Category Archives: Technology

How to efficiently choose your WordPress VPS plan?

If you have just started to blog, you don’t need too much calculations. You only need to figure out the minimum requirements to run a basic WordPress blog. Here it is, for a basic WordPress installation to run normally, the minimum memory requirement is 256MB. However, it is advised to go for 512MB or higher to cover other components that are using memory.

Once your blog starts to grow then you may consider upgrading to the next higher VPS plan. But what if you are moving your already running blog from WordPress.com or from a shared hosting account to a VPS? How will you choose the suitable VPS plan to avoid any traffic bottleneck or slowness of your blog?

I have talked about the best time to move your WordPress to a VPS in a previous article. And now I am going to help you choose the right VPS plan for your WordPress blog.

Understanding the components your blog needs to runs

To understand exactly what affects your blog performance, you need to know the key components your blog needs to run. The webserver, the database engine, disk space and bandwidth.

Your WordPress blog consists of a number of files and a database, the files includes images and other scripts required to run your blog. The database contains all the text, configurations and the structure of your blog. Every time you open any page in your blog, the webserver receives the information of the requested page from your browser, locates the required page with related resources like images and small scripts.

Before the page loads, it runs queries or requests on the database to get the page data including the text you are reading right now, as well as menu contents and the side bar widgets that displays latest articles and other stuff.

Disk space is where your WordPress blog files and databases exist, and bandwidth is the amount of traffic from and to your blog that you can use. Every time a visitor opens a webpage on your blog, data transmits from the server to his browser, this is traffic. Neither disk space nor bandwidth has an impact on memory and processing power. The webserver and database server consumes memory and processing power and that’s what most of bloggers can’t measure correctly.

Estimating disk space and bandwidth requirements

Back to disk space. In order to know your blog requirements of space, you can easily check your current disk space usage and consider adding extra 500MB for the operating system and other programs and tools. Unlike shared hosting, running systems and applications consumes the disk space of your VPS as well.

For bandwidth, if you are going for unlimited or unmetered bandwidth plan for your VPS then skip this part. But if are not, don’t worry. Just go to webpagetest.org enter the URL of the page you think has the most contents in terms of images, videos or words count. In the results page, check the size of the page and consider it in the below equation:

Average required bandwidth per month = 30 days x Number of Monthly Page Views x Average Page Size

And that’s all!

What about memory and processing power required?

The tough part is estimating memory and processor consumption. Normally when you choose a VPS plan you find a comparison table showing the allocated memory and number of CPU cores. Sometimes the processor power per core is clearly shown on the table. If not, then you need to ask your provider or check the FAQs area on their website to make sure you are getting enough processing power.

Most providers nowadays rely on the latest technology, so you don’t have to worry. But, it is advisable to go for 2GHz per core or higher for your blog to run smoothly, considering your provider is not overselling the server. The primary consumers for your VPS processing power and memory are the webserver and the database engine. To run WordPress you need Apache webserver, MySQL database and PHP to be installed on the server.

It is almost impossible to estimate memory usage if you are using WordPress plugins and widgets that might be resource intensive and poorly coded, but it can be calculated case by case.

Optimizing WordPress for efficient VPS usage

It is important to know that choosing your VPS plan according to the default WordPress installation will just be a waste of money. Why get a big VPS plan while you can get a much smaller plan for the same WordPress installation?

To easily optimize your WordPress and efficiently use your VPS, you will need to use caching plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Those plugins will help skipping the processing of PHP pages each time the page loads and use saved html versions of those page. This will greatly decrease the load by minimizing PHP complication and MySQL database queries.

So, assuming you are using caching plugins you will need to calculate only the usage of served html pages and images on your webserver. This will help you choose a cost efficient VPS plan instead of wasting money a larger plans that you don’t actually need.

The efficient method to choose your VPS plan

I have got the coming piece of information from an already running VPS with WordPress and a caching plugin installed. An average httpd process consumes almost 6MB of memory.

Accordingly, let’s go back to webpagetest.org then enter your average page URL to get the number of requests used to fully load this webpage. Once you get the required info you can use the equation below:

Estimated memory required = Number of requests per page load x 6MB

The resulting number shows the maximum memory required at any time to fully load your page considering all requests/processes stay running in parallel. You may think that this is not very accurate, however you can never estimate the exact memory required in Kilobytes. Many factors may interfere and if you have many plugins installed which are high resource consumers or poorly coded you will never estimate your memory requirement correctly.

Now you know how to choose your VPS plan. You will need to check your current disk space, use the bandwidth equation above, and make sure you have 2GHz of processing power per core then use the memory equation I used earlier and add around 256MB for other running tools. And, you are good to go!

If you find this helpful, or need help choosing your VPS plan with specific requirements, please post your comment below.

When to move your WordPress to a VPS?

It is a matter of time till you realize a simple but important fact, your blog needs to be hosted. Your blog hosting is not optional, if you are using WordPress.com or not, it is hosted. So, hosting is the first thing you need, in order to run your blog.

You may think that creating an account on WordPress.com and start blogging in a few minutes, is everything you need to run a great blog. Believe me this is not enough.

From my perspective, wordpress.com is for entry-level bloggers “no offense”. If the people in Automattic the creator of WordPress believed that wordpress.com is enough they wouldn’t create the self-hosted version on WordPress.org. With a self-hosted version you can download WordPress and host it anywhere you want with full control on every aspect of your blog.

Simply, you can’t use your WordPress.com blog for any commercial activities like Google AdSense or paid posts, you can’t upload plugins or themes and your account will be suspended anytime if you violate their terms of service.

I will focus here on WordPress as the most popular blogging software, and will help you decide which alternative to go for, when it comes to hosting your WordPress blog.

Shared Hosting for your WordPress blog

Most WordPress sites are hosted on shared hosting platforms. Shared hosting is nothing beyond what its name declares, you are sharing the hosting with many others.

Every online application or website is hosted on a computer, we call it a server. The server is a computer with high recourses in terms of memory, disk space and processing power. It can be divided into partitions and rented to customers. This applies to shared hosting and VPS which we will discuss below.

Because you are sharing all server resources with many others, you can’t control your hosting account in a way which affects other accounts. Accordingly, you have almost no control on important areas of your account like running certain scripts or adjusting server settings. You will need to ask your hosting provider to make the required task for you if applicable.

Your hosting provider is also responsible for the fair share of resources, which means if your neighbor used too much resources of the server and slowed down other sites including yours, the provider will be responsible for limiting that neighbor’s resources or suspending his account.

If you use too much resources, your account might be the one suspended. But, if you are the low usage account, you might be still pressured by other high consuming neighbors. You almost pay the same cost for the same memory and processing power as other sites on the same server, why should your neighbors use more resources than you and slow down your site?

Did you run a background check on every hosting neighbor in your shared hosting server? Don’t get angry, I know you didn’t. So, if your neighbors are running illegal sites, doing email spam or publishing adult content, the IP that your site is sharing with them will get blocked by Google. So, your blog will not show on the search engine, which is a disaster. And will get blocked by countries that don’t allow adult contents. Do you provide adult contents? No, your neighbors do and you pay the cost!

VPS is the direct upgrade path for your WordPress

VPS or “virtual private server” has the same concept of a dedicated server. You have full control on your virtual server with full root or administrator access to your account and no one is competing to use the memory and processing power guaranteed to you.

The most important thing that comes into your mind when you hear the word VPS “Oh my god, I am not a tech expert”. Actually, this thought became a history. With the rise of VPS providers who add full management service for your VPS as a free compliment with every package, you need not to worry about any technical skills. Fully managed VPS is exactly the same as shared hosting in terms of easy usage and flexibility. And at the same time you get much more benefits than a shared hosting account.

You don’t have to worry about bigger neighbors, no one will affect your blog. Your WordPress blog can be auto-installed when you order your VPS or you can install or add more blogs later using your easy to use control panel, which is also included in your VPS package.

What about the shared IP issue we mentioned earlier? Your VPS normally comes with its own dedicated IP. No one can cause a block on your IP other than you. Don’t host adult contents, don’t SPAM and don’t run any illegal website and you are safe.

WordPress.org has published an important document on WordPress optimization, they clearly say that shared hosting is more limited in terms of performance optimization for your WordPress self-hosted blog. With virtual server “VPS” you can have more control on components like Web Server, PHP and MySQL database engine that you can adjust to greatly boost the performance of your blog. Of course, if you are on a fully managed VPS you can ask your hosting provider to optimize it for you and don’t get your hands dirty.

Should you start with shared hosting or VPS?

If you are currently on WordPress.com or just starting out, you need to ask yourself one question. What do I need from my blog?

You may say I need to create a great blog with lots of visitors and readers, I need to make a lot of money from Google AdSense or I need a simple blog to share my thoughts but also make money from Google AdSense … etc. The solution to any of those answers is: Go with a Fully Managed VPS plan.

If you start on shared hosting and grow quickly it will be “a must” to move to VPS. Actually, it will be a hassle! However, some hosts can move your blog for you for free.

VPS pricing became almost similar to shared hosting plans offered by reliable providers. So, it is better to start with a VPS for your WordPress. Fully managed VPS is as easy as shared hosting, where you don’t face the disadvantages of unmanaged VPS plans and at the same time you gain all the benefits of a VPS that we listed above.

Then, the answer to the question “When to move your WordPress to a VPS?” is, Right Now!

Are you currently on a shared hosting account or VPS? Are you still starting on WordPress.com? Let’s discuss the problems you face or believe you may face in the comments area below.

Looking For A Good Web Host?

The key to a stable website is choosing the right web host. Commercial web hosting has become a key service in the modern-day business landscape where companies big and small understand just how important it is to reach out to the million-odd online user base. Your target audience is lurking online – your website can grab them! To do this, you need the support of a reliable web host. What should you look for in such a provider? Here are some useful pointers.

Access speed and reliability

When a prospect cannot access your site because it is down, think about the lost opportunities. A good web host can guarantee that your site will be available online at least 99% of the time. If web hosts have not specified the uptime rate, enquire about this from them or at least do some research to find out if there have been any complaints regarding this.

Domains

Good web hosts will allow you to host your own domain. This is necessary, because otherwise your website will be parked under a sub domain. A sub-domain will not look very professional if you are serious about your business.  Also look for these additional services: FTP accounts, unlimited parked/sub domains, email accounts, etc.

Disk space and bandwidth

If you are running a small website, especially if you are just starting out, you will not need a large amount of disc space or bandwidth. A normal website needs about 100-200 MB of disc space. If you are planning to stream movies or music on your website or you expect a lot of visitors, then you will need a good amount of bandwidth too. The web host should be able to provide you a hosting package that meets these requirements.

Address growing needs

Another important feature is how many domains the provider will host for you. If you are planning to get only one website, it will not matter. But if you want to expand sometime in the future, look for a web host who can facilitate this.

Shopping cart/SSL

If you are also going to conduct business through your website, make sure that your web host provides a shopping cart and SSL. Note that you may have to invest more to get these services.

Application hosting

A good web host will also give you access to a number of applications that you can use to improve your visitors’ experience. They will allow you to set up a blog, while providing access to content management systems. They will even provide platforms to set up an e commerce portal on.

Technical support

Customer support is another important feature. The best commercial web hosts will offer 24/7 all-year support. The web host should be reachable through a number of ways like email, phone and live chat. The staff should also be knowledgeable and courteous. It makes sense to read customer reviews and testimonials to make an informed decision.

Let me know how do you search for web hosts only, share your experience below.

Web Hosting Market in 2014

There are many trends that you can see occurring within the web hosting market over the course of 2014.  Some new web hosts might be alluring, but they are not the right answer for every site or organization’s needs.  Despite the boom of the cloud over the past several years, in some cases, these growth trends may be reversed as organizations turn to more functional or flexible hosting options. Companies should carefully consider their needs and annual budget limits when selecting a web host to meet their requirements.

Cloud hosting

One of the trends you might see in 2014 is cloud hosting simplification.  Web hosts will have plenty of technologically savvy individuals buying their services, but what they will want is to grab the attention of less technically savvy professionals in decision making roles within leading organizations.  To compete, cloud hosting providers should strive to help people understand how the web hosting industry works to gain buying authority.

SLAs

Service Level Agreements, or SLAs, describe portions of service contracts whereby terms are defined. When it comes to web hosting, SLAs often outline the level of service the customer can expect in terms of relative dedicated time, the number of users that will be supported and ongoing schedule for maintenance type updates. While these contracts do provide value to the end-customer, concerns have been building regarding whether they are too restrictive and non-enforceable by the client. When it comes to selecting a web host in 2014, transparency will be a key factor in the decision maker’s choices.  Everyone buying a service will want a fair, open deal.  More companies will likely rid of the SLAs in order to accommodate customers.

Cloud servers

Since web hosting is becoming more and more diverse, it will also become more available and affordable.  The power of servers has been steadily increasing which has created a more even playing field between industry competitors.  Web designers will soon be able to render huge amounts of content at very high speeds on low level computers.  This means that anyone can participate in website design from almost anywhere.

Smaller staff

Since web hosting is becoming much more simple as the years go by, some companies may consider reducing the size of their IT departments. Fewer dedicated professionals will be required to maintain ongoing technology needs.  Instead, companies can dedicate tasks to marketing professionals, thus cutting back on organizational overhead expenses. When it comes to customer service, expect the representatives to speak to you in a language you understand and not something technologically over your head, even if you do not feel you  know much about technology and web hosting in general.

How To Be A Valuable IT Guy for Small Business?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Small business owners coming from non-IT background tend to avoid technology most of the time; they believe everything can work by itself as old ages. If you are working as an employee for a small business you know what I mean!

You were hired as the IT Guy for the company; however, you are treated as an office boy even worse – no offense – considering that the office boy is more valuable in his position for the company.

The employees are messing up everything on their PCs, printers and the small Local Area Network in the office …. And finally the IT is useless because problems never end.

To solve this dilemma you need consider its main components:

  • Who needs your help? … The Business Owner
  • Why there are problems in the first place? … The Employees
  • When can you solve those problems? … The Tools
  • What is the benefit? … The Cost

The business owner

A business owner with non-IT background in 2012 is a nightmare. He doesn’t have to be an IT engineer, but he should be aware of new information technology trends. Dealing with such person should be taken carefully. If you show him that he is outdated he will take it as disrespect.

Buying PCs and printers for the business is more than enough for him. From his perspective an accountant only needs an excel sheet, a secretary needs to write Word Documents and a sales rep needs a phone and internet connection. Where is the problem then?

The problem is there is no IT Infrastructure….. There is no control on employees!

The employees

Let me introduce you to the best part, Employees! Or as IT people call them, end-users. But in a professional way, they are the customers that you can’t get rid of.

Bad end-users make your life hell; they will misuse everything they find on their way, from downloading huge files, viruses, spywares to printing 100 A4 papers just to review the document before trashing them. They are not your nightmare; they are also the Business Owner’s nightmare.

The tools

As an IT Guy, you can help the business owner with all IT problems coming from the employees. You just need to be proactive and propose a solution.

As mentioned earlier, end-users can cause disasters to your IT equipment and the whole company data. In order to control their behavior you need to set IT policy, but what are the tools required to apply such policy?

  • Active Directory and Group Policy: to control user permissions on their PCs.
  • Managed Antivirus: To detect viruses and clean all devices periodically.
  • In-house Mail Server: To control and prevent SPAM.
  • Network Firewalls: To prevent virus spreading and hacking attempts.
  • Internet Filtering: To filter specific contents, i.e. adult, illegal or bandwidth consuming websites.
  • Remote Monitoring and Support Software: To monitor server and desktop issues then act on them accordingly, even before the users notice.

The cost

Of course you will need to buy some servers and software licenses in order to utilize the mentioned tools. How will you convince the business owner to include that in the budget?

First, you need to create a list of current end-user issues and their impact on the business financially and from security perspective; I will take an example below and let you put yours on your comment.

Let’s take a common case like internet filtering. The business owner buys PCs for the user to run the business, correct? Yes, but most employees get bored fast “After 30minutes of reaching office”, they try to have fun by using Facebook, YouTube or Online Games.

If you are an employee I know you hate me now, because you need to have a break. Believe me, go get fresh air and disconnect yourself from the technology and work atmosphere.

Using internet filtering has the following benefits:

  • Decreases useless bandwidth usage and make it available for business emails and file transfers; accordingly, the business owner will not need to increase the purchased quota with the ISP.
  • Prevents access to known harmful websites, this will decrease maintenance costs.
  • Disables chatting websites and software apps in order to increase productivity.

Those are some benefits you can include in your cost analysis to be able to provide a comprehensive solution. However, never market the idea by declaring that you need to have control on the users or relieve yourself from the daily repeated support calls … instead, let the business owner know the benefits he will gain and leave your own benefits to in your own mind.

Do you have other tips that may help our fellow IT Guys in their daily tasks? Add your thoughts in the comment area below.

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