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Do You Think Your Website Is Hacked?

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Do you think your website has been hacked? Is it not loading correctly, or is there a message saying that it was hacked? It can be overwhelming to know what to do. In this article, we want to help you take the first steps to securing and ensuring that your website is operating properly. Let’s go over several signs of a hacked website.

Browser Hacked Notification

If you open your website in a private browsing window, do you get any type of warning from your browser about your website possibly being hacked or ‘phishing attack’? Below is an example from Firefox warning of a possible hacked or deceptive website.

These types of warnings will usually happen as Google Chrome, Firefox and other browsers notice that your website has been accessed by a hacker and infected with malware with the intent to harm your visitor’s computer.

Hosting Provider Notification

Some web hosting companies run daily scans and can tell if your website has been hacked or is infected with malware. If the scan comes back positive, they will usually temporarily suspend your account and notify you via email or a phone call. Once you are notified, it is your responsibility to have the files cleaned. Most hosting providers won’t unsuspend your account until they can verify that everything is cleaned. We recommend using Sucuri to clean your hacked files. Not only do they provide excellent service, but they ensure that your website is back online fast and efficient.

Google Notification

Sometimes Google will notice malware on your website, and will put a notice such as, “This site may be hacked” in search results.

Depending upon the severity of the hack, Google may not list infected websites in search results. One way to check and confirm that this is not happening to your website is to check the ‘Security Issues’ tab within Google Search Engine Console. If there is malware or security concerns with your website, they will be listed within this area.

Visitor Notification

Another way to know if your website has been hacked is if you start to hear feedback from visitors about security messages or redirects to other web pages. This type of feedback is crucial to keep your online presence active and without penalty of any search engine.

How to Move Forward

If you’ve been notified of a hack via one of these notification types, let’s look at the resolution steps that we need to take.

Change Passwords
Change all passwords for all accounts. This includes cPanel, email passwords, website login (WordPress, BoldGrid, Drupal, etc), and FTP passwords. If the passwords used for any of these services were used elsewhere, such as Facebook or another email account, we recommend changing those as they could be at risk.

Contact Support
Give us a call, open a chat, or send us an email and we’ll be happy to run a free malware scan over your account with us. This scan will tell us if your website is hacked. If it is hacked, we’ll be able to provide you a list of the files.

Scan Computer
Believe it or not, website hacks can come from your local computer. If a virus is installed on your computer, it can capture usernames and passwords. Along with capturing this information, hack code can be installed, opening a backdoor for malware and viruses to infect your website. To prevent this from happening, we recommend that you run a full security scan of your computer to ensure that nothing is infected. Learn more about running this scan by reading our support center guide. If the scan comes back with a virus, use the recommended tools in the article above to remove it. If your computer comes back clean, proceed to the next step.

Next Step
If the malware scan that we ran for you comes back with a list of hacked or infected files, reach out to a qualified developer or security company to clean your website files. We recommend Sucuri to clean website files. They quickly clean and help get your website back live. If your scan comes back clean, we recommend that you investigate where the original hack notification was displayed and reach out to that service for a rescan of your website.

The steps provided in this article will help you determine if your website is hacked and if so, what to do.



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cPanel vs Plesk: Choosing Web Hosting Control Panels

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When it comes to the control panel you should use for web hosting, the debate usually comes down to Plesk vs. cPanel. These two control panels have been the leading administrative web panels for years, and they give users the best options when it comes to managing their websites.  

Let’s take a look at the basics of these two control panels and then do a side-by-side comparison to see exactly how they stack up.

cPanel vs. Plesk – Brief History

Both of these control panels have been around for some time and have an ample opportunity to dominate the web hosting market.

cPanel, however, has been around even longer, having been introduced to the market in 1996. Because it was introduced first, many users who started with it have continued to use it simply out of tradition and comfort. The most recent release is cPanel 66.

Plesk is the newer of the two platforms, introduced in 2001. In the past seventeen years, the panel has gone through different iterations and has continued to evolve. The most recent release is Plesk Onyx.

cPanel vs. Plesk – Comparison

When you are comparing these two control panels, it is necessary to look at a few different features to see which one meets your individual needs. Here’s the breakdown of features, interfaces, operating systems, and performance.

Features

Both control panels have the same basic features to start with: you can use their tools to manage your email accounts, run File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and manage your databases. However, it is possible to add extra apps to both and here’s where they begin to differ.  

Plesk’s additional apps tend to be better than cPanels. For instance, Plesk supports Docker and Git with little to no difficulty. cPanel, on the other hand, can use these apps but you have to do some work to cobble them together. For ease of use in this area, the advantage goes to Plesk.

Interfaces

Now this one is going to be an opinion. Some users believe that cPanel’s interface is too cluttered and difficult to navigate. Other users believe that Plesk is usually considered to be the “cleaner” of the two when it comes to the appearance.

cPanel, however, can be customized so that you can clean up the interface yourself and group features as you need them.  As this is strictly a matter of opinion, we’ll call this one a tie!

Operating System

Being similar to interfaces, this category will come down to your familiarity with different operating systems.

cPanel is only available with Linux operating systems. There is a workaround that may let you load it on a Windows server, but officially, cPanel is Linux only.  

Plesk is available on Linux or Windows systems.

Again, as this is a matter of opinion, we’ll leave the decision  of pro or con up to you.

Performance

With performance, we are looking at reliability as well as speed.

cPanel has cut back on how much memory is used, freeing things up to let their pages load faster. Account creation and management tasks are also significantly faster.

Plesk overall is slower to load especially in the account creation and management areas.

In this case, we’d say that cPanel wins on performance and speed.

cPanel vs. Plesk – Who Wins?

When it comes to cPanel versus Plesk, both systems have negatives and positives. Some of these features, such as interface, are purely objective, such as operating system availability is really something you need to decide for yourself.  We hope that this has put things into perspective so that you can make the best decision about your web hosting control panel.

InMotion Hosting is a Linux hosting provider, meaning that we proudly use cPanel to power websites around the world. Want power and speed for your website? Consider InMotion’s Shared Business Hosting.



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What Image Formats Should You Use on Your Website?

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Digital images come in many types, but the two most common formats on the web are JPG and PNG. You may have heard conflicting information from different sources about which one is best. This can make it hard to know what format you should use for your website.

In general, PNG is a higher-quality compression format. JPG images are generally of lower quality, but are faster to load. These factors affect whether you decide to use PNG or JPG, as does what the image contains and how it will be used.

This article will explain in more detail what JPGs and PNGs are, why they’re so well adapted to the web, and what each type does best. Let’s get going!

An Introduction to the JPG and PNG Image Formats

As we mentioned, JPG and PNG are two of the image formats most commonly used on websites. They each use different ‘codecs’ (or compression methods) to store image data. This means that PNGs are better suited for certain uses than JPGs, and vice versa.

JPG is an image format that uses lossy compression. For this reason, JPGs typically have a lower file size, and are faster to load than PNGs. If you’re uploading a lot of pictures, such as an album from an event, using JPGs means you can display more photos without running out of server room, and they will load more smoothly for your visitors.

However, the higher compression also means that every time you save a JPG, it loses some image information. If you save a JPG over and over again, this can cause it to become pixelated. For web use, however, this doesn’t always matter.

For example, in the photo below, the copy (right) is only of slightly lower quality than the original (left). It’s an effect that’s really only noticeable when they’re placed side by side:

A PNG and a JPG side by side.

PNG, on the other hand, is a lossless compression type. This means it saves more data, and results in a higher image quality than you’ll typically see with a JPG. A PNG is also much less likely to be pixelated than a JPG.

That fact makes PNGs ideal for any images containing hard, defined lines or text. Below, the image on the left is a JPG, while the one on the right is a PNG:

The A2 Hosting icon as a PNG and JPG.

What’s more, PNGs can also include transparent elements. This can come in very handy on a website. For instance, you can have an image appear to blend into the page background. In particular, this is very useful when it comes to icons:

Icons saved in a transparent PNG format.

However, the downside to PNGs is that they have slightly longer loading times, and higher file sizes than JPGs. While they’re fine to use for important images, you may want to avoid overloading your website and server with dozens of PNGs on each page (unless your site is very well optimized).

Why JPGs and PNGs Are Well-Suited to the Web

There are many types of image formats, so you might be wondering why we’re focusing exclusively on JPGs and PNGs. That’s because these two image types are better suited to the web than most of the alternatives.

There are a few reasons for this, including:

  • Image compression. JPG and PNG images are both compressed for faster loading times, which is ideal for the web.
  • Low file size. The compression process also means that JPGs and PNGs take up less room on servers than many image types, which means you don’t have to worry so much about running out of space.
  • Prevalent integration. Many web tools are built with the expectation that your site will be primarily using JPGs and PNGs. Some browsers won’t even display certain types of files.

In a nutshell, while there’s nothing forcing you to use only JPGs and/or PNGs on your site, sticking with these two image formats will make your job a lot simpler. Plus, it’s a smart way to keep your site lean and running fast as it grows.

How to Determine When to Use JPGs vs. PNGs

Now that you understand the basic differences between JPGs and PNGs, you may be wondering whether you should use just one, or a mix of both. To answer that question, let’s go over some basic rules for when to use each type of image.

JPG is the perfect format for the following applications:

  • Complex images. While there is some loss of quality in a JPG when compared to a PNG, it’s almost unnoticeable with complex images (such as photos). This means you can reap the benefits of lower file sizes, without sacrificing aesthetics.
  • Photo albums. When you’re sharing photos in bulk, as in a photo album, you’re best off using JPGs. Their faster loading times means the photos will display more quickly and smoothly.
  • Opaque images. Unlike PNG, JPG doesn’t permit transparency. If an image doesn’t need to be transparent, however, you can often safely go with a JPG.

On the other hand, there are times when it’s better to use PNGs, such as for:

  • Images with hard lines. As we discussed earlier, pixelation is very noticeable on images with hard lines, such as logos and text. For these types of images, you’ll want to stick with the PNG format.
  • Portfolios. PNGs provide the best in quality. So when you need your images to look top-notch, such as in a portfolio of photography or other creative work, the somewhat increased file sizes can be well worth it.
  • Transparent images. If you want an image to ‘blend in’ to the page, rather than having an opaque background, a PNG is your best option.

Some people choose to use only one type of image on their website. This offers the benefit of a streamlined approach, and can work well for sites that use images in very predictable ways. However, we recommend making decisions on a case-by-case basis when possible, and choosing the file type that works best for any given situation.

Conclusion

When you’re first learning about the various image file types, it may all seem a bit confusing. However, if you’re adding images to your website, you’ll almost always want to go with either PNG or JPG. Over time, deciding which file type to use for specific purposes will become second nature.

To recap, here’s when you’ll want to use each kind of image:

  1. JPGs: Use these for complex images, photo albums or galleries, and opaque images.
  2. PNGs: These are best used for images with defined lines, photos that require transparency, and whenever you need the highest possible quality.

Are you wondering when to use these image formats in other situations? Ask us in the comments section below!

Image credits: Pxhere, Wikimedia Commons, JanBaby.



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InMotion & WordPress: Bringing the Community Together

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With decades of experience in web hosting, we have observed every type of content management system (CMS) used to build websites. In 2003, the world of CMSs changed when Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little released a new CMS called WordPress. As the years went on, we began seeing more and more impressive websites built with WordPress. As our company grew, many of our team members became experts in WordPress.

Over the years, WordPress has become the number one CMS in the world. It now powers over 19 million websites.

As a hosting company, we have been an active part of the WordPress community. We continually strive to stay on top of new hosting technology which supports how websites are built using WordPress.

When looking at ways to help advance the WordPress community, several individuals who already had WordPress websites shared some concerns. WordPress was super powerful, but the overall speed of their websites were very slow. The web host was providing resources, but it was almost like it couldn’t keep up. We saw the real need. Provide hosting which was specific to WordPress which would provide speed, yet still allow for complete customization. We took action and launched WordPress Hosting, a dedicated hosting service which was solely for WordPress websites. This new type of hosting wasn’t like any other type of hosting as we spent countless hours working through each aspect of the way WordPress operates to ensure that any WordPress website could run SUPER fast. We accomplished so much with WordPress Hosting and now thousands of websites worldwide are live with some of the fastest hosting ever.

InMotion Hosting is all about finding ways to help fix customer’s problems. We don’t like to look at these issues as problems, but as opportunities. When a need arises, we bring our team together to brainstorm and provide solutions. Since we launched our WordPress Hosting, we’ve heard the need for increased security, easy backup solutions, and easier ways to publish content to social media. We teamed up with our friends at Automattic and brought Jetpack to all WordPress Hosting accounts. Not only does Jetpack bring a full set of tools, but also advanced features, such as built in analytics and statistics of prevented attacks.

Jetpack partnered with WordPress hosting makes one of the best hosting solutions in the entire market.

Many ask, where is the team at InMotion Hosting headed now with WordPress? We are super excited about the future of WordPress and are actively working on new products, ideas, as well as pouring our energies and team into the WordPress community.

 



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Starting WordPress sites on SiteGround Just Got Easier

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You can build just about anything using WordPress. With thousands of themes and plugins, anyone can access the features and functionalities they need to achieve their goals. But for a person just starting out, all the options can be overwhelming. Rather than be a source of inspiration, the choices can become a blocker to launching that brand new site.

To solve this problem, we’ve developed a WordPress Starter plugin that takes the confusion out of building a new WordPress site. Our plugin walks you through a curated number of themes and the most common site features so you can choose exactly what you need and launch your website more quickly.

Get a Feature-Rich Site Right Out of the Box

When you build a WordPress site with SiteGround, our system installs a fresh WordPress site with the default Twenty Seventeen theme. Until today, our guided setup stopped there.

Now, all new WordPress installations on SiteGround come with our WordPress Starter plugin, which takes the user experience one big step further. When you log into a new WordPress admin for the first time, you will be guided through a short site-building process that includes selecting a theme with demo content and adding basic website functionalities.

Once you’ve made your selections, all your choices will get installed and you’ll have a fully-functional site — right out of the box. Then you can start customising it with your content and media.

Everything Starts With the Right Design

The first step in the WordPress Starter process is choosing a great theme, the foundation of your site’s look. When installing a new theme, however, many beginners struggle to achieve the same look as the demo site. That’s why we’re giving customers a jump start on customising their theme with easy-to-edit placeholder content. The pre-populated content makes building pages more intuitive so you use the theme to its full potential.

Choose from a curated list of exceptional pre-populated themes organised by category and industry. OceanWP specifically designed these themes for SiteGround and our clients can take full advantage of the handy time-saving demo images and content.

The demo content on OceanWP is built with the free version of Elementor page builder, which many website owners consider to be the easiest page builder plugin for WordPress. We install the free version of the Elementor page builder plugin by default for everyone unless you choose to opt out.

Adding Function to Form

The next step is adding functional features to your site such as contact forms, calendars, an online shop, SEO, and other essential marketing tools.

If the functionality is already built into the theme or the demo content, we won’t ask again if you want to add it. For example, we’ll assume if you’ve chosen a portfolio theme, you want the gallery feature. Our goal is to limit the number of decisions in the website-building process, so you can focus on precisely what you need.

Using the WordPress Starter can also save you the task of searching for and evaluating plugins. We’ve hand-picked the best plugins for the most common website needs based on our knowledge and experience.

We’ve partnered with some of the most popular, easy-to-use, and highly-rated plugins to offer an even more seamless experience to our customers. Choose from WPForms, FooGallery, Yoast SEO, Monster Insights, The Events Calendar, Optin Monster, WP Google Maps, Jetpack, and WooCommerce. We’re grateful for their cooperation in the development process.

A Custom Dashboard

Although the default WordPress dashboard is quite flexible and customizable, it can quickly get cluttered by theme and plugin notices, advertisement, and other information. That’s why we’ve decided to replace the default dashboard with a simple screen that will help a beginner quickly navigate to content editing or to the settings of any installed plugin.

The Power of REACT

Our WordPress Starter plugin runs really fast thanks to the top Javascript libraries we used for interface design: REACT.  We love the performance and the “application feel” it provides to the user so we decided to use it for the installation interface and for our next WordPress projects!


Ready to test the WP Starter yourself? Start a fresh WordPress installation through your User Area and log into the WordPress admin. We would love to get your feedback on the new experience. Please use the comment form to give us your feedback! All suggestions are more than welcome as we aim to continue developing that starter process and make it even more useful for beginners.

Have your own setup workflow? No problem! You can easily exit the new Starter experience and revert to the standard WordPress dashboard through the links at the bottom of our interfaces.

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Why SSD Hosting Won’t Break the Bank

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For any website owner, having a beautiful site that won’t load can be devastating. Choosing the right hosting service in crucial to ensure that your site always performs optimally. Many of today’s business owners are turning to solid state drive (SSD) hosting.

Why? Because speed matters.

You could have the best product or service in the world, but it won’t matter if your website can’t execute fast. In today’s world, time is money. Consumers don’t want to sit around waiting, no matter what it’s for.

SSD hosting makes it possible to dramatically improve load times, availability, and position in search results – without any changes to the features and benefits you’d typically expect from your hosting service.

Unlike traditional servers, SSDs are completely electronic. That means there is no hardware to hinder the transfer of data – it is written and retrieved directly from the storage space. This results in lightning fast speed and super reliability.

Even better? It results in more money. Here’s how:

Fast Load Times Increase Conversions

According to web marketing guru Neil Patel, page load times of more than 3 seconds could result in lost customers. Even worse? Up to 79% of customers say that if they’re disappointed by a site’s performance, they’ll never visit again.

If you have a high-volume website, just one day of poor performance could be devastating. For instance, if you get 1,000 unique visitors a day, you could potentially lose almost 800 of them in just 24-hours, all because your site is loading slowly.

It’s a simple concept, really: the faster your site works, the happier your audience will be.

Luckily, you can quickly improve your site’s performance by updating your hosting service. It’s been found that websites using SSDs are 300% faster over standard HDDs. If you increase your website speed, you increase your conversions.

Some website hosting companies charge extra for solid state drive hosting, but InMotion Hosting not only provides SSDs for all hosting accounts, but does so at no additional cost. This is why so many website owners have moved their websites to InMotion Hosting.

Better Reliability Means More Uptime

In 2013, Amazon went down for just 30 minutes. It is estimated that in that short amount of time, they lost almost $2m in sales.

While most websites won’t ever reach Amazon levels of sales, it’s still true that time equals money. How can you reach new prospects, turn prospects into leads, or leads into sales if they can’t reach your website?

All hard disk drives (HDD) servers will go down at some point, no matter how reliable. The fact of the matter is, they are made up of moving parts that will eventually wear out or fail in some way.

Conversely, SSDs have no moving parts. As such, the devices are much more durable and maintain data integrity for a far longer period of time. In fact, some estimates put their lifespan at an incredible 343 years.

Site Speed Can Increase Your Search Ranking Results

Google long ago indicated that site speed is one of the factors used in their algorithm to determine search ranking results.

Why? Because people like speed and Google wants to give them the best results possible. What they don’t want is to send their users to pages that load slowly or don’t function properly.

There are several ways you can help increase site speed:

  • Use a website hosting provider that only uses SSD.
  • Enable compression to help reduce the size of large files
  • Reduce redirects
  • Optimize code by removing unnecessary comments, formatting, spacing, etc.
  • Limit the use of JavaScript

It’s a fact that less than 10% of people advance to page 2 on Google, so it’s safe to say that the higher you rank, the more sales you will make.

If you’re currently hosting your website on a host which doesn’t provide free SSDs, you should reconsider your web hosting provider.

In an age where it’s an absolute must for lightning speed and performance, don’t pay for hosting that uses hard-drives that are known for failure. Join the many thousands of happy customers who enjoy the incredible speed and performance of InMotion Hosting’s SSD hosting.



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What Is Whitespace and Why Is It Important?

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We live in a time where there is so much information. When a designer or content creator sets out to create a new website or design, how can they compete against all of the other websites and content? What can make their content stand out?

One of the main differences between amateur content and professional content is actually not the quality of the text. The biggest difference is the layout and design of the content. One aspect of this type of design is whitespace. Whitespace is used not only in web design, but across all types of design.

Whitespace – What is it?

The concept behind whitespace is very simple. It is simply the space between text, graphics, images, and blocks. Whitespace is also known as negative space or blank space.

Some content creators won’t include any whitespace in their designs, giving them space to fit more content. For an example, I have removed all white space from this article and included a screenshot below.

As you can see, without the whitespace, this article becomes very boring and there is not a place for your eyes to rest.

Bringing whitespace to your content may seem like a very simple concept, but unfortunately, many designers, authors, and content creators don’t know this important design approach.

Whitespace does not have to be white.  Whitespace can be any color. It is simply the lack of content in areas allowing the reader to rest their eyes as they go from section to section.

Blank space – How to use it

When formatting text for a blog, hit your enter key a few times after the header. Depending on how your blog is setup, you can also change the margins of the actual post, giving more room around the edges of the post. Between each paragraph, you can also give yourself some whitespace. This gives the reader a place for them to rest their eyes before starting into the next section. Let me share with you a few examples of whitespace:

This website is a perfect example of whitespace. It allows readers to to clearly understand the message and also gives the reader’s eyes a place to rest.

This website can help you understand the importance of whitespace. It appears that they have some great products, but as the page is so full, it is hard to know which product to look at first. The lack of whitespace can bring a crowded and overwhelmed feeling.

As for print or digital graphics, whitespace is very important. Just because there is room doesn’t mean that we have to fill it. In this digital flyer, there is plenty of whitespace allowing the message to be very clear.

Additional reason to include whitespace

Focus: Where do you want your reader’s eyes to go first? When the page is filled and whitespace is not used, your reader will now know where to focus. If you have included whitespace, you can guide the path the reader will follow when viewing your website or design. This also allows you to figure strategic placement for your content, allowing for the greatest impact.

Legibility: As previously mentioned, without whitespace, how easy is it to glance at a page and in 5-10 seconds, get a general idea of what its about? Whitespace across the full website including blogs and products is key for legibility. Bringing the overall font size of your copy from a 10 point to a 13 point can help with legibility, but it is very important to increase the amount of space between headers and paragraphs.

Conclusion

Whitespace is very important for every website and design. Without it, your message is not clear and without a clear message, you will lose sales. Space between your images and text change the complete message of your website. Adding whitespace to your website is not complex, it is simply just hitting enter and adding margin and padding. Start to make your website stand out by adding whitespace.

Get super fast and powerful web hosting from InMotion Hosting.



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An Introduction to Shared Hosting

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Choosing a hosting plan, whether it’s for a new website or to transfer your current setup, can be an overwhelming task. There are several available hosting choices and the vast array of options – including dedicated, shared, and managed – can leave you with analysis paralysis.

One possible option is shared hosting, which provides you with many benefits. For instance, shared hosting generally offers both low costs and convenient setup., which makes it a great option for many websites.

In this post, we’ll introduce shared hosting and explain how it works. We’ll also discuss its pros and cons to help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you. Let’s go!

What Shared Hosting Is (and How It Works)

Shared hosting is a type of website hosting where a single server (and its resources) is shared among several websites at once. This is in contrast to dedicated hosting, where one server hosts a single site, and Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting, which is similar to shared but with fewer sites per server.

Which type you choose depends largely on your site’s requirements. Each type has its unique benefits and drawbacks, so let’s take a look at how shared hosting stacks up.

The Pros and Cons of Shared Hosting

We’re now going to discuss the pros and cons of shared hosting, compared to other hosting options – such as VPS and dedicated. Let’s take a closer look!

Pro: It’s Affordable

Shared hosting is generally much cheaper compared to other hosting options. For example, the monthly cost of shared hosting can be as little as $5, compared to VPS hosting, which usually starts at around $35-40 per month. This is because you share a server with other websites without any dedicated space allotted, meaning that every site shares the same resources.

Even as an incredibly affordable option, there are ways you can make it even more so. For example, we recommend you:

  • Perform a resource audit. This enables you to understand how much space/bandwidth you use. You can then choose the cheapest plan that fits your needs.
  • Focus on the features. When comparing hosting plans, consider the features that they offer for free, such as SSL certificates and site migrations.

Another feature to consider is support. A shared hosting plan that offers 24/7 support services, as well as free advice to customers, is one that will pay for itself many times over.

Pro: The Setup is Convenient

You may feel as if you don’t have the technical know-how to run a website. This is where the convenience of shared hosting becomes a factor, as the web host will handle all the technical aspects of running the server. This differs from other types of hosting, such as dedicated and unmanaged VPS, both of which generally requires you to maintain the server.

To make shared hosting even more convenient, you should choose a hosting option with 24/7 support. You can then reach out to them at any time for assistance and answers to your questions.

You can also make running your website even more convenient by choosing managed hosting. Not only will the hosting company take care of the server, but also the back end, which ensures that your site is always updated and protected.

Con: You’ll Have to Share Resources

On a shared hosting plan, you’ll generally have lower resource limits, which includes storage space and bandwidth. For example, if one site on your server gets a huge spike in traffic, the other sites on the server could slow down as they don’t have the needed resources.

While this is definitely a problem, especially for sites that can’t afford slow-downs or downtime, you can help alleviate it. You can look for a plan that offers increased resources, and consider a host that enables you to change your plan on a monthly basis. With this, you can increase your resources when higher traffic occurs or downgrade when you don’t need the extra resources.

Con: There’s a Slightly Increased Risk of Security Vulnerability

Security is an important factor for websites, both big and small. However, the nature of shared hosting plan can potentially lead to some security vulnerabilities. As several websites share a server, it’s possible that one website could be infected with malware or be the victim of brute force attack, which could potentially affect all other sites on the site.

Fortunately, this is something that you can address proactively. To lessen the risks and impact of a security breach you should:

  • Invest in top-notch website security. Plugins and extensions enable you to increase your website security. In many cases, the annual investment you make in a plugin or extension is worth the peace of mind.
  • Choose a host that offers additional protections. For example, firewalls and malware scans can reduce safety risks and improve overall security.

One of the best ways to reduce security vulnerabilities – whether on a shared hosting plan or not – is to be proactive. This means you must understand the many security risks out there and protect yourself against them.

When You Should Consider Using Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a perfect solution for some websites, but not nearly as suitable for others. It all depends on the requirements of you and your site, so consider how the pros and cons we’ve covered will affect your intended site. We recommend that you consider shared hosting if you want to create a blog or personal site. It can also be a good choice for low-traffic sites, such as portfolios.

All of these tend to run on the smaller side and require fewer resources. In addition, as the owner of such a website, you may find yourself requiring a bit more help with setup and support. These are both offered with shared hosting.

There are many hosting companies to consider, but A2 Hosting offers essentially all that you’ll ever need in a shared hosting solution. With full support from a team of dedicated experts, a high-speed performance, and even a free SSL certificate, A2 Hosting’s shared hosting option can fulfill your needs.

Conclusion

With so many hosting options to choose from, it can become overwhelming to find one that’s ideal for you. If you’re just getting started on your journey, we recommend you consider shared hosting. It’s a great choice for many types of websites, including small business and hobby.

In this post, we’ve introduced shared hosting and how it works. We’ve also explained who it’s best suited for, as well as the pros and cons of its use. These include:

  1. It’s affordable.
  2. The setup is convenient.
  3. You’ll have to share resources.
  4. You may be exposed to security risks.

Do you have any questions about shared hosting, or how A2 Hosting can help? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image credit: Pixabay.



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Avoiding Errors When Removing a WordPress Page or Post

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As a business owner, you know that quality content is the key to getting search engine rankings and drawing in visitors. That means constantly updating blogs and articles to keep them fresh and relevant. Occasionally, this will require that you know how to delete a WordPress page. You may ask, how can I delete a WordPress page and make sure people who go to that page don’t get an error?

It can be frustrating when you really want to read an article, but the link is broken and gives an error. Today, we’ll share information about the proper way to remove pages and prevent errors.

404 Errors

On the internet, nothing ever dies. What’s that mean for you?

It means that simply deleting a WordPress page is not enough. Once a link is out there, it’s out there – search engines have indexed it, other pages may have linked to it, you probably shared it on your social media or in a newsletter.

Unfortunately, when you delete a WordPress page or post, or even just rename it, that page or post is no longer accessible using that prior link or URL. When someone in your audience finds that old link and clicks on it, they’re going to get a 404 error page: the dreaded “page not found. This creates a terrible customer experience and it’s something that should never happen. Luckily, it’s not overly difficult to solve this problem.

301 Redirects

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another.

This means when someone clicks on your old link, they’ll be sent to a new location. From the internet user’s standpoint, the whole thing is completely seamless: they click on a link and they’re taken to a page. They never even know that they are being redirected.

Where you choose to send your visitors is up to you: It might be an updated version of the same post or page, or it might be something completely different. Often, a business owner will choose to set up a special landing page just for 301 redirects. It will say something along the lines of, “The page you’re looking for is no longer available, but here are some other articles we think you might find interesting.”

The key is to keep your audience interested and engaged without causing any frustration.

How Do I Setup a Redirect?

A 301 redirect is done by adding a special statement to your .htaccess file. Unless you are a web designer or developer, though, it’s not recommended that you change that file on your own. Making just one error can cause serious damage to your website.

Instead, there are several WordPress plugins available for 301 redirects. Two of them that we like are Simple 301 Redirects and Redirection. Once a plugin is installed and active, you will see it added to your WordPress menu. From there, you simply put in the old URL and then put in the new one you’d like to redirect to.

Testing Your Redirects

Never just assume that something works without testing it! Setting up a 301 redirect would be pointless if your audience is just going to end up with the same 404 error message.

Luckily, testing your redirects is simple. Just go to a web browser and plug in the old permalink or URL. If it takes you to the new page, you know that your redirect is working. If you want to double check, there are lots of free redirect testing tools available on the internet. A quick Google search will bring up several including Redirect Check.

If you find that it isn’t working, make sure the plugin is properly installed.

A Note on SEO

While 404 errors don’t officially hurt your SEO, they can affect it in several ways.

  • Pages with 404 errors don’t build page rank. When someone clicks on a link that doesn’t go anywhere, Google can’t calculate that page’s value.
  • Traffic linked to that page from external sources won’t go anywhere.
  • 404 errors can lower your overall search traffic. If you have a link that was previously attracting 100 visitors a day, but now that link doesn’t go anywhere, your traffic will be 100 visitors less.

Knowing how to delete a WordPress page the right way is easy and worth the effort. Ultimately, it creates a better customer experience and keeps people coming back. On the plus side, it’s not a tough fix once you know the process.

Once you get all of your content updated, it’s time to work on your website speed. Consider WordPress Hosting for super fast speed and reliability.



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What Are Sitemaps (And Why Do They Matter)?

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Even if you don’t have much (or any) experience with web development, chances are you’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is a broad term for a huge list of techniques that can improve your site’s rankings in search engines. Many of the SEO strategies you’ll hear about are focused on keywords – but there are other tasks that are equally vital.

For instance, one of the best things you can do to increase your organic traffic is creating a sitemap. This is a list of all URLs on your site with some information about them. A sitemap makes it easier for search engines to understand and index your content. Fortunately, you don’t need to have any special knowledge in order to put one together.

In this post, we’ll explain what sitemaps are in more detail and how they work. We’ll also show you how to create one and let Google know about it. Let’s get to work!

An Introduction to Sitemaps

An example of a Google search.

Have you ever wondered how Google finds websites and decides how they’ll be ranked? The key is Googlebot – a ‘crawler’ program that has two basic jobs.

Googlebot explores the web, moving from page to page. Along the way, it records information about the various links it visits and how they’re related. Google then uses this data to create search results, and determine what searches a particular piece of content is most relevant for.

Given the massive popularity of Google and the importance of organic (search engine) traffic in general, you’ll want to do everything you can to help this bot understand your site. That’s where sitemaps come in.

A sitemap (also called an ‘XML sitemap’) is a file that none of your human visitors will ever see. It’s marked for ‘search engine eyes only’, and lists out every page on your site. As it turns out, this simple file is an enormously valuable tool.

The Benefits of Using a Sitemap

Technically, you don’t need a sitemap. At the rate Googlebot (and other search engine bots) work, it will no doubt find and index your site on its own. However, that doesn’t guarantee it will see everything you want it to know.

A sitemap alleviates that concern, by accomplishing two primary tasks:

  1. It’s made up of a list of all the pages on your site so Googlebot will be sure to find and explore everything.
  2. A sitemap includes ‘metadata’ – or contextualizing information about each page. This data tells the bots how pages are organized and related to each other, when they were last updated, and so on.

Sitemaps are essential for ensuring that Googlebot sees all the content you have to offer, and understands how it’s organized. For those reasons, creating one for your site is crucial. Fortunately, this isn’t hard to do.

How to Create a Sitemap for Your Website

Since most websites don’t come prepared with a sitemap, you’ll need to create one. There are a number of ways to do this, the most common options being:

  • Build a sitemap manually. This has the advantage of letting you customize your sitemap, but is only recommended for experienced web developers.
  • Use a tool provided by your website’s platform. Plenty of website builders and Content Management Systems (CMSs) offer tools or add-ons you can use to create a sitemap. For instance, WordPress users can download and install a dedicated plugin that will do the job quickly.
  • Use an online sitemap generator. These tools are mostly platform-agnostic, and are generally a great option. You won’t have to install anything extra on your site, and the process is typically quick and simple.

To illustrate the last and most flexible option, let’s take a look at the aptly-named XML-Sitemaps generator:

The XML-Sitemaps generator tool.

This tool is easy to use, and free as long as your website contains fewer than 500 pages. All you have to do is enter your site’s main URL into the field at the top of the page, and then click on Start. The generator will crawl your site, which will take a few minutes (depending on your site’s size):

The XML-Sitemaps generator in progress.

You’ll then be provided with a summary page, like this one:

The XML-Sitemaps generator results page.

You can select the View Full XML Sitemap button to see what your sitemap actually looks like:

An example of a sitemap.

Then, choose Download Your XML Sitemap File to save it to your computer. After that, all you have to do is upload the file into the root directory of your website. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out our File Transfer Protocol (FTP) guide for all the details.

How to Let Google Know About Your New Sitemap

This last step is technically optional. If you create a sitemap and upload it to your site, Googlebot will find it eventually. However, you can speed up the process, and prompt the bot to take a look at this new information sooner. To do that, you’ll need to add your sitemap to Google Search Console:

The Google Search Console website.

This is a dashboard that provides several handy tools for managing your website. It’s completely free, and all you’ll need is a Google account. If you haven’t used the Search Console before, you’ll need to add your site as a new property first.

Then, select your site from the Search Console main page:

The Google Search Console dashboard.

You’ll be taken to a central dashboard, where you’ll want to navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps:

The Google Search Console sitemaps section.

Select the Add/Test Sitemap button, enter the URL where your sitemap is located, and hit Submit:

Add a website to Google Search Console.

After that, if you refresh the page you’ll see your new sitemap listed:

A list of sitemaps in Google Search Console.

That’s it! Google will be informed about your new sitemap and should check it out soon. Meanwhile, you may want to explore the rest of what the Search Console has to offer. For instance, you can see if Googlebot encounters any errors when crawling your site under Crawl Errors, and view details on its activity under Crawl Stats.

Conclusion

Effective SEO involves a lot more than just using keywords on your website. It also requires providing search engines like Google with all the information they need to make sense of your content.

Creating a sitemap is one of the simplest and best ways to do that. This list of pages will tell search engine crawlers everything they need to know about your site’s pages and structure. As we’ve seen, you can easily build a sitemap using an online generator. Then you’ll simply need to upload it to your site and add it to Google Search Console to speed up the crawling process.

Do you have any questions about sitemaps, or how to make sure yours is working properly? Ask away in the comments section below!

Image credit: Sakeeb Sabakka.



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