What You Must Know About Best Value Cloud Hosting Before 2016

Yesterday we transitioned a customer from an existing hosting provider that was bought out. I won’t mention the hosting provider to protect them from embarrassment. Since the new company took over, uptime for him was spotty. Yesterday it was 4 hours of downtime – he wasn’t thrilled and moved quickly to find a better home for his websites.

Changes in the Cloud Hosting services industry could put you at the same risk. Learn what a leading industry analyst says you should be doing to protect yourself.

Future Considerations For Cloud Hosted Servers and Websites

2016-Cloud-Risk

During a Gartner Conference, VP/Distinguished Analyst Lydia Leong presented on Cloud trends for IaaS – and hinted that smaller less strategic cloud providers were in many cases moving away from offering Cloud Based services. 

It’s difficult to stay competitive in the Cloud services market, because of cost. She suggests discussing with the providers you engage for Cloud Services about their future plans. Specifically if you depend on a provider for a service, find out what their road map is and how soon they will notify you if they choose to discontinue that service.

Providing hosting service isn’t something Hostek just started to do, it’s what we have done and will continue doing for years. Our customers can be secure knowing that we will continue to deliver the same great services for years to come.

Utilize The Entire Cloud Hosting Stack For Best Value

To differentiate themselves in a growing market, providers had to develop additional services and ways to assist IT and Development teams. It is a huge commitment for a company to move from doing things the way they always had – without a tradeoff.

These are “Value Added” services offered by most hosting providers today for example “Managed Hosting”. Substantial benefits could be realized when fully using the tools and other features available through their primary provider.

When our customers begin utilizing the tools and services we build to make their lives easier their productivity is maximized. These features (a few listed below) however don’t cost more they are built right into our VPS pricing and plans.

  • Control panel
  • Automated backups
  • Managed DNS (with DDOS Protection from CloudFlare)

We believe this is a best value VPS offering. Using them will substantially increase the value they provide as a hosted service.

Hostek will continue to move towards expanding both our performance and features. We want to make customers aware of the new things we’re doing and recently released updates to our Windows VPS control panel.

We want to be the strategic partner and best value hosting provider that businesses need in 2016. This is a great time to plan for your hosting success.

Free Infrastructure Consultations

How can hostek help you plan for a successfull 2016? Tweet your answer or consult with a VPS/Cloud Server expert today.

 

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Adding domains to your Windows based VPS has never been easier!

Having the right tools for the job is often the key to getting a job done successfully.

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Providing you with the right tools is a key goal for us.  Below I will outline a few new enhancements you will notice to the Control Panel for our Windows based VPS plans.

Customers often tell us we have the best Control Panel.  The feedback you provide helps us keep making improvements and adding new features.

Based on this feedback, a few new enhancements are outlined below:

VPS Add Domain – To accommodate new features and to make adding domains to your Windows based VPS even easier, we have split the Add Domain screen into a Basic and Advanced tab.  The Basic option lets you add a new domain with 1 simple step.

The Advanced option gives you further control over what is setup, not setup, etc.

Default Site Templates – As a new feature for the Advanced option for adding a domain to your Windows VPS, you can pre-define a “site template” and put common files that each new domain should get within that “site template” folder.

Windows VPS Firewall UI Change – To make the Windows Firewall management easier, we have separated this into a Basic and Advanced section.   The Basic section allows for the editing of the common firewall rules, while the Advanced allows you to easily manage all of the firewall rules.

Here at Hostek.com we are committed to providing the best hosting service, fantastic customer support and great tools needed to make managing your hosting needs easier.

Our custom Control Panel is utilized by our Windows VPS plans, ColdFusion VPS plans and our Lucee VPS plans.

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Cloud Hosting Reliability and Rich Options Lead In Survey

Reliability counts – almost nothing else matters. If you don’t have stability and uptime for your hosting then nothing else matters.

Good reliability can also lead you to buy other services, because users trust their experience. For 18 years we have provided hosting solutions. For a big portion of that time we forged reliable ColdFusion VPS and Shared Hosting. A customer recently told me.

“Your ColdFusion Hosting is why I’m turning to you for everything else.”  – Tom Manners  (Owner | Developer @ Liquid Networks LLC)

Now we want to take this same vigor to provide the best hosting, not only for ColdFusion but also for Windows VPS and cPanel VPS hosting. We’re on a mission to be the best hosting value in the world.

What we learned from HUNDREDS of people like you!

We recently did a survey of approximately 500 Windows Server Enthusiasts. This list included Developers, Managers and experts within subsets of those fields. Companies ranged from small mom and pop shops to fortune 500 companies like ConocoPhilips, Verizon and CVS.

Not ONE of the (non Hostek) customers’ survey said they loved  their hosting provider. 

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Hosting has a long way to come. The market has so much room for improvement and that amazing space is available for any hosting company to take. We want it.

We asked people to describe their problems with hosting, and also asked them to rank their most important requirements. Hands down reliability is #1. But we also found something interesting – when we took the limits off and let people describe their frustrations an overwhelming number described what their perfect hosting would provide.

We have a clue why, but first here’s some metrics and our initial take away.

Developers and Managers want Easy To Control Hosting

Based on text responses related to top frustrations we broke down comments into categories. Problems, Management, Support, Control and Cost. Here’s how they ranked:

dev_mgr_wishesWe believe that what these users are saying is:

I want to be in control of web hosting – put easy to use tools in my hands. Eliminate common problems for me. Care for my servers like I would. Reassure me with options and some details about updates and security. Be there – fast, friendly and helpful for me when I need support. Cost is a factor but only slightly.

Simple Usability & Rich Optional Hosting Features

We asked the question again – what else came to mind when dealing with frustrations related to hosting. The resounding answer was – simple overall control of infrastructure with the ability to add or manage more advanced features.

Over 48% of those who responded said again Control of the infrastructure was very important to them. These are Managers and Developers who are hosting in-house (44.12%) or utilize Cloud Server Hosting and Virtual Private Server Hosting (55.58%).

Without hosting reliability these highly desired features are meaningless. 

This is what keeps people from pursuing the awesome control they really want. Emergencies are taking precedence over the freedom to code applications and get work done.

We’re working hard to transform our services and maximize reliability and value.

Hostek Ramps Up Reliability and Control for Cloud Servers

We’ve recently implemented tremendous updates to our infrastructure adding 10Gbit throughout. And we’re in the testing phase for rolling out new more reliable firewall systems that enable us to maximize security and reliability for customers.

There’s also many new features we’ve recently added to our control panel to make managing domains and servers even easier!

Hostek was able to make an impact in Coldfusion developers lives by providing an awesome dependable service. We want to do the same in other areas. We would love to hear from you.

How can hostek help you solve hosting problems you have today? Tweet your answer or consult with a VPS/Cloud Server expert today.

 

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3 ways cPanel VPS allow you to do 10x more

Linux is by far the most widely used OS for web hosting. One time I heard a story about a Linux server that was left behind in new construction. It remained online for years, behind a wall and ran without trouble.

Can you ask for better reliability than that – years with no trouble?

When you shop web-hosting setting up and managing your own web server can get 10 times (or more) complicated as you begin adding services like Apache, FTP and others. A cPanel VPS removes most (almost all) of this complexity for you.

You can read a bit more from our wiki about Automated Updates.

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Read this first if you’re not familiar with cPanel

cPanel is a control panel for managing all parts of a Linux server, specifically for web hosting needs. It allows you manage websites and services commonly needed by website owners. Services like FTP, MySQL DNS and more. All managed easily through a web browser instead of through manually editing configuration files.

With cPanel you don’t have to be a server guru to easily care for and manage a host of otherwise complicated separate services.


So if you’re shopping for cPanel VPS Hosting you need to read this.

A cPanel VPS can do lots, email, web, database and more better. Here’s how:

  1. Updates: There’s two types of updates that cPanel can handle for you. One that your hosting provider will have to manage for you – the kernel (or core of the operating system). cPanel however manages and allows for automatic updates of security patches related to the major parts of the operating system keeping it secure. The other part is services running such as PHP and Apache, it provides it’s own tested versions of updates. With the cPanel team producing these tested updates for system and services – you don’t have to be so worried that your server will break.
  2. Services You Need: If you need to get a web-server running there’s a good chance you’ll need FTP, Email, DNS and Database access. cPanel gives you these without having to learn something new and frustrating. Things like managing DNS become something you can configure in a web-browser. Adding a new database is easy. If you were to have to configure each of these by scratch – the installation alone would take 10 times as long. That doesn’t include securing each of these properly. You’re going to save HOURS of time – guaranteed.
  3. Advanced Items: Chances are you’ll also need to setup SSL and for email DKIM and SPF records. These more complicated areas are made easy, right inside the management areas of cPanel for domains. And if you want to tune or configure something specific for your applications re-configuring Apache, DNS or specific parts of these services can be done through WHM (the server management part) of cPanel – still very easy to use.

And more.. 

There’s other great features they provide also, like auto configuring popular applications like WordPress and Magento. The cPanel website  explains some of this.

If your interested in WordPress, we have quite a comprehensive guide in our wiki.

I would highly consider getting your own cPanel VPS to try it out. If you are a web development firm, you can easily stay competitive with other firms offering hosting services by having your own cPanel server.

The icing on the cake

What can give you 20 or 30x the value that having a cPanel VPS alone can provide ns a support team for your server that understands hosting. Hostek had been providing hosting for over 17 years so if your trying to decide what type of Cloud Server, VPS Server or Dedicated Server for hosting – consider this. Managed servers is one thing, but a support team that understands hosting can be a force multiplier.

What else we do that makes a HUGE difference

There’s more that we do, that complement the hosting parts like Backups, and monitoring your server for you. This is all included in the Hostek managed VPS Hosting plans and we’re glad to talk  to you about that too.

Let us help you with your cPanel VPS Hosting today. If you need consulting to see if a cPanel VPS is a good fit for your company schedule a no-hassle consultation here.

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Why Learning New Application Stacks Can Help Your Company Grow

We sponsored the Tulsa Tech Fest 2015 event in Tulsa OK, today. This was a local event for IT and Developers. It caters primarily to those using Microsoft Windows developer tools and environments. Being a Windows Hosting provider at our roots, we fit nicely. We service all sorts of environments today.

Learning a new application stack can help you specialize & hone your purpose. Learning new application stacks can help your business grow too.

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It Helps You Serve A Niche Market

Almost all web-hosting is now automated. To serve customers and clients it’s not only important to have “hosting” but now it’s important to have types of hosting.

If you’re a web-design company, you might be asked to work on a Windows VPS moving new clients files to your platform of choice. That may be out of your comfort zone, but if you have experience it can give you an advantage.

Being a developer that has roots in one language, but dabbled in another for fun or professional reasons have these benefits:

  • Familiarity with a variety of development communities
  • Comfortable with common problems and potential solutions
  • Understands more of the help, support and troubleshooting materials

Specializing is great. Mastering a craft is good. You can differentiate yourself by having experience that helps your clients have an advantage – in you.

We were very glad to support a local conference and excited to meet new people in the Tulsa area and hear what they are doing.

I personally also enjoyed giving a talk on Node.JS and IIS. It was a great opportunity to show how easy it was to deploy a website through our Windows Contorl Panel, on a Windows VPS.

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You can get the  slide deck here.

There were so many tracks from REST to business development. But we take our hats off to the Tulsa Tech Fest team. They did a fantastic job creating a place to help developers differentiate themselves.

 

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Three Rules For Guaranteed Web Hosting Success

So much has changed since the days when all you could get was “web hosting”. It probably cost you around $10 bucks. Now there are platforms for just about everything. Tailored services have a purpose. I wouldn’t want to go back to the days of $10 hosting. But tailored service can be a huge disappointment.

How do you choose from the beginning a set of services, that guarantee your best chances of success online?

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Let me explain some of the clutter, so you can easily cut through it.

Ultra Specific, Ultra Cool & 3 x as expensive

We as a society have bought into the idea, that because providers tout a specific purpose it must be worth 3 x the value. That’s why I stopped using DropBox, their business solutions (multi-user) was just not priced reasonably for file saving/sharing.

Within the more Mature Hosting markets, you’ll notice this assumption:

“Since we offer all three super cool services, we can charge 3 x for all three.”

We didn’t jump on board and price things 3 x higher. We aren’t planning on that either.

Cool doesn’t mean perfect, and doesn’t guarantee more reliability. Google is even cool, but one of the best developers I know dropped the Google Compute Engine, because service overall it wasn’t a great fit – he still had to manage the server (without much free time).

The Best Hosting Solution Is Value Driven

We’ve worked with enough people to know what recipe works for a crew who:

  • Values Their Personal Time
    • Play hard
    • Enjoys personal adventures & time doing what they love
  • Values Their Customers Time and Business
    • Eliminates stress of running online business
    • Follows standards so they don’t miss out on more business
  • Values Their Business Success
    • Minimizes waste
    • Loves seeing their business or projects grow

This group of owners and developers seem to know what works best for them. They build a pattern. Their pattern might include a Windows VPS for websites and second Windows VPS with MSSQL. Or ColdFusion Shared Hosting for development and ColdFusion VPS with MySQL for their production sites.

The Better Way To Create, Manage Websites

I spoke to a IT Manager who was convinced of a specific way to do things. Not because it was proven, because the opposite proved to be unreliable – so his conclusion was the other way must be better. It doesn’t work that way.

Here’s a simple way to look at how you can revolutionize how you host. If this resonates with you, it’s because you are one of those who value personal, customer and business success like I mentioned.

  1. What services provide the minimum of my needs?
  2. Do I have the advantage of their support when / if I need it?
  3. What do they offer that helps me skip things I’d rather not worry about?

Everything we do @Hostek we’re particular about it meeting this criteria. Purpose driven hosting, that fits real people.

If you search and buy with those three goals, you’re putting yourself way above enticing messages. If you need someone to talk to about your project, we’re glad to help. Contact sales or consult for enterprise or VPS solutions.

 

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Update for Windows Control Panel – Firewall, FTP and Resellers

We are excited to mention a few new features that have been added to Mocha Panel, for Windows Hosting, Reseller and Windows VPS Hosting.

We listened, customers said they wanted more control to setup and manage domains, their customers and servers how they want. So we changed a few things, here’s the list we hope you enjoy.

You can demo the Mocha Panel here or the Reseller features here.

No Default FTP

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Ability for Windows VPS customers to change whether FTP accounts will be created by default when setting up new domains. They can change this option in the service groups tool of the VPS manager section. They can also override this when creating a domain by checking the “Add FTP” checkbox.

New Reseller  Domain List UI

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The Windows Reseller domain list now has a dropdown for the type of filtering they want to do, and a drop down for the available servers they’re using. They can also filter the list by text, and by customer.

This applies to resellers of shared accounts at this time, and soon to be pushed out to our resellers using Windows VPS to host domains.

Advanced Firewall Management for VPS

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Windows VPS customers can now delete and edit ALL firewall rules (excluding our backup and control panel rules) as well as add new firewall rules.

This addition is powerful:

  • Add, remove, delete, modify control of Windows Firewall rules
  • Filter by protocol, port, or any text related to a rule to quickly navigate through the rules and enable only what you want.

We’re very excited about these new features. If you have more suggestions or questions about our Windows Control Panel – don’t hesitate to submit a feature request through a support ticket.

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Why backups & replication are important and you should care

Conversations about backups don’t come up often. Planning for backups is normally discussed at the beginning of a project, and during disaster – not too much in between.

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Something my Visual Basic teacher in college said, reminding me to save a project to floppy – as a backup. A few days after not taking his advice I lost my homework.

Why Backups Matter

Loss may come in many different forms, here’s some of the likely reasons you can & will lose data:

  • Deleted files
  • Corrupted files
  • Corrupted Operating System*
  • Modified Files (such as being SQL injected)

*Remember – If your shared, dedicated or virtual private server hosting has crashed, you may not have the opportunity to get direct access to the original disks to get files off.

Replication Can Protect You Too (Advanced)

The only way to be sure a business can survive a hosting outage at their primary location, is have a second location. Most people believe this isn’t necessary – but we believe it’s good practice.

Here’s some of the most common, and best ways we see people replicating their data.

File Replication:

Keeping lots of files in sync takes a ton of CPU. The best overall method isn’t real-time, but instead a script that just copies/syncs everything periodically.

  • Microsoft Server – For small sync or copy projects, a VPN and xcopy or robocopy seem to work most effectively. For those using Active Directory, DFS is an excellent choice for distributing files across multiple servers – you should have a hefty network connection if your files changed often.
  • Linux – similarly a VPN and rsync work great.

Database Replication:

  • SQL Server – it’s cost prohibitive for smaller businesses to utilize the Standard and Enterprise SQL products so we find it’s most effective to utilize Log Shipping with SQL Web. There’s some work involved in setting up, and making the failover server your primary, but for the protection it offers, it’s worth it.
  • MongoDB & MySQL – The easiest form of replication is Master / Slave. That means that the master will handle the reading and writing and pass off change to the slave. In some cases you can utilize the slave for read operations.

We absolutely recommend replicating files and databases to another geographic location – for mission critical websites.

VPS & Web-hosting Backup Service

Some hosting providers do include backups as part of their Shared Hosting and Virtual Private Server Hosting. In my experience there’s a few different common options:

  • Shared/cloud disk for backups (they provide storage, you backup what you want)
  • Snapshots (snapshot whole server, no file based restores)
  • Automated backups (full/file based restores)

There’s likely to be dozens of variations to the above common options.

At Hostek we believe backups are critical – so much so that we backup & replicate almost everything. Every VPS and Shared Hosting account is backed up. We use R1Soft to manage backups because it provides:

  • Full server restores
  • File based restores (single file, single database tables etc)
  • Easy management

But we don’t stop there. All disks with the exception of special purpose disks are replicated to other hardware so we (and you) are protected from disk failures. And it means we can recover full server images, from snapshots in a hurry!

Your Protection Is Critical

Please don’t take backups lightly. In addition to your backups that your hosting provides, keep your files backed up locally, on your computer at your company. If you ever need them, you’ll confidently have them.

If you need help planning a strategic backup solution – in conjunction with a single or multiple hosting accounts or servers we’re here to help. Setup a zero hassle consultation for VPS accounts, or contact our sales team for more information on Shared Hosting.

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Are you still using Windows 2003 server?

Windows Server 2003 – End of Support – Upgrade

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Protect your business and upgrade to Windows 2012 R2 very soon.

By running out of date software, you take the unnecessary risk of causing potential loss to your business.  We strongly urge you to upgrade from Windows Server 2003 right away.

Hostek has helped numerous companies upgrade to Windows 2012 R2.  Many of these companies are moving away from old hardware they have and taking this opportunity to move to the Cloud at the same time.

With our great cloud platform, redundant storage, awesome control panel and backed by an amazing support team, Hostek is the perfect solution to take care of your current and growing needs.

Do yourself a favor and schedule a free, truly no pressure, server consultation today with one of our server solutions experts.  Whether you find we’re the right fit for you or not, you will be glad you learned a proven path for your server needs.  We are here to help!

Posted in Windows Hosting | Comments Off on Are you still using Windows 2003 server?

How to setup, secure and scale MongoDB on Windows Server

Downloading an installer, and running a through the setup are the most common steps for a basic installation. Even for database systems. But for learning something new, that might end up in production, it’s important to consider how to setup, secure and scale the platform – in this case MongoDB.

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Last week we published a guide on installing Node.js on Windows and using iisnode to facilitate connections through IIS. Making the same assumption, that as an organization you’re committed to Microsoft Server products this article is for you.

For this example I’ll use our Windows VPS server platform. I suggest the Silver Windows VPS Plan  if you want to try these steps out for yourself. Some requirements might include the need for a separate instance to for mongoDB exclusively. We can talk about that toward the end – under scaling mongoDB.

Installing mongoDB on Windows

We will install mongoDB as a service in Windows so we can control the user it runs as, easily restart it, or set recovery parameters. Download the latest release.

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Be sure the version matches your platform. There’s already excellent “How to install MongoDB on Windows” instructions at the mongoDB website so here’s the link.

  • The initial instructions don’t cover installing it as a service, so skip ahead about 1/2 way down to the title: Configure a Windows Service for MongoDB
  • Also the instructions mention installing at c:\mongodb, during installation you will need to customize the path to match their examples.
  • You might opt to change the data directory for db and logs as well. To keep things tidy I decided to create it in the root folder for mongoDB: c:\mongodb\data

Production Specific Settings:

I strongly encourage anyone to review the production related notes. Quickly scanning through them there are some changes to the pagefile and tcp keep alive time. Although if you’re not planning for a heavy or mission critical load this can probably be left alone. I did set the keep alive time.

See: To view the keep alive setting
One particular setting regarding Windows Virtual machines is modifying the keepalive time, which you can do quickly with this one command:

reg add HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\ /v KeepAliveTime /d 0x0124c0

Service Adjustments

We recommend adjusting the service recovery to restart on failure. That way if something goes wrong Windows can attempt to restart the mongoDB service without your help. You can do this by opening services, properties, changing the failure actions to “restart”.

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Security

MongoDB by default runs without requiring authentication. This is quite different from the traditional relational database installation defaults. MongoDB documents are very explicit about this, and describe that mongoDB is by default for use in “TRUSTED” environments. Meaning, with secured ports or only accessible on local networks.

These are also areas that should be explored, for more security:

Scaling mongoDB (optional):

There are also many ways to scale your mongoDB setup. The first is by performance gains through additional RAM, storage etc. The “hardware” specs, that can easily be changed. These are covered in the production related notes.

Second is through creating a Master/Slave replication. Which seems very similar to MySQL Master/Slave setup except mongoDB seems to handle the initial sync process nicely.

There’s also Replica Sets and Sharding. These are beyond the scope of setting up a new mongoDB installation but as needs grow, these are well documented solutions that don’t cost a penny – just take time and in some cases lots of servers.

Testing your installation

Now that you’ve got mongo running, you can test your installation from the command line by running: mongo

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 3.19.50 PM

You should see output similar to the screenshot above.

Overall mongoDB is impressive, easy to install but should be treated as any other database system, carefully and with thought.

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