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Rackspace offloads 'Cloud Sites' hosting segment to Liquid Web

Tue, 9th August 2016, 16:21

Cloud Sites was the developer-centric web hosting offering from RackSpace that was touted as being ‘designed to keep high-traffic websites up and running fast — all of the time’. While the premium service came with a high price point, when your website is responsible for generating significant revenue you can’t afford slow page loads and downtime become even more of an issue.

So the announcement that a deal has been reached for Liquid Web to take over the service is quite worth noting. Rackspace CEO Taylor Rhodes described Cloud Sites as “a good business”, but also stated that it’s “non-core” and therefore no longer a big focus of Rackspace’s overall strategy.

Rackspace in its quarterly earnings statement states:

As Rackspace continues to focus on delivering expertise and Fanatical Support for the world’s leading clouds, while serving more enterprise customers, it has been divesting services that are not core to this strategy.

The agreement on the deal was reached in July and should conclude by September 30. Cloud Sites will remain in San Antonio. For Liquid Web, the deal seems like a good one that will allow it to expand itself through acquisition. The two firms actually have a lot in common, as both market themselves around dedicated customer support, something that Liquid Web believes differentiates itself from similar companies.

Liquid Web CEO Jim Geiger in a press release issued by Liquid Web stated:

With the addition of Cloud Sites, we further our mission to empower web professionals all over the world to create content and commerce without worry, free of problems and devoid of even one bit of hesitation by providing absolutely flawless web hosting. Unfortunately, our industry is trending toward unsupported services, which leaves fast-growing developers, digital agencies and designers alone, without a real person to turn to when they really need help. However, at Liquid Web, day-in and day-out our people stand behind the creators of content and commerce and we’re going to continue to stand behind those businesses who rely on the web and cloud.

Our job is to delight and every single human being in our company is empowered to do so. Each of them has a relentless devotion to simplifying how our customers experience web hosting and cloud services.

Geiger reassured Cloud Sites customers of a smooth transition to Liquid Web saying users of the Cloud Sites platform, who include designers, developers and digital agencies, should expect a seamless transition as Liquid Web and Rackspace work together to complete the transaction.

Rackspace CEO Taylor Rhodes speaking during the company’s financial report’s release refused to confirm or deny rumors reported in the Wall Street Journal of a imminent $3.5 billion private equity buyout of Rackspace.

(editor's fleeting thought.. makes one wonder if the equity firm behind last year's substantial investment  in Liquid Web is looking into increase their market share). 

 

Liquid Web Heroic Support Banner

Web Hosts Taking A Break. Another Dead Pool

Wed, 27th July 2016, 15:02

Possibly it’s just a slow news day although I doubt it. More likely, the impetus for writing this post is an increasingly longer list of web hosts succumbing to evolutionary market forces and my desire to make the roster more manageable. Regardless the rationale, and barring any last minute miracles, these web hosting entities are not being resurrected any time soon in their present form! Onto the deadpool.

xcubehost

XCube is like the ex you wish you’d never met. They claimed to ‘use high speed connections to some of the finest networks in the world, ensuring your website will always be super fast’. So fast in fact that you won’t even be able to see it online. Cause it ain’t if you use XCube. And not unlike those possessions the ex pilfered away, the xcubehost domain is for sale.

Cerisehost

Cerisehost isn’t exactly dead although we’d be the the first to admit that we never seen this one coming. In fairness the Cerisehost profile on Hostjury did foretell it’s coming transition stating they “want to take you to the next level in the web hosting industry”.

 

Screenshot of the Cerisehost homepage

 

So if you feel the need to dress up your website you may want to consider a web host with fashion sense!

 

QuillHost

The compatriots behind QuillHost were obviously sticklers for sharing detail from the start. In their profile they stated that operations as a web hosting provider began on 21st of October 2008. Not 2008, or even the fall of 2008, but October 21st, 2008.

Now HostJury is all for transparency but some may argue that too much can backfire. Back to the profile.. “Since then, QuillHost has been committed to bringing the power of the Internet to QuillHost customers across the globe with innovative and easy-to-use products that are supported by unmatched customer service”.

Fast forward to mid 2009 and the dear john email sent to clients. What it lacks in optimism it makes up for with details:

As you may know, we have been offering VPS services since November 2008 and some of you have been with us ever since we started playing in this arena. It's been a great journey providing affordable services to all of the clients. You may agree to me here as the service is not the same as it was two months earlier. Due to lack of time, however, I have asked a total of 2 people to assist with support issues(which was just 1 earlier). Not to mention, they've not lived upto my expectations. I have been receiving a large number of complaints about slow responses/lack of support etc. As such I have decided to close all VPS operations based out of Kansas City(69.197.x.x and 209.x.x.x) and Chicago(38.x.x.x) from 1 August 2009.

While this may not be a good news for those who are being affected, however, we've been working to improve the infrastructure at St. Louis(206.225.x.x). Please do note that we are not closing the St. Louis operations as they're on a better infrastructure and will now be backed by a new support team of 3 people(and it's also because there are nominal people compared to other facilities).

We advise you to take backup of all your data and transfer the VPS within next 7 days as servers may be taken offline on date above. I can have them online until 3 August, but not more.

Use of terminology such as consolidating services, upgrading and optimizing operations, or addressing technical support concerns all laud the efforts to rectify prior shortcomings while extolling confidence in the reader.

Conversely, hanging your dirty laundry anywhere on the web can become a gift that just keeps giving!

ZeHosting

Talking about the gift that just keeps giving. ZeHosting, a Quebec Canada web host proudly displayed some clients names on their homepage, which in of itself is quite normal in the industry. Really, how many web host could resist bragging rights when one of those clients is the webcomic and animated series Ctrl+Alt+Del (abbreviated CAD), which at its height was getting 1.8 million monthly unique visitors!

Except, when there’s some controversy surrounding the founder of CAD that had at least one American individual with some honed SEO skills calling for a complete boycott of ZeHosting for their association with the webcomic. I have no clue on the effectiveness of this campaign but the adage ‘the only bad news is no news’ really depends on the content of the news.

Keolo Hosting

Keolo Hosting's last tweet… well actually it was their only tweet: Lots of new things happening at KeoloHosting, stay tuned!

I for one won’t be holding my breath!

Servers500

The Servers500 profile page stated that they "offered superior customer service, 99.9% uptime, and unique features that you won’t find anywhere".

Not sure if that last reference is to the AWOL Server500 website.

"Our customers are the most important part of our business, and we will never lose sight of that fact. We are not perfect, but we will always be working towards perfection and will always listen and help our customers with whatever they need. With Servers500 you can sell unlimited plans to your customers and we also enable overselling!"

With fully managed dedicated servers for $49.99 per month including 5 ip addresses, what could ever go wrong with that business plan.

Plutomic Hosting

Plutomic Hosting offered a range of web hosting, cloud hosting and colocation services to customers in the Philadelphia metro region and was founded in 2005 by Andrew Westfall and Ben Chiappetta who had the idea that web-hosting companies should have a closer working relationship with their customers than the many of the mass-market hosting companies demonstrated. Westfall even earned second place in the 2012 New Jersey Collegiate Entrepreneur of the Year Competition. Guess they were destined for bigger and better things!

InfiniteTechnologies

Infinite Technologies is one of those classic examples of how convoluted the English language becomes when considered through the lens of the infinite variables that could be conceived from two simple words using variants of Top-Level Domains (TLDs) and generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). What’s in a name. Copious amounts of SEO if the name is rooted with infinite and tech

Bits of Cream. Also known as BOC Servers.

Designed by web hosting veterans, BOC Servers has had a singular goal to provide the most powerful, secure Web hosting environment in the world at an affordable price. The work ethic and integrity that established our business has paid off with many industry awards and happy customers.

That is until the homepage showed the account as suspended and now taking any offers on a couple of domains going cheap!

AlienPowered

Founded on October 25, 2010 AlienPowered is working to sharpen the future of the alien race as we provide humans with the premium webhosting and service they need. Our workforce is unparalleled to any being in this universe; our servers reflect the same identity. Look to the aliens, power your future.

Wonder if the dude at AlienPowered ever meets up with the dude and his superhero from Herolocity

Need a domain for a new webhosting venture. Here’s some more possibilities.

CloudFyre

CloudFyre's premium web hosting is world-renowned for being here to serve you.

HOST GS

Good Price, Quality, Fast Response and Lite Speed In ONE!

Maybe Gelhost.

Gelhost offers Shared, Reseller, and Managed VPS packages on high end Linux servers giving you desired choice of relaxing about your website.

If you’re looking for web hosting then it may be best to consider none of the above. Choose wisely and check the reviews!

Siteground Web Hosting

A Few Lines About Siteground

Thu, 21st July 2016, 16:34

On a daily basis HostJury receives all kinds of updates, newsletters, and press releases from various web hosting companies touting the latest new feature or some service that is going to revolutionize how we function online. We especially enjoy reading about that latest big sale offering ‘deep’ discounts from those companies already offering ridiculously low prices. ‘Yeah 50% off our 1 cent sale’. Where do I sign up. Marketing genius some would say. Others would describe it another way.

While it would be quite repetitive and time consuming, not to mention really boring, to do a write up on everything spamming the inbox, for the most part we take the time to give a cordial glance for something uniquely different that may be of interest. Hence a few lines about Siteground.

Siteground has jockeyed around vying for top spot in the Hostjury best rated host section for quite a while now so their newsletter does demand at least closer scrutinizing. Worthy of mention is a change in the way Siteground describes their package transfer allowances. They have replaced the term ‘unlimited’ with ‘unmetered’ on their sales pages. Some would try to suggest that this is just a play on words. At HostJury we beg to differ believing that if something is truly unlimited then why is it metered. A pet peeve on our part possibly but kudos to Siteground on this clarification.

Siteground also talked in their newsletter about their ‘New In-House Built Backup System’ and the impressive results using it for the first time. Late last year Siteground announced a raft of infrastructure changes like new supercharged monster servers with SSD drives and the latest virtualization method called “Linux containers”. The changes were designed to provide clients with a significant performance gains and bigger pool of burstable resources for sudden traffic spikes. Another part of the innovation was their in-house created backup/restore system.

image of a laboratory

As many of the horror stories written by reviewers and us will attest, too often the first time people think about back ups is right after one of those ‘oh sheet’ moments. Fortunately, most web hosts are more conscientious about preserving data than the clients they serve. Then again, most web hosts are accustomed to restoring back ups to individual accounts on a near daily basis. A server(s) going down is a horse of a different color. Despite the redundancies built in, hard drives do fail and data does get corrupted.

Siteground wrote that the last time they needed to make full backup restore of a whole shared hosting server was more than a year ago. Back then they were using R1Soft backup, which is among the most popular in the hosting industry because it is reliable and does not create significant load on the production servers while creating the backups (a resource-intensive process that takes place every day). The drawback to R1Soft is that the recovery process and subsequent file checks is painfully slow and the affected sites can experience prolonged outage. In the event in question, Siteground affected accounts were down for 28 hours.

Fast forward to their latest incident. Siteground ‘New In-House Built Backup System’ makes distributed backups and allows simultaneous restores from multiple backup instances to multiple production servers. Thus they were able to recover 4TB of data (which was nearly three times more than the previous time), in just 4 hours, compared to the 28 hours in last year’s incident. The new system also allowed incremental recovery and the first accounts were up just a few minutes after the issue was identified, with the longest downtime (about 4 hours) affecting only a few individual sites.

Quite an impressive improvement by any metric except... this isn’t what really caught my eye.

A substantial amount of time is spent at HostJury ensuring the web hosting reviews are legitimate clients of the company being reviewed. Numerous reviews are deleted not because they are ‘fraudulent’, rather, they simply don’t check out. Over the years, an innumerable amount of reviews have been written about the hosting services provided by Siteground (editor’s note.. . innumerable = more than I care to count). It has been said more than once that Siteground has a very activist client base.

What caught my attention in the Siteground newsletter was the number of overwhelmingly positive comments in the feedback section. Clients such as Brian who wrote:

I love the approach. I love even more the transparency that goes with sharing your process with the world. Most companies pretend problems never happen so as not to undermine customer confidence. Any sensible person knows this for the fallacy that it is. I love companies that show the world the challenges that they face and how hard they work resolve them and avoid them in the future. I will echo the sentiment from above... I am a proud and happy client.

And that is worth writing about! Want to know more about Siteground. Check out their reviews here.

Siteground Web Hosting

Former Rack Master Turned Frack Master Chris Faulkner Faces New Lawsuit

Tue, 19th July 2016, 15:20

Numerous media rags citing inflammatory terminology like "a lifestyle of decadence, debauchery, and the whore card", are reporting that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Dallas-based Breitling Energy Corp. and its CEO, "Frack Master" Chris Faulkner. In a 63-page complaint filed in federal court in Dallas, the SEC alleges millions of dollars of investors money was fraudulently spent on lavish meals, expensive cars, strippers and escorts.

Of course one could legitimately ask why this tripe constitutes news on a web hosting review site. It wouldn’t except Faulkner faced a spate of lawsuits in the early 2000s in connection with his previous web hosting business C I Host. The Texas company which was founded in 1997 grew rapidly but by 2004 was mired in dozens of lawsuits including one by Microsoft. Eventually CI Host shut down.

Screenshot of website from dufunct web hosting company C I Host

In the Deadwood edition of the HostJury Deadpool, C I Host was lauded as a top contender for it’s numerous accolades. Where does one even start with C I Host...

A few years back, C I Host had their collocation facility situated in a less than ideal part of Chicago. After a period of extended downtime they finally came clean and admitted the servers were taken in a robbery... again! At the time, management argued that people were erroneously claiming that this was the fourth robbery at their facility. A spokesperson for the company used media sources to clarify that C I Host had only been robbed twice. The other two occasions had been break and enters. Splitting hairs some may say, and many clients did so with their feet. They sought solace with other web hosts.

In 2009, C I Host announced it had sold its shared web hosting business to X7 Hosting, a web hosting provider operated by Hostopia. According to the press release, the sale allowed CI Host and its sidekick Cassiopeia Internet to “focus on their managed, dedicated and colocation hosting for their mid and large market enterprise customers while ensuring improved services for the accounts to be acquired by X7 Hosting.”
Then in 2010 Cassiopeia Internet announced it was launching the Constellate brand to connect dedicated server, colocation and managed services customers in the Dallas region and beyond.

In 2013, C I Host, Cassiopeia Internet, and Constellate no longer resolved leaving many to breathe a collective sigh of relief. It’s unlikely the frack master will be returning to his roots and reinventing himself as the rack master. But then again, who know. Among other things, Chris Faulkner seems to be a survivor with a knack for marketing genius!

Siteground Web Hosting

HostGator & BlueHost Nix Email Support

Fri, 8th July 2016, 09:41

It appears that with little or no notice Endurance International (EIG) brands HostGator and BlueHost have removed their option to submit support tickets by email. Your only options now is phone support or live chat. The techs that you speak with also do not have the ability to open a new ticket on your behalf in your portal. The change was first noticed in late June 2016.

Screenshot of new support portal without option for submitting tickets

 

The change was first noticed in June...

“I discovered that the HostGator support portal no longer allows you to submit tickets.I didn't receive any notice that this was going to happen and discovered it when trying to submit a ticket. As a WHM reseller it is difficult to run my business without the ticket system. While tickets were taking days to get a response, the system is still a needed tool”.

The HostGator panel offered email support prior:

Screenshot of Support Portal showing email tickets as an option

 

Some could argue from a strictly operational and efficiency perspective that it makes sense for the webhosts not have email support. Having a first-line that does simple troubleshooting and escalating with as much detail as possible can definitely be an effective way of handling support. In an outage, they put up a queue message describing the outage which makes a majority of people hang up and stop waiting - whilst the few that do get in are often short calls where the agent just confirms the downtime. Resources can be divided, and second-line techs won't need to go through a heap of ticket history before getting to troubleshooting. These commentators have suggested there's a good reason why telcos, as as an example, rarely if ever have any kind of ticket support.

The difference is that utilities and telcos are typically services that either work or don't. Web hosting on the other hand has a myriad of reasons for needing support that goes beyond the infinate ways end-users find to "break" their sites. Only having chat and phone support means you may have to spend a considerable amount of time waiting/communicating while you resolve your issue. On the other hand, this doesn't happen in support tickets because you can respond to emails and spend the rest of your valuable time on other things. (editor's note.. ticket monkeys need sleep also and some issues last longer than one shift!)

 

Screenshot of BlueHost panel with note that email support is no longer available

 

All support requests are not going to be the same. Some are super quick and easy to resolve, while others take some time and in-depth investigation to solve. As such, each contact medium customers can use has value.

Phones - great for informational calls, identifying problems, resolving simpler ones, opening tickets as needed.

Chats - great for the same reasons as calls, plus with the added benefit of copy/pasting errors, returned message headers, and other textual data.

Tickets - great for handling more complicated issues, long-running investigations, and keeping record in ticket replies and notes of ongoing customer issues, related data, helpful links, etc.

Twitter/Facebook/Reviews - Greats for lighting fires when other options fail!

BlueHost and HostGator customers needing support now will have to in a sense ‘pay’ for it with time. It'll make the ones with simple questions think twice, and probably search online for the answer rather than wait in queue. Be prepared for the other Endurance International (EIG) brands to follow suit. It looks like they want to operate with low overhead and an almost automated way of running their hosting operations.

Fused.com Web Hosting

Deutsche Telekom Vying to Acquire Europe's Version of EIG, Host Europe Group

Mon, 20th June 2016, 23:02

A couple of financial rags, quoting upwards of five anonymous sources, are reporting that Deutsche Telekom is eyeing a bid for the web hosting giant Host Europe Group (HEG) in a bid to beef up their own cloud operation. The German telecom firm plans to use its own web hosting subsidiary Strato as a platform to buy private equity-backed HEG and is looking to partner with U.S. private equity firms to fund the transaction.

Berlin based Strato, which was acquired by Deutsche Telekom in 2009 for 275 million euros ($310 million), is a much smaller platform than the revival it's hoping to consume. (editor’s note: consume sounds so predatory…. ‘partnering with’ sounds so much more palatable). Strato has annual earnings of approximately 30M euros or about 25% of Host Europe's annual haul. According to one source ‘familiar with the situation’, HEG owner Cinven wants to kick off a sales process before August and aims for a valuation of around 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion).

Host Europe Group, which became the largest privately-owned hosting group in Europe by swallowing up web hosting companies was acquired by private equity firm Cinven in 2013.  HEG brands include Host Europe, 123-reg, Heart Internet, domainFACTORY, Webfusion, Domain Monster, RedCoruna, Domainbox, Donhost, Brand Fortress, PlusServer, Server4You, and the Paragon Internet Group which uses the trade name TsoHost.

In 2014 Glasgow based iomart rejected two separate cash takeover offers from Host Europe. Over the years iomart has gone on its own buying spree acquiring a number of brands including Serverlove, RapidSwitch, Easyspace,Titan Internet, Melbourne Server Hosting and RedStation. Iomart directors at the time stated that both HEG offers undervalued the company.

Reuters previously reported Deutsche Telekom’s interest.

 

Heart Internet Web hosting

Canadian Web Hosting Upgrades and Expands Cloud Server Options

Wed, 1st June 2016, 11:16

Canadian Web Hosting has announced the general release of its custom cloud server types and custom SSD Clouds Servers These new customizable cloud servers will allow customers to change sizes and resources to the exact number of virtual CPU, RAM and storage that they require. The new cloud server options are designed to let developers and businesses save money and maximize resources by only paying for cloud infrastructure that they need rather than having to choose from predetermined instance types with fixed amounts of virtual CPU, RAM and storage.

These options include regular and high-performance cloud server types, such as highly available storage, super-fast SSD cloud storage or private clouds with options for most Linux and Windows operating systems (CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, Windows servers, etc.). With rapid provisioning and custom cloud server options, Canadian Cloud Hosting is endeavoring to distinguish itself from other cloud providers in the cloud hosting market.

Kevin Liang, Chief Technology Officer at Canadian Web Hosting states:

One of the biggest challenges customers experience when migrating workloads to the Canadian Cloud is choosing resources for their instance types. Several leading cloud infrastructure providers today have up to 40 instance types with no ability to customize the resources within each type. The complexity of choosing the right instance creates frustration and can add significant cost to the onboarding process into the cloud.

Canadian Cloud Hosting delivers comprehensive cloud hosting services across Canada, including local options for Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, BC. Each location is fully redundant, leveraging multiple 10Gbps networking and uplinks using enterprise-grade hardware that delivers the best service-level available in Canada. Canadian Cloud Hosting’s platform comprises a range of cloud hosting services, including Elastic Clouds, Flexible Clouds and Private Clouds for customers who require increased security or are interested in running their own cloud.

About Canadian Web Hosting

Since 1998, Canadian Web Hosting and its subsidiary Canadian Cloud Hosting have been providing on-demand hosting solutions that include Shared hosting, SSD servers, Cloud Hosting, Dedicated Server, and IT as a Service for Canadian companies of all sizes. Through the use of innovative technologies and experienced support personnel, they continually focus on helping each customer by offering configurable solutions that are tailored to their exacting business requirements.

CANADIAN WEB HOSTING

Heading Back To The Farm!

Mon, 2nd May 2016, 05:47

Not so long ago an editorial in a prominent newspaper suggested that twenty thousand plus people receiving layoff notices from their bank employer should consider heading back to the farm. That there was no reasonably realistic prospect of again finding themselves gainfully employed. Technology had made them obsolete.

People are not alone. Governments are grappling with the phenomenon of societies experiencing zero growth. The historical measure of economic success has been expanding economies. Debt laden countries desperate to find solutions are borrowing stimulus spending ideas from the 20th century hoping to spur growth. Some arm chair warriors have even gone so far as to suggest the capitalistic models our economies are built upon are dead.

As I travel through a country where modern and traditional values seemly clash on a daily basis, I see shepherds in the distance tending their small flocks of sheep and goats and silently recall the editorial propagating a return to the farm (editor’s note: goats are herded not flocked; gee, talk about city folk!). What exactly does heading back to the farm mean. As my mind ponders the idea I can’t help but smile as I reminisce about driving through the countryside with a small group heading from Toronto to Waterloo. One particularly well educated young lady questioned what all those rectangular shaped boxes were at the end of each driveway.

picture of two old rural mailboxes

Ah yes, what exactly would heading back to the farm be tantamount to. Well there is no simple answer that isn’t likely beyond the scope of this post. Certainly any life changing experiences that pushes us out of our comfort zone are not walks in the park for most people. But the same technology that has altered so many lives can also help us adapt to the inevitable change (editor’s worth noting moment.. Increasing numbers of people are pursuing and willingly adopting varying degree of lifestyle change).

Steve Ballmer once said “The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential”.

Whether disconnecting from the grid, growing an urban garden, creating a beehive, or figuring out how to buzz predators with a drone while you tend your herd from the comfort of your living room, the same technology that has displaced so many people is enabling many more.

Looking out over the horizon I see more Bedouins tending their animals. I smile at the realization that even nomads are empowering themselves by embracing technology to create eCommerce websites that market products and vacation experiences. Possibly that editorial had it right. Maybe we should all head back to the farm!

Siteground Web Hosting

Interview with a Magento Hosting Expert; ProperHost's Founder and CEO Sindre Moe

Wed, 27th April 2016, 09:26

ProperHost is a Norwegian based hosting company that focuses on supporting Magneto and other mission critical applications. Since its inception in 2004, ProperHost has became a popular leader in ecommerce hosting by offering one of the industry's fastest hosting environments for Magento. In fact ProperHost guarantees faster page loads and improved performance.. The motivating force behind it all, CEO, and founder Sindre Moe, was kind enough to allow HostJury to get the inside scoop on how ProperHost became a success and what plans lie in the future for this “leading Magento hosting experts”.

Q: Starting with a little history. A quick search on duckduckgo shows that you were also the founder of ONET way back in 2004. Although I’m just guessing as my Norwegian language skills suck, it doesn’t appear to be a webhost anymore. Was ONET a different venture or did it morph into Properhost?

A: That is correct. Our journey started as ONET, primarily offering hosting and web design services to local businesses in Norway. Eventually this business transitioned into ProperHost as it is today.

Q: Many of the hosting companies from those early days at the turn of the century were founded by either kiddie hosts looking to supplement their allowance, or students ignoring the zoning ordinances around running businesses out of their college dorm rooms. What attracted you into web hosting?

A: As many fellow entrepreneurs I started out when I was still in university, completing my major in computer science. I have always been intrigued by the thought of having my own business, and after having researched a few different online business opportunities I decided to pursue web hosting. It is an industry where technology evolves quickly and I could really make use of my technical background. It is certainly not the easiest business to succeed in, but with dedication and hard work it can certainly be a rewarding business.

Q: Properhost touts itself as The Magento Hosting Experts. How or why did you decide to focus on one particular niche of the hosting industry.

A: Even ten years ago the web hosting industry was still a very competitive market and we knew that we neither could nor wanted to compete on price alone. We therefore had to seek out a niche in order to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Around that time e-commerce was starting to become really popular, and when Magento was launched in 2008 it generated a lot of buzz in the e-commerce world. Magento quickly gained popularity, but it was a real problem to find good hosting providers that could support its long list of system requirements and bold resource needs. Given that the average website at that time consisted mainly of static HTML pages and simple scripts, web hosts were not very performance oriented. In fact many would not allow Magento at all in fear of it slowing down their servers. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to create a high-performance hosting product that was optimized for Magento.

Q: Why, in your opinion, is Magento a better solution than platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce, Volusion, or numerous other options?

A: As I see it they meet different needs. Turnkey solutions like Shopify are easy to get started with, but lacks the flexibility and control you get with Magento. Magento has a very strong community and ecosystem built around it, which makes it easy for merchants to extend or customize their store exactly how they want it. Also since the software itself is open-source there are no other costs involved besides the hosting.

Q: In recent years, there has been a lot of consolidation in the hosting industry with many well known and popular brands owned and/or financed by Capital fund markets. While some would see this as a natural evolution, others would argue these entities just deliver uniformly mediocre services. Do you have an opinion you care to share?

A: Today the generic hosting market is oversaturated and the harsh reality for small companies is either to be acquired or shut down. They simply cannot withstand the financial muscles and marketing of the big brands. Arguably, there are too many providers out there competing for the same clients and web hosting has become a commodity these days. I think consolidations are only a natural consequence similar to what we have seen in other industries. I think there are both good and bad sides to this. Many companies will probably benefit from being backed by a larger corporation, but the industry will certainly lose some of the personal touch and genuineness that niche companies were providing. To stand out it is therefore more important than ever to deliver value-added services to customers.

Q: I have to love ProperHost’s customer loyalty plan. It certainly isn’t commonplace in the industry so where did the idea come from.

A: Again, it is important to find ways to stand out to survive in this industry. Instead of constantly having to drive in new business, we take extra care of our existing clients to ensure their satisfaction is met. It keeps customer retention high and has gained us a solid reputation. The same is true for our affiliate program. I can say roughly 30% of our customer base is a
direct result of affiliate marketing or referrals from existing customers.

Q: Recently (well somewhat recently), you founded another company, Rapid Servers. We will need to do a follow up to get the full scoop but I’d be remiss if I never asked...What’s that about?

A: Rapid Servers is a company that primarily offers higher-end dedicated servers and cloud hosting, but also Magento and Wordpress optimization services. It has no affiliation to ProperHost except it has the same owners.

Q: I am aware that ProperHost’s servers “are jam-packed with advanced features”, but technology is continually evolving. Which feature would you like to see added or further developed as part of your managed services?

A: Cloud native features like high availability (HA) and self-healing capabilities are becoming increasing important, and users expect to be able to scale up and down resources based on demand and only pay for actual usage. I believe that we in the next few years will see a transition away from monolithic server-centric architectures to ephemeral container based clusters that will disrupt the hosting industry as we know it. All I can say is that we are heavily invested in this space and continuously seek to innovate and evolve our services.

Q: Any failures you’d like to tell us about? If you had to go back and change anything, what would top your list?

A: Fortunately we have had no major breakdowns that has caused data loss or devastating damage. I think most hosting companies that have been around for a while have had their fair chair of incidents that they could have done without, like when a RAID array is failing at 3AM on Christmas Eve. Some things are just inevitable, and one thing we have learned is to never underestimate the likelihood of failure. It will happen and once it happens it is usually at the least convenient time.

Q: In my work, I view the offerings from various web hosts on a daily basis. They all appear to offer similar services, and make claims that the same features set them apart from their counterparts. Resisting the urge to say “service” or “price”, what does set ProperHost apart from the competition?

A: Granted, all web hosts provide the same “core” service: a slice of a server with some software on it. Although we do our best to pick the best servers and software stack for our clients’ needs, where we really excel is in that we do one thing and we do it extremely well. We do not try to be a one-size-fits-all solution but instead focus all our efforts on providing the best Magento hosting possible. This goes all the way from the choice of server hardware to how we train our support teams. We want to be your partner, not just a provider of compute and storage. This has always been our strongest selling point and so far it has been working well for us.

Q: Possibly you avoid discussing politics but I’ve got to ask. Back in 2015, the European Union passed that somewhat controversial EU Vat law requiring companies to charge the 17% to 27% tax based on where clients lived, as opposed to the prior rule of the company location. The law went further and also required companies outside the EU to pay up. I haven’t got any statistics but I’m guessing there may be a few companies outside the EU either pocketing the money, or not collecting VAT at all. With companies operating and competing in a global marketplace, how does a company based in the EU compete?

A: I have no comments on this one.

(editor's note: hey you can't fault us for asking!)

Q: Is Norway really one of the happiest country in the world? I’ve heard a cup of coffee costs around 10 euros. So, how do you like to spend your free time? What does work-life balance mean to you?

A: I would have to say yes, but we are also among the most frequent travelers so maybe we just get bored easily. Jokes aside, Norway is a great country to live in. Living expenses are high, but we also have one of the best health care services in the world and a very solid welfare system. Personally I like to spend my free time with my family (I recently became a father), and I also do quite a bit of exercising. As a true Norwegian I love to go skiing and do other outdoor activities. Although I work a lot I also feel very privileged that I get to do exactly what I want when I want it. The old cliché is definitely true: being your own boss brings a lot of freedom but also a lot of responsibilities.

ProperHost recently teamed up with Template Monster to provide their Magento users a vast collection of templates to use for their websites. This new offering expands ProperHost’s ability to offer beginners a user experience that is unique, professional, and a breeze to start. Along with its focus on a specific ecommerce platform (Magento), customer loyalty program, and plans to follow the rapid changes in hosting that lie in the not too distant future, ProperHost seems to be guaranteed continued success both now and in the years to come.

Magento Hosting by ProperHost

123-reg Oops Moment Deletes Unspecified Number of VPS's

Mon, 18th April 2016, 13:06

UK web hosting firm 123-reg has accidentally deleted an unspecified number of customers' websites. The company says an error made during maintenance "effectively deleted" what was on some of its servers.

Richard Winslow, 123 Reg Brand Director has sent out an email offering an explanation along with an apology to affected clients

I am writing to you to explain what happened to some VPS services on 16.04.16. This email is to detail what our steps have been. I am committed to open communication with all customers and would like to take this opportunity to explain in detail. So what happened to some services? As part of a clean-up process on the 123-reg VPS platform, a script was run at 7am on 16.04.16. This script is run to show us the number of machines active against the master database. An error on the script showed 'zero-records' response from the database for some live VPS. For those customers, this created a 'failure' scenario - showing no VM's and effectively deleting what was on the host. As a result of our team's investigations, we can conclude that the issues faced having resulted in some data loss for some customers. Our teams have been and continue to work to restore.

What have we done?

We have been working with an extended team of experts and have left no stone unturned. Our teams have been working long into the night to restore as much as we possibly can. We have also invested in external consultants to recover, in the best way possible. We have recovery running on the VPS servers and some are restoring to new disks. We have also begun copying recovered VPS images to new hosts and we expect some VPS to be back up and running throughout the night and into tomorrow. Our teams have worked for more than 24 hours and will continue to do so. No stone is being left unturned. As the technical teams come back with updates for individual VPS we will communicate updates to customers. For those customers with their own backup of their settings and data, if you wish to restore services yourself you can do this by issuing a reimage command through your 123 Reg control panel, this will give you a freshly installed VPS on a new cluster, where you can restore your service.

I understand that some customers may have lost some confidence in the service that we offer. So, I want to explain what we have done to prevent this happening again. We have started an audit on all cron-jobs and scripts controlling the platform, and associated architecture, so that no script will have ability to delete images, only suspend. For image deletion for those suspended over 28 days we will have a human eye to double check. A new platform will be available by the end of the year for customers which we will provide self-managed and automated snapshot backups, in addition to architecture technology to backup the whole platform, something that is not available on the current platform. I hope this goes some way to win back your confidence.

The web host, which has 800,000 customers in the UK, would not say how many websites had been deleted but said it was a "small proportion".

123 Reg is part of the Host Europe Group which other brands include Heart Internet, Host Europe, Webfusion, Domainmonster, RedCoruna, Domainbox, Donhost, and Brand Fortress.

Siteground Web Hosting

UK Budget Hoster Dataflame Acquired By VidaHost

Tue, 12th April 2016, 10:33

Dataflame has emailed clients announcing that the company is being migrated to Vidahost.  Details of the deal have not been disclosed although some of the announcement almost makes it sound like clients will be relieved. 

Duncan Knapper, along with his partner Kerry founded the Dataflame brand in 2001 and states that since then has been going from strength to strength.

I've taken it from a startup to an established and thriving business, surviving the 2008 financial crash and witnessing huge changes and growth in the internet. I've seen tens of thousands of businesses get online with Dataflame. However I've now decided that it's time to take a step back and have made what I think is an excellent decision for Dataflame customers.

To take Dataflame to the next level, I've decided to pass on the Dataflame business to Vidahost, another UK hosting company. Like us, they pride themselves on offering excellent technical hosting backed by super high quality support. Vidahost are going to take over the day to day running of Dataflame with immediate effect.

The announcement states that Vidahost won't be making any drastic or sweeping changes to the existing structure. Hosting plans and pricing will not change at “any point now or in the future”.

Vidahost expects to physically migrate the Dataflame servers from the current data centre in Maidenhead to their own facility in Slough. Vidahost say that even though this is a small distance physically, the data centers are worlds apart in terms of infrastructure and capacity. Dataflame will have approximately 50x as much available bandwidth after the move. There is expected to be a short period of downtime, overnight, while the migration takes place (editor’s note: I recall a similar story about a host in California moving servers ‘down the street’ in the middle of the night. LA traffic is a nightmare regardless of the hour and so was the fallout over the downtime!).

Vidahost will also be migrating client account into their billing platform which is expected to give access to new payment methods, new domain names (TLDs), new products and features. Clients will have the option of switching to a Vidahost plan “but at no point will this be compulsory and you can stay on your current package forever if you prefer”.

Dataflame clients will see the following improvements immediately:

  • As well as emailing or using live chat, you can now raise support requests directly through your online account at clients.dataflame.com. When you do this, the support request is automatically attached to your account and you are automatically verified which will reduce the amount of back/forth with the support agent. You also have the option to choose the service that your support request relates to. They will also be offering telephone support.
  • Vidahost support team will respond to queries and are happy to go "above and beyond" to help a customer with almost any issue.
  • Servers will be monitored more intensively and even the most minor of issues will hopefully be resolved before client even become aware of an issue.

 

About VidaHost

UK hosting company Vidahost supplies excellent hosting services to suit all requirements. Vidahost have simple pricing and friendly, free UK support 365 days of the year.

Over a decade on from where it all started, Vidahost's focus remains the same: we strive to keep you as a customer for life by providing a brilliantly simple, fast and reliable service – all backed up with our friendly and knowledgeable support.

 

About Dataflame

We are a Privately Owned Company, which has allowed us to keep the personal approach and support to our clients, that many larger companies can no longer offer. In this time we have become one of the most trusted names in UK Management and Hosting, which is something we are very proud, and more importantly, very keen to continue. We offer true 24 hours a day, 7 days a week Technical support ( even on Christmas Day ), so you know that we are always here to help. We specialize in managing bespoke systems, ranging from busy Blog's, to very large eCommerce solutions for very large clients. Nothing is too 'small' or too 'large'.

web hosting by Vidahost

Court Orders Biz to Make Site Accessible to Visually Impaired; Fails Same Test

Mon, 4th April 2016, 19:05

Last year Edward Davis sued Colorado Bag’n Baggage in a California court claiming he couldn’t shop online for the retailer’s products because its website was not accessible to the visually impaired. The suit claimed violations of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and a California anti-discrimination law. This week, Judge Bryan F. Foster of San Bernardino Superior Court granted summary judgement in the suit.

In its order, the court noted that the plaintiff had:

“presented sufficient evidence and legal argument to conclude Title III of the ADA applies to plaintiff’s use of a website where plaintiff has demonstrated he sought goods and services from a place of public accommodation because he demonstrated a sufficient nexus exists between defendant’s retail store and its website that directly affects plaintiff’s ability to access goods and services.” Further, the plaintiff had “presented sufficient evidence that he was denied full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, privileges, and accommodations offered by [the retailer] because of his disability.”

The court ordered the retailer to pay the plaintiff $4,000 and to take the necessary steps to make its website “readily accessible to and usable by visually impaired individuals or to terminate the website.” Because the law allows the plaintiff to recover attorney’s fees and costs, the price tag is expected to reach 100K. (editor’s note.. And here I thought only security experts and politicians were screwing the general populous!) Lawyers for the plaintiff said the ruling broke new ground in an expanding litigation area.

HostJury has written a number of articles over the years on accessibility for the visually impaired including the one about the Ontario Gov passes Accessibility Standards Law then fails to follow it. In that article, a number of accessibility errors showed up on the government’s site making the announcement. Four years later, the content of the page has been updated but the same tests still produce errors similar to the one in the San Bernardino case.

The next accessibility test HostJury conducted was on the San Bernardino county government's official website sbcounty.gov. The test reveals 59 known errors and a further 1267 potential errors. The editor correctly pointed out that the San Bernardino county gov is not the same as the San Bernardino Superior Court.. So another test is run on the Superior Court site and … 22 Errors, 56 Alerts, 15 Features, 41 Structural Elements, and 3 Contrast Errors.

 

Screenshot of the Superior Court of California Wave Test

 

As predicted before, these types of cases are likely to continue. (editor chimes in.. Reebok was recently hit with a proposed class action alleging that the company’s website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act). If you aren’t sure whether your eCommerce or business website is accessible to the blind, now may be the time to find out.

Free web accessibility tools like AChecker and Wave are readily available. WebAIM {http://webaim.org/services/certification/} goes further and will provide a statement declaring the level of accessibility of your web site on a specific date. There are four steps to site certification:

  • WebAIM conducts a comprehensive review of your site, generally on a representative sample of pages.
  • They provide a report that documents compliance and other accessibility barriers found on your site.
  • Once the documented accessibility requirements are met and verified (this may take a few iterations of re-evaluation and reporting), they will certify the accessibility of your site to a predetermined standard.
  • If you'd like, they can then monitor and re-certify your site to ensure accessibility over time.

The cost for the certification is.. Zero dollars!

The alternative.. the coloradobaggage.com domain is hosted with Network Solutions and currently shows a holding page “This Site Is Under Construction and Coming Soon”. Getting a sense of whether your site can be navigated using a screen reader will provide a better sense of whether the site could be considered a “low hanging fruit” for plaintiffs and their lawyers to find.

 

One Final Note

The lead counsel for the plaintiff in the Colorado Bag’n Baggage case is quoted in the WSJ Law Blog saying:

that the ruling marked the first time in such a lawsuit that a court has entered a judgment in favor of a plaintiff over a defendant’s objections. “It’s pretty groundbreaking,” said Scott Ferrell, founding partner of litigation boutique Newport Trial Group.

So HostJury ran a Wave test on the Newport Trial Group website…

screenshot of Wave error report for Newport Trial Group website

Maybe some of those legal fees from the San Bernardino win could be used to ensure their website is accessible to the visually impaired. We have reached out to the parent company of Colorado Bag’n Baggage for comment.

 

Siteground Web Hosting

Kicking The Tires On Aabaco Small Biz Websites

Wed, 30th March 2016, 11:27

Late in November 2015, Yahoo completed an Alibaba makeover and rebranded it as Aabaco. As part of the switch, Yahoo also changed its small business hosting service’s name from Yahoo Small Business to Aabaco Small Business. Yahoo Small Business hosting has always had a reputation for being easy to use, and gained a large, loyal customer base during its 18 year run. Does Aabaco Small Business continue that tradition? Let’s find out!

 

screenshot of Aabaco shopping cart

 

The default login page provides simple, minimalistic access to all of the services offered by Aabaco, as well as billing information. There isn’t much to this, just click on the relevant section you want to go to. The services currently offered by Aabaco include email, domains, ecommerce, web hosting, and domains.

 

screenshot of Aabaco 'getting started' window

 

On the creation of a new account, Aabaco tries to simplify the process of getting started by providing a handy walk through. The walk through takes you through setting up your email, designing your site, and promoting it.

 

setting up your email on Aabaco is easy

 

Email is included with even the most basic hosting package, which does help save the customer money on purchasing email services for their domain. Domain specific email simply gets routed through Yahoo’s default servers to a Yahoo hosted account. At $5.99 a month for a basic plan, when most email hosting costs at least as much by itself, this is a huge deal for the business owner that is merely looking for a landing page and domain specific email.

 

screenshot of Aabaco recommended task list

 

Aabaco also presents a list of tasks when you create a new website that helps guide you through setting up all the different sections of the website. These sections include the overall design, a “Home” page, a “Services” page, an “About Us” page, and a “Contact Us” page. The editor provides options for what kind of layout and design you would like to use, but unfortunately we were unable to find a CSS or HTML editor for intermediate/advanced web designers. This means Aabaco Small Business is strictly for the amateur crowd.

 

screenshot of Aabaco layout and design choices

 

screenshot of Aabaco widgets and manage page options

 

Aabaco does do a good job with providing options to novice webmasters so they don’t have to have a website that looks exactly like every other Aabaco customer’s website. There are tons of design options, as well as five layout options to choose from. The widget selection is poor for now. Hopefully Aabaco has plans for adding more widgets in the future. The page management console provides a few more options for how your pages display. You can choose to hide pages from the main navigation bar, or not even publish them at all.

 

screenshot of Aabaco site settings window

 

The “Site Settings” console allows the Aabaco customer to change their contact information, business name, display settings, business category, web analytics, and Norton site seal. This is also the place to go if you want to delete your website and start over from scratch.

Here are some screenshots of what the default website layout and pages look like.

 

 screenshots of what the Aabaco default website layout and pages look like

 

Once you’ve completed the initial design of your site, Aabaco assists even further with an additional walk through that guides you through submitting your website to search engines, sending a grand-opening email to all your contacts, and creating an Aabaco local listing.

Through the business control panel, you can also add additional users and tweak their administrative access privileges.

It is important to note that Aabaco also offers a service called Localworks, which lists your business in over 50 local directories like Yahoo and Yelp for $29.99/month. This service also allows you to quickly update your listings, track their performance, and add additional information to them.

 

Aabaco also offers a service called Localworks

 

This is what the current pricing for Aabaco’s e-Commerce plans looks like. The transaction fee is 1.5% on the Basic plan, and goes down to .75% on the Premier plan. The Premier plan also comes with 30 business email accounts vs. the Basic’s 10. Premier plans also get a designated account manager and priority telephone support. Both the Premier and Professional plans get API access for third party solutions. The Professional plan seems to be the most complete solution for those looking to save money, but you will have to compromise on the availability of support with it.

 

Screenshot of Aabaco e-commerce plan pricing

 

Aabaco Small Business appears to be just as much the perfect solution for the novice small business owner as Yahoo Small Business once was. While Aabaco Small Business has seen a large number of complaints since its opening, one can only hope that with time these issues will be ironed out as is often the case in any new product or service launch. However, the lack of expert tools such as an HTML/CSS editor limits the scope of Aabaco’s audience on their hosting plans, which can go on to hurt their high end plan sales since advanced webmasters aren’t likely to use a high end plan they cannot test out via using a basic plan first.

Another sore selling point with Aabaco Small Business plans is that the website designs are seriously outdated. Aabaco would stand to see a lot more business if they updated their designs to be a little less 1998 and a little more 2016. Due to this, we see little use for Aabaco’s Small Business plans beyond creating a basic landing page for a small business. Ecommerce customers may want to look for a webhost that provides more eye catching designs for their website.

About the author: Jonquil McDaniel is an IT professional in Florida that has been writing and tinkering with technology both personally and professionally her entire life. She has an infectious enthusiasm for all things technical; a gift for creative problem solving and communications of all kinds; and a warm, positive disposition that infiltrates every word she writes.

Aabaco Small Business web hosting

Automattic has taken over a majority stake in Pressable

Thu, 17th March 2016, 16:16

Automattic has acquired a majority stake in managed wordpress host Pressable with a purchase of Pressable CEO Vid Luther’s shares of the company.. Formerly known as ZippyKid, the San Antonio Texas company was founded in 2010 by Luther before being rebranded as Pressable in 2013.

Pressable announced the move in a blog post saying:

Vid Luther has resigned from Pressable, and we wish him best of luck. Vid is replaced by our new Interim CEO Chris Lauzon. Chris, as many of you know, was the former Director of Support at WP Engine and has been at Automattic for several years. Chris’ background uniquely positions him to help Pressable during this period of transition. Top priority for all of us is to evolve our infrastructure to better support complex WordPress sites for eCommerce, marketing sites requiring social integration, and custom applications running on the WordPress API. Chris will also work to ensure that we continue to deliver the amazing WordPress support that is the hallmark of the Pressable brand. We’re super excited to have him leading our efforts.

The post also states that Automattic has provided Pressable with access to financial resources, expertise, and staff to help lay a solid foundation for growth. Pressable says that in the coming months they will be implementing new infrastructure improvements and a roadmap of new features that will allow client WordPress sites to run faster and more reliably than ever before.

In April of 2015 Automattic invested a million and half dollars in Pressable so they were already a significant investor in the company. Pressable is expected to remain an independent company and will chart its own course.

Aabaco's Small Business Crash: Is Yahoo Cleaning Up Before It's Too Late?

Tue, 15th March 2016, 18:15

Late in November 2015, Yahoo announced that they were phasing out their self hosted Small Business plans in favor of partnering with Aaabaco. Within only a few weeks, HostJury readers filled up Aabaco Small Business’s review page with complaints about the failed migration and poor customer support. We at HostJury immediately noticed the dissent, and decided to contact Yahoo for ourselves to see if some of the problems being reported could be resolved.

HostJury followed up with a Yahoo PR rep to find out if some of the problems being reported had been recognized by Yahoo and were being worked upon. It took a long time to address all of the issues mentioned - there was a bucket list. However, the Yahoo representative did a wonderful job on providing a response on each mentioned issue, letting us know what issues had been resolved and what was being done to resolve the issues that still existed.

One of the biggest complaints we noticed on Aabaco’s Small Business review page was poor uptime. This was most noticeable in the uptime score, which was only a 9 (ouch!). HostJury researched Aabaco’s regular hosting and found that they provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee to Aabaco customers. Of course, we wanted to know if this same guarantee applied to Aabaco Small Business customers as well.

The Yahoo rep passed on the following statement from an Aabaco Small Business spokesperson: “... we continue to stand behind our 99.9% customer website uptime for both web hosting and ecommerce customers’ sites (not including planned maintenance downtimes). Any time our team detects or is notified of an issue, we work quickly to correct it.” So, if you notice your website is down, please immediately make contact with Aabaco’s customer support to report it, and also take note of how long it lasts so you can have your account credited.

A concerning review we noticed on the Aabaco Small Business page concerned the difficulty one HostJury reader had with canceling his account. He complained that Aabaco customer service required he provide his full credit card number in order to cancel his account. We showed this review to Yahoo’s PR representative, and this is the message she had to pass on from Aabaco’s representative: “Asking customers to provide their credit card numbers is no longer our primary identity verification method. Our new sign-in system now allows customers to establish secret questions and answers. Credit card numbers will only be used as a secondary method for customers that did not set up questions and answers.” This was certainly a huge relief to hear. Just make sure you set up those secret questions and answers, and you’ll be good to go if you decide to cancel in the future! No credit card numbers necessary!

Probably the biggest complaint of all among HostJury users was the long time Aabaco’s customer service took to respond to their opened support tickets. For this particular issue, we at HostJury suggested that Aabaco start implementing a customer based support forum to help cover issues that other more experienced customers can help with, without any input from official customer support. The Aabaco Small Business representative had this to say: “In addition to staffing up back in December to provide additional Customer Care resources to our customers, we will also soon be announcing new channels for customers to interact with our Customer Care team. Additional details will be available soon.” Hopefully part of this will include live help without much of a wait time… and maybe, just maybe? That customer based support forum we suggested!

In conclusion, it seems that Aabaco is aware of many of the issues present in the Yahoo Small Business to Aabaco Small Business transition, and is working to remedy them. There also are some helpful tools available to Aabaco Small Business customers that could be made more obvious on the Aabaco Small Business website, such as their system status pages. With a little patience and time on their side, hopefully Aabaco will be able to turn Yahoo Small Business around to once again meet the kinds of webhosting standards Yahoo Small Business’ long time loyal customers have come to know and love.

Aabaco Small Business web hosting

EiG brand ApolloHosting morphs into Verio

Sun, 6th March 2016, 15:26

Endurance International Group (EiG) has announced that ApolloHosting, starting February 29 2016 will be rebranded as ‘Verio’. Endurance International Group recently added Verio, an industry-leading provider of online business solutions, to its family of brands.

EiG in the release states that small businesses are what drive the global economy. The release continues:

For several years now, ApolloHosting has been in the process of transforming itself from a web hosting company to a multi-faceted online services provider. Our goal is to give our customers the tools they need to utilize the promise, power and potential of the web, and hosting your website with us is really just the first step.

By combining ApolloHosting with Verio, we're hoping to offer the best of both worlds -- Verio customers can take advantage of the superior web hosting infrastructure currently enjoyed by ApolloHosting customers, and you will be able to leverage the Verio brand as we continue to develop our suite of services to help you succeed online.

We’re not going anywhere. Accounts will continue to be supported by the same team as always (customer support, systems administration, etc.). We'll just be going by a different name from now on.

So beside the name change what can be expected. Well not much aside from a few small changes to the email server. On a positive note there is no disruption in service expected.

 

Contabo professional hosting solutions

Real Confidence Builder: cPanel Hacked Again

Fri, 29th January 2016, 18:11

For what seems like the ump-teenth time, web host control panel favorite cPanel has sent a dear john letter to customers letting them know that the data entrusted to cPanel is safe but in a move that's akin to closing the gate after the horse escaped, they're changing your password.. just incase even though your data is safe!

cPanel's Aaron Stone writes:

I am writing to let you know that one of our user databases may have been breached. Although we successfully interrupted the breach, it is still possible that user contact information may have been susceptible.

The customer contact information that may have been susceptible is limited to names, contact information, and encrypted (and salted) passwords. Please note that our credit card information is stored in a separate system designed for credit card storage and is not impacted by this possible breach.

Although current passwords are stored salted and encrypted, we are accelerating our move to stronger password encryption at the same time in order to minimize disruption. In order to safeguard the system, we will force all users with older password encryption to change their passwords.

It is important to highlight that this incident was not related to cPanel products or the Targeted Security Release published on January 18th.

While the hack itself will have no impact on the average hosting client, it doesn’t exactly instill confidence when the developer of one of the most widely used control panel in the hosting industry can’t keep the nefarious types out of their own servers. On the bright side, it should be easier for the spammers to contact certain web host with those shared details.

 

Magento Hosting by ProperHost

App Host Parse Announces Shut Down

Fri, 29th January 2016, 16:07

The Parse homepage is now blank except for one important announcement, a link, and a thank you.

Parse's hosted services will be fully retired on January 28, 2017. We're proud that we've been able to help so many of you build great mobile apps. Thank you for using Parse.

The link is a post by Parse co-founder Kevin Lacker.

We have a difficult announcement to make. Beginning today we’re winding down the Parse service, and Parse will be fully retired after a year-long period ending on January 28, 2017. We’re proud that we’ve been able to help so many of you build great mobile apps, but we need to focus our resources elsewhere.

We understand that this won’t be an easy transition, and we’re working hard to make this process as easy as possible. We are committed to maintaining the backend service during the sunset period, and are providing several tools to help migrate applications to other services.

First, we’re releasing a database migration tool that lets you migrate data from your Parse app to any MongoDB database. During this migration, the Parse API will continue to operate as usual based on your new database, so this can happen without downtime. Second, we’re releasing the open source Parse Server, which lets you run most of the Parse API from your own Node.js server. Once you have your data in your own database, Parse Server lets you keep your application running without major changes in the client-side code.

We know that many of you have come to rely on Parse, and we are striving to make this transition as straightforward as possible. We enjoyed working with each of you, and we have deep admiration for the things you’ve built. Thank you for using Parse.

Facebook acquired Parse back in 2013, and at the time the social network said it planned to keep Parse in operation. Whether it was ever a good fit is for others, but at the time HostJury noted that ‘Parse lives ups to one of its guiding principles. Built by developers.. for developers. Their documentation is not for the novice or weak of heart!’.

Parse CEO and co-founder Ilya Sukhar departed this past August. In 2013, Sukhar stated that Parse and Facebook together would help developers "build, grow, and monetize" apps and that Parse will become the underlying layer that people build on and pull in various Facebook services when they need them. That’s how the product will evolve with the union of the two."

A lofty goal but even Zuckerberg would have to concede that developers are not exactly Facebook’s target audience.

eApps cloud hostingeApps cloud hosting

2016 Auld Lang Syne Deadpool

Mon, 4th January 2016, 12:05

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016! Have you resolved to change your life this year? Gonna head to the gym and work that holiday weight off? Well, if there's one thing that always motivates us here at HostJury, it's the bracing stench of the rancid dead. It's time for the first Deadpool of the year! (Make a wish!)

Emagin Hosting

Emagin Hosting: as in, emagin trusting your business to a provider that can't even spell imagine. A sudden domain expiration earns the good folks of Emagin our coveted First Blood of the Year award. The trophy is a tupperware container, and I'm pretty sure you can guess what's in it.

CaptureHost

Dead and gone is little­leaguer CaptureHost, and all that remains is a hundred of their offers for lifetime discount hosting! Gotta love those lifetime discounts­ like marriage, the intent is clearly eternal, and yet the reality is rarely so.

MingledHost

Perfect name, I mean really. They came, they mingled, and then they left.

Hosting Cove

"Hosting Cove provides customers a worry free service with no hidden contracts or fees." Judging by the awful buzz on WHT and their immediate demise, we may have to take issue with that assessment.

Elief

Sometimes while reading the deadpool you may wonder, what exactly is it that causes a hosting provider to go under? Well, we're not going to bury the lede on you, Elief's uptime rating was a 6... out of 100. What's more, HostJury reviews tell us that Elief has had multiple customers experience catastrophic data loss due to a failure to backup just about anything. We've had users come back to amend old positive reviews simply because the service had become so awful.

Before the end, it seems that Elief removed any and all contact information from their site. Truly, Elief seems to have been the worst possible webhost. May their tortured databases rest in peace.

Mariachi Host

Inside sources tell us that MariachiHost folded primarily because most customers found having Vicente Fernandez blaring through their speakers every time they accessed cPanel was a bit much. But props to MariachiHost for picking a gimmick and sticking to it.

Lewcy

A bit of a weird one: Lewcy transferred its service to offsight.co.uk, but that domain is for sale, and it doesn't seem like there's any forwarding address. We're chalking this up to a double kill.

Smart Web Hosting

Let it be known that we took the high ground and did not make a petty joke out of this webhost's name. Here's hoping there are some smarter options for Pakistani websites out there.

HostingX

Having given up the ghost, HostingX is reportedly moving on to much more interesting content, simply by adding two more X's to their name. Can't wait to uh, research how their next endeavor goes.

HostNucleus

"At HostNucleus, we're always looking for ways to improve your hosting experience." In this case, by strongly urging you to find it somewhere else.

PavHost

Despite their fairly solid reviews, PavHost has folded. Let's take a minute to cherish the memory of tech support worker Michael Long, one of few to be named in a HostJury review as an exceptional support agent. Rest in peace, you beautiful bastard. Hope you're resetting administrator passwords in the sky. Or just, like, not dead and working somewhere else. That's fine too.

Hillock Hosting

Hillock? Hillock? Was a regular hill just too exuberant to represent your company, guys? No wonder they tanked­ lack of ambition.

NoHelpHost

If I were tech support at this company, I would respond to every query for assistance by pointing to the logo on my shirt and just staring. There's technically no reason to believe that this happened to every single one of their customers, but you know what they say about proving a negative...

Oh, you don't? And you'd like to know? Read the shirt.

While there's little doubt that 2016 will continue to generate new lists of the dead and dying for the webhost deadpool, that doesn't mean we can't be kind to ourselves in the new year. One resolution that's easy to keep is reviewing the reviews before committing your project to a new web host!

 

Everleap - Affordable Cloud Hosting

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish: Why Every Business Needs Security in a Web Host

Fri, 18th December 2015, 16:56

The past two years have seen a major shift in the way we approach our holiday shopping agendas. While most people shopped in brick and mortar stores in the past, this year we are seeing approximately three quarters of shoppers doing their holiday gift shopping online, with only 3% saying that they plan to shop in physical stores for their presents. If you’re a small to medium sized business owner with an online store, you’ve probably already seen the effects in your online sales as customers prepare for this holiday season.

But along with the increase in online sales traffic has came an increase not only in bandwidth usage but in cyber crime as well, calling for an increased need for cyber security awareness among online store owners. Cyber security has become a booming, highly in demand business, with some cyber security professionals pulling almost $5,000 daily for their unique services. Such news can make a small to medium business owner cringe, knowing they could never afford such a luxury. Does this mean that as a small to medium sized business owner you shouldn’t be concerned with securing your online store since you can’t afford such a professional to secure your traffic?

Would you avoid locking a physical store and setting up a security camera just because you can’t afford a security guard?

Just like smaller physical stores have some more affordable security options available, so should you as an online store owner through your web host. Many business owners are so concerned with the bottom priceline and stability in their web host that they forget to check for security options. Others may not even be aware that there ARE web hosts with security options available to their customers! And most may not know what to look for in a web host’s security profile.

Looking for a secure web host is a lot like looking for a good system administrator. Many of the same principals apply. The number one concern is backups. Does your web host offer daily incremental backups of your website? This is important for if your website becomes compromised by malware so you can quickly and easily restore it to its original state without loss of data.

Of course, you also would want to know that your system administrator isn’t hosting any malicious websites alongside yours, so another important factor to consider with your web host is if they carefully screen customers during the registration process to ensure they are who they say they are. They may do this through various means of screening, collecting proof of your identity, and/or calling you before setting up your account.

A good system administrator that’s concerned with their employer’s online security will regularly conduct penetration testing both from inside and outside of the network to make sure there are no leaks. Make sure to ask if your web host also does this. Another important question to ask is if they are using a clustered firewall which only allows traffic in the network that is explicitly requested from within its walls.

Another thing you would want to make sure your system administrator is doing is using network monitoring tools and antivirus software to alert them of any suspicious network traffic and files. Does your web host employ security personnel that utilize network monitoring and antivirus tools to keep a watch on their network 24/7? Are they quick to respond to threats and take them offline for repairs?

Just because you can’t afford a cyber security professional doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider security when looking for a web host. Any extra cost involved in ensuring you have a web host with your website’s security in mind is easily compensated for tenfold by the peace of mind knowing that your store, customers, and assets are safe from financial losses. This holiday season, give yourself and your customers a gift that keeps on giving by making sure you have a website that is secure from online cyber crimes.

About the author: Jonquil McDaniel is an IT professional in Florida that has been writing and tinkering with technology both personally and professionally her entire life. She has an infectious enthusiasm for all things technical; a gift for creative problem solving and communications of all kinds; and a warm, positive disposition that infiltrates every word she writes.

Moonfruit Responds to Extortionist By Nixing Own Services

Mon, 14th December 2015, 13:01

The UK based webhost and website building platform Moonfruit has responded to DDoS cyberattack extortionist threatening their services by taking their own site offline, along with thousands of its clients websites.  Moonfruit is a subscription based service that lets customers easily build drag and drop websites from existing templates.

Matt Casey, Director of Moonfruit, states that the company had been threatened with a second cyber-attack and had decided to make its customers' websites unavailable for "up to 12 hours" to make infrastructure changes:

As a result of the threatened attack on Moonfruit, we have taken the decision to make significant infrastructure changes which will offer us the best possible protection against these attacks both today and in the future. Unfortunately as a result of these changes, Moonfruit.com and your own sites will be offline from approximately 10 am (GMT) today and will remain offline for up to 12 hours.

We appreciate this is very short notice, but we hope you understand the unusual circumstances we are facing. We planned for every eventuality over the weekend, but the final decision to go ahead with these specific changes was made this morning.

We’re genuinely sorry for the disruption this will cause, and please do bear with us. We have been working with law enforcement agencies regarding this matter and have spared no time or expense in ensuring we complete the work as quickly as possible.

On Friday Moonfruit sent out an email to clients explaining the reason for some brief downtime the day prior and the motivation for the attack.

We’re getting in touch to ask for your support in defending us from a malicious and illegal attack that we’re facing. You may have noticed some brief down on Thursday afternoon (10/12/2015). This was caused by an organization who call themselves the Armada Collective. This group carried out a DDoS attack on our servers for approximately 45 minutes. At the time of this attack, they contacted us to demand we pay them a large sum of money. They stated they would resume their attack on Monday should they not receive payment before then. Having investigated the group it is very clear that even if we were to pay them (something we would never consider) the attacks would not cease. In fact, whenever anyone has given in and paid them, the attacks get worse and the demands increase.
Since receiving the threat we have been working tirelessly to put in place any and all protection possible. We’ve also expedited a number of projects that will offer us long term protection from future attacks. We’re confident that we can fend off these attackers, but we do need your help.

Moonfruit says it’s working on placing unbranded holding pages in place to visitors to site will be aware of why a site is not online. There is no risk to financial information, and customer information is protected from being accessed.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3

Onset of Rigor-Mortis is a Telltale Sign. Another WebHost Deadpool.

Fri, 11th December 2015, 18:04

As we scramble towards the end of an eventful 2015, it’s time for one last Deadpool... or maybe even two! These unlucky 13 providers couldn’t quite stay above water through to New Year’s, so all of their clients have the pleasure of buying themselves more reliable hosting for the holidays. Our advice: don’t trust that Santa guy. He’s a classic fly-by-night provider.

 

And now, for the dead:

Fully Managed Clouds

Fully Managed Clouds has bit the dust, and their domain has been redirected to a pleasing array of Vietnamese ads. Potentially one advertising a dating service? And you thought cloud hosting wasn’t intimate enough. So if you’re feeling blue over losing your hosting provider and need someone to vent to over some pho, Fully Managed Clouds can still help!

Carbon Host

Carbon Host’s profile on HostJury promises information coming soon. Is that so, Carbon Host? Because with a website reduced to a little nub index, we’re pretty sure there’s not much forthcoming. So long!

Brohoster

Yes, Brohoster has gone belly up, and even their domain is for sale. But let’s focus on the meeting of the minds that must have been the conversation where they picked its name.
“Bro, what are we going to name our hosting business?”
“…bro, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Bro… I think I am.”

Albergue da Web

A Brazilian hosting provider named after parochial hostels used by pilgrims. That’s the most interesting fact we can share with you about Albergue da Web. The second most interesting thing is that ‘Albergue da Web’ sounds like some kind of made up Spanish inventor. The third is that the company is well and truly dead.

YourHostingPro

YourHostingPro now redirects to Skorit Systems, but not even their web page is configured yet. Don’t presume to be my Hosting Pro, guy. At least not until you get your stuff together.

Acme Hosting

In a shocking turn of events, an Acme product has completely backfired on its users.

AdeptHost

To be applauded for graduating from being a NoviceHost, alas, with this untimely death an ExpertHost it shall never be.

AxoHost

AxoHost’s website has imploded alongside its service. One might say it’s been axed, if one were just an awful, awful person.

Databloc

With the fall of Databloc, it would appear that Datanato has uncontested dominance over digital Europe. We should always note that the deadpool is meant to be a somber occasion, especially for a decade and a half old company like Databloc. But taglines like “Databloc is 100% financially independent and are here to stay!” make that really hard, so dry your eyes and get a laugh or two in.

VPSdatabase

VPSdatabase bragged BULLETPROOF hosting in their HostJury profile, and so by the looks of their current state it would appear someone came at their servers with a knife. Next!

Bit-Flux 

Bit-Flux is the name of a now-defunct hosting provider, but in the grim darkness of the far future, it will refer to some kind of android-only wasting disease. So don’t complain about losing your website, because you could be vomiting nanomachines or something like that, and doesn’t that sound worse?

FusionHost

To this day FusionHost is staying true to their quality commitments: 99.9% uptime, 100% of the time, 0% of the time.

That’s it for 2015. Congrats to all the survivors, and remember: read the reviews before picking a hosting provider, or forever be cursed with the sudden and thoroughly unpleasant bit flux!

Siteground Web Hosting

Dissecting SquareSpace

Fri, 11th December 2015, 17:49

I was really excited when I heard about SquareSpace and signed up for the free trial account. The main website definitely sells the SquareSpace hosting and design platform very well, and I was eager to see if it actually lived up to its attractive exterior. I could easily picture a lot of designers and artists taking to SquareSpace as a host if it was really as easy to use of a platform as it claimed. It could even make a good host for a small to medium sized business that would like to create a snazzier, homespun website.

SquareSpace’s pricing is pretty straightforward. A personal package limits the amount of pages and contributors at $8 a month, while the business package features unlimited everything along with a $100 Adwords credit and a Google Apps account for $18 a month. Online store owners will be interested to know that there are also commerce options available; at $26 a month for a basic package with no transaction fees and unlimited pages, and $70 a month for the additions of abandoned checkout autorecovery and real time carrier shipping. A little recognized option is the ability to also obtain a single page landing page for $5 a month. Perfect for a virtual “business card”. It is also important to note that there is a 2% to 3% processing charge on any payments made on SquareSpace to a non-commerce account.

The 14 day trial gives you access to a full featured website, with some caveats - no search engine listings, and any visits to your SquareSpace hosted URL will throw up a captcha page before the site can be viewed. Thus, the trial is only good for taking the design tools and controls for a test drive.

The SquareSpace web designing platform is undeniably unique. In fact, the entire SquareSpace experience is one that I find difficult to describe. SquareSpace seems to have done to web hosting what Google+ did to social networking… bringing minimalistic, sharp modern design and an intuitive, fluid UI to what is more often than not a very confusing and antiquated control panel.

What I personally find most appealing about the SquareSpace platform is that while it is obviously built to appeal to beginners, a lot of the more familiar advanced capabilities are present as well. Even more interesting is that there are two levels of CSS style editors - one that is a bit more guided, with a list of style elements that allow you to point and click your way through colors, sizes, and other attributes; and one that is a completely free styled text editor. Of course, there is also a variety of templates to choose from, and the entire web design editing side of SquareSpace is strangely reminiscent of Google Blogger’s features; only this one is quite more stylish.

The commerce side seemed a little simplistic for any major ecommerce website. However, I can easily see many freelancer types taking to the straightforward interface, if you can forgive the lack of being able to integrate with any accounting software like QuickBooks. A rather “cute” inclusion in the commerce side of the SquareSpace platform is the ability to add discount coupon codes to your site. Along with this are the basics: orders, inventory, and payments. Adding a product is as simple as adding a product page to the website and entering in the information for each of your products on the page. From this point you can manage the inventory, orders, and payments from the other commerce options listed in the control panel. There are also advanced settings available which allow you to adjust the sales tax, change shipping options, and customize automated thank you emails for when someone makes a donation.

While SquareSpace’s commerce side lacks a little love, their website metrics seem pretty robust. There is your standard traffic overview, along with a collection of more specific metrics such as mobile usage, RSS subscribers, referring sites, and search engine queries used to land on your site. There’s also a sales overview included in the metrics to help you keep track of your revenue trends.

One of the more interesting bragging points for SquareSpace has been that it features built in search engine optimization (SEO). This feature is neatly tucked away in the website marketing settings. To be honest, I was a little disappointed to find that instead of including a robust and flexible system for search engine optimization, SquareSpace’s offerings are exactly the same as other content management platforms like Wordpress and Blogger, allowing you to change the meta description and customize the formatting of nested URLs.

While I can easily see SquareSpace working out well for the amateur or entry level designer or artist looking for a cheap and easy way to get a portfolio up on the web, I cannot see myself recommending it as a serious solution for online store operation or designers/artists that have matured careers. The lack of robust commerce and very small selection of templates makes for a very generic and lackluster website for professionals that require something personalized and powerful. However, I do see this as possibly enabling web designers to offer their clients a low cost, entry level website with a little pizazz that they can add and subtract to themselves with little to no prior expertise being needed; much like many web designers are already doing with other content platform management systems like Wordpress and Drupal.

For my brother, the freelancer photographer/designer/producer/poet on a limited budget with little to no coding skills, SquareSpace is perfect; in fact I may be setting him up with an account for Christmas! For my law firm client that needs a competitive, unique, and robust custom site; SquareSpace is likely to get passed on for a more customizable content and design management platform. Overall though, I can say that SquareSpace does offer an ideal newbie’s platform for a reasonable price. Your experience and mileage may vary!

About the author: Jonquil McDaniel is an IT professional in Florida that has been writing and tinkering with technology both personally and professionally her entire life. She has an infectious enthusiasm for all things technical; a gift for creative problem solving and communications of all kinds; and a warm, positive disposition that infiltrates every word she writes.

BigCommerce is the #1 ecommerce platform

'No evidence information used inappropriately' in WP Engine Breach

Thu, 10th December 2015, 15:52

According to a report at el Register, managed WordPress hoster WP Engine is confessing to a security breach that prompting it to reset 30,000 customers' passwords.

"At WP Engine we are committed to providing robust security. We are writing today to let you know that we learned of an exposure involving some of our customers’ credentials. Out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively taking security measures across our entire customer base. " it said in a statement yesterday.

Obviously this statement was in the form of an email to clients as there are no tweets linking to a statement and the company blog is strangely silent!

Apparently WP Engine says there was no evidence that the information was used inappropriately, but as a precaution it was invalidating passwords associated with the WP Engine account. WP Engine also says its investigation was "ongoing" and that it would update customers as soon as its security team learns more.

 

20% Off WP Engine

UK webhost Easily reveals specific domains targeted in malware attack

Thu, 10th December 2015, 14:12

It is being reported that UK webhoster and discount domain pioneer Easily has emailed customers informing them that it has fallen victim to a malware attack. The company has not revealed how many customers were affected by the attack but assures people that credit card details have not been compromised.

COO Edwina McDowall says that a forensic investigation by an external team uncovered the malware. McDowall says that the assailant is, as yet, unknown but steps have been taken to eliminate the malware.

Writing to customers whose accounts were not directly affected by the attack she said:

The investigation revealed that a list of domain names registered on behalf of our customers was accessed. However, none of the domain names that are registered to you were featured on the list that was accessed. We have found no evidence that your account details, passwords or any personal information which could identify you was accessed. However, as a precautionary measure, we recommend that you change the password which you use to log into easily.co.uk.

At this time there is no word on which specific domains were targeted or why. Clients of Easily can share their experiences by writing a review.

 

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