30 Sep 2019

Microsoft Website Builder – 5 Alternative Options

Just about everyone on the planet has heard about Microsoft, the American multinational technology company founded by Bill Gates and his childhood friend Paul Allen. Microsoft is the world’s largest software maker. Gates famously stated his mission of “a computer on every desk and in every home”. If mobile devices count, I’d say he has reached his goal. But how does Microsoft fair in the website building arena?

In this article we’ll dive deep into the world of Microsoft Website builder options. Firstly, let’s cover the basics. 

Does Microsoft Have a Website Builder?

Microsoft doesn’t seem to be a big player in the website builder arena. They used to provide a software package called “FrontPage” that ran the internet at one point, but support for this product is now discontinued. 

Microsoft FrontPage was available for almost two decades – however they stopped supporting it back in 2009. The old FrontPage HTML editor has since been replaced by Microsoft Expression Web and the lesser known Microsoft SharePoint Designer. Since 2012 Microsoft Expression Web 4 has been discontinued, however you can download it from their site. SharePoint Designer is also a thing of the past. 

Is Microsoft FrontPage still available?

Up until April 2014 Microsoft provided some extended support for FrontPage. Now they have completely discontinued the FrontPage web publishing software and it is no longer supported. You can however download the legacy software from the Microsoft website, so we’ll discuss the applications for the discontinued software should you like to give them a go. 

Because Microsoft has stepped out of the Web Builder Arena, we’ll also explore Microsoft supported web builder tools that you can take advantage of.

#1 | Microsoft Expression Web 4 (Free)

I chose Expression Web 4 to be first on the list because, despite support being pulled, Microsoft Expression Web 4 is an actual Microsoft visual website editor. Microsoft released Microsoft Expression Web 4 in 2006 and then dropped support in 2012. 

Specifically designed for Microsoft Developers, Microsoft Expression Web 4 supports ASP.Net and Microsoft Silverlight. You can edit your website code either directly or through their easy to use visual editor. 

Microsoft Expression Web 4 is especially good for embedding multimedia files like videos and photos on your web pages. This website editor has some nice features and is completely free, so it’s worth a go if you are looking specifically for a “Microsoft” website builder. 

Click Here To Visit Microsoft Expression Web 4

 

Pros
  • You can embed multimedia files
  • Visual Editor/ Edit code directly
  • Great for Microsoft developers
  • Completely free
Cons
  • Support is discontinued
  • Old fashioned appearance

#2 | Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is more of a source-code editor than a website builder. However, as Microsoft website builders are slim pickings – I thought I’d throw it in.  If you’re looking to get into coding like a professional developer, then Visual Studio is brilliant. It has nice syntax highlighters and it’s free and open source. VS code is made for just about every programming languages like Python, C++, C#, Batch, F# and Objective-C. You can also create CSS files to make your website look stylish. The only caviate is that you’d need to get into coding to use Visual Studio. 

Click Here To Visit Visual Studio Code

Pros
  • Professional Set up
  • Free
  • Easy to use UX
  • Works in both Windows and MacOS
Cons
  • Not for beginners
  • No templates

#3 | Wix (for FREE)

Next up is Wix – a popular website building platform that has partnered with Microsoft Office 365. Meaning you can use your Microsoft Office 365 account and get your Wix subscription free. You can even login to your Wix account with your Office 365 details. Wix is a slick, modern website builder tool that is so easy, a young child could use it.  They offer clean and professional looking website templates that you can click to select and then all you have to do is drag and drop elements to complete your design. 

With Wix you have everything you need to build a website and get it up and running in a matter of minutes. You can even go in and make your pages just perfect with the Wix page editor. Wix has a wide range of helpful tutorials on using your Microsoft Office 365 subscription to create your Wix site. You can also connect an Office 365 to a domain on your Wix account.

Click Here To Visit Wix

Pros
  • Easy drag-and-drop designer
  • Professional website templates
  • Creates modern websites in minutes
  • Subscription included with Microsoft Office 365
  • Great for beginners
Cons
  • Not a Microsoft product

#4 |GoCentral (from $5.99 p/m)

GoCentral is the website builder tool from GoDaddy. GoCentral isn’t a Microsoft product, but like Wix, they’ve partnered with Microsoft. I like the fact that you get Microsoft Office 365 as part of your subscription with GoCentral. 

GoCentral has been designed with the modern short attention span in mind. They’ve stated that the platform has been created for you to create your website in an hour or less, which is fantastic if you want to give a website idea a go and are short of time. 

GoCentral isn’t wonderful when it comes to flexibility in your website creation. Also it can be quite slow. On a positive note, GoCentral is great for creating all types of website, including eCommerce sites.

Click Here To Visit GoCentral

Pros
  • Quick and easy to use
  • eCommerce sites included
  • Clean professional templates
  • Bundled with Microsoft Office 365
Cons
  • Not a Microsoft product
  • Slow
  • Limited design options

#5 | WebMatrix 3 (FREE)

Web Matrix 3 is yet another website builder from Microsoft that you can access for FREE. However, like FrontPage, Microsoft Expression Web and  Microsoft SharePoint Designer, support for Web Matrix 3 is discontinued, as of 2017. Hence, it’s now totally free and great for people who are working with older websites built in Web Matrix 3. 

Web Matrix is a software that was created for developers, specifically for those using HTML, PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. So it’s not as user friendly as site builders like Wix, and not for the novice. 

WebMatrix could be an interesting place to start if you want to learn to create websites for free. They offer a wide range of helpful tutorials that guide you through the entire process. You can jump on the WebMatrix site and download their software, select templates and even preview a mobile website view. 

Click Here To Visit WebMatric 3

Pros
  • Template Selection
  • Mobile preview
  • Great for coders and coding enthusiasts
Cons
  • Not for the novice
  • Support discontinued

#6 | Microsoft FrontPage

Yet another product from Microsoft that has seen its support pulled. FrontPage is great for those who want to work with legacy websites. FrontPage was one of the first website builders and a big thing in its day. However, as the internet exploded, so too did our options for website builders and editors. 

FrontPage was launched in 1997 and was one of the original website building platforms. They were the first platform to provide a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor – so you could preview your websites before you put them online. Pretty standard in 2019 but back in 1997 the feature was quite revolutionary. 

As we are discussing Microsoft Website builders, I thought it was fitting to add FrontPage into the list as it paved the way for future website builders. FrontPage is SharePoint’s predecessor. 

# 7 |Microsoft Website Builder SharePoint

DepositFiles has servers in 9 countries, which is great for uploading and downloading. They also offer 10GB for free. With DepositFiles there are a few catches. One is that you’ll have to endure advertisements on your FREE account. Their site and user interface is also a bit dated and not very intuitive. You can upgrade to the gold membership which gets you faster upload and download speeds and you can pay with credit card or Bitcoin. DepositFiles pricing is a bit steep  at $12 per month, and with this you don’t get extra file storage.

One thing that is great about DepositFiles is the fact that you can send a link with password protection – even on the free plan. I also like the fact that they store your files for free for an unlimited time. 

Click Here To Visit Sharepoint

Pros
  • Great CMS for document management
Cons
  • Not for public website builds

In Conclusion

Both Wix and GoCentral are great options if you want any or all of the software products that you get bundled in the subscription package, like Word, Outlook and PowerPoint. If you already have those covered and are looking for a more comprehensive website builder from Microsoft you could go for Visual Studio Code. However, this product is specifically suited for people who want to do coding, whereas Wix and GoCentral are more designed for the complete beginner.

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25 Sep 2019

9 Best Free Domain Hosting Providers

Domain names can be hosted by themselves, or you can have your domain hosting, email hosting and web hosting in one place.  The domain hosting space has become quite competitive, which is good news for you as the buyer. This means that you can get some completely free domain hosting providers and some great bundle deals. Most web hosts also offer domain hosting as part of their service. People often ask, can you get a domain name for free? I’ve written a detailed article on how to get a 100% free domain name, you can read it here. However, if you are simply looking for domain hosting for a domain name you already own, or multiple for that matter, then this article is for you. 

9 Best FREE Domain Hosting Providers #hosting #domain #free Click To Tweet

Domain Name Registration

It’s important to note that all domain name registrars have access to the same domain name URLs. Therefore, when we are looking for a good domain host, then we are looking for the FREE/ cheap aspect and also the additional domain management features. Automatic features like auto domain renewal or bulk domain buying tools are handy.

Domain Name Management

A domain name is a critical part of your online brand presence. Domain management is essential to ensure that your domain name stays stable, secure and always available. Renewing domain names or terminating them are the main actions that people want to perform on a domain name. However, domain transfer, domain auctions and domain investing are also activities that more advanced domain name owners might want to take part in.

Keeping your WHOIS information up to date is also an essential part of managing your domain name. According to ICANN regulation, you need to provide accurate contact information for your domain. Having the ability to directly update these details from your domain manager is a bonus. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into 9 best FREE domain name hosting providers. 

1. 000WebHost

BEST FOR – Small websites, clubs, and personal projects

000WebHost offers 100% free domain hosting services. Additionally, you can get free subdomains if you are simply looking for a domain name to point at a server. They accept international domains. Additionally, they offer free hosting, but what’s the catch? 

000WebHost offers a completely free domain and web hosting service as well as offering some great features, like a website builder. They also don’t show any ads on the free hosting plan as many others do. What’s more, you can administer your domain names and hosting with cPanel. This is great news for creating sub-domains and setting up email addresses. 

The only real catch with the free domain hosting from 000WebHost is that they don’t offer email accounts with the free plan. So if you want to take advantage of their free domain or website hosting, then you won’t be able to make professional email addresses. Paid plans and contributions make the 000WebHost a viable option (business-wise). When you upgrade to paid you get more disk space, an email account, backups, free domain name, SSL certificates, and 24/7 support.

With 000WebHost you can upload your files via FTP, use WordPress or their free “Easy Website Builder”. They give you 1 GB disk space & 10GB bandwidth plus domain hosting – all for no money down.

Click Here To Visit 000webhost

Pros

✔ No Adverts

✔ Free domain host

✔ Free web host

✔ Website builder

✔ cPanel

Cons

✘ Email accounts not available on the free plan

✘ Limited support on free plan

2. Hostinger

BEST FOR – Cheap, reliable domain hosting and web hosting – for growing your online presence.

Hostinger is a MASSIVE web host that you can trust. Hostinger powers websites for over 29 million users all around the world. With that many users, you know they are a name you can trust.  If you are looking for a free domain name with cheap hosting, then look no further than Hostinger. 

You’ll also get a professional domain name when you sign up with Hostinger. For as little as $0.99 per month, you can get hosting with a free domain name from Hostinger. If you want to transfer domains from another provider then you can do it quickly and easily. That way you can manage all of your domain names in one place.

It’s easy to manage your domain names, you simply hit “My Domain Names” inside the Network Solutions Account Manager and you can then set the DNS, and manage all of your domain names. You can also use cPanel to set subdomains. Hostinger is great for providing comprehensive tutorials for you to manage your account easily.

Click Here To Visit Hostinger

Pros

✔ 99.9% uptime guarantee

✔ Easy to manage 

✔ Great customer support

✔ Free domain name

Cons

✘ No free SSL

✘ Need to buy hosting to get free domain hosting

3. Names.co.uk

BEST FOR – Beginners who would like free.uk and .co.uk domain name and hosting

Names.co.uk was founded nearly two decades ago, and are a great domain hosting provider. Names.co.uk is part of the European conglomerate Dada Group.Names.co.uk offers a great deal where you can get two .uk and two .co.uk domain names for free. They also provide a free email account via their LiteMail option, this gives you 100MB storage as well as decent features such as anti-virus and spam protection. Names. co.uk offers a free website builder and great customer support. 

If you are also looking to host your website with names.co.uk then they have some great features for those of us who are not tech experts. For example, you can get cPanel and loads of 1-click installation tools that allow you to install WordPress with the click of a button. One major downside of Names.co.uk is that their customer support is only open during office hours (eg. No 24/7 support). They also have no live chat feature. 

Click Here To Visit Names.co.uk

Pros

✔ FREE email account

✔ Feature rich

✔ Great Customer support

✔ Free domain names

✔ 99.9% uptime 

✔ FREE SSL

✔ Free Fotolia credits

Cons

✘ No live chat

✘ Limited Support

4. Wix (FREE .com)

Best for – Novice that has just one domain/ website name that they want to host.

Wix is an Israeli cloud-hosting company famous for their easy to use website builder. You can get a free .com domain name with a paid plan from Wix, otherwise, you can get a subdomain with your free account. The only downside is that you can’t park unlimited domain names on Wix. When I think of domain hosting, I think of hosting multiple domain names. However, you might only have one domain name, and if this is the case – Wix is a brilliant option

The website builder from Wix comes with some slick templates and a drag and drop interface that is extremely easy to use. Wix also has a logo maker and a great support center. Wix is a fantastic option for the complete beginner and currently hosts over 110 million websites.

Click Here To Visit Wix

Pros

✔ Great for beginners 

✔ FREE .com domain name for 1 year

✔ Easy to use web builder

Cons

✘ Free domain name only with paid plan

Lacks domain management tools

5. Godaddy

BEST FOR – Domain Name Enthusiasts as they offer some great domain name tools

Godaddy are the largest domain name registrar in the world, so it’s no wonder that Godaddy offers some special domain hosting features, that no other provider offers. They boast 17 million customers from all over the world. You can also add as many domain names as you want to your web hosting account for FREE. Additionally, transferring domain names is also free.

Bluehost allows you to transfer standard domain names to your hosting account for free. Such as com, net, org, us, co, info, and biz. The domain name tools available from Godaddy are extensive, for that reason alone, they are a great company to use as your domain host. They offer tools like – bulk domain search, cash parking, domain investing, domain value appraisal, domain auction, domain name generators and much much more.

Click Here To Visit Godaddy

Pros

✔ Largest Domain Name Registrar

✔ 99.9% uptime

✔ Great web builder with over 300 themes

✔ 24/7 Support

✔ cPanel

Cons

Live chat only available during office hours

6. 123 Reg

BEST FOR – UK companies that want to host unlimited domain names and websites.

123 Reg is a UK website and domain host that focuses on the customer experience. All of their plans come with one or more free domain names, which is nice. They also offer unlimited bandwidth – meaning you don’t need to worry about how many users come to your site, 123 Reg has you covered. You can transfer the vast majority of standard domain names to 123 Reg for free however if you want to transfer a premium domain name, then this comes with a sizable fee of £19.99+.

You can host as many domain names as you like on 123 reg and also upgrade your plan as and when you want to expand your business. The fact that they offer truly unlimited bandwidth is an attractive proposition. 

Click Here To Visit 123 Reg

Pros

✔ Great customer service

✔ Transfer standard domains for FREE

✔ Unlimited bandwidth

✔ You need to buy one of their hosting plans to get free domain hosting

✔ UK Company

Cons

 ✘ Transferring premium domains is expensive

7. Bluehost

BEST FOR – Great domain management features

Another thing to look out for is whether or not your domain name is will be locked if you don’t pay for your hosting. The good thing about Bluehost is that you can login to their “Bluehost Domain Manager” even if you don’t have an active hosting account. This is a great feature of Bluehost, making them a very reliable option. 

You’ll also get a free standard domain name if you sign up for a hosting package with Bluehost. If you don’t know what domain name to choose then they’ll give you a domain credit to use at a later date. Update WHOIS information directly from your domain manager dashboard. You can add, edit and manage your domain names from the Bluehost domain manager.

Click Here To Bluehost

Pros

✔ 24/7 Support

✔ Bluehost Domain Manager

✔ Transfer standard domain names for free 

Cons

✘ Expensive host

8. 1&1 IONOS (FREE .co.uk)

BEST FOR – FREE .co.uk with optional hosting

You can get a completely free domain name or transfer your domain names to 1&1 IONOS for free. 1&1’s domain name servers can be used or you can use your own name servers when you host your domain with 1&1 Ionos. It is easy and free to transfer your domain name from another provider to 1&1 ionos. They also offer some great tutorials. You can purchase Microsoft Office 365 from 1&1. This makes creating and using professional email addresses easy with 1&1 IONOS

Click Here To Visit 1&1 IONOS

Pros

✔ Get free .co.uk domain name

✔ 1 email account

✔ SSL included

Cons

✘ Offer only available for .co.uk domain names

✘ Not for beginners

9. One.com (.co.uk, .com, .uk, .org)

BEST FOR –  Lots of FREE domain name extensions, enhanced domain security features

If you are looking for unlimited subdomains, then One.com could be the domain host for you. They also provide a wide range of credible domain name extensions like .com, .co, .co.uk, .org and .uk for FREE. Watch out for the cheeky monthly $1.24 DNS fee that is applied. 

They also offer additional security features like ownership protection and privacy. For example, they will protect your email from hijacking or losing your domain name when it accidentally expires. One great thing about One.com is that you can create as many professional email addresses as you want for your domain names hosted with them. This is quite unusual as often hosts restrict the number of email addresses that you can have. One.com allows you to manage all areas of your domain name from an easy to use interface. Inside the domain manager, you can manage DNS, forward emails

Click Here To Visit One.com

Pros

✔ 15 Day money-back guarantee

✔ 24/7 support

✔ Unlimited email aliases

✔ Wide range of “free” domain names

✔ Website builder can be added

Cons

✘ Monthly DNS fee of $1.24

In Conclusion

When looking for domain hosting, admin features are extremely important. Additionally, the number of subdomains, hosting prices and the availability of email addresses also come up top on my list. Hostinger is probably my favorite, because they offer such great deals and power 29 million websites as well as offering a free domain name. Managing domain names is also really easy with Hostinger. 

000Webhost is also well worth a go, as they are 100% free – both for domain and website hosting. The only real downside is that they don’t give you a professional email for free. There are many considerations, for example how many domain names you have and what you plan to do with them. As always Wix is a great deal for the newcomer as you get a free domain name and an awesome website builder. I hope that this list has given you some food for thought, and you find the perfect domain host to fit your individual needs.

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25 Sep 2019

10 Best Free Cloud Backup Services

Cloud-based storage solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Businesses and their customers now rely heavily on cloud services as opposed to physical storage and hardware. I’m sure many of you can relate to this, perhaps without even realising it. For example, when you take a photo on your phone, these can be uploaded straight to the cloud. An example of this is Apple iOS users who use iCloud.

Cloud storage is used for a variety of reasons. According to Statista, the most popular use of cloud service storage is to protect against the loss of data (backups). Let’s look at the B2B and B2C revenues, the hosting, storage and computing cloud services market revenue in the United Kingdom for 2018. The turnover was around $8.3m and this is expected to rise to $9.7m by 2021. 

 

Disadvantages Of Cloud Storage

Internet Speed: If you decide to run a backup during business hours, your internet utilisation could be affected. You may need to setup some bandwidth controls in order to assign only a certain amount of bandwidth to your backups.

Compliance Issues: Depending on which sector you work within, cloud storage may not be an option. Certain industries like Healthcare and Financial Services need to carefully consider their options before using the cloud.

Vulnerability: Although any business or individual can be vulnerable to security attacks, we do have to mention this. As with any technology, it is not completely flawless and hackers may find a way to access your data or information, although it is unlikely.

 

1: Google Drive

Google Drive allows any user to have 15GB worth of storage for free. All you need is a Google account (also free), and you can start storing your photos, videos, documents etc. In my opinion, Google Drive is the best free cloud backup service of 2019. Whilst many cloud services are very similar, I feel Google Drive has a much more personal touch to it.

If you need to access your data offline, Google Drive can help you view your files without any issues. If you have documents to scan, all you need to do is upload them and Google will do the rest. You can also share your documents with others, allowing for easier access and collaboration should you need it.

Access anywhere (from multiple devices)
Share files with others easily (and collaborate)
15GB free

 

Visit Google Drive

 

2: MediaFire

MediaFire allows you to store up to 10GB of data for free. If you refer your friends or complete certain bonuses, you may be able to increase your storage up to 50GB. MediaFire also offers premium services $3.75 per month which includes a whopping 1TB of space.

Similar to Google Drive, MediaFire will give you access to share your files and folders with other people. You can share what you like and allow others to collaboratively work with you. There’s also a mobile app to make the process easier, available to download on iPhone, iPad, Android, or Apple TV.

Large file uploads
No bandwidth limitations
10GB free (option to upgrade to 50GB)

 

Visit MediaFire

 

3: Dropbox

 

Dropbox doesn’t offer as much storage space as other cloud services. You’ll start off with 2GB of free space, but this can easily be increased to 18GB by completing a few simple tasks. Whether you’re using a desktop or mobile, you can use the Dropbox app to upload your files from anywhere.

If you want to share your files with others, you can do so, and they don’t need a Dropbox account. For those of you who store Microsoft Office documents on Dropbox, you may be pleased to know that you can edit your documents for free using Microsoft Office Online.

Earn free storage
File and folder sharing
Retrieve deleted files

 

Visit Dropbox

 

4: MEGA

 

Although many of you may not have heard of MEGA before, they’re certainly worth considering. With a massive 50GB free cloud storage, you’ll enjoy end-to-end encryption with fast transfers. They also have a mobile app which can be downloaded on iOS, Windows, Android and many more.

MEGA boasts many security features, as well as secure communication. You can share your files with anyone of your choosing, as well as compiling messages, instant chat, and audio and video calls. If you decide you want more storage in the future, MEGA offers 2 premium plans which offer unlimited storage.

Plenty of storage
Mobile and desktop app
File sharing and messages

 

Visit MEGA

 

5: pCloud

 

pCloud offers 10GB free online storage. Like many cloud services, you can increase this to 20GB by completing bonuses like friend referrals. pCloud have a mobile app as well as a desktop client. They also support remote URL file adding, where you can upload single files or whole folders through your browser.

You can send and share your files with anyone you choose. When you sign up to pCloud you’ll be given your own unique email address so you can receive files directly from others to your pCloud account. If you share a lot of images on your social media accounts, you can backup these with pCloud for free.

Multimedia streaming
No file limits
Earn additional storage

 

Visit pCloud

 

6: Box

 

Box (formerly known as Box.net) offer 10GB of free online cloud storage. Their mobile app can be downloaded on iOS and Android and allows you to upload (as well as share) your content. They also have a desktop app for Windows and Mac; the client is really easy to use and makes uploading files very simple.

If you require your cloud storage to be able to share files and folders with people, Box won’t let you down. Simply choose the files or folders you want to share and Box will present you with a shareable link. Box’s security tools are second to none, regardless of the type of compliance you need to meet.

Bulk file downloads
Spreadsheet integration
10GB free storage

 

Visit Box

 

7: FlipDrive

 

If you’re new to FlipDrive, you can bag yourself 10GB free cloud storage. Like many other free cloud storage services, you can earn more storage for every friend you refer to FlipDrive. You can choose whether to use FlipDrive’s website or app to upload files. If you use their website, you can upload entire folders at any given time which is very handy.

Sharing files and folders with others is easy too. Your friends/family don’t need a FlipDrive account to be able to access files, but they will need one to view folders. Similar to other services, you can give people access to write, edit, and delete files and folders should you wish. There’s a limit of 25MB for shared files, and overall it’s not as easy to use as other services we’ve tested.

Plenty of free storage
Cross-platform apps
File sharing permissions

 

Visit FlipDrive

 

8: Yandex Disk

 

I’d never heard of Yandex Disk before now. Yandex is a Russian company who provide multiple helpful tools like Yandex Search and Yandex Email. Customers choosing Yandex Disk will get 10GB free cloud storage once you’ve created an account with them.

Yandex have similar features to other cloud storage services like public and private file/folder sharing. They also offer some unique features like social network photo imports, bulk downloads, and automatic mobile uploads. Whilst they may not be as well known as other services, they certainly don’t scrimp on useful tools. There’s a mobile app available to download for Android and iOS.

Unique features
Automatically upload mobile images
10GB free storage

 

Visit Yandex.Disk

 

9: Sync

 

Sync offers free cloud storage of up to 5GB when you sign up for free. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any offers to increase the storage through referrals etc. unless you sign up to their pro version. However, when you upload files with Sync, you’re reassured they are 100% secure and private.

You can share files and folders with others; they don’t have to be a Sync user. They also offer a feature called vault which is a folder on Sync which isn’t shared across your devices. This is handy if you need to store files away for a rainy day but don’t necessarily need access on all your devices. Sync is available on Windows, iOS, and Android with both free and pro versions.

Upload via web
Collaborate with others
Vault storage for archived files

 

Visit Sync

 

10: iCloud

 

iCloud is a cloud storage solution suited to Apple users. You’ll get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, allowing you to store your documents, files, contacts, etc. safely and securely. It’s a very simple application to use and you can share your photos and videos with others, and even across your devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad).

The useful thing about iCloud is that you can free up your device’s storage by automatically uploading your files to the cloud. For Apple users, this can often be very handy as you can’t upgrade iOS storage like you can with other devices like Samsung phones. More storage can be purchased at a small cost of 79p per month for up to 50GB storage.

Easy to use
Automatically upload photos from your device
Share with family and friends

 

Visit iCloud

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25 Sep 2019

How to Get a Free Custom Email

When it comes to businesses, first impressions go a long way. I’m sure you can relate to meeting someone new and judging them on their firm handshake or crisp suit. Well, online businesses aren’t really too different. When consumers see your email address, they pass judgement and assess how much they think they can trust your brand.

Put it this way, would you have more confidence in a brand that had an email address like contact@yourwebsitename.com or yourname@gmail.com – probably the latter! In fact, 75% of consumers believe having a custom email address that relates to your website is a defining factor when it comes to brand confidence.

 

 

Custom email domains take your website’s URL and uses it as part of the email address. If we look at my own website as an example, my email address is hello@ukwebhostreview.com which gives a professional brand image. It may seem like a small detail, but I can assure you it makes a big difference.

If you’re wondering how to get a free custom domain email I’ll show you how below.

 

Best Free Domain with Email Hosting

Regardless of the type of business you run, customers expect you to have a custom domain. It doesn’t matter if your business is solely online or you operate a craft stand in a market hall. A website and custom email domain are essential tools to running your own business. Simply put, if your email address uses your domain name, it’s going to look professional. Nobody wants to see a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo email address.

Custom domain emails show that you mean business (and you’re serious about it). If customers don’t believe or trust in your brand, they’re never going to buy from you. According to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group, for millennials, brand authenticity is second only to loyalty discounts in importance when choosing companies to support.

Buying a domain name doesn’t have to be expensive. On average, they cost anywhere between 99p to £9.99 per year. If you’re not ready to fork out any money on a domain name, you can actually get a domain for free in just a few minutes. However, I’d highly recommend getting a domain with your hosting provider. Why? Because most of them offer a domain name for free as part of their hosting packages. Either way, you’ll need web hosting, so you might as well get one for free!

 

 

My personal recommendation is BlueHost. They offer the best of both worlds in terms of email hosting and free domains. They hold a solid reputation in the web hosting world and boast stable performance results for WordPress websites. Not only that, they give their customers unlimited email accounts and forwarding accounts. You’ll get to choose between three webmail solutions (or you can use your own) as well as POP3 and IMAP for security.

Visit BlueHost.com (£2.43/Month)

 

Find a Domain Name

Before securing your custom email domain, you’re going to need to find a domain name (if you haven’t already). As we’ve already discussed, your domain name is one of the most important steps to getting your free custom email domain. It’s going to represent your online presence and determine how people see your brand.

Choosing the best domain name can be difficult, as often they’re already taken. However, there are a few tips and tricks that I have up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you. If you’re finding it tough coming up with a domain name, you can use a domain name generator which might help to get your creative juices flowing.

Let’s take a look at some tips for coming up with a domain name:

  • TLD .com: Customers tend to trust .com domains because they’re familiar with them. If you’re able to get a .com TLD then it’s worth nabbing it whilst you can.
  • Keywords: When coming up with a domain name it’s worth trying to include some keywords. Not only does this make your site more memorable to people, it can also make a difference to your Google search ranking.
  • Prefix or Suffix: It’s quite common for your chosen domain name to be unavailable. You could try adding a prefix or suffix to your business name, for example cakestore.com could become thecakestore.com and still be recognisable by your customers.

 

Register Your Domain

Once you’ve chosen your domain name and have confirmed it’s available, you’ll need to register it. If you’re purchasing or obtaining your domain name through your web host, like BlueHost, there are a few features you can add. One of those features that I recommend is called domain privacy.

 

 

When you register a domain name, your name and address become public access. Someone can perform a lookup on your domain and it will tell them where it’s been registered and display your details. If you don’t want this to be accessible, you can opt for domain privacy. This masks your own information and uses your web host or domain registrar as the contact.

 

Setup an Email Account

As I mentioned earlier, if you get web hosting with BlueHost, you’ll get a free domain email. When you log into BlueHost’s dashboard, you’ll see the email section on the left. All you’ll need to do is enter your desired email and password and your email account is created. It’s really as simple as that.

 

Your email name represents what’s seen before the @ symbol, for example, hello@ukwebhostreview.com. If you’ve signed up to BlueHost’s basic plan, you’ll get up to 5 email accounts. People create multiple accounts for several reasons such as, a mailbox for general contact, sales, support, etc.

Visit BlueHost.com (£2.43/Month)

 

Best Cheap Hosting with Free Custom Email Domain

Starting a new business can get expensive pretty quickly. It’s hard to get a good balance of decent quality and affordable prices. However, if you’re on a budget, you don’t have to settle for poor products just because they’re cheap. When it comes to email services, you are going to need something stable and secure so it’s not worth sacrificing.

As I’ve already mentioned, many web hosts offer free custom email domains with their packages. This saves both time and money with the ability to combine three features under one roof. If you choose to go down the web hosting route, make sure you check out the best web hosting providers so you don’t compromise on quality.

 

 

There’s a few things to consider when you’re looking for the best cheap hosting with a free custom email domain. It’s not all about the cost, so let’s take a look at what you’ll need:

  • Spam filters
  • Number of email accounts (this will depend entirely on your own business’ needs)
  • Storage space
  • Forwarding accounts
  • POP and IMAP support

Web hosts tend to offer their own webmail access so you can check your emails. However, many of them are now compatible with third party email services like Office, G Suite, etc. If you’re more familiar with one of these programs, definitely check with your web host that you can use them.

Companies like iPage offer excellent support, so you can check with them before proceeding. iPage is extremely affordable starting at only £1.50 per month. You’ll get unlimited storage, bandwidth and a free domain name. iPage essentials email account offer 500MB storage per account, webmail access, POP3/IMAP, autoresponder, spam filter and virus protection.

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25 Sep 2019

Pros and Cons of Hosting Your Own Website at Home

How to Host Your Own Website

Thinking about hosting your website? If you’ve created your website and would like to make it public on the World Wide Web, then you’ll need hosting. Website hosting can either be done from your PC or by a hosting provider. However, there are many things that you’ll need to know before you decide on what option is best for you. 

You’ll need a domain name for starters. You can get a domain name for free, however, it might not be the sort of domain name you are looking for. A professional domain name can cost anything from $0.99 to tens of thousands of dollars. 

The easiest and cheapest way to get your website online is by buying shared hosting from a hosting provider. Shared hosting is when you rent out a portion of a server. The amount of space you need will vary from one website to the next. For example, a website with a large database and a lot of data going in and out is best placed on a Virtual Private Server or a Dedicated Server. On the other hand, if you’re just starting then you could get away with shared hosting until you know what your bandwidth usage will be. 

Why Would You Want to Host Your Own Website?

Let’s address this question for a start. You need hosting to make your website public, however during web development then it is easy to create and host your local machine. That way you don’t need to upload and download files to an external server until you are happy with your website. 

There are several pros and cons to hosting a website on your machine vs hosting with an actual website hosting company.  Hosting your website yourself can be very rewarding, however, it can be a daunting procedure. In this article, we’ll go over how to self- host your website, as well as the pros and cons of each approach to website hosting. 

Think of your web hosting is the home for your website. It needs an (IP) address, enough space for your business to grow, somewhere to store all of your files, to be online 24/7 and security measures to keep your online presence safe. Additionally, you need the functionality of various types of software to ensure that everything is running smoothly. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into how to make your hosting server from home or your office. 

How to host a Website using a Windows PC

Hosting a website on your computer can be rewarding, especially if you’ve made your website from scratch. Watching a website develop from idea to reality is always a thrill. You’ll need a WAMP server to host your website on your WindowsOS.

What is a WAMP Server?

WAMP is fairly straight forward and easy to understand. WAMP stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. This type of server environment is perfect as it installs all of the required software in one go. The “W” is the Windows part of WAMP, therefore if you’re looking to create a website in Linux then you’ll need to go for a LAMP server environment, where the “L” stands for Linux. Lets’ look a bit deeper at the “AMP” piece in the WAMP server environment. 

Apache – the “A” in WAMP is the apache piece. Apache is the core program that performs the hosting services. The full name is the “Apache HTTP server”. Apache is a free open-source web server software that is maintained by the Apache Software Foundation. Apache powers around 46% of all websites globally. Apache is cross-platform and works on both Unix and Windows. Apache is responsible for a smooth secure connection between the two machines.

MySQL– MySQL is the type of database used to house your web files. There are many uses of a database, basically, the database stores all of the web content, making the website dynamic (and hopefully) faster to access. Membership sites that need a login or eCommerce store require a database to function. 

PHP– PHP is the programing language that will be used on this server. PHP is a server-side programming language that can be used to produce both static and dynamic websites. You need to install PHP for your server to recognize the PHP programming language.

Awesome, you now know all about WAMP and why it is 100% required before you can host your website on your PC. Let’s now get started with the practical aspects of getting your PC to host your website. Firstly you need to install the WAMP software. 

Step 1 – Install WAMP Software

Go to this link and download the WAMP Software. 

Step 2 – Run WAMP Software

Double-tap on the downloaded WAMP software and run the .exe file. Simply select next and keep the default settings.  Choose your browser selection or select open to open your default PC browser (in my case that would be Google Chrome)

PRO TIP: Your PC’s firewall settings may reject some of the security aspects of the WAMP environment. You’ll need to make an exception to bypass the security alerts. 

Once WAMP has fully installed – fill in Start “WampServer 2 now” checkbox and then hit “Finish”. 

Step 3 – Managing your WAMP Server

You can change pages and create subdirectories by going to the local disk C “c:\\wamp\\www”. To check if your changes are live, refresh your browser. 

Step 4 – Create an HTML or PHP Page

To create an HTML or PHP page you can write the code in a notepad or syntax editor like Sublime. Using a syntax editor is much easier as you can color-code your text. When you save your document, go to “save as” and then give it a .php extension (eg. Projectname.php). Your saved file should be in

c:\\wamp\\www file location. 

 

Step 5 – Test Your Code

Check that you’re code is working and all changes have been made by going to http://localhost/Projectname.php – hit refresh to push changes through to your browser. 

Step 6 – Configure your MySQL Databases

When you open WAMP you can go to the menu and open the phpMyAdmin panel. In phpMyAdmin, you can open a new window and you’ll need to input a root password. If you want you can leave the field empty or set a password.  I use XAMP with phpMyAdmin rather than WAMP, when I open the admin it looks like this.

If you have WordPress then you’ll automatically be allocated a database. 

Step 7 – Setting Your Website to be Public

It is regarded as bad practice to use your home PC as a hosting server, mainly due to safety concerns. Using your local machine as a dev environment, on the other hand, is best practice. If you want to go for it an make your website publicly visible then double-tap the WampServer icon and then a dropdown will appear – select “Put Online”.

The second part of setting your website to be public is fixing a few lines of code in the Apache settings. If you don’t do this part then your website will show a “403 Forbidden” warning message. 

Find the httpd.conf file in the WampServer menu inside your Apache folder. Scroll down and you should see the following:

 


Order Deny, Allow

Deny from all

Order Deny, Allow

Deny from all

You need to delete this text and replace it with:


Order Allow, Deny

Allow from all

Order Allow, Deny

Allow from all

Step 8 – Change Security Settings 

Change your firewall settings as they will block web requests. You also need to forward port 80 to your PC router. Check the manual that you got with your router if you need more information on this section.  

 Step 9 – Restart Services in WebServer

Once you have completed Step 7 then it’s time to restart your services and see your website online. 

How to host a Website using a Linux PC

If you are looking to set up your website hosting on a Linux PC then you’ll need to set up a LAMP environment, as I mentioned above. This is how to set up your hosting on a Linux PC. 

Step 1 – Install Software Using the Terminal/ Command Prompt

First, open a new terminal/ command prompt and enter the following:

sudo apt install apache2 MySQL-server PHP libapache2-mod-php7.0

You’ll be asked to enter your password for MySQL. To check – restart the Apache server. Every time you change global configurations execute the following command (using .htaccess files)


sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Step 2 – Check Your PHP Server is working

It’s a good idea at this stage to make sure that you’re PHP server is working by adding a file in the PHP web server root directory. The file is simply a text file, that should have the following code, and should be added to (/var/www/html/):

sudo echo “” > /var/www/html/info.php

Go to your browser and paste the following URL – http://localhost/info.php

When you do this you should see a screen that shows you information about the PHP instance you are running as follows:

This will show you all of the modules that you are running, so you can go back here in the future if you want to find out more information about your PHP instance. 

Step 3 – Check Your MySQL Database is working MySQL

MySQL databases are required for the majority of sites out there. You can get static sites that don’t dynamically update, but these sites are almost unheard of these days. Some landing page software like Clickfunnels doesn’t use MySQL – but for this example, let’s go in and check that your MySQL databases are running. 

Open a new terminal window and add the following code:


$ service mysql status


mysql.service – MySQL Community Server

[…]

mrt 15 13:24:09 host1 systemd[1]: Started MySQL Server.

You should see that the MySQL server has started. You can manage your MySQL in the command line to manage your databases. 

To restart your MySQL server enter the following:

sudo service mysql restart

You’ll need to use the admin details that you set up when you installed MySQL. You can get to the login screen by typing the following:


$ mysql -u root -p

PRO TIP: A lot of CMS software (like WordPress) auto-installs a MySQL database for you. 

Step 4 – Manually Create Databases

You can use PHPMyAdmin to create and manage your databases.  To install PHPMyAdmin enter

sudo apt install phpmyadmin

Finally, configure the /etc/phpmyadmin/config.inc.php file using the steps described here.

Step 5 – Using Your Domain Name

If you want to use your domain name for your website, then you’ll need to configure the DNS. Visit the domain name registrar that you bought your domain name from. 

You can buy a static IP to map your domain name or use dynamic with dnydns. As long as you have a static IP address on your local server, then you should be able to map your domain name DNS to your home IP address if you have configured your router. 

Step 6 – Configure Apache

You need to let Apache know where to find the directory to show to your website visitors. For this example, we’ll use yoursite.com as the domain name. Firstly, create a directory and create index.html. Then set up file system permissions as follows: 


sudo mkdir -p /var/www/html/yoursite.com



sudo sh -c 'echo 

<h1>This is my self-hosted site yoursite.com</h1>
/var/www/html/ yoursite.com/index.html sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/ yoursite.com

 

You’ll now need to set up a Virtual Host file so that you can see your webpage. 


sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/ yoursite.com.conf



sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/ yoursite.com.conf

Edit the file so that it looks like this:


ServerAdmin admin@ yoursite.com
ServerName yoursite.com
ServerAlias www. yoursite.com
DocumentRoot /var/www/html/ yoursite.com
ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

Reload Apache to view the changes that you have made:


sudo a2ensite yoursite.com.conf

sudo service apache2 reload

Edit your local /etc/hosts file by adding a line with your IP address and domain name. Be sure to change the “100.100.100.100” to match the IP address of your domain:


100.100.100.100 yoursite.com

Brilliant, that is everything now set up – go to your domain name http://www. yoursite.com (where yoursite.com is replaced with your domain name) and your site should be live.

PRO TIP: Your DNS can take up to 24 hours to configure, to make your domain name work. 

Pros and Cons of Hosting Your Own Website at Home

Pros
  • Rewarding experience
  • Great to create your website locally and check how it appears online
  • Educational, giving you an in-depth knowledge of server environments and code
Cons
  • Dynamic IP Addresses
  • Bandwidth constraints
  • Electricity costs
  • Security issues
  • Slower than professional hosting
  • You need to deal with your dynamic IP address or buy a static one. 
  • Power outages could mean downtime
  • You are responsible for maintenance

All in All

The whole process of creating a server and hosting your website is extremely educational, but it does come with a tonne of downsides. Self-hosting is not recommended for anything other than development environments. However, it can be a fun project to take on if you are a bit of a tech geek.  Professional hosting services come with a whole host (pardon the pun) of features that make hosting cheap, easy, secure, reliable and all in all more fun than having to take on the responsibilities that come with creating your server environment. 

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25 Sep 2019

How to Make a Minecraft Server (Step-By-Step Guide)

Minecraft is still going strong one decade after release. The sandbox lego-like game allows users to create infinite worlds and play in them. You can buy the Minecraft game via their main website for both PC and Mac. There are two ways to play Minecraft – Creative Mode, which I personally like and Survival Mode. 

The cool thing about Minecraft is that there is no one way to play the game and you can create worlds with their own rules and have your friends join in.The word Minecraft nicely sums up the game, as you “mine” for the materials to then “craft” objects in your world. As well as being the second most popular video game, Minecraft is a great tool for teaching kids. There is a global community of creators, and kids can learn anything from art and language to geography and coding through Minecraft. 

If you’re new to Minecraft the easiest way to get playing fast is to buy the game and play it, simple right?! If you want to create your world and don’t want to go to the hassle of setting up a server, then you can do so in the “Minecraft Realms” section. Setting up your own Minecraft server gives you the ability to create larger worlds and even host it on your domain name. 

In this article, we’ll explore various ways to set up your Minecraft server, no matter how you want to use it, for example via your PC, public, with friends, multiplayer, offline or for free.

Is Minecraft Free?

You can get a demo, lite or modded version of Minecraft for free. However, normally you buy the Java version from the official Minecraft website

One way to play for free is by joining in with another Minecraft game – for example, if your friend has a Minecraft server, they’ll normally be able to add you as a user. Minehut offers Minecraft hosting and allows people to add up to 10 users with a free account. We’ll discuss setting up a server in Minehut below.

Can You Play Minecraft Offline?

Yes, you can play Minecraft offline by selecting the “play offline” in your Minecraft launcher.

Minecraft works on just about every device

Desktops – Windows, Mac, Linux and Windows 10

Consoles – Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Switch and New 3DS

Devices – iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Gear VR, and Fire TV

Can You Make a Minecraft Server for Free?

YES! How awesome is that? You can make a Minecraft server in many different ways – for example on your PC or a free server. Minehut offers FREE Minecraft unlimited hosting for the Minecraft Community via their cloud servers. What’s more, you can have up to 10 players on your Minehut server.  If you want to add more users, then you can buy credits directly from Minehut. 

Minehut currently powers 787,532 Minecraft servers. They also offer DDoS Protection and a selection of cool plugins to customize your server. Minehut also comes with a supportive community forum where you can find answers to your questions or get involved with other players. 

How to Make a Minecraft Server for Free

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating your FREE Minecraft server with Minehut – in just seven steps. This guide is specifically for people who are using Java or Pocket Editions of Minecraft. The Pocket Edition is a good choice if you want to use your server via your smartphone. 

Step 1 – Visit Minehut and create an account. By hitting the “Get Started” button in the middle of the screen.

Step 2 – Verify your email address by cutting and pasting the code that they’ll send you to your inbox (check your spam folder if you don’t receive an email from them)

Step 3 – Login and create a server name. Keep it short and sweet, you’re only allowed to use 10 characters (numbers or letters)

Step 4 – Pick your server type by selecting it from the dropdown. Select Java or Pocket Edition

IMPORTANT NOTE – The Pocket Edition option is not always available

Step 5 – Hit the “Create” button to create your server

Step 6 – Refresh your page and then go to the dashboard tab. You’ll find the dashboard dab on the top left-hand side of the page.

Step 7 – Hit the blue “Activate Server” button. 

Congratulations! You’ve successfully set up your free Minecraft server with Minehut.

PRO TIP: You can go over and join the chat in Discord by clicking on the chat icon in the bottom right of the screen. 

Your Dashboard will look a little something like this:

Once you have set up your server, you’ll want to go into the settings section to configure it to your liking. Firstly you’ll want to grab your server’s address. To get your server’s address go over to the server status section at the right of your page. Your address should be next to the “Connect” title. Make sure you save your server address for future use and to share with friends. Here are some server settings that you can configure to make your server your own.

Changing the look and feel of your server

You can adjust your server’s appearance in Minehut by clicking on the “Server Appearance” tab. You’ll find it on the left of the page, and then you can change the following:

  1. Server Domain — you can change your domain name – to whatever you prefer. You’ll be using this domain name to connect to your server, and so that other people can connect too – so make it something catchy. This is the name that people will see if you make your server publicly listed. 
  2. Server MOTD — in this section you can write a short description of your server and your plans for it.
  3. Server Visibility — this section is important as it allows you to select a public server or an unlisted one. Unlisted makes your server private and only accessible via the link that you’d need to send to your friends. A publicly listed server will be shown so that other people can join in. So it just depends on how you want to play.
  4. 4. Server properties – Select “Server Properties” – then click a category tab and then selecting your preferred options – you can enable or disable server properties here.
  5. World settings – Hit “World Settings” to review the current settings. If you want to add a custom world seed you can do this by altering the text in the “World Seed” section. Save will save your settings and “Reset World” will cancel your new settings. 

PRO TIP: You can upload and save files in the “File Manager” section. However, it’s important to understand exactly what each file does before getting involved with the file manager section.

Alright, now your server is all set up and customized to your liking, it is time to connect and get creating. 

How to Connect to Your Minecraft Server on Minehut

When connecting to your new Minehut server, keep your dashboard open so that you can adjust anything quickly. Then follow the following steps to connect to your server:

Step 1 – Double-tap on the Minecraft icon to open Minecraft and select PLAY at the bottom of the screen.

Step 2 – Tap on Multiplayer

Step 3 – Select “Direct Connect” on the bottom right of the screen. 

Step 4 – Enter your server address (you should have saved it in the setup process above). 

Step 5 – Tap “Join Server” at the bottom of the screen 

Awesome! You’re all set.

PRO TIP: If you are having difficulty connecting to your Minehut server leave it for a while before getting started. If the issue persists then remove any unnecessary plugins as they can interfere with how your server functions.

How Do You Make a Multiplayer Server in Minecraft?

You can make a multiplayer server in Minecraft for up to 10 players for free using Minehut. If you want to add on more players then that will come at a small fee. If you have followed the steps above and created your free Minehut server, then you can add more players by clicking on “Server properties”, on the left of your page. Then select “Max Players” – you can add up to 75 players.

Below you’ll find the current prices to add people onto your server. 

  • 10 (Free)
  • 15 (30 credits/day)
  • 25 (50 credits/day)
  • 35 (75 credits/day)
  • 42 (110 credits/day)
  • 50 (135 credits/day)
  • 60 (170 credits/day)
  • 75 (210 credits/day)

Is Minecraft Educational/ Good For Kids?

Minecraft has a new “Education Edition” that is meant for use in school classrooms. Playing Minecraft offers an opportunity to learn in a fun environment. Students get to work on their creative abilities and mathematics while playing. 

There is a world of resources available to educators who wish to use Minecraft in the classroom, for example, entire lesson plans for Pixel art and grid paper to get creative. The lesson plans are organized by age and subject. You can learn Language and arts by playing “Finding Treasure” or Geography and social good by playing “Humans and Elephants”.

Make a Minecraft Server on Your PC in 5 Steps

You can easily make a Minecraft server on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer at home if you have some technical know-how.  Here is a 100ft view of what you’ll need to do:-

  1. Install Java
  2. Install Minecraft server software
  3. Configure your PC server & network
  4. Start PC server
  5. Check that you can access your server

IMPORTANT: You’ll need to be fairly tech-savvy to be able to create a Minecraft server.

What You Need to Set Up a PC Based Minecraft Server

Before you get started it’s important to check that your PC is up to the task. While you don’t need to pay a fortune for your Minecraft server – most basic laptops won’t do the job. You’ll need a decent desktop PC, preferably not the same computer that you plan to play Minecraft on (if possible).

 It’s also a good idea to connect your Minecraft PC based server directly to the internet using an Ethernet cable, rather than using wireless. The wired internet is still more reliable and powerful than wireless.

Home Server vs Externally Hosted Server

There are a few pros and cons that you should know about before deciding to create a server from home. Here are a few pros and cons to getting started with:

Pros

You are in complete control

Get started straight away

Cheap and easy way to host Minecraft

Allow as many people as you like to join your world

Cons

Your home network will be exposed publicly

Somewhat of a security risk

Very technical

Using a Hosting Provider to Host Minecraft

If you choose a hosting provider for your Minecraft server then you’ll need to choose a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or dedicated server. Shared hosting is not up to the task. This is a more costly option however you could get your friends to help pay for the monthly fee that you’ll incur.

Without further ado, let’s dive into how to set up your Minecraft server on your PC.  Firstly, we’ll start with a Windows PC…

How to Make a Minecraft server with a Windows PC

 

  • Check that you’re using the latest version of Java

 

If you have a very old PC then you probably don’t need to check and you can go straight to Java and download the latest version of Java. 

To check what version your PC is using the latest version of Java go to your windows control panel. You can access it by selecting the windows icon on the far bottom left of your screen. The windows icon looks something like this:

Open a command prompt and then type in java – version and then you should be presented with the Java version number that you are currently using. The latest version at the time of writing this article is “Java SE 8”.

Compare this against the latest Java version on the official Java website. If yours is out of date then download the latest version of Java onto the PC that you are going to use as a server.

How to Open a Command Prompt in Windows

Using the command prompt makes me feel like a real coder. It’s basically how the computer works behind Windows – the old Disk Operating System (DOS) system. 

Use the Windows key and X key to open the command prompt. Select command prompt on menu

Et. Voila! The command prompt should magically appear on your screen. 

  1. Create a dedicated folder for your Minecraft server files.

Create a dedicated folder on your PC for you to run your Minecraft server.  Store the folder in a place that you’ll remember – I’d advise your programs folder or desktop. 

  1. Download Minecraft server software

Visit the official Minecraft website and download the server software. It’s the same one no matter whether you’re using a Mac or Windows OS.

The software comes as a Java .jar file that you should save in your dedicated Minecraft folder. 

Once downloaded, locate the .jar file and double click to open. This will create configuration files that you’ll need to modify.

IMPORTANT: Next you’ll need to accept the End-user license agreement (EULA).  This step is required before using your Minecraft server. 

To accept the EULA open the text file that should be located inside your Minecraft folder called “eula.txt”. Then change the text on the document from eula=false to eula=true.

  1. Public Servers/ Multiplayer Servers

If you want to share your Minecraft server with the world, so that other people outside your home can play with you then you’ll need to enable port forwarding on your server. 

PRO TIP: Only enable port forwarding if you are ok with the security risk. Otherwise, you can still use your Minecraft server locally.

Find out more about port forwarding here

Each router has its instructions on how to configure port forwarding, so look out the instruction manual for the router side. On the Minecraft side, you’ll need to forward TCP port 25565.

Open another command prompt to find out the local IP address of your server (PC) and type ipconfig in the prompt. 

  1. Starting your Minecraft Server

Step 1 – Open a new Windows command prompt.

Step 2– Under the Microsoft logo and info you should see C:\Users\yourpcname> where “yourpcname” is replaced for the actual name of your PC. My PC is called Ranna, as you can see in the screenshot above. Type in cd and the location of your server file. If you saved it in your desktop folder then you can find it by typing cd desktop. Find your Minecraft server. 

Step 3 – Start your server using the following command:


java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar {server file name} nogui
Replace {server file name} with your server file name.

Inviting people over to your new Minecraft World

Once you’ve set everything up you can invite people to connect with your server via your public IP, or if you are playing with people in your home you can use your local IP address.  To find your public IP address simply type “my IP address” into Google. 

Minecraft Server Status Checker

You can check if your Minecraft server is online or offline by pasting your server address into this free Minecraft Server checker service. This will work for any type of public Minecraft server. 


How to Make a Minecraft server on a Mac

  • Check if you have Java installed

If you have a new Mac then you’ll probably have Java pre-installed and you’ll be good to go.  However, if you have an old Mac machine then you’ll need to go to the official Apple website and download the legacy version of Java

  1. Create a dedicated folder for your Minecraft server files.

Create a dedicated folder on your Mac to run your Minecraft server.  Store the folder in a place that you’ll remember – I’d advise your programs folder or desktop. 

  1. Download Minecraft server software

Visit the official Minecraft website and download the server software. It’s the same software for both Windows and Mac OS. 

The software comes as a Java .jar file that you should save in your dedicated Minecraft folder. 

Once downloaded, locate the .jar file and double click to open. This will create configuration files that you’ll need to modify.

  1. Open TextEdit

Open TextEdit (Mac’s version of Notepad). 

Hit “format” and set it to plain text. Copy and paste the following:


#!/bin/bash

cd "$(dirname "$0")"

exec java -Xms1G -Xmx1G -jar {server file name} nogui

(Replace {server file name} with your server file name.)

Name the file start.command and save it in your dedicated Minecraft folder.

  1. Run start. command File

To run the start.command file then you need to open a new terminal. Type the following

chmod a+x

Leave a space after the above command and then drag your start.command file into the terminal window. Hit “Enter”.

What is a MacOS Terminal?

Terminal is the Macs’ version of command prompt. It opens the DOS screen. Use “Control + Option + Shift + T” open a new terminal window.

  1. Public Servers/ Multiplayer Servers

If you want to share your Minecraft server with the world, so that other people outside your home can play with you then you’ll need to enable port forwarding on your server. 

PRO TIP: Only enable port forwarding if you are ok with the security risk. Otherwise, you can still use your Minecraft server locally.

Find out more about port forwarding here

Each router has its instructions on how to configure port forwarding, so look out the instruction manual for the router side of port forwarding. On the Minecraft side, you’ll need to forward TCP port 25565.

Open another terminal to find out the local IP address of your server (PC) and type ipconfig in the prompt. 

You’ll also need to enter your server’s local IP address as the Output IP or Server IP for the forwarded port. This tells the router which device to point at. To find your server’s local IP, open the Terminal and enter ifconfig.

  1. Starting your Minecraft Server

Step 1 – Double-tap the “start.command” file in your dedicated Minecraft folder. A new terminal window should then open. If there are errors, that’s quite normal at this stage. 

Step 2 – Under the Microsoft logo and info you should see C:\Users\yourpcname> where “yourpcname” is replaced for the actual name of your PC. Type in cd and the location of your server file. If you saved it in your desktop folder then you can find it by typing cd desktop. Find your Minecraft server. 

Step 3 – Start your server using the following command:




java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M -jar {server file name} nogui


Replace {server file name} with your server file name.



Inviting people over to your new Minecraft World

Once you’ve set everything up you can invite people to connect with your server via your public IP or if you are playing with people in your home you can use your local IP address.  To find your public IP address simply type “my IP address” into Google. 

Check That Minecraft Server is Working

You can check if your Minecraft server is online or offline by pasting your server address into this free Minecraft Server checker service. This will work for any type of public Minecraft server. 

Make a Minecraft Server With Linux hosting Provider

The security risks that are involved in setting up a public Minecraft server might leave you feeling a bit uneasy. But don’t fret – you can always set up your Minecraft server with an external host such as 1&1 IONOS or Hostinger. We’d suggest using a VPS at first unless you are looking to host the game with a lot of players, then a dedicated server would be your best option.

PRO TIP: Setting up a Minecraft server with a host is quite technical. The easiest way to set a Minecraft server up is with Minehut. However, if you’re confident that you understand server environments, then using a Linux hosting provider is a great idea. 

Pros

Your Local network is secure

You don’t have to manage the hardware

Added security features 

Scale your server up as you need more space

Have as many users as you want

Cons

Can be costly

Need to be fairly experienced

  • Connect  to your host with SSH

 

You’ll need to enable and connect to your web hosting account with SSH (Secure Shell). To do this you’ll need to know the following information:

Your Host (domain name or IP), Username (your primary FTP username), Password (your primary FTP password) and use Port 22.

You’ll require an SSH client to connect. We recommend:

PuTTy for Windows

Terminal for Mac

  • Install Java in 6 Steps

Step 1– Now that you are connected to your host via SSH as the root user enter:

apt-cache search openjdk

You should now see a list of OpenJDK packages that can install Java. 

Step 2 – Select openjdk-7-jdk – the OpenJDK 7 Development Kit.

Step 3 – Enter the following:

apt-get update

Step 4 – Install Then openjdk-7-jdk by entering:

apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk

Step 5 – Wait for prompt then press “Y” to authorize the installation. 

Step 6 – To check that Java has been successfully installed enter

 java -version

This should let you know that Java has been installed and the version that you’ve installed.

3. Create a Directory For Your Minecraft Server Files

Your Minecraft files will be stored in a directory on your server. Create this directory and then switch to that directory.

    mkdir minecraft

    cd minecraft

4. Download Minecraft server files

Run the wget command in your Minecraft directory to download Minecraft server files

wget -O minecraft_server.jar 

5. Install & run “screen”

Installing and running “screen” will allow your server to run when you are not connected. This is particularly important if you have lots of players and you want your server to support. To install and run screen use the following command:

yum install screen

screen

6. Run & Check Your Minecraft Server

java -Xmx512M -Xms560M -jar minecraft_server.jar nogui

PRO TIP: To change the amount of space you are using for your Minecraft server change the “Xmx and –Xms” settings. Make sure that you have enough space and change 560M for 2G to change your allocated space up to 2 Gb of RAM

Check your server is running with the following command:


stop

Edit the “server.properties” file and enter:

enable-query=true

Then save and restart your server. 

Check if your server is running on the free Minecraft Server checker service.

7. Give Your Server a Cool Domain Name

If you want to go the extra mile and create a cool new domain name to point to your server that is possible with your hosting provider. To do this you’ll need to purchase a domain name and point the DNS records to your server. 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to set up your Minecraft server. Minehut is the easiest for complete beginners but is restricted to 10 players. Setting up a Mincraft server from home is great, but it has some security issues. If you want to set up a domain name and have your Minecraft server with a host, then you can do that with a VPS or dedicated server. 

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25 Sep 2019

Best Managed WordPress Hosting in 2019

WordPress is the most popular CMS available on the market. Not only is it easy to setup a blog or website within minutes, it’s endlessly expansive. There’s hundreds of free templates to choose from, thousands of plugins to build you own website and customise it. There’s a whole world of content waiting for you.

Web hosting providers recognise how useful WordPress is. It’s for this reason they offer managed WordPress hosting, which we’ll look into in a moment. Managed WordPress hosting is offered by a wealth of web hosts. I’ve taken the time to research the best managed WordPress hosting available on the market.

What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

Managed WordPress hosting is a perfect way to avoid the time, effort, and trouble of managing your site (from a hosting point of view). Managed WordPress web hosts will maintain your WordPress website’s updates, security, etc. This is a great choice if you don’t have the resources available to do it yourself (and in all honesty it can be safer).

You’ve probably already researched a few managed WordPress web hosts, which is why you’re here. During your travels you probably noticed that managed WordPress hosting is more expensive than shared hosting. Shared hosting is available from as little as 99p per month with the likes of Hostinger, so why is managed hosting so different?

I’m here to answer the what, why and wheres of managed WordPress hosting. We’ll establish some key points:

  • Why managed WordPress hosting is more expensive
  • Is it better to have managed WordPress hosting
  • Do you need managed hosting for your site
  • Is it worth paying extra for
  • Who the best-managed WordPress hosting company is

 

Best Managed WordPress Hosting Overview

Before we take a more in-depth look at the best managed WordPress hosting, here’s an overview of each company and what they have to offer. If you are interested in managed WordPress hosting, I recommend you read the detailed reviews below to ensure you’re choosing the best host for your needs.

Hosting Cost Free Domain Free SSL Storage
SiteGround £2.95/mo No Yes 10GB
BlueHost £3.25/mo Yes Yes 50GB
WP Engine $35/mo No Yes 10GB
DreamHost $16.95/mo No Yes 30GB
Hostinger £0.99/mo No No 10GB

 

Is Managed WordPress Hosting Recommended?

This question can really only be answered by you. Of course, I’ll describe why I think managed WordPress hosting is great, but ultimately it’s your decision. Your website needs may be different to others, as may your time/effort be too.

Managed WordPress hosting is essentially a VIP experience. Most web hosts will offer WordPress support, WordPress optimisation for your site, and automatic updates. It takes the hassle away from WordPress hosting but often costs a little bit extra.

If you like the idea of hosting your own WordPress site but aren’t keen on the price, take a look at our guide on the 7 best free WordPress hosting companies. When it comes to building your own website, there are always many avenues to explore.

 

1: SiteGround

SiteGround is my personal number 1 in terms of web hosting companies. Not only that, they are rated highly within the WordPress community itself and one of the official WordPress hosting providers recommended by others. SiteGround does things differently compared to other managed WordPress web hosts. Their in-house performance add-ons are a great example of how SiteGround are leading the market.

 

 

If you’re looking for affordable managed WordPress hosting, SiteGround ticks the boxes. From only £2.95 per month, you can get the best start on your WordPress journey with 1 hosted website, 10GB web space and essential WordPress features which include:

Free WordPress install
Free WordPress migration
Automatic WordPress updates
24/7 WordPress support
Free daily backup
Free CloudFlare CDN

Considering this is managed WordPress hosting, the features are insanely impressive. Did I mention you’ll get all of that for just £2.95 per month! This is why SiteGround is simply awesome. They don’t just give you a free WordPress install, they make sure your site or blog is fully optimised. CloudFlare CDN will ensure powerful caching, keeping you and your visitors happy. You’ll also get a free SSL certificate too, so you can get your small business up and running in no time.

 

Visit SiteGround.com (£2.95/Month)

 

I’ve boasted about SiteGround’s performance, so let’s take a look at some real facts and figures. When I signed up to SiteGround’s managed WordPress hosting, I started recording my site’s performance. This included my website’s response time, uptime, and page speed loading times.

 

 

Across the space of 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days, my site had zero downtime! That’s right, 100% uptime meaning my site didn’t go down at all, which is absolutely amazing. I’d happily pay extra if all web host’s could offer this kind of performance.

 

 

I have over 12 months of response time records saved for my SiteGround site. The average response time of my website was 713 ms, which is well below the average. My site seemed to perform very well in the U.S., U.K., and other European locations. Unfortunately it didn’t do great in most Asian companies. I queried this with SiteGround and they told me that if my target audience was located within Asia, they could move my site’s server location for better optimisation.

If you haven’t already guessed by now, I think SiteGround is pretty damn good. There’s so many reasons for my love of SiteGround, but as with most things, there are some downsides. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of choosing SiteGround for your managed WordPress hosting:

Amazing WordPress support
Officially recommended WordPress hosting
Free site migration
Speed and performance optimisation

No free domain on signup
Limited to 10GB web space on StartUp

 

Visit SiteGround.com (£2.95/Month)

 

2: BlueHost

Similar to SiteGround, BlueHost is another very popular WordPress web host. It’s one of the recommended WordPress hosting providers, and there’s good reason for it. BlueHost really focus on their customers, aiming to provide the best service and performance possible. Their managed WordPress hosting is no different, offering top quality servers and features for their customers.

 

BlueHost’s managed WordPress hosting starts from just £3.25 per month. This covers an initial term of 36 months, providing WordPress hosting for 1 website. You’ll also get 50GB storage, a free domain (unlike SiteGround), and a free SSL certificate. Also included is the following:

Automatic WordPress install
Automatic WordPress updates
WordPress staging environment
24/7 expert support

Whilst BlueHost may not offer as many features as SiteGround, they still pack a punch where it matters. Their basic managed WordPress hosting provides you with the tools to get started on your first website. If you’re considering starting a small business, this would be a great opportunity to take up BlueHost’s basic plan to test the waters. Their $200 free marketing credit will allow you to explore Microsoft’s adverts and Google Ads to start generating some money.

 

Visit BlueHost.com (£3.25/Month)

 

When I installed my WordPress site, I didn’t optimise any part of it at all. I wanted to see how BlueHost’s fresh install of WordPress compared to other managed WordPress hosts. Some web hosts install ‘helpful’ plugins upon a WordPress installation which can often be more trouble than they’re worth. Thankfully, BlueHost provided me with the best setup to ensure my site was running fast and smoothly with no intervention from me.

 

 

Another pleasant surprise from my managed WordPress web host, BlueHost. During the time I was monitoring my site, I had 100% uptime. This was recorded over a 30 day period, meaning my site was up and running for a month with absolutely no downtime.

 

 

My unoptimised BlueHost WordPress site gave an impressive response time average of 517ms. Again, this is very comfortably within the acceptable response time for a website in 2019. I didn’t have to do anything to achieve these results, which makes me even happier to recommend BlueHost for managed WordPress web hosting.

I found that BlueHost didn’t fluctuate as much in terms of loading times and response times across the world. U.S. visitors would get the best speeds, as is the case with many web hosts. However, this didn’t mean other locations suffered. BlueHost is a fab web host who focus on their customers, providing the best technology for their needs. Here’s some reasons why I love BlueHost, and some points that could do with some improvement:

Free domain & SSL
Recommended by WordPress
Brilliant optimisation

Support can take a while to respond
Slightly more expensive than other hosts

 

Visit BlueHost.com (£3.25/Month)

 

3: WP Engine

WP Engine is one of the leading WordPress platforms. Their web hosting boasts brilliant uptime, security, and updates. In terms of tools and features, WP Engine provides the best for the job. Their managed WordPress hosting will cover automatic backups, 24/7 support, unlimited monthly transfers and much more. Not only that, they also have something called Actionable Intelligence which looks at your website’s insights and performance.

 

 

The reason I’ve placed WP Engine in 3rd place is due to their pricing. Now, before I go into this, I must say that WP Engine is priced much higher than it’s competitors due to the level of managed WordPress hosting they offer. There are 4 price plans on offer, all including free migration, free page performance, and if you sign up annually, you’ll get 2 months free. Some of the main features included on all of their plans are:

Dev, Stage, Prod Environments
Global CDN
SSH Gateway
Free SSL certificates
35+ StudioPress themes free

 

Visit WP Engine

 

After signing up to WP Engine, I installed my WordPress site. For these tests, I don’t optimise WordPress because I want to measure performance against a fresh install. WP Engine optimises installs automatically, providing you fast loading speeds without having to intervene at all. My site loaded in just over a second when I installed it. In fact, it was faster than 90% of tested sites from other competitors on Pingdom.

 

 

My WP Engine site had quite a varied response time. I tested it across multiple locations, including U.K., U.S., Europe and Asia. The minimum response time I got was 254ms which was absolutely amazing. Thankfully, this was located in the U.K. which is where my customer base would be. When the tests hit Asia, the response time did peak up to 1.7s which isn’t great. However, it is still well under the 4 seconds that most sites should be.

My uptime was 100% which I was obviously very happy about. So far in my tests, all three of my top recommended managed WordPress hosting providers haven’t let me down. With no outages recorded, my site was available to view the whole time, which makes for a happy customer, and happy visitors. This is a great example of why managed WordPress hosting is recommended for those with a WordPress blog or website.

Here are the pros and cons of using WP Engine, in my own experience:

Very well optimised for performance
Plenty of staging environments available
Easy to use control panel

Prices are more expensive
Annual payment required for the best prices

 

Visit WP Engine

 

4: DreamHost

DreamHost have been around since 1996. They are a solid and reliable web host, offering shared, VPS and managed WordPress hosting solutions. DreamHost are known for offering high performance web servers which won’t let their customers down. Their managed WordPress hosting really puts this to the test and shows just how great they are. Whilst they may not offer the best in customer support versus some of our other recommended web hosts, their hardware won’t let you down.

 

 

Starting from $16.95 per month, DreamHost is more expensive than SiteGround and BlueHost, but a cheaper alternative to WP Engine. Their DreamPress plan is ideal for WordPress sites with 100k monthly visitors, offering 30GB SSD storage, for faster performance. For the price, you’ll get a free SSL certificate already installed for you, daily backups, 24/7 support, and Jetpack plugin for free.

Although DreamHost has multiple managed WordPress hosting plans, they all include the following for free:

1-click staging environment
Built-in caching
200+ design themes
WP website builder
Free domain with domain privacy

 

Visit DreamHost

 

DreamHost are known for being reliable. For this reason, I was particularly interested in finding out how they fared in my performance tests. I signed up to DreamHost and had my WordPress installation activated for me. I monitored the results of my website’s uptime and response time to see how it handled the pressure.

 

 

DreamHost provided my website with 100% uptime. There wasn’t a moment of downtime or any outages which I was really pleased about. But that’s not what impressed me the most. The average response time on my site was 698ms, and this was recorded across multiple locations. As we’ve seen with other web hosts, response times seem to spike when hitting traffic from Asia, however, DreamHost didn’t really encounter many issues.

The best location for my site was in the U.S., so although this wouldn’t be my target market, it’s good to know. With a maximum response time of just over 1 second, I have no worries about my managed WordPress site with DreamHost. When I did some stress testing on the site, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were no issues, regardless of what I threw at it. This is why I highly recommend DreamHost.

Fast managed WordPress hosting
Plenty of free features included
Suitable for a range of budgets

More expensive than SiteGround and BlueHost
Staging environment included on advanced plan only

 

Visit DreamHost

 

5: Hostinger

Hostinger is a safe and affordable bet when it comes to managed WordPress hosting. Hostinger are a solid hosting company that offer solutions tailored to WordPress users. Their features boast WP-CLI, GIT, and SSH, as well as some useful pre-installed plugins. Whilst this may not suit every user, I’d recommend Hostinger if you want to give managed WordPress hosting a try and you’re on a budget.

 

 

Starting from an incredible 99p per month, you can host 1 WordPress website with Hostinger. This will give you 10GB disk space on an SSD, 100GB bandwidth, and access to their control panel. Their business WordPress hosting includes a free SSL certificate too, rivaling some of the more expensive managed WordPress hosting plans out there. Other features include:

Free email account
Free website builder
99.9% uptime guarantee
24/7/365 support
Pre-installed caching plugins

 

Visit Hostinger (99p /month)

 

Hostinger boast fast loading speeds and response times, according to their website. However, they don’t say what this is based on, or the type of website they’re monitoring. Given they have a 99.9% uptime guarantee, I wanted to test my own managed WordPress hosted Hostinger website.

 

 

I monitored my website and experienced 99.99% uptime. This is great because it’s above Hostinger’s own guarantee, but not as good as I’ve experienced with other hosts. All in all my site had 9 outages lasting a total of 10 minutes. Whilst this isn’t terrible by any means, I did feel a little bit disheartened.

 

 

When testing my WordPress website (which was a fresh install with Hostinger’s pre-installed plugins) I recorded a load time of 1.07 seconds. This is well below the average and faster than 87% of sites tested. I was happy with this result, and look forward to testing my site in the future when I add more and more content to it.

In my experience, Hostinger is a great choice for beginners. If you want to experience hassle-free WordPress hosting, give it a go. You’ll have the reassurance that your WordPress site is up to date as well as receiving the best security updates. If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong at 99p per month. Here’s an overview of the good and bad points to Hostinger:

Reliable and affordable
Free email account
Fast load times

Would prefer 99.99% uptime guarantee
No SSL included on basic and mid-range plans

 

Visit Hostinger (99p /month)

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25 Sep 2019

8 Cloud Storage Solutions Covering HIPAA Compliance & Privacy

HIPAA compliance is no joke – unsecured health information can seriously damage an individual and also the healthcare provider. The sensitive information held on healthcare records must be stored securely otherwise there can be some serious consequences. Shockingly surveys have found that 59% of doctors have written an offensive remark on someone’s medical records. You have a legal right to access your own medical records to check whether this has happened to you. Surprisingly, the researchers also found that:

Most patients don’t care unless it affects them, like a diagnosis that has a social stigma or has do with insurance coverage

That being said, it’s one thing to access your own health records, but a hacker gaining access is another story. For that reason an assigned Medical Technician must take extra measures to ensure that medical records are kept secure. That includes using cloud storage solutions that comply with HIPAA and cannot be hacked.

Finding an HIPAA compliant cloud storage facility is not easy. That is why I’ve created this article, so that you can find out more about HIPAA cloud storage and easily access / compare HIPAA cloud hosting options. 

What Is The Purpose of HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This bill was signed back in 1996 by Bill Clinton when he was president of the US. HIPAA is designed to offer protection to workers when they change or lose their jobs and also to protect health data, integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

The data protection (accountability) aspect of HIPAA is relevant to cloud storage, especially for healthcare companies. Violations of this bill come at serious costs to the healthcare provider. 

Privacy8 Cloud Storage Solutions Covering HIPAA Compliance & Privacy #law #cloudstorage #HIPAA Click To Tweet

How Much Does a HIPAA Violation Cost?

While you could get a small fine for a violation of HIPAA records, the fee is generally upwards of $100 per record to $50,000. The maximum fine that you can get for an HIPAA violation is $1.5 million. What’s more once a federal investigator has found an HIPAA breach the name of the practice is listed on the “Wall of Shame” and cannot be removed. Even companies who are under investigation for a breach of HIPAA appear on this page.  

Medical Technicians should get training for HIPAA compliance and also the development of a Risk Analysis and Management Plan. The cost for this is in the region of $2-$10k however, that’s a small price when you consider the cost of HIPAA violation fines.

In reality there is no true HIPAA-compliant cloud storage provider. The responsibility for setting up the tools required always falls in the lap of the healthcare provider. While the cloud storage provider can provide the tools, the healthcare provider must set them up. With that in mind let’s look at the best HIPAA-compliant cloud storage solutions and see what they can offer you.

HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Storage Providers

1. Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most famous cloud storage solutions on the planet right now, but Dropbox it truly HPAA compliant? And can you share protected health information (PHI) with Dropbox?

Dropbox openly states that they support HIPAA and HITECH Act compliance. To make their product truly HPAA compliant, the healthcare provider must set up and use the platform in the correct way. Dropbox will need to sign a business associate agreement with HIPAA-covered entities, which they are prepared to do. Thankfully, it’s really easy to sign the BAA with an electronic signature.

Dropbox Business Service is really cheap, at just $12.50 for up to five users. They also provide unlimited storage, which is a great bonus and also document recovery services. However, you must also set up your account so as no files can be deleted. 

One thing to note is that Dropbox allows you to use third party apps, and these apps will not be covered by the BAA that they’ve signed with you – so that is one to look out for. In saying that JotForm’s HIPAA-compliant form-building service is covered by the BAA, and is extremely useful for Healthcare Providers. There are certain aspects of HIPAA that require the correct configuration of Dropbox. For example you must disable permanent deletions of files, which is pretty easy to do in the admin console.

Pros
  • Share/ store PHI files within HIPAA rules
  • Easy to sign BAA and be covered against HIPAA
  • Need to configure account to be covered with BAA
  • Cost effective
Cons
  • Third party apps not covered with BAA

2. Atlantic.net

Atlantic.net is an award winning HIPAA cloud storage solution. They won the “Best HIPAA Platform Provider in 2018″ award and the “Best Patient Data Security Solution” award in 2019. Atlantic.net  also offer HIPAA hosting. Atlantic.net are fully HIPAA compliant and audited by HIPAA. To find out the cost you need to get in touch to discuss your individual needs. 

Atlantic.net has also implemented a robust hosting solution, including management services for Healthcare companies. Including the following features: Firewall, Encrypted VPN – for secure file transfer, Offsite backups – to ensure that medical records can always be retrieved, Multifactor authentication – via mobile phone to ensure that each user that accesses the account is who they say they are. 

All files are stored in a private hosted environment – Atlantic.net has secured the resources by privatizing the infrastructure.  They also implement SSL certificates site wide – for security and credibility. They have SSAE 18 certification and will sign a Business associate agreement (BAA).

Pros
  • HIPAA Audited
  • HIPAA Compliant
  • Multifactor authentication
  • Offsite backups
  • Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit (AES-256)
  • 24x7x365 Security, Support, & Monitoring
Cons
  • Price not displayed
  • You need to contact their sales dept to set up your cloud storage account

3. Box

Box has some nice features for healthcare users, for example they offer access monitoring and audit trails which allows you to verify what data was accessed, when and by whom. Box is extremely straightforward to use and integrates with Salesforce, JotForm and Google, while respecting PHI security. I love the fact that you can securely view Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) files, like x-rays, ultrasounds, and CTs. 

With Box you pay by user and the minimum amount of users for their business account is 3 users. It’s about $15 per user, so the minimum you’ll be paying is $45 per month, which is expensive compared to other cloud storage platforms

Box has created their HIPAA offering with the healthcare business in mind. They say that they offer “HIPAA-compliant access to critical documents in the exam room or on-the-go”. You have peace of mind when you use Box, as they have been HIPAA compliant since 2012. Box offers a “Box for Healthcare service” that allows you to integrate seamlessly with IBM, Microsoft, Apple, TigerText, eHealth Technologies, and EDCO Health apps. As always you’ll need to obtain a BAA from Box before you can consider their service HIPAA compliant. 

Pros
  • View DICOM files
  • Feature rich
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Integrate with professional healthcare apps
  • Advanced reporting tools
  • Works on any device

Free trial

Cons
  • Expensive
  • Configuration required

4. Tresorit

Tresorit is a European cloud storage solution. They offer end-to end encryption and Swiss privacy and say that they are the most secure place for your files on the cloud – but are they? 

Tresorit are HIPAA compliant and allow secure file storage and sharing. They encrypt data using 256-bit keys on your device. Tresorit has a secure file transfer method that has the benefit of looking professional. That way, healthcare providers can send sensitive medical files securely via secure branded folder links. 

They also have some nice features, for example you can track activity on shared files and add your institution’s branding. Tresorit offers a 1TB Business account that can be used with up to 10 people in your organization for just $10 per month. You can give them a go for FREE for 14 days.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • 14 day free trial
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Feature rich
  • Secure
Cons
  • Not unlimited space

5. Carbonite

You might not have heard of Carbonite, but in fact they are a popular cloud storage company with a particular affinity for security. Plus they’ve been around since 2005 and now have over 1. 5 million users, which is reassuring. You’ll need to get a “Carbonite Safe Backup Pro” or “Carbonite Safe Server Backup” plan to take advantage of Carbonite’s HIPAA compliance. 

Carbonite is abides by the Massachusetts Data Security Regulation (201 CMR 17) as well as taking all of the necessary steps to help their customers comply with HIPAA. You’ll need to a BAA from their sales team via phone or email to get that set up.

Payment for Carbonite is done on an organizational size basis. So you’ll pay more if you have a larger organization, but not for each individual user, like you have to do with Box. Access to Carbonite starts at $249.99 per year and goes up to around $1299.99 for large companies.  This could work out well if you have a tonne of users who you want to add to the cloud storage plan. 

Pros
  • Established for a long time
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Massachusetts Data Security Regulation (201 CMR 17)
  • Pay one organization wide fee
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No auto BAA capability

6. Rackspace

Rackspace offer cloud storage solutions for a wide range of risk and compliance issues, due to the cost of non-compliance, it’s always good to get that aspect of your business organized. Rackspace make you feel like they take the stress out of stringent audits as they offer products for just about every regulation and certification. 

However, the approach to handling the data at the institution level is still important. Rackspace do have certified security experts that you can speak to and get help with compliance issues. Rackspace encourages customers to get in touch with them to “start the conversation”. Rackspace is great for people who are looking for more guidance in the area of HIPAA.

Pros
  • Experts in compliance
  • HIPAA compliant
Cons
  • You need to contact them to set up your account

7. Google Drive

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know about Google and their product Google Drive. Google Drive is a cloud hosting service that comes bundled with your Gmail account. If you have a Gmail account, you have access to Google Drive. You’ll also automatically get up to 15MB storage free of charge. 

Bear in mind – not all of the features on Google Drive suite are HIPAA compliant. However, the basic Google cloud software programs like sheets, docs and slides can be fully compliant. To make your Google Drive account HIPAA compliant you’ll need to request a BAA from Google. 

PHI security can be managed by changing file permissions.  Google drive is really easy to use and cheap too! You get 30GB for just $5. The only real concern I would have with using Google Drive would be the fact that Google employees have the right to take a peek at your data, which might not sit well with patients, if they found out.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Easy to use
  • Privacy issues with Google
Cons
  • Not unlimited storage

8. Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is HIPAA compliant and is a good choice for healthcare organizations. Microsoft states that despite there being no official certification for HIPAA or HITECH Act compliance (at present) – “Microsoft services covered under the BAA have undergone audits conducted by accredited independent auditors for the Microsoft ISO/IEC 27001 certification”, which is certainly reassuring. 

To make your OneDrive account HIPAA compliant you’ll need to request a BAA from Microsoft.  Microsoft encourages healthcare providers to deploy Azure PaaS solution to securely ingest, store, analyze, and interact with health data. They provide a HIPAA/HITRUST Blueprint  as well as comprehensive documents on HIPAA data and their platform’s AI capabilities.

Make sure to choose the OneDrive for business solution rather than their consumer package, because the consumer package isn’t HIPAA compliant. Again, you’ll need to sign a BAA with Microsoft to make OneDrive HIPAA compliant. 

Pros
  • Easy to organise files
  • Secure collaboration tools
  • Files are individually encrypted
Cons
  • Like Google – Microsoft reserves the right to look at your data

In Conclusion

In all instances you’ll need to get a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) signed by the cloud storage company as part of your HIPAA compliance. I particularly like companies who have a healthcare focus or a compliance focus, when looking for an HIPAA compliant cloud storage provider. 

Box is a good option if you don’t mind the cost. Dropbox is great as they offer unlimited storage and they are cheap as chips. Atlantic.net is also good as they know all about compliance issues. Drive and Microsoft reserve the right to view your files, so you might not want to go with them if security is your focus.

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20 Sep 2019

Best SEO Website Hosts of 2019

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a major focus for many website owners. Quite rightly so, as so many of us use Google for just about everything. Businesses want to come up in the organic search results, preferably on the first page. Google is continually optimizing it’s ranking algorithms so that we get the best content appearing on our screen.

At least, that is the idea. Contrary to popular belief, filling your website with the best keywords and metatags is not the only approach to driving traffic to your website. The speed, server location, security, backups, uptimes and accessibility of your website also play a major role in SEO.

What is SEO Hosting?

There are several factors that web hosting (in particular) plays in the ability for a website to perform well in the search engines. With over 1.94 billion websites, the search engines are getting crowded and website owners need to deploy as many SEO strategies as they possibly can to beat the mounting competition. 

In this article, we’ll explore the 5 search engine results pages (SERPs) factors that are impacted by your website host. As well as the 9 of the top SEO hosting providers of 2019, in a variety of areas, that offer the best possible solutions. 

5 SEO Hosting Factors to Consider

#1 | WEBSITE SPEED

You’ll want your website host to have set up their servers in such a way that the website pages load fast. There are several factors that go into making a website fast, one of which is the server location. Google takes the time it takes for a site to load into consideration when deciding which results to show on the front page. The server location is also important for other reasons, as you will see in factor #2. You’ll want to look at the page load times offered by your chosen hosting provider if SEO is your primary objective, as the search engines downgrade sites that take to long to load. 

#2 | SERVER LOCATION

The search engines take the server location into consideration when showing results. For example, if you are searching in the UK, then the first set of results are going to be from the UK. So you need to know who you want to visit your website and take this into consideration when selecting your website hosts. One way to get around this, if you are looking to serve people in a wide range of locations throughout the world is to have a version of your website for the main countries that you want to target. Have you ever seen the country selection, normally with flags next to them as you land on a site? That’s because they check your IP address to make sure that you are seeing the closest server to your actual location. 

#3 | UPTIME

Uptime is the amount of time that your site is online. Uptime is the opposite of downtime, which is the amount of time your website is offline. The search engines take into consideration the amount of time that your site is online. If it goes offline too often then your site could lose its search engine rank. So say for instance you get lots of SEO done on your website – tags, content, titles, page titles, and metatags are all on point. Your site starts to rise in the search engine and gets to the front page for your desired search term. Then your website goes down for a few days, it’ll likely lose its page rank. The reason that Google and other search engines take this into consideration is so that when you find a website, the link doesn’t take you to a dead end. 

When it comes to uptime and speed, most hosting providers will boast a 99.9% uptime, but make sure that they are being honest about that – look for an “uptime guarantee”. Hosting providers need to ensure that they have suitable generators and backup solutions to keep websites on 24/7/365. Also ensure that your host isn’t in a location that is prone to natural disasters, as that can affect your uptime.  

#4 | EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SUPPORT

I can’t state enough how important it is to have a responsive website host. You’ll want them to be on the ball and ready to help you the second you need it. Issues need to be resolved ASAP when it comes to maintaining a high ranking website. Bear in mind, many companies respond nicely to prospective customers, however when you become a customer and are paying them, they step back and you can get substandard service. If you can, make sure that your new host is focused on swift technical support, so that you can eliminate any issues the second they arise. Leaving things off can drop your ranking that has taken a long time to build up.

The ability for a website host to help you boost your search engine results pages (SERPs) raking (eg. to get to the top/ first page of Google) can differ depending on your website needs. You’ll need to choose a website host that offers tools in the area that best suit your business, for example, a blog, eCommerce store and a WordPress website all have differing requirements in relation to SEO.

#5 | SEO TOOLS & FEATURES

Check out the type of SEO features that your new hosting partner offers – both free and paid. Some hosts offer great tools for an extra fee, while others offer some great tools free of charge. SEO tools can enhance your search engine presence. 

9 Best SEO Website Hosts of 2019

Let’s dive into the Best SEO Website Hosts of 2019, these are SEO website hosting providers that should fit most requirements. Check out the “BEST FOR” under each hosting provider to select an SEO host that fits your needs.

1. A2 Hosting

BEST FOR – Customizable hosting packages

A2 Hosting is another large hosting provider rooted in the US. They offer just about every type of hosting that you could possibly need, from cloud hosting to dedicated servers, and everything in between. One thing that is great about A2 Hosting is that they know that each website owner has specific needs. For that reason, they offer a flexible, customized service so that you can create your hosting environment exactly as required. A2 Hosting is a great hosting partner for this reason.

A2 Hosting SEO Features

A2 Hosting offers 5 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Free SEO Tools and Plugins
  • Free Website Transfer
  • 99.9% Uptime Guarantee 
  • Blazingly Fast Servers
  • Multiple Data Centers

 

Free SEO Tools and Plugins

The SEO tools and plugins offered from A2 Hosting are brilliant, plus they are easy to implement – directly from your user dashboard. Best of all they are completely free.  They do this by implementing the world’s most popular SEO tools called “Attracta”. Attracta is dedicated to providing the best in class SEO packages that get you ranked highly on the search engines.

Free Website Transfer

The downtime that people often experience when porting their website over to a new host can negatively impact your SEO efforts. Therefore free website transfer that is completed by experts keeps the whole migration process smoothe. A2 hosting offer a completely free website migration service, which assures that your website is kept online with minimum disturbance to your site or your SEO. 

99.9% Uptime Guarantee 

A2 Hosting offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee. This means that they have gone to extreme lengths to ensure that their tech stays online as much as is humanly possible. It’s important that your SEO host offers this type of guarantee as downtime can drastically reduce your search engine ranking (SERP). 

Blazingly Fast Servers

A2 Hosting is a great option if you are looking for a host that provides fast server speeds to enhance SEO and user experience. The speed at which your pages load alters the SERP ranking of your website. A2 Hosting’s servers are 20x faster than regular servers, so you have checked this SEO item off your list if you go with A2 Hosting. 

Multiple Data Centers

If you’re looking for an SEO-friendly host, then making sure that they have a server in your desired area is a must. This is not necessarily your own physical location, but it should be the physical location of your desired website audienceA2 Hosting has servers in just about every area of the world, such as Argentina, Brazil, the US, Australia, and China. So no matter where you want to place your website – A2 Hosting has you covered. 

2. Bluehost

BEST FOR –Beginners due to their one-click & shared hosting packages

Bluehost is one of the most infamous web hosts on the planet and they power over 2 million websites all over the world. Many people choose Bluehost because they offer a one-click WordPress install and optimized options. They also have some decent shared hosting plans that are great for people who are just starting out. They offer 4 shared hosting plans that differ according to the amount of storage space/ bandwidth that you need. 

Bluehost SEO Features

Bluehost offers 4 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Unlimited Storage Space
  • Unmetered Bandwidth
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Free Website Statistics

 

Unlimited Storage Space

Unless you go with their very basic plan, you’ll get unlimited storage space from Bluehost. This impacts your SEO efforts as it can impact page load times. As we covered above, the speed of your website is a key determining factor in Google’s algorithms. Unlimited storage space is ideal for people who are running an eCommerce store or have lots of images/ data to transfer.  

Another way that unlimited storage space impacts SEO is that you can cache your pages, meaning your site performs better and can accommodate high traffic. A site that doesn’t have unlimited storage space could go down if it gets too busy. This would negatively impact your SERP and could take months to restore. 

Unmetered Bandwidth

The bandwidth of your website determines how well it performs, it affects load times and therefore can impact your SEO efforts. Bluehost offers “unmetered bandwidth” which essentially means that your site will run smoothly and pages will load fast. 

Free SSL certificate

As we covered in a previous article, an SSL certificate (HTTPS) is another important factor that is taken into account by Google. Bluehost has you covered, they offer a simple one-click SSL certificate for free with their hosting packages. Which covers this aspect of SEO. 

Free Website Statistics

To improve the SEO of your website, then you need to measure how well it’s performing. Bluehost offers several web stat tools Google Analytics, Awstats and Webalizer for free so that you can assess how well your website is performing. When you know the stats you can take measures to tweak your site and enhance performance.

3. Fat Cow

BEST FOR -Budget SEO website hosting

If your budget is something you’re basing your choices on, then Fat Cow could be a good solution for you. Fat Cow is owned by Endurance International Group, which also owns other website hosting companies like Bluehost and iPage. They’ve also been around for two decades, so they have a lot of experience. Fat Cow has a strong focus on SEO and for this reason, it makes our list. 

Fat Cow SEO Features

Fat Cow offers 4 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Fast Page Load Speeds
  • Free Daily Backups
  • Unlimited Disk space and Bandwidth
  • Free SSL Certificate

 

Fast Page Load Speeds

Ensuring that your pages load incredibly fast is a priority for an SEO hosting provider. The speeds that your pages load impacts the SERP ranking. Fat Cow has invested in next-gen technologies, that ensure that your web pages load instantly. 

Free Daily Backups

Website hacking is an increasing issue that can result in downtime as you try to ascertain what has happened to your website. Having a backup can save much needed time, effort and heartache. It would be terrible for your website to be hacked, and worse still to lose it’s SERP ranking due to the fact that it experiences some downtime. Having a backup is the ideal solution. You can then simply restore your website to a previous version. The fact that Fat Cow offers free daily backups is fabulous. 

Unlimited Disk Space and Bandwidth

Fat Cow is very generous when it comes to disk space and bandwidth. They don’t put any restrictions on either resource. This means that your website will stay online and perform faster. Downtime or slow websites negatively impact the SERP rankings of your site, so making sure that this aspect is covered with an “unlimited” amount of storage space and bandwidth offers peace of mind. 

FREE SSL

A Socket Secure Layer (SSL) certificate is required for Google to rank your website. If you don’t have this sort of encryption on your site then Google (and other search engines for that matter) deem your website unsecure. Fat Cow offers a free SSL certificate that you can activate in your account management area.

4. HostGator

BEST FOR – Scalable SEO web hosting

HostGator is another giant in the website hosting space, they power over 9 million websites all around the world. They offer just about every type of hosting that you can imagine and are also pretty decent on the SEO hosting front. 

HostGator SEO Features

HostGator offers 5 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • 99.9% Uptime Guarantee
  • Free Website Transfer
  • 24/7/365 Customer Support 
  • Unlimited Bandwidth and Web Space
  • Free SSL Certificate

 

99.9% Uptime Guarantee

HostGator offers an honorable – 99.9% uptime guarantee. Therefore you can rest assured that your website will not lose it’s SERP rankings due to downtime. 

Free Website Transfer

If you decide that you want to port your website over to HostGator, then you can do so with little to no downtime. They offer this service free of charge, which can take the headache of moving to a new host out of the equation. Also, your site will experience minimal disturbance when moving over to HostGator, which should mean your SERP ranking is kept intact. 

24/7/365 Customer Support 

Making sure that your SEO hosting provider has great customer service, that are available whenever you need them is of utmost importance. HostGator has a great track record when it comes to reliable, responsive customer support. They offer a variety of ways to get in touch with them via live chat, phone, and email. You never know when you might need the tech team to help you so having them by your site 24/7/365 is perfect when you are looking to optimize your website’s SERP ranking. 

 

Unlimited Bandwidth and Web Space

Enjoy fast load times with HostGator with their unlimited bandwidth and unlimited webspace. Both the webspace and bandwidth can restrict your website’s performance, especially if you have a lot of visitors coming to your website. Knowing that you have unlimited space and bandwidth will ensure that your pages load faster and your site should not experience downtime related to having not enough space. 

5. WP Engine

BEST FOR – WordPress Websites

If you’re looking for an SEO hosting provider that specializes in WordPress, then WP Engine could be for you. WP Engine has geared its entire offering towards providing an end-to-end hosting experience specifically for people who have built (or are going to build) their website in WordPress. They are a great company for speed, security and website owners that want their hosting provider to seamlessly scale with the company. 

WP Engine SEO Features

WP Engine offers 4 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Speed – Fast Page Load 
  • Security
  • Servers Located Across the Globe
  • SEO Tools and Plugins

 

Speed – Fast Page Load 

Ensuring that your website pages load as fast as possible is a must for an SEO website hosting provider. The quicker they load, the better as far as both users and the search engines are concerned. Google is focused on providing access to the best websites out there, and for this reason, they take the speed at which your web pages load seriously. Thankfully the cache system that WP Engine uses optimizes your website speed for both desktop and mobile users. 

Security

Another aspect of your website that Google factors in when ranking it is security. You must have an SSL certificate if you want your website to rank at all. WP Engine has you covered, they offer a free SSL certificate so that your website will appear as HTTPS instead of HTTP. This means that data is encrypted and the experience is safer for everyone involved. Additionally, if you don’t have an SSL certificate then your website visitors will see a warning message upon entering your website. To avoid your visitors lacking trust in your website, and the fact that you’ll not get onto the first page of google until your site is secured, quickly activate the free SSL that you get from WP Engine. 

Servers Located Across the Globe

The location of your server is important for load times and your SEO ranking. Google shows locally hosted websites first, as well as giving a higher status to pages that load faster. For this reason, the fact that WP Engine has servers located in a variety of international locations is a great reason to select this hosting provider. They have servers in places like Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ireland, and the US. You’ll want to select a server that is located close to your target customer/ website visitor location. People from other countries will still be able to visit your website, however, they might face slightly longer load times. 

SEO Tools and Plugins

WordPress has some great SEO plugins that you can use to optimize your WordPress website for the search engines. This can improve your SERP ranking and in return drive more traffic to your website. 

6. iPage

BEST FOR – Small businesses and individuals

iPage has been around for two decades and is now owned by Endurance International Group. They power over 1 million websites and specialize in offering cost-effective hosting packages for small businesses and individuals. One downside of going with iPage is that you need to pay an extra $99 to use their SEO tools. But for this price, they’ll do SEO copywriting, back-links and reporting for your website, which sounds like a pretty decent deal.

iPage SEO Features

iPage offers 5 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Fast Page Load Speed
  • 99.97% Uptime Guarantee
  • Free SSL Certificate
  • Unlimited Disk Space 
  • Professional Email Address

 

Fast Page Load Speed

iPage is focused on ensuring that pages load as fast as possible. They even have blogs written to help you further your efforts in regards to improving your website page load speed. Making sure that your website pages load fast is a key factor in whether or not you get ranked highly in Google or not. 

99.97% Uptime Guarantee

Selecting a host that provides a guarantee as to how much time your website might go down is important. If your website goes down for any length of time, this can negatively impact your SERP ranking. Thankfully iPage has a nice 99.97% uptime guarantee, so they have covered that base for you.

Free SSL Certificate

In the past it was ok to have a website that had just an HTTP prefix to their websites, meaning they were unsecured. Fast forward to today and it is now a crucial factor for your website security, SEO and for customer trust. You’ll get a free SSL certificate from iPage so that your site will have the HTTPS prefix, meaning that your data is encrypted and secure. They also offer SiteLock which will provide an extra layer of protection against cyber threats. If your site goes down due to a hacking attempt, this can destroy your SERP ranking, so this extra layer of protection is awesome. 

Unlimited Disk Space 

With iPage you’ll get unlimited disk space. This is important for SEO because if you run out of disk space your website will run slowly (impacting your SERP ranking) and ultimately your website will break and could go down, which also affects your SEO. They also offer scalable bandwidth which allows your website to expand as and when required. 

Professional Email Address

iPage provides you with a free business email address that you can manage in Webmail. This won’t improve your search engine rankings, however by using your professional email address, you’ll be spreading the word about your website and in turn, you’ll get more traffic over to your website. The more visitors you get, the more popular your website is and the higher the value assigned by Google and other search engines. 

7. DreamHost

BEST FOR –  Uptime – DreamHost offers an outstanding 100% uptime guarantee.

DreamHost is an award-winning website host that is based in the US and was founded 23 years ago. DreamHost offers an amazing 100% uptime guarantee, which is brilliant for your search engine optimization.

DreamHost SEO Features

DreamHost offers 4 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Free SSL Certificate
  • 100% Uptime Guarantee
  • Fast Page Load Speeds
  • 24/7/365 Customer Support

 

Free SSL Certificate

If you choose DreamHost as your SEO hosting provider then you’ll get a free SSL certificate, no matter what plan you decide to go for. They also offer some other security features that will help your site stay online, benefiting your SERP ranking. For example, they also offer Multi-Factor Authentication to make sure that hackers can’t do a breach of entry. 

100% Uptime Guarantee

I don’t know how they do it, other than investing in some serious tech, but DreamHost offers an unheard of 100% uptime guarantee. This means that your site should never go down due to a server issue. This is great for your SEO efforts, as your site is always online is a factor that Google looks at when deciding what sites should appear on the first page of their search engine. 

Fast Page Load Speeds

The fast load speeds offered by DreamHost are also due to their strong server infrastructure and environment. The fast page load speeds are an important factor that Google looks at when deciding what websites rise to the top. 

24/7/365 Customer Support

DreamHost is great for customer support, you can get in touch with them at any time of the day or night and a tech expert will be on the other end of the phone, email or chat – ready to help you. This will ensure that you can get instant support when needed, avoiding any disruptions that might mean that your websites SEO suffers. 

8. InMotion Hosting

BEST FOR – Green data centers & auto backups

InMotion Hosting is a reputable SEO website host that has been around for the past 18 years. InMotion offer hosting that is good for the environment out of their Green Data Centers

InMotion Hosting SEO Features

  • Free Auto Backup Service
  • Free SSL Certificate
  • Fast Page Load Speed

 

Free Auto Backup Service

It’s always nice when a company offers free backups, especially when they are automatic. It’s just one more thing off your mind. A backup is crucial for timely recovery from your website being hacked. If your website goes offline, then it negatively impacts your SERP ranking, so it’s important to ensure that you always have a recent backup of your website. 

Free SSL Certificate

If you choose InMotion as your hosting partner then you’ll get a free SSL certificate. HTTPS or a website that is secured with an SSL certificate is one of the critical factors for SEO. Quite simply put, if you don’t have an SSL certificate, your website will not rank highly in Google, period. InMotion also offers other advanced security features like DDoS protection which will further prevent your website from being hacked. Like they say – “prevention is better than a cure”. 

Fast Page Load Speed

Making sure that your website loads fast is now an important factor from both an SEO and an end-user perspective. InMotion has some decent tech to ensure that your website loads fast, which is great for SEO. 

9. CloudWays

BEST FOR – Cloud-based SEO hosting for WordPress websites.

CloudWays is a cloud hosting provider that focuses on SEO WordPress hosting. They offer managed cloud-based hosting so that you don’t need to worry about managing your server, which can be tricky at times. 

CloudWays SEO Features

CloudWays offers 5 key SEO-friendly features, as follows:

  • Free Website Transfer
  • Free SSL Certificate
  • Fast Load Times
  • Easy 1-Click Backups
  • 24/7 Human Support

 

Free Website Transfer

Free, professional website transfer is important if you have already been doing SEO work on your website. If your website goes down while you upload and download files (which can take a long time) then you’ll lose your SERP ranking. CloudWays takes this headache away by providing free website transfer when you move your site over to them. Making sure that you minimize downtime due to the migration.

Free SSL Certificates

Cloudways is free and easy when it comes to SSL certificates. You can deploy multiple free SSL certificates to ensure that your sites are secure and also SEO-friendly. 

Fast Load Times

The server infrastructure that Cloudways has implemented ensures fast load times. This is great for your SEO efforts, as the search engines will only rank sites that load quickly. They use a custom-designed server stack called Thunderstack which optimizes their cloud servers for speed.  

Easy 1-Click Backups

In the event that your website gets hacked (which is becoming increasingly more likely, especially for WordPress websites) it is great to be able to quickly and easily restore your site to a previous working version. For this reason and the fact that any downtime is frowned upon by google the easy 1-click backups offered by CloudWays is ideal for your peace of mind. 

24/7 Human Support

Getting in touch with a person is the fastest and by far the easiest way to iron out any issues that you may have with your hosting provider. 

All in All

I have outlined some of the best options for SEO-friendly website hosting. Which one you go for depends on your individual requirements. For example, WP Engine and CloudWays are exclusively WordPress hosts. While InMotion, Dreamhost’s or BlueHost allow other CMS solutions. Check out the “BEST FOR” section under each of the above hosts to select the best solution to fit your needs.

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13 Sep 2019

Best DIY Cloud Storage Tools of 2019: Build Your Own Cloud Storage

Looking to have total control over your cloud server environment? Then perhaps you’d like to take a leap of faith and create your own cloud server. Building your own cloud server is an honourable undertaking that will reap many rewards. You can have total control over your data, the best level of privacy possible (if you configure everything properly) and you can install whatever you like on your cloud server environment.

Perhaps you want to be able to access your private files while traveling and think that making your own cloud server is the best option. If you are keen on giving it a go, then this article is for you. I’ll give you all of the tools that you need plus a step by step guide for each solution to make the process as easy as possible. 

While a cloud server is a virtual server, it’s still imperative to have hardware and software to create your own cloud server. Therefore, you’ll need to invest in either equipment or a virtual host. It’s not a process for the light hearted, so if you are not convinced you want to create your own cloud server after reading this article then check out our guide to the best cloud storage providers.

DIY Cloud Storage vs Professional Cloud Storage

Probably one of the most obvious up-sides to using a ready-made cloud storage solution is the fact that you’ll not need to buy hardware, or install any software. Normally you go ahead and buy cloud storage, and you’re ready to go. However, often there are restrictions on uploads, downloads and often there can be privacy issues with public solutions.

Consumers are often uneasy with the worrying trend of hackers gaining access to sensitive files on the cloud. However there are now decentralized blockchain-backed cloud platforms, where decentralization increases security. Perhaps in the future we’ll write another article about how to set up your own decentralized blockchain-backed cloud server. 

But in this article we’ll get started with setting up a basic cloud storage solution that you can customize as you require. One thing that you can do with your own cloud is set it up so that it fully complies with your industries legal requirements, for example if you require solutions to adhere to HIPAA legislation. 

Bear in mind that you’ll need to be quite technically adept to be able to setup your own cloud server. This step-by-step guide has been designed to make it as simple as possible and provides you with everything that you need to know to get your cloud server up and running. You’ll need to install server software and also download client software. We’ll discuss what software you need for all of your devices.

Benefits of Setting Up Your Own DIY Cloud

Setting up your own cloud storage solution is like having your own private Dropbox, where you are in complete control. To create your own cloud you’ll need the help of server and client software. There are several solutions that you can choose from, in this article we’ll discuss five of the best DIY cloud storage tools on the market.  In order of best to worst (in my opinion)

What is Client Software?

A client is the device or software that is accessing the data on your server. For example, if you’re accessing the internet, then your device is the client – often referred to as “Client-side”. Client software works to sync folders. Sync folders are folders that you create on your pc or device that then coincide with the folders on the cloud. 

There are a wide range of DIY cloud storage tools that will allow you to access your content remotely. One approach is to access your content using a browser interface. This is called browser-based software. Often it is easier to use this type of software, as you can then access your DIY cloud from any device, others can access your data if you allow them to have the credentials and you don’t need to install software on every device. 

Minimum Hardware Required to Set-up your Cloud Storage Solution

In most cases these will be the minimum requirements for hardware spec. There is no upper level, the better the computer you have, the faster your cloud storage will perform. Here are the minimum hardware requirements, if you’re using you’re your home pc/ device:

  • DDR2-era 64bit PC/laptop that can stay on 24/7 (or anything better than these specs)
  • Home / enterprise grade server
  • Raspberry Pi 2 / 3 that can run Ubuntu Snappy Core

Let’s now dive deep into the currently available DIY cloud storage tools, the pros and cons to decide what would be the best solution for you. 

Nextcloud

Nextcloud is similar to ownCloud, with a few differences. Nextcloud was created by duplicating (forking) ownCloud and then working on it to take it down a different path.  Nextcloud is basically an upgraded version of ownCloud. 

Nextcloud have an open source version that you can use for FREE. This is perfect if you’re just starting out, and it should have everything that you need. Their enterprise edition allows 50 to 10 million users – you pay more for additional users. Nextcloud offers some great collaboration tools for you to use on your DIY cloud storage system. They also offer smartphone apps that work on both Android and iOS.

Nextcloud Packages and Pricing

When upgrading to their premium plan the benefits seem quite scarce. Sure, you can add on additional users, which is great. However, the main bonus seems to be a faster support team response. They do have additional apps and features as you move up the ranks that will become more apparent as you get to know their tools. Here are the three enterprise packages from Nextcloud:

  • Basic – 50 users, €1900 p/a
  • Standard -50 users, €3400 p/a
  • Premium – 50 users, €4900 p/a

Nextcloud Hardware & Software Requirements

You need to be running a version of Ubuntu that supports snaps – the latest version of Ubuntu would be preferable. The Ubuntu version that supports snaps is the most users friendly and easy to install. The snaps also allow for auto installation of the latest Nextcloud security updates.

Using Nextcloud

  • Step 1 – You’ll need to have your server in place (as described above), whether it’s a physical server or one that you have obtained from a third party cloud hosting provider. 
  • Step 2 – Download and install Nextcloud server environment
  • Step 3 – Download Nextcloud desktop client (Windows, macOS and Linux)

PRO TIP: If you want to speed up the process you can buy Nextcloud Box, Spreedbox or Syncloud, which are all pre-configured to save you time. 

NextCloud Features

Nextcloud has some nice collaboration features. You can share via email, links or social media. Most importantly you can password protect shared files, as well as set a date for the link to expire. After you share your files, the other user can edit them, even without an account. Which makes collaboration with clients that much easier.  There are also reporting tools, so that you can view what has been shared. 

Just about every feature that you might need to collaborate on your DIY cloud is offered via the Nextcloud software. External users can drop files onto your server, you can also restore, search and comment on files. 

Nextcloud boasts a massive 162 apps (which is the most we’ve found) to make your cloud server your own. They offer apps such as – “Collabora Online”, as well as the ability set up conference calls with video, which makes your cloud storage solution look extremely professional. 

Nextcloud Security

Nextcloud has some powerful security features such as two-factor authentication. Nextcloud also supports the Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and single sign-on. They utilize a time-based One Time Password and Universal 2nd Factor hardware tokens, making their sign up secure. 

Data is protected during transit with the SSL/TLS protocol and at rest with AES 256-bit encryption. You can also choose folders that you want to be kept on lock down by enabling end-to-end encryption. Finally they use zero-knowledge, so that nobody but the owner holds the keys to your data. 

There are some securities flaws that you need to know about when thinking about using Nextcloud. For example they scan data to protect users, however I’m not sure how them scanning their clients data helps anyone. I suppose to check for viruses, but people don’t seem so sure that is what they are doing, just something to look out for. 

So if you are looking for tight security, you’ll need to really trust Nextcloud, as they will have access to your server and might audit it, as and when they see fit. The reason they put forward for this activity is to scan for bugs, check that your server is up to date. One thing that is great about Nextcloud is that they are HIPAA compliant, which is perfect for healthcare providers. 

Pros
  • Lots of apps
  • Enhanced security
  • Great collaboration features
  • Sync feature
Cons
  • Expensive
  • They scan your files

ownCloud

Implementing ownCloud is similar to Nextcloud, as they share a lot of the same proprietary code. ownCloud has a fantastic community and is open-source, so you’ll get a lot of support there. You can get the ownCloud software for free or opt for one of their premium packages. Something that is great about ownCloud is the fact that they offer public server providers via the ownCloud Marketplace, so that you don’t need to own your own server. 

You can also access your files via a browser, which makes accessing your files on the go much easier. Great for traveling business people or commuters, what’s more they also have mobile apps for Android and iOS.  ownCloud have a demo that you can quickly access to test if you like their service.

ownCloud Packages and Pricing

ownCloud offers a service called “ownCloud Online” for smaller businesses. They host the servers in Germany, comply with GDPR and up to 150 users can access one subscription. This is the easy option, if you decide not to set up your DIY cloud with your own hardware, as they do everything for you. 

  • OwnCloud Community – The FREE open-source community edition has a massive 50 million users, free desktop client, mobile app. Suitable for private users and freelancers. 
  • ownCloud Online – 30-Day FREE Trial, after trial – 11,99 € per user/ month and 1TB storage. No IT knowledge required, free iOS/ Android app, German servers – End-to-end encryption – the free trial is restricted to 10GB of storage. 
  • ownCloud Enterprise – The price is not publicly shown on their website, however we know that their standard plan is $3,600 and the enterprise plan starts at $9000 so they are quite a bit more expensive than Nextcloud. You do get branded apps with the Enterprise package and faster support. 

ownCloud Hardware & Software Requirements

The best way to setup ownCloud is by leasing a server from a professional host, such as Hostinger or 1&1 IONOS. However, if you are using your own computer as a server you’ll need to ensure that you have installed the LAMP or WAMP server environment. Let’s go with signing up for a professional hosting service, this is what you’ll need:

PRO TIP: Some professional hosts ban setting up cloud storage services on their servers, so it’s worth a check before signing up.

Setup Using ownCloud

  • Step 1 – Download and install ownCloud’s server-side software to your server/ download the software 
  • Step 2 – upload the setup-owncloud.php file to your webhost.
  • Step 3 – Follow the instructions to install ownCloud. You should then be redirected to the login screen.

If you’re setting up on a professional hosting environment, then it is that easy. Just three steps and follow the instructions to set up.

If you get stuck then ownCloud offers some great guidance on how to manually set ownCloud up.

ownCloud Features

ownCloud offers many of the features that Nextcloud does (unsurprisingly). They allow you to share files via password-protected links, they auto-expire after the set date and you can also get notifications to your mobile phone to let you know the status of your shared links. ownCloud also allows you to sync files, share files and search files. Also people can edit your files if they have access, which is great for collaboration both in-house and with external collaborators.  

Again, ownCloud offer lots of great features for collaboration on your files, such as commenting, tags, as well as video conferencing. External users can also drag and drop files onto your ownCloud. When you add in the branding capability that is offered with their Enterprise plan, then you have a very slick business tool. Their user interface is also clean and easy to use.

ownCloud offers just 70 apps, which is half the amount of apps offered by NextCloud, but you’ll find many of the popular ones in there such as Collabora Online, OnlyOffice Connector, Workflow App, PDF Viewer, Calendar and Contacts. In saying that, the other two solutions have no app marketplace, so seen in that light, 70 isn’t so bad. 

ownCloud Delta Sync is a great feature to reduce upload and download times. The way that it works is by only syncing the section of the file that is change, rather than the whole file, which saves a tonne of time.  They also offer a Virtual File System, where users can sync files directly from their browser.

ownCloud Security

ownCloud has some decent security features, such as end-to-end encryption and ransom ware protection. Administrators are offered lots of control as they can define password requirements as well as provision professional key management with their with Key Service application.

Virus scanning is done with ClamAV, which is free anti-virus software. ClamAV is great for isolating viruses, Trojans and malware. You can also scan files on your own personal server with this security tool. 

Two-factor authentication can protect your server from unwanted intruders, as well as the standard time-based One Time Password. You can also add on additional devices via the ownCloud app. Like Nextcloud, ownCloud can be used safely by Healthcare providers as they are HIPAA compliant. They are also GDPR compliant. 

Pros
  • HIPAA/ GDPR compliant
  • Clean user interface
  • Delta sync
  • Decent security
  • Sync client
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Just 70 apps

Seafile

Seafile is another FREE community driven, open-source cross-platform cloud storage solution. They also offer a business edition for larger requirements. The enterprise edition is more feature rich than the open-source edition, so you’ll need to pay to see the full range of features offered by Seafile.  When compared to what you get with the first two soltuions, the open-source version is quite bare-bones. 

Seafile is great for people who love to keep things organized, however, it may take you some time to navigate their user interface. I find their interface quite dated and complex. With Seafile you can sync, share and organise your files into libraries.

Seafile Packages and pricing

If you are looking for a more cost-effective solution, then Seafile might be for you. They allow you to use their enterprise edition for free for up to three users. Thereafter you pay per user, and the price gets cheaper with a larger number of users that you add on. They also offer discounts for educational establishments.

Seafile Pro Edition license (Annual Subscription) Pricing

  • Up to 9 users $100 in total
  • 10-249 users – $48 per user
  • 750-999 users – $35 per user

I haven’t outlined the wide range of prices, but you get the picture – the more users you add, the cheaper it gets. Companies with over 1000+ users need to contact Seafile for pricing. 

Seafile Hardware & Software Requirements

You can deploy Seafile with both Linux and Windows, I’ll explain Linux in this example. If you want to use Windows then you can find information on the Seafile website here. Before I get into setting up your cloud storage solution with Seafile, bear in mind that it can be quite tricky to set up. You’ll need the following:

PRO TIP: Only install the Seafile installer on a fresh server as it can interfere with other files. Then make sure to delete the installer after everything is set up.

Setting up Seafile

Step 1 – Download and install the server edition on your server.

For CentOS 7 (64bit)

Save to:

 

/opt/.

cd /root

wget --no-check-certificate https://raw.githubusercontent.com/haiwen/seafile-server-installer/master/seafile_centos

bash seafile_centos 6.1.2

 

For Ubuntu 16.04/18.04 (64bit)


cd/root
wget --no-check-certificate https://raw.githubusercontent.com/haiwen/seafile-server-installer/master/seafile_ubuntu

bash seafile_ubuntu 6.1.2

Step 2 – enter the unprivileged username: seafile

Step 3 –Run su – seafile -s /bin/bash with root privileges on the shell

Step 4 – Delete the installer file

Seafile Features

I like the fact that Seafile offers “Selective sync” that means that you can turn off syncing for specific folders, this can save a lot of time.  Seafile offers virtual-drive mapping, which means that you can access folders on another server, you can also access files offline. You can also access your files via the browser. One of the great features offered by Seafile is the fast syncing by chopping files into smaller pieces. This is ideal for people who see speed as the most important feature of a cloud storage solution. 

Like the other tools covered so far, Seafile allows the sharing of links to files. These shared links can be password protected and further secured by setting an expiration date. You can also set the read-write or read-only permission, which allows or disables the editing of the external user that you’ve shared the link with. 

If you have more than one person working on a file, then it can be locked while one person works on it, ensuring that editing is efficient and team members don’t interfere with another person’s work. As with other solutions, you can search files and restore them to an earlier state. 

One of the downsides of Seafile is the fact that they don’t have an app library at all. You can still integrate with Microsoft Office Online Server and Collabora Online server though which is great for online collaboration. 

Seafile Security

Security isn’t the main USP of Seafile. They do use two-factor authentication and create snapshots for ransomware protection. They also scans for viruses, offer remote wipes and audit logs. End-to-end encryption is possible, however metadata is not encrypted. Ideally metadata should be encrypted as it can expose sensitive privacy information. So this is one major downside of Seafile, in my opinion. Additionally client-side encryption is nowhere to be seen, which is another big security flaw.

Pydio

Pydio was founded in 2007 by Charles du Jeu, under the name “AjaxPlorer”. Pydio is open-source software that you can deploy on your server for free. You can easily install and run the Pydio software on public cloud servers to create your own cloud. They offer iOS and Andriod apps so that you can access files remotely, from anywhere.  You can also take images, sync and upload them to your cloud storage solution. 

Pydio Cells is the latest Pydio release and it affords better collaboration and sharing options. To share files with others, you simply place them in your cell. A “cell” is Pydio’s terminology for a shared folder. You can add and remove users, and grant them permissions to edit or read files or folders.

Pydio is only available for macOS and Linux. You can get it to run on a Windows machine by using a docker image. 

Pydio Packages and Pricing

Pydio offers two versions of their software – Open Source Home and Enterprise. Like Seafile, Pydio limits the features on the open source version; they also don’t offer support unless you opt for their paid solution. The open source software from Pydio only offers simple file upload, sharing and authentication.  If you go for the Enterprise edition, you can give it a test drive with a free trial. Their two packages are as follows:

  • Open Source Home Distribution – FREE, Open-source license AGPL v3, no support (DIY).
  • Enterprise Distribution – Unlimited support, Advanced sharing, Advanced administration security and high availability, Starter pack up to 20 users: 1520€/year, Up to 100 users: 4980€/year, for 10K+ users you need to get in touch with them.

Pydio Features

Pydio has an intuitive and attractive UX. Plus; some of the collaboration tools offered by Pydio are quite neat. You can make chat rooms, comment on files and get alerts to let you know what is happening inside your account. The chat rooms can be created, about a particular file. Files can be protected with passwords, you can also set download limits and expiration dates for shared links.  Files can also be restored to a previous version. 

Collabora Online is again THE way to collaborate with documents on your cloud storage platform. You can decide who can see what, and what they can do with each and every file. One of the great features of Pydio is the fact that you can add in your company logo and change the colours to fit your brand, making the interface truly your own.

Pydio Security

Like Nextcloud, Pydio uses Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to assist users with loging in. AES 256-bit to encryption is used to protect files at-rest and SSL is used to protect them in transit. Pydio doesn’t seem to comply with HIPAA, but it does comply with GDPR.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Good for sharing
  • Good collaboration features
Cons
  • Relatively few features
  • No app marketplace
  • No plugins
  • Resilio isn’t really a DIY cloud storage option, so it didn’t make this list. It’s more of a peer-to-peer tool that syncs content across devices. 

In Conclusion

If you are looking for more control, security and flexibility, plus you’ve got someone really techie on board, then perhaps DIY cloud storage is an option for you. Certainly Nextcloud and ownCloud are top of the list as they are so feature rich, and easy to use. You can try Seafile of Pydio if you need to save money or if speed is your main concern. Setting up your own Cloud storage solution is a brilliant option for a team that needs to be HIPAA compliant and tweak the server to their needs.

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