Service Level Agreements: What They Are and How to Use Them

If you’re familiar at all with web hosting, you’re probably familiar with the idea of a service level agreement, or SLA. An SLA typically is responsible for defining terms between two parties, usually between a client and a web host in this situation. The SLA may talk about various things, but one of the primary points is usually what happens when a web host has excessive down time.

The SLA will usually specific a certain percentage of uptime/downtime that the host must meet in order to keep up their end of the bargain so to speak. If a web host falls below that specified amount, then an SLA will typically spell out what happens. Sometimes this may be a refund to the customer, or some other type of credit or extension on service. With that said, there are a number of things that you can do in order to keep track of your SLA and make sure that you’re getting what you pay for. First of all, it’s a good idea to have some type of monitoring in place when it comes to uptime and down time. You can use a third-party tool that can help you keep track of this data so that if there is a problem, you can talk to your host about it but actually have some real data to back you up. There are a number of different options available, from many different companies like Pingdom and Site24x7.

This isn’t to say that you specifically need this kind of data to back you up, but the issue here is that if you don’t have it, you may be forced to rely on their down time data. Now, if you’re hosting with a good, reliable and reputable company, this may not be a problem. But, if you’re hosting with some type of budget host, you may have issues there with proving that they were down, or getting them to admit that there was a problem.

The main thing to think about with an SLA is that it’s essentially a contract stating what the web hosting is going to provide, and what’s going to happen in they fail to provide that. Just like many other things in life, web hosting can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for, and one of the best ways to do that is to monitor your SLA and keep track of your uptime and down time.


Mail Server Monitoring – How and Why

With a mail server, you can send and receive important messages and attachments with ease. However, there is a downside if you don’t know what you are doing or how to keep things in order. While true, if you understand the basics and monitor your server, you will avoid problems. Here is a short guide on how and why you need to understand your mail server.
Why: If you use a mail server at your place of business, you will probably send large attachments or important documents or Excel files. Furthermore, when communicating with this method, your employees and contractors will likely send vital and sensitive data. Needless to say, you will want to protect your server and ensure that it’s both safe and speedy. Otherwise, if you experience breaches or your server is slow, you will end up with serious and time-consuming problems on your hand. Remember, when corporations deal with data breaches, it usually suffers greatly.

How: By now, you probably understand why it’s so important to monitor your server. But, while true, people still don’t know what to do or how to proceed. Starting out, you will want to verify your server speed by pinging it. Then, you can ensure emails are sent back and forth rapidly. If you experience a severe lag, you may want to reboot the server or look at the issue more deeply. Furthermore, you will also want to look at the lists of current users of the mail server. All-too-often, a server will become overloaded when too many people connect. If this happens, you will want to upgrade the server or tell each user to connect with only one device. Furthermore, while you will want to ensure the server works at its fastest, you will also want to verify that all users belong on the mail server. If not, you may end up with serious problems as hackers often infiltrate mail servers and send out spam messages, from your account! This is a serious problem that can hurt your relationship with your ISP; when marked as spam, they will probably remove you as a customer.

In terms of solutions for mail server monitoring, often times your best bet may be to utilize a third-party system that allows you to monitor your exchange or mail server externally. There may be some self-hosted, internal scripts available, but if you’re having server trouble then they won’t be much help. In terms of specific companies there are a lot of choices. Uptrends has a solution here. Dotcom-Monitor has a solution here, and Site24x7 has a solution here. All of none of those solutions may work for you, so in the end you have to find something that fits in your budget, and meets your needs, and that may not be one of these.

If you run a mail server, you must understand why it’s important to monitor it all the time. Otherwise, if you deal with one breach or hour of downtime, your company will suffer greatly.


Blazing Fast Page Speed Times: How to Get Them!

If you’ve ever visited a slow website, you know how annoying it can be. Slow-loading websites lose visitors, rank lower in search engines, and can potentially waste server resources. Here are a few things you might try to turbo-charge your site’s load time.

Understanding how web browsers load websites is key to making them run faster. Instead of downloading images, scripts and stylesheets in sequence, modern browsers split the download into parallel tasks that run at the same time. Unfortunately, browsers limit how many simultaneous connections can exist to the same server, and may only download two assets at once.

One way to make pages seem to load faster is to download JavaScript assets last. Most scripts cannot run until the document has finished loading anyway, and their contents do not appear on-screen in the way HTML and images do. By loading stylesheets and images first, and by placing script tags immediately before the close of the page body, the visual aspects of a page will download first and the page will appear on-screen much more quickly.

Next, use a content distribution network (CDN). CDNs trick browsers into loading assets faster by making them appear to originate from multiple servers, even though they might actually reside on just one. For instance, if a browser thinks it is downloading images from www1.example.com, www2.example.com and www3.example.com, it may permit up to two connections for each separate server, giving you six channels for delivering images. Many blogging and CMS platforms offer plugins that serve media from CDNs, but even without a full network, it may be possible to trick browsers into allowing more connections by adding additional DNS records and distributing download links among each.

Finally, investigate caching. By default, WordPress and other CMS platforms regenerate all pages each time they are loaded. Given that pages change less often than they are viewed, it makes more sense to render the page once, then serve up the same copy until something causes the page to change. Many platforms and frameworks offer plugins and functionality to enable this behavior, thus removing most of the computation from serving up pages.

There are many aspects to making websites load faster. By following the above advice, most sites can be optimized significantly, thus retaining more visitors and making search engines happier.