not something to be desired.

Network performance monitoring enables you to understand why your website is slow and what you can do about it to increase the success of your website and, as a result, your business.

The top 4 reasons your website is down

Server Overload

Once of the top reasons that websites go down is because of a server overload.

This is sometimes seen as a “good problem” to be having, as it means that too many people are trying to access your website at the same time. Though there is room for celebration (you are getting tons of new customers after all), you must ask yourself why you aren’t able to serve all of those customers.

Another common cause of server overloads is because your website is under attack by a hacker or group of hackers. These overloads, called DOS (Denial Of Service), occur when a hacker uses multiple computers that are often infected with viruses to view your website at the same time, causing your website to go down as a result of the overwhelming demand and traffic.

Hacking

In relation to DOS attacks, hackers can cause your website to go down for a multitude of reasons. When your web security is compromised through accidental leaks of information, hackers can take down your website to retrieve your data and create harmful waves felt throughout your business.

Client database information, bank access, and other key components to your business may become compromised without the proper network safety being practiced.

Coding Errors

Another common reason for sites to go down is an error in coding. Though your developers should be working to prevent problems happening within the coding of your websites, errors can and will occur.

When a circumstance is not properly tested and prepared for, it is possible for the “perfect storm” to come together and cause your site to go down if all the right conditions are met that you coding is not ready to handle.

Datacenter Problems

As most websites use data centers to store their information and run their site on the backend, it is not uncommon for these centers to experience errors and downtime of their own. If a natural disaster occurs in the area of your center, this is an unavoidable reason for your website to go down.

In these cases, clear communication is needed to work with the center to get things up and running again.

We’re here to help.

SiteUptime is here to provide you with unbeatable network performance monitoring services for competitive prices.

We are also here to support our customers with educational information that can help with the way you understand how to protect your information online and how to better your website all through our blog content. Our comprehensive FAQ page also holds tons of valuable information for you.

To get started with network performance monitoring on your site, contact us!