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Web Hosting - Why Backups Are Essential
One thing most web site owners have little time for is... anything! Anything other than focusing on their site content and the business or service it supports and the information it provides, that is. That means that administration often suffers, as it frequently must. There's only so much time in the day.
But the one thing that you should never let slide are backups. They are like insurance. You rarely need it (you hope), but when you do you need it very badly.
Performing regular backups - and testing them - doesn't have to be a nightmare. A little bit of forethought and effort and they can be automated to a high degree. And, they should be tested from time to time. Even when a backup appears to have gone without a hitch, the only way to know whether it's of any value is to attempt to restore the information. If it can't be restored, the backup is worthless.
Even when the web hosting company provides the service, there is still some planning involved for the site owner. Hosting companies often rely on one or both of two methods. They backup everything (called a full backup), then backup anything which has changed since the last full backup (called an incremental backup).
Of special interest are any configuration files that have been tailored. If you've modified the default installation of a software package, you want to be able to recapture or reproduce those changes without starting from scratch. Network configuration files, modifications to basic HTML files, CSS style sheets and others fall into the same category.
If you have XML files, databases, spreadsheets or other files that carry product or subscriber information - about items purchased, for example, or people who signed up for a newsletter - those should get special attention, too. That's the lifeblood of your business or service. Lose them and you must start over. That can break your site permanently.
It should go without saying that all HTML and related web site files that comprise visible pages should be backed up regularly. It isn't necessary to record every trivial change, but you can tailor backup software to exclude files or folders. Usually they're so small it isn't worth the trouble. But in some cases those small changes can add up in scenarios where there are many thousands of them.
Here again, the backups are worthless if they can't be used. Even if the hosting company charges for doing so, it's worthwhile to test once or twice a year at least to ensure the data can be restored. That's especially true of database backups, which often involve special software and routines. Database files have a special structure and the information is related in certain ways that require backups be done differently.
Developing a backup strategy can be straightforward. Start simply and review your plan from time to time, modifying it as your site changes and grows. But don't neglect the subject entirely. The day will come when a hard drive fails, or you get hacked or attacked by a virus, or you accidentally delete something important. When that day comes, the few minutes or hours you spent developing and executing a backup plan will have saved you days or weeks of effort.
Web Hosting - Changing Web Hosts, Pitfalls and Planning At some point, nearly everyone finds it necessary to change web hosts. It may be just a migration to another server, or it may be changing web hosting companies entirely. Either way, the process is fraught with potential dangers. But there are ways to minimize the odds of problems and maximize your changes of a smooth migration. Plan, plan, plan. Make a very detailed list of everything that is on your current system. Review what is static and what changes frequently. Note any tailoring done to software and files. Be prepared to remake them if the systems aren't transferred properly or can't be restored. Keep careful track of all old and new names, IP addresses and other information needed to make the migration. Backup and Test Backup everything on your system yourself, whenever possible. Web hosting companies typically offer that as a service, but the staff and/or software are often less than par. Often backups appear to go well, but they're rarely tested by restoring to a spare server. When the time comes that they're needed, they sometimes don't work. Do a dry run, if you can. Restore the system to its new location and make any needed changes. If you have the host name and or IP address buried in files, make sure it gets changed. This is often true of databases. SQL Server on Windows, for example, picks up the host name during installation. Moving a single database, or even multiple ones, to a new server is straightforward using in-built utilities or commercial backup/restore software. But moving certain system-related information may require changing the host name stored inside the master database. Similar considerations apply to web servers and other components. Accept Some Downtime Be prepared for some downtime. Very few systems can be picked up, moved to another place, then brought online with zero downtime. Doing so is possible, in fact it's common. But in such scenarios high-powered professionals use state-of-the-art tools to make the transition seamless. Most staff at web hosting companies don't have the skills or the resources to pull it off. Prepare for Name Changes One aspect of moving to a new host can bedevil the most skilled professionals: changing domain names and or domain name/IP address combinations. When you type a URL into your browser, or click on one, that name is used because it's easier for people to remember. www.yahoo.com is a lot easier to remember than 184.108.40.206. Yet the name and or name/IP address combination can (and does) change. Still, specialized servers called DNS (Domain Name System) servers have to keep track of them. And there are a lot of them. There may be only two (rarely) or there may be a dozen or more DNS servers between your visitors' browsers/computers and your web host. Every system along the chain has to keep track of who is who. When a name/IP address changes, that pair has to be communicated to everyone along the chain, and that takes time. In the meantime, it's possible for one visitor to find you at the new place, while another will be pointing to the old one. Some amount of downtime will usually occur while everything gets back in sync. The Little Gotchas But even apart from name and IP address changes, there are a hundred little things that can, and often do, go wrong. That's not a disaster. It's just the normal hurdles that arise when changing something as complicated as a web site and the associated systems that underlie it. Gather Tools and Support Having an FTP program that you're familiar with will help facilitate the change. That will allow you to quickly move files from one place to the next to do your part to get the system ready to go or make repairs. Making the effort to get to know, and become friendly with, support staff at the new site can be a huge benefit. They may be more willing to address your problem before the dozen others they have to deal with at any given moment. Ok. On your mark. Get ready. Go.
Learning How to Become a Writer in Three Steps (how to become a writer) Becoming a writer is hardly a simple feat. To become a writer a person must practice and work hard to become a writer. It can be said that many writers are writers, but few of them know how to become a writer. The label ?writer? is just simply a label, it is all the hard work and determination of reaching that status that truly gives the writer that name, and makes them worthy of the title. There are three simple steps that any writing can take that will give the title of ?writer,? while making them worthy of it. The first step to becoming a writer is to claim yourself as a writer. Many writers believe that they cannot be known as writers until they are published, but this is not true. Anyone who thinks of themselves as a writer, and writes on regular basis should title themselves as a writer. Many unpublished writers have the habit of saying they want to write, or saying that they write, instead of saying ?I?m a writer. When learning how to become a writer, it is necessary for writers to realize that you don?t have to be published to be known as a writer. Although, it may seem ideal for introductions and make it easier for other to see you as a writer, being published does not make one a writer. Writers should see themselves as people who write, and not as people who write for a living. For most writers, being published is validation of their status as a writer and even a path to success, but there are many published writers who are not very successful, famous, or rich. However, being published is a great way to show your work to an audience, and gain recognition, no matter how big or small. On the path to becoming writing there are many who lose sight of the fact that they don?t stop writing once they are published, so it is not wise to only write to be published. There are many ways to claim yourself as a writer, and in this step to learning how to become a writer there are smaller steps that help you proclaim yourself as a writer. First, say the words aloud to yourself, and repeat them as many times as possible until they are believable to you and others around you. Next, find a specific place for your writing, which can be a room, section of a room, or a studio. It is also important to make the ?writing space? as comfortable as possible, and to make it viable to your writing needs. Then, it is important to get the proper writing tools, such as pens, pencils, notebooks, and a computer that is used specifically for your writing. Aspiring writers can also find lessons on how to become a writer in style books, which should be kept as a writing tool also. It is also helpful to befriend other writers, and read their work and others as a writer and discuss passages of books or chapters with other writers. The second step to becoming a writer is to make time to write. When learning how to become a writer, novices will always be advised to make time for their writing. Many aspiring writers usually mess up on this step, and although they want to be writers they slack on how much they write, so many writers are left with unfinished works. It is important to set aside a particular time or day for writing and to stick to that schedule, because deviance from a writing schedule usually means unfinished work. The final step to becoming a writer is by far the simplest. To become a writer it is imperative that you write. Writing is the simplest step to becoming a writer and the most important step. When learning how to become a writer, you must take some time out and write.
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