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  • Popular WordPress Plugins

    No comments February 9th, 2016 1 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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  • The Benefits of Minecraft Game Server Hosting

    No comments February 9th, 2016 0 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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  • Optimize WordPress Performance

    No comments February 2nd, 2016 2 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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  • 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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  • Securing your WordPress site, Part 1

    No comments January 30th, 2016 0 View(s)

    Blogs have been an increasingly popular way of distributing information since their inception in the 90’s. They provide many benefits for promoting information, updates, and multimedia sources. Naturally if you are looking to begin promoting your business, services, or your thoughts via a blog, you are going to want a secure, trusted method.

    WordPress has been growing rampantly over the last couple years as a blogging platform. According to Google Trends, interest in WordPress from 2011 to present has been consistently twice that of other blogging sites. Its layout is understandable and has many options for customizing and personalizing. Clearly it is a trusted and effective platform to blog from.

    While WordPress comes with security methods, there are steps you can take to improve the security of your blog and protect it from attacks. Most hackers are not willing to spend much time or effort in breaking into your site. They are looking to compromise your server and use it to email spam. An attack is most effectively deterred by making your site more than averagely inconvenient to the hacker.

    wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbFor starters, avoid using “admin” as a username or part of your username. Most attacks target the username admin with a combination of passwords. Eliminate the first part and you will be protected from the majority of attacks. If you already have that username in use, changing this is fast and easy. Simply create a new user and give it administrator rights. Then delete the old “admin” user and assign past content to this new user so that nothing will be lost in the transition.

    You have probably heard this hundreds of times, but it is worth hearing again: use a complex password. Consider this: the three most common passwords of 2015 are “123456,” “password,” and “12345.” Be ahead of the curve and pick a password that is not on SplashData’s annual list of stolen passwords!

    Change the table prefix from wp_ to something obscure like nho509b_ to make it less accessible to hackers and harder to guess. This might sound complicated to the less tech-savvy, but it can be as easy as a five minute fix. If you are just now setting up your blog, the customization option will be available during the set-up for database details. Simply change the default setting.

    Keep up with updates. WordPress is constantly striving to provide a better blogging platform for your needs. Each new version has updated security methods to address holes found in previous editions. Updated versions are released biannually, with more minor updates released following the two major versions.

    These steps are a good place to begin, but for the best security, you will want a quality hosting company. Nearly half of hacking attempts are due to faulty hosting platforms. If you are using a shared hosting platform, make sure it offers account isolation. This extra layer of protection prevents one account from overloading the server and affecting your website.

    We will soon be posting a more advanced article outlining addition steps you can take to secure your WordPress site, so stay tuned!

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  • SmarterMail and Outlook.com – Making the choice for your email hosting

    No comments January 29th, 2016 5 View(s)

    Selecting an email host is a decision many people make without much research. How hard can it be, right? Try typing “email host” into your search engine and you will quickly find that your selection is not as clear cut as you might have thought. The variety of options might now look overwhelming. We are here to make your decision a little quicker, easier, and more informed.

    SmarterMail vs. Outlook.com

    Outlook.com is one of the popular options for email hosting. It is free and is a common selection for private users, carrying the benefits of familiarity. However, being that it is a free option, clearly Outlook.com is not able to offer the same features as an exchange-level mail server. With a modern set up and basic organization tools, Outlook.com is a good option for personal use and rarely produces cause for complaint.

    However when it comes to time-saving fea tures, efficiency, and a business-professional program, you are going to want to look a little further.

    64-largeOutlook.com may keep spam levels in your inbox around 3%, but the built-in anti-spam Message Sniffer offered in SmarterMail protects you from just over 99% of spam. Outlook.com might be free, but SmarterMail’s affordable price is more than worthwhile.

    The features offered in SmarterMail are designed to make your day-to-day business communication and organizations smooth and effortless.

    Planning an event with multiple people? SmarterMail can sync your calendar with calendars shared with you, offering easy coordination at a glance. Additionally, with a checkmark system, you can choose to view native and shared tasks, contacts, and notes simultaneously. Headaches over availability and planning are a thing of the past.

    Included in SmarterMail’s email server is our fully integrated instant message system. This allows you and your domain users instant communication. Quick and convenient, it keeps you up-to-date on co-worker availability and promotes speedy communication without the hassle of group emails or not knowing if your message has been received. Outlook.com offers a similar feature, but it only works if your contacts are synced with Skype. SmarterMail’s system is connected with the email host so that, regardless of other programs, all your users will have access to it.

    Another helpful feature SmarterMail offers is the disposable alias option for when you need to sign up briefly for a website or newsletter but don’t want to increase your spam. At the end of a time limit, the randomly assigned address expires and your inbox remains as spam-free as before!

    Still not convinced? SmarterMail offers all the features listed above and more! Try out a demo trial run to see if it fits for you. Some features have been disabled for security purposes, but you will still get an excellent idea of SmarterMail’s benefits!

    For a business, the ideal server is one with a more professional front without distracting ads, with quick communication, with excellent security protocol, and which connects calendars, contacts, tasks, and notes from any location. SmarterMail offers only the best.

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  • Top 7 web design trends you must know for your website

    No comments January 27th, 2016 3 View(s)

    The internet is an ever changing, ever developing platform in which creativity can soar with few boundaries or limitations. As such, web design is also a fluid stage for new ideas and vivid imagination. While this is an exciting concept, it can also be daunting. Where to begin? What is outdated and what is considered modern? Where is the line between eye-catching and obnoxious?

    The design for a webpage needs first and foremost to convey the intended information. If a font is perfect for your site’s playful attitude, but is difficult for the viewer to read, then it is not doing its job. If the colors grab the viewer’s information, but go against the mood you are trying to set, the design is going to be counterintuitive.

    Web design trends change quickly and can be difficult to keep up with. We’re here to help! Here are some of the most popular trends we are seeing in web design:

    Long scroll UI patterns provide a natural path for the eye to follow and allow the designer to decide the most beneficial order to convey information. It is an easy interface for the user to interact with and encourages viewers to look at the entirety of the website as the design naturally sparks curiosity.

    Creative animations for loading, hovering, hidden navigation screens, motion action, galleries etc. Animations draw the eyes and hold attention. They have the benefit of keeping a viewer interested while waiting for loading, encouraging the eye’s path along a page, and generally making formerly static images more interesting and engaging. Additionally they add personality and an opportunity for creativity.

    Micro-interactions engage the user and affirm their actions. It helps the users see the results of their actions, engages them in communication, and can provide tips for maneuvering. Ideally these interactions occur seamlessly and without distracting from the information provided. Simplicity is key.

    Card design is growing more popular as the use of Pinterest sky-rockets. The interface is familiar, easy to use, and an excellent way to display a large amount of information in an organized and aesthetically pleasing manner.

    Cinemagraphs are the classier version of GIFs, bringing static pictures to life with minimal motion. These pictures have fewer limitations than GIFs and are less distracting and more mature.

    Bold typography makes a quick and effective statement about your website’s mood and focus, while establishing your site as modern and unique. Even websites that are strictly focused on business benefit from eye-catching typography. With web fonts becoming more widely accessible, web designers are becoming bolder, making full use of the available tools.

    According to Forbes, Natural stock photography use in web design is on the rise. Pictures are a classic method of catching attention and creating a connection with the viewer. But typical stock photos are boring and easily dismissed. Eye-catching, awe-inspiring, and amazing is “in.”

    2015 was an exciting year for web development and creative new designs. It is thrilling to think of what 2016 will hold!

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  • An overview and comparison of Shared Hosting with Virtual and Dedicated Servers

    No comments January 25th, 2016 5 View(s)

    With all the possibilities, different strengths and weaknesses, it can be confusing to select just the right server for you and your specific needs. Here are some of our options broken down to the basics.

    Do you run a high-traffic or mission critical website? Need support for self-hosted, high-performance databases? Want the most flexibility and control?

    Our premium dedicated servers have the benefits of freedom, flexibility, and security, especially in comparison to shared hosting. Dedicated servers allow a greater level of management and scalability for your site’s traffic. Virtual platforms such as Microsoft Hyper-V are supported. Notable features include:

    • 2-hour emergency response
    • Free internal traffic
    • Remote power control

    Are you a small business owner? Run a blog? Host personal sites for family/friends?

    Shared Windows Cloud Hosting is unique and economical, offering unlimited disk space and data transfer. This option promotes reliability, high network speed, and smooth performance. With instant setup, unlimited domains and sub-domains, and premium unlimited bandwidth, this server provides fast and reliable service. Other features include:

    • Custom Control Panel
    • Safe Harbor Certified
    • Unlimited MySQL

    Another popular option is the virtual server. This server is shared by multiple server owners, but still allows for each owner’s administration and complete control. It is stored on our virtual cloud, saving you space while still providing you with absolute access. Virtual servers have all the benefits of hosting yourself, while saving on space, money, and processing power.

    We offer two options:

    Windows Cloud Server running Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Server 2008 R2 or Server 2012 R2.

    Linux Cloud Server running a wide variety of Linux distributions. Both offer excellent features, including:

    • Virtual isolation
    • Customizable server software with administrator control
    • Hardware-based virtualization
    • Unlimited network transfer

    Browse our many options and be sure to contact us with any questions!

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  • TeamSpeak 3 – Crystal clear VoIP communication with ASPnix

    No comments January 21st, 2016 4 View(s)

    Keeping in touch with long-distance family, participating in business conferences, and interacting with other gamers is made easy through TeamSpeak, a server that allows VoIP communications all over the world. Where we once used roundabout methods of conference calls or chatrooms, TeamSpeak now provides a more efficient and effective service. TeamSpeak’s features are designed to make VoIP easy to use, enjoyable, and adaptable to the user’s needs. Notable features include:

    • Unmatched Voice Quality and Low Latency
    • Voice Data Encryption
    • Public-Private Key Authentication
    • Multi-Server Connectivity
    • Customizable Server & Client
    • Mobile-device support for Android and iOS

    teamspeak-logoUser customizations allow you to create server banners, avatars, and an interface to personalize your system and emphasize the fun-loving gamer community or the business-minded contacts of your next project.

    Whether your next project is co-writing a novel with distant friends, meeting with business associates, or joining friends in a game of Minecraft, TeamSpeak provides the tools needed to make long-distance contact assessable and smooth.

    Data-centers for TeamSpeak are situated across the U.S. and internationally, providing up-to-date and specialized service for every location. From Seattle to Washington D.C., from Dublin to Singapore, ASPnix’s TeamSpeak services are available and ready to help.

    Additionally, our completely custom-built control panel allows for more flexibility and options for customization. You can start, stop, and restart your instance, create new admin tokens, edit server details, view users and their geographical location, and manage other users among many other options.

    ASPnix offers a wide selection of affordable server hosting plans and packages adaptable to all needs and uses. Unlike most other hosts, our server allows for file transfers. There are no limitations on sound codecs or the number of channels and groups. We offer free custom hostnames, 1GB of monthly free download data transfer, and advanced network monitoring technologies.

    Check out more of our awesome features and be sure to contact us with any questions!

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