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  • Website Performance Optimization

    No comments February 11th, 2016 0 View(s)

    Ideally, your website is your greatest tool for marketing and sales.  It is the face of your company and typically the first thing your viewers/future customers will see.  It is essential that your website’s performance is professional and top-notch, as sub-par performance can easy frustrate today’s tech-savvy audience and cause them to move on to the next option.

    A landing page cuts out the middle man.  That way when a viewer reaches your site through a second party ad or a search for a specific phrase, instead of being directed to your site’s main page, they will instead end up on the page with the topic they were searching for.  The landing page goes the extra step in customer convenience.

    Make sure your homepage is clear and concise.  Its job is to convey the intrinsic message of your site and then direct the viewers to the appropriate pages.  Either an overload of information or too little information will result in a confused viewer.  Let them know what your site it about and then designate clear pathways to more specific pages.

    Social media is, without question, an excellent way to boost performance.  But this is more involved than merely including links to your Facebook or Twitter pages.  If you have interactive content, blogs, or newsletters, include the option to share the content on those social media platforms.  This is an easy way to interact with your viewer and let them share their interest.

    Along the same lines as interactive content, give your viewers a reason to return.  A regularly updated blog, user-generated content, or several pages that change on a weekly basis (at least) will keep your viewers returning to check out new information.

    It is important for you to stay up-to-date on your traffic, the average amount of time spent on your website, the last page visited before leaving, your conversation rate etc.  SmarterStats monitors traffic habits and helps you locate areas to adjust or improve on.

    Speed is another intrinsic part of maintaining reader interest.  Some general tips for speeding up your performance: reduce image size, use a content delivery network, take advantage of caching, and minimize HTTP requests.  For this last tip (minimize HTTP requests), you will need to download every file (CSS, JavaScript, and images) your site uses to the browser.  Condensing all CSS files into one single spreadsheet will also have great benefits for the speed of your website’s performance.

     

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  • Scheduled Weekend Windows Server Maintenance

    No comments February 9th, 2016 1 View(s)

    Beginning at 9PM MST on Sunday, February, 14th we will be performing thorough maintenance and standard cleanup on our Windows Web servers and SQL servers. The following maintenance activities will be executed on our servers over the weekend…

    • Cleaning of ASP.NET temporary directories and other temp directories
    • PHP and 3rd party components updates
    • GeoIP database update
    • Windows Updates
    • Update MySQL to v5.7.11
    • Update PHPMyAdmin to latest version
    • RAID subsystem driver update (web servers only)

    This maintenance period will apply to the following server systems…

    • WEB12
    • WEB13
    • WEB14
    • WEB15
    • WEB16
    • MSSQL
    • MYSQL

    During the maintenance period each server may be unavailable or sporadically online. We expect 15 – 30 minutes per server. We appreciate your patience during this period. No other servers or systems will be affected by this.

    Scheduled Date: 02-15-2016
    Scheduled Time:
     4:00 AM UTC
    Max Outage Duration: 30 minutes per server

    Thank you for choosing ASPnix as your web hosting provider!

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  • Popular WordPress Plugins

    No comments February 9th, 2016 7 View(s)

    Choosing a theme and plugins for your WordPress blog can be the fun part of setting up your site, but it can also be overwhelming with thousands of possible plugins available and new ones being developed every day. Here are some of the most popular and useful plugins we have found:

    Yoast SEO works as a built-in editor to encourage and promote the best writing. It walks you through techniques for readable and consistent content by having you choose a focus keyword for each article as you write it and then making sure you continue to use the keyword throughout your writing. It goes on to show you examples of what your post will look like in search results, giving you an edge on competition to increase rankings. The Page Analysis plugin works as a final copy editor to check that your posts are the optimal length, if your images contain an alt tag with the focus keyword, and if the meta description also contains that keyword. All in all, this plugin optimizes your content for search engines.

    wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbFor improving your webpage’s performance and speed, Zen Cache is designed to reduce download time, optimize progressive rendering, reduce the loading time for pages, and more. Search engine rankings will improve with the speed of your site.

    BackupBuddy is a secure and complete option for complete reassurance that in case of a catastrophe you will not lose anything from your database, media library, theme files, and so on.  Automated backups are easy to set up and will be quick to restore in the case of emergency.

    A great plugin for easily adding nearly any type of online forms, from contact forms to surveys and user submitted posts, is Gravity Forms. It is very popular, in use on over one million WordPress sites.

    Ultimate Branding promotes your logo, company name, and so forth across your network in place of any WordPress branding. It makes your site feel more unified and consistent. The best part is that this plugin does all the fussy work for you, so you won’t have to worry about writing a single code.

    A helpful plugin for reducing spam is Akismet, which automatically catches comments that look like spam and allows you to review the filtered comments.

    Envira Gallery is an aesthetically clean and pleasing plugin to create beautiful image galleries. If your site is photography related or tends to be picture heavy, this plugin simplifies the business with responsive design, fast loading, and stunning effects. It even offers a helpful free version, so you can try out some of the features right away.

    Sucuri provides malware protection by blocking attacks, identifying spam, and preventing intrusions. It gives you real time alerts to keep you updated with any causes for concern. When it comes to website security, it is always better to be safer than sorry.

    Another excellent way of tightening security on your site is Login Lockdown. This plugin limits the amount of failed attempts a user receives. This is helpful for deterring hack attempts, as most are focused on breaking your password by entering multiple combinations.

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  • MX01 SmarterMail Upcoming Scheduled Maintenance

    No comments February 9th, 2016 1 View(s)

    We will be updating our MX01 server to the latest build of SmarterMail on Saturday the 13th at 10PM MST. We expect the upgrade to take about 20 – 30 minutes. This is a custom build that addresses the issue of duplication of sent email when using EWS.

    Scheduled Date: 02-14-2016
    Scheduled Time:
     5:00 AM – 5:30 AM UTC
    Max Outage Duration: 30 Minutes

    If you have any questions or concerns please contact our support department.

    Thank you again for choosing ASPnix as your web hosting provider!

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  • The Benefits of Minecraft Game Server Hosting

    No comments February 9th, 2016 2 View(s)

    There are many benefits of renting a server to play Minecraft on instead of hosting it independently on your own computer. The game process takes up a significant amount of space on RAM, CPU, and bandwidth, not to mention the strain that multiple players will have on the speed of your internet connection. Odds are you will end up lagging and spending your time frustrated instead of enjoying the game with your friends.

    minecraft-blockA Minecraft hosting server is built specifically to maintain that high activity, with fast internet connections and uptime improvements. This is a much less stressful option in comparison to owning your own Minecraft server host, which would require an extensive understanding of networking computers as well as having to leave your host computer turned on and connected to the internet at all times – which can lead to overheating and other complications.

    Minecraft hosting servers are specifically built to support smooth gameplay and make your experience headache free.

    Our game servers are affordable and have a 14 day money-back guarantee. All our servers have as standard features SSD-based RAID storage, multicraft Control Panel, unlimited storage, no overselling, unlimited slots and more!

    While there is no limit on the amount of players who can join your server, we offer recommendations for the optimal number of members for each increment of RAM.  Each of these recommendations has been tested internally to ascertain the best performance level to support that amount of players.

    We offer many benefits and options for optimizing your gaming experience.  The bottom line is that our Minecraft hosting server gives you a lag-free, headache-free, fast, and fun gameplay with your friends!

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  • Using Design to Promote Readability

    No comments February 3rd, 2016 2 View(s)

    An important aspect of running a blog or a text-heavy website is readability. This is the concept of keeping a reader interested with an understandable flow of progression and alleviated strain on the eyes.    

    To start off with, avoid large blocks of text.  These are intimidating and also difficult to read as it is easy to lose your place.  Separate your text out into multiple paragraphs.  This will help ease the intimidation factor of a wall of text as well as provide natural breaks for different topics.  Adding in pictures or graphics (with a buffer border to keep the text from crowding around it) or breaking items into bulleted lists will also provide some white space and metaphorical “breathing room” for the eyes.

    An easy way to point out the proper path of vision is changing font size.  A step beyond this, text hierarchy, uses several sizes to differentiate between titles, headers of sections, and the body.  This keeps the text organized and clear.

    Bolding or italicizing for emphasis can be a tasteful addition, as long as it is used sparsely and specifically.  Inserting bolded or italicized words creates an invisible category in the reader’s mind, so be sure to keep it consistent.  In other words, if you have been bolding terms that you then define, avoid bolding, for instance, a warning or exclamation, as it will feel out of place to the reader and be distracting.

    Emphasizing with all capitalized letters is usually a bad idea.  While it certainly draws attention, it can make the word hard to read and can slow down the reader’s train of thought.  In short titles, all caps can be acceptable.

    A fun way to add character and style to your text is through changing the fonts so that, for example, the title is more unique and striking than the body text.  The best way to make sure this is complementary and not distracting is to keep all of the fonts within the same font family.  If your body text uses a sans-serif font (as is typical on the web), look for a title or header font that is also sans-serif.  This is an easy trick for finding fonts that look excellent together.

    Your line-length or measure ideally should be between 65 and 75 characters.  Any longer will make it difficult for the reader’s eyes to find the continuation of the sentence from line to line.

    Be aware of your audience.  If you need to use a word they might not be familiar with, provide a definition in a non-demeaning way.  A simple rephrasing of the word within parentheses immediately after its use is a safe way to make sure you and your readers are on the same page.

    Kerning is the space between specific characters in a sequence.  Letters like “A” “V” and “W” fit well with most other letters, but put alongside each other can be too wide, creating an awkward space in the middle of a word.  This is where kerning comes in.  Most design programs have the ability to adjust pairs one at a time, affecting only the highlighted text.  Before you begin, make sure kerning is turned on in your program’s type preference menu.

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  • ASPnix Client Area – Breaking SSL security changes

    No comments February 2nd, 2016 0 View(s)

    To maintain a high level of security for our customers and their personal details, as well as to maintain our PCI compliance we’ve taken steps to further increase our online security. As of now, TLS 1.0 has been disabled for the client area (billing.aspnix.com). The following browsers and platforms will no longer be able to access billing.aspnix.com.

    • All versions of Android prior to v4.4.2
    • All versions of Internet Explorer on Windows XP
    • Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista
    • Internet Explorer 8 – 10 on Windows 7
    • Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Phone 8
    • Safari versions prior to v6
    • Google Chrome prior to v21
    • Mozilla Firefox prior to v23
    • Opera Browser prior to v9

    If you are running the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari you will be fine. Those that are using browsers that do not support TLS v1.1 or higher, please switch to a better and more supported browser, such as Chrome or Firefox. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our support team members through Live Chat or send us an email to sales@aspnix.com.

    Thank you for choosing ASPnix!

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  • Optimize WordPress Performance

    No comments February 2nd, 2016 3 View(s)

    Whether you are running a WordPress blog for high-traffic business purposes or with a more low-key personal focus, you will want to optimize your performance for smooth and efficient running.

    A universal quick fix option is to install a plugin such as W3 Total CacheWP Super Cache or our personal favorite, Zen Cache to store your blog posts and pages in a static format to be presented to users. This greatly decreases strain on the server’s processing load.

    For shared hosting, your options are slightly limited, but it is still very possible to speed up your site! After caching plugins, look into browser caching. This will decrease the amount of requests per page by storing the unchanging files on the user’s computer, allowing the browser to check if the files have changed rather than automatically requesting them.

    wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbIf you run a site with very high traffic, web server caching is more complicated but promises results.  It offers a wide range of options. On a basic level, it can cache locally in the background while other more complicated systems use multiple caching servers up front where WordPress is actually running.

    Plugins can slow down your performance considerably if you have a large amount or unnecessary plugins. Before you start deleting though, try deactivating each one separately for a time to see the effect on your site’s speed. From there you can discern which plugins to deactivate and delete.

    Optimize your theme by looking for unnecessary images or ones you could replace with text. Having the incorrect format for the type of image can also slow your site down. Check that all image files are optimized with the correct form (JPG/PNG/GIF). Reduce the number of files by merging all CSS files together. A plugin to help minify and condense files is Head Cleaner.

    Offload static files and images (JavaScript or CSS files for example) to a different server. Feeds also are simple to offload.  Google FeedBurner, for example, is a service that takes care of the traffic for you, while still keeping up with feed updates.

    Look into free hosting services, particularly for images.  Flickr and Imgur are both popular options.  The only downside to consider is that corporate networks often block picture hosting websites.  Additionally watch out for the copyright rules in the service’s disclaimer, as you might not want to share your rights to original pictures.

    For virtual hosting and dedicated servers, check back later for a post dedicated to optimizing WordPress performance on those specific servers.

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  • TeamSpeak Upcoming Maintenance

    No comments February 1st, 2016 0 View(s)

    We will be performing scheduled maintenance on all TeamSpeak services shortly to upgrade the service / server to the latest available build. We expect this to take no more than approx. 5 minutes per server.

    The new TeamSpeak server build addresses several bugs as well as a crash scenario. For more information, please view the TeamSpeak announcement here http://forum.teamspeak.com/threads/122857-TeamSpeak-3-Server-3-0-12-released

    Scheduled Date: 02-01-2016
    Scheduled Time:
     8PM UTC
    Max Outage Duration: 5 Minutes

    We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.

    Thank you for choosing ASPnix as your TeamSpeak provider!

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  • An Overview of our KVM Linux Virtual Server

    No comments February 1st, 2016 5 View(s)

    kvmbanner-logo2_srhvnwOur Linux Virtual Server is a reliable, scalable, and very available load balanced software constructed on top of a cluster of real servers. Linux’s operating system runs the load balancer to keep everything running with optimal speed and efficiency. Virtualization is always an ideal option in its ability to increase server utilization and decrease energy costs. The server cluster’s workings are completely visible to the users, who have the ability to interact with it. LVS allows load balancing of web and mail servers as well as other networked services. Potential uses include VOIP, web, email, and media services, managing workloads, organizing storage, reducing costs – the options are as limitless as your creativity!

    The virtual server takes away the inconvenience of having to use up your own storage, while still providing the benefit of complete access for the users, who can interact with it just as if they were personally hosting the server.

    The benefits of using KVM (kernel-based virtual machine) virtualization include the ability to run numerous virtual machines of Linux or Windows. Each virtual machine is complete in itself with its own private hardware. KVM’s loadable kernel module supports the core virtualization infrastructure and a processor specific module. KVM has rapidly become the default open-source system on Linux for creation and the support of virtual machines.

    All of our LVS versions come with KVM virtualization, in addition to many other helpful services such as hardware-based virtualization, high performance SSD, nightly backups, unlimited bandwidth and network transfer, and more

    The Linux Virtual Server’s endless flexibility and on-going growth make it a useful and exciting server to work with.

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