I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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6 steps to getting a website online?

Welcome to the first in a series of posts about getting your business online. Even if you are not yet sure you will start a website, the aim is to give you the information to make an informed decision for your business.

Blank screen where your website could beSo let’s start with the basics of what you need to do to get a website up – and let’s make it a decent website that your business doesn’t need to be ashamed of! (We could get a website up in about 10 minutes but it may do more harm than good!)

  1. get a domain name – I suggest doing this even if you don’t add a website for some time. Keep the name for your use and you can use it as an email address even if there is no functioning website yet
  2. get a web host – this means you are paying someone for some space on the internet. There are many hosting packages available, covering various features and a huge price range – it is feasible to get hosting for under $100 a year so look around. We’ll cover hosting options later in this series, but I strongly recommend my host, Digital Pacific.
  3. get some information online – you can start with a very simple one-page site that explains who you are and how you cane contacted. You may be happy with that in the medium term, too, but it certainly gets you online while a full site is being developed.
  4. get your site designed – yes that means someone makes it all look nice but it may also mean getting the right programs in place to suit your business needs.
  5. add content to your website – content is critical if you want to get the right message to the right people, and if you want to do well with building your website traffic. Look through my blog for numerous examples of websites let down by poor content – I suggest you plan your content (we’ll cover this during the week, too, but make sure your key pages have great content from the start)
  6. let people know about your website – this is a big ‘task’ and will be ongoing for the life of your site, but there are some simple starting points to action straight away

Does a website seem a little less intimidating when there are only 6 steps? remember that you can (and probably should for many of the steps) get help with the actual implementation of each step.

As a website without a host is pretty hard to manage, the next in this series will be on hosting…

What uses up bandwidth?

If you’ve tried reaching my blog or website in the last day or so you may have experienced some trouble unfortunately. I know I wasn’t happy to see a ‘exceeded bandwidth’ message when I tried to log in to post yesterday and again today.

Knowing I was well under my host limits a few hours earlier, I was surprised by the message and have contacted my host. Especially as the second time showed about 12,000MB of bandwidth used in less than 24 hours!

Figuring out the bandwidth issue

A laptop covered in chains and a padlock

Securing computers is important but not always easy…

No one has accessed the back end of my site or ftp (but I have changed passwords anyway!) but my host found that someone (and let me add that it is very restrained of me to just write ‘someone’!) in Washington has been using my bandwidth. I should say ‘had been’ as that ip is now blocked.

My host has been great at trying to help me and extending my bandwidth to keep the site live while the issue was researched, so thanks Lucie at Multimediart.

My question however, is how is someone using up so much bandwidth on my site? No unexpected files have appeared on the site and apparently no one unauthorised has logged in so I’m confused. Do you have any idea what this person was doing?

Does anyone have any suggestions to share so we can all avoid this sort of distraction and time-wasting in the future? I’d really appreciate any help I can get!


* Image courtesy of 123rf

Website hosting security

 After getting hacked earlier this week, I thought it might be timely to cover some things to look at for security through your web host – and as I am not a technical expert, I’d love to hear your tips too so we can all have the best chance of avoiding these time wasters.

So here are some tips from me…

  • who are you sharing a server with? Dedicated server hosting is the most secure option but also a lot more expensive. My host has servers just for their clients which I see as the next best thing as at least I am not sharing with just anybody and my host has put some precautions in place (such as minimum 70 strength passwords)
  • does your host/server have a SSL certificate? This may be shared with everyone on the sever but it certainly beats no certificate at all!
  • where are the servers located? The recent flooding in Victoria shows the value of storing servers somewhere high (on top of a mountain isn’t quite what I mean though! Off the floor and preferably in a room protected against flooding to some extent). Are they protected from other physical dangers too?
  • what physical security applies to the servers? Are they in locked cupboards in secure buildings? Is there 24 hour security (guards, cameras, sensors) turned on?
  • what routines and programs does your host use to monitor the servers for attacks and errors? For example, my host now constantly runs a security scan and a program that detects prohibited activity
  • does your host offer suitable privacy protection? Your information and your payment details should be kept private and safe
  • who can access the server shells? This is the core of the operation and is where real damage can be done to websites – ideally  very few people even within the host company can access this
  • what back ups does the host do? where do they store these back ups (on site or remotely)? I’m glad to say my host does daily and weekly back ups so were able to reinstall everything from a back up after Tuesday’s attack – and they did a more recent back up of the databases, too. I would not have wanted to replace all that work and data myself or have lost it completely.

I have discovered that not many hosts cover this information on their website so I suggest you ask them questions. It is easy to just trust them and even to take the cheapest option but think about the consequences of loosing your website (for an hour, a day, a week…) or of having your website damaged and perhaps clients’ information breached. Makes asking a few questions a small but critical task doesn’t it?

According to WAtoday, the threat of an attack on a medium sized business has grown by 54% in the last year. That makes it a pretty big risk and something to be aware of in business budgeting, planning and contingency. I hope it never happens to you.

What steps have you taken to secure your website hosting?