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How to Choose the Right Hosting Solution

Whether you’re a marketing director or business owner at some point you’ll consider website hosting.

For most, web hosting is set up and then forgotten. You probably know you need a host for your website to work online, several companies offer the service, and the fee is minimal.

All of that is true – but often business owners just want to get started so they sign up for something basic. Later they later discover some limitations and want to customize their plan, giving them more to consider.

We’re going to take a deeper look at why choosing the right website hosting matters and answer questions like:

  • When do I go with the DIY hosting solutions like GoDaddy or Blue Host?
  • When do I choose a web hosting company with in-house technicians?

Let’s start by considering your needs.

What are my web hosting needs?

Before you can decide if a DIY web host or a full-service hosting solution is best, you need to think about what you need on a daily basis.

Depending on the type of industry you’re in, you might require special treatment for sensitive information. Think HIPPA or PCI compliance. If you plan on accepting credit card payments, you payment solution may require you to be hosted on a PCI compliant server. That might be more difficult to ensure using a DIY service.

Does your website get spikes during certain times of the year? Think Black Friday or Cyber Monday. DIY web host solutions aren’t always clear on how you can manage your resources.

Will you get more resources allocated to your site when you need it? During a heavy traffic spike, when you should be making money, your website could freeze – cases like this are why some businesses prefer hiring a professional hosting solutions team.

Some other important questions:

  • Do you have international users?
  • Do you need the ability to set up subdomains or development sites?
  • Will you want to deploy a mobile app?
  • Do you want email addresses with your domain name?
  • Do you send newsletter blasts from your domain?

I don’t get a lot of traffic on my website

If you’re starting out or serve a niche market, your website may not be getting a lot of daily traffic.

If your site is basic or you make some small changes periodically using WordPress or Joomla, you may not need many configurations, and a DIY solution like GoDaddy, Bluehost or FlyWheel may be a great solution for you.

With that said, it’s a good idea to be aware of the basic minimum best practices for today’s web. For example, all websites should have an SSL. An SSL is a tool that encrypts information to make it difficult to steal. Most browsers tell site visitors if an SSL is present. For example, next to the URL in your browser you’ll see either lock icons or shields to tell users that this site has an SSL and is secure:

If a site is not secure, you would see these icons:

You don’t want your users to feel like their security is at risk when they visit your site. For more on SSL’s, see our blog post, Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?

In addition, it’s a good idea to set up a spam filter when you’re setting up your email hosting.

If you’re planning for the future and expect to grow, include periodic upgrades as needed in your growth plan. Or you can avoid needing to migrate your site once it has matured and is more difficult to manage, by starting with local web hosting professionals.

My website gets a lot of traffic

If you know your website is getting a lot of traffic or experiences traffic spikes, you may require more advanced configurations. There are a number of hosting solutions that can ensure that your site stays fast when it’s under load.

Ensuring you’re on a dedicated server eliminates the conflict with other websites experiencing high volumes and gives you access to your server’s full resources at all times.

If you have a high-volume site, consider setting up an efficient caching plan. Caching is a technique that allows your server to store a snapshot of your site instead. When your site experiences high volume, caching can greatly reduce the workload of your server and help your site load faster for your users. Here are some tips on how to make your site fast.

Often server-level caching is executed using a CDN (content delivery network). A CDN is a network of servers that are distributed worldwide that store snapshots of your website. This way, your website is geographically close to any worldwide user so that during peak traffic hours your international users will experience the fastest site you can serve them.

A CDN has the added benefit of providing email obfuscation, hiding email addresses from page crawlers, like email harvesters and spambots, looking for email addresses on your pages that they can add to spam email lists.

Should I use a dedicated server?

Like most things, the answer is – it depends. By now, you have a sense of some of the considerations to make when determining if a DIY host solution or a full-service host solution is right for you. Let’s recap the important takeaways to this point.

  • Most out of the box DIY hosting solutions are on a server that’s shared by many other domains. This means you’re all sharing resources that are engineered to the needs of multiple sites, not customized to your needs.
  • When you’re on a dedicated server, you get 100% of the server resources at all times.
  • If your payment processor requires PCI compliance, you’ll likely need your own dedicated server.
  • If your industry requires special treatment of information, such as HIPPA compliance, you may require additional customizations that need to be done on a dedicated server.

Can I do it myself?

Again, it depends. Basic websites with a small traffic volume can probably be managed by a curious person and a lot of YouTube videos using a solution like GoDaddy.

But as your website grows in traffic volume and the complexity of your needs grow, you may want to consider reaching out to a local web hosting professional for guidance and support. There are some important questions to consider before you commit to the DIY approach.

  • Do you want a local (human) expert to help you in real-time when you need it?
  • Do you want expert support to help when making upgrades and adjustments?
  • Do you know how to configure the solutions that are right for you?
  • Do you have the time to learn hosting technology so you can solve problems when they arise?
  • How much of your time can you put into hosting management every week?

 

As you can see, choosing the right hosting solution for your website takes some thought. Do your prep work upfront so as you grow you can position yourself to provide for your needs as they arise.

In general, if your website doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and doesn’t handle sensitive information, a DIY solution could be the best choice. If your website is growing, plans to grow, and handles sensitive information, a local web hosting provider is probably going to be the better long-term solution.

Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?

http browser security message

In 2018 Google started the process of flagging websites as untrustworthy if they do not have an SSL certificate, and our Omaha web hosting team began making recommendations to all our clients to purchase and install and SSL certificate. If your website is not updated with an SSL certificate people who visit might see a red “Not Secure” message in their web address bar (URL), along with a full red screen warning them to advance at their own peril. As an Omaha web design and web hosting company we’re on the front lines and have a close up view of how this is affecting website owners. 

In addition to giving a dangerous impression, non-secure websites will suffer in Google search rankings making it increasingly difficult to find your website. The good news is it’s easy to get a SSL certificate and avoid having the dreaded red screen greet your visitors.

Who Needs an SSL Certificate?

After the release of Chrome 62, EVERY website with any kind of text input will need an SSL certificate. If your website has text inputs in the form of login panels, contact forms, search bars, etc., you’ll need the upgrade. If your website is on HTTP:// you’ll need the upgrade. There are very few websites that can get away with not having an SSL cert now. 

Benefits of an SSL Certificate

Secure Sensitive Information

If you don’t like the feeling of being “forced” to upgrade by Google, there are some benefits that come with the certificate. For starters, any information you send on the internet is passed from computer to computer and eventually arrives at the destination server. If you’re sending unsecure information any computer in between you and the server can see what your sending. Credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information are vulnerable. When you use an SSL certificate the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you’re sending the information to. Securing sensitive information is always good practice.

Cybercriminal Defense

Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. Not only do they put together scams, they are starting to use techniques that capture unsecured data that’s moving between destinations. More than ever an SSL certificate is necessary to ensure your sensitive information is secure from these tech criminals.

Trust

Perhaps the most significant benefit is trust. When visitors come to your website and it has an SSL certificate they will see visuals that signal trust. In the URL they’ll see a lock and a green address bar indicating that secured encryption is in use. When your visitors see this, they’ll feel at ease and will stay longer. Using HTTPS will give you a stronger Google ranking as well.

SEO Benefits

Switching to HTTPS moderately correlates with organic search engine rankings. While it’s not a major determining factor, Google has stated it could be a tie breaker in indexing, ranking an HTTPS website above the HTTP competitor.

How an SSL Certificate Works

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The link makes sure all the data passed between the web server and browsers remains private and secure. The process looks something like this: 

  1. A browser or server tries to connect to a website secured with an SSL certificate. The browser/server requests that web server identify itself.
  2. The web server sends the browser/server a copy of its SSL.
  3. The browser/server checks to see whether or not it trusts the SSL. If it does, it sends a message to the web server.
  4. The web server sends back a digitally signed agreement to start an SSL encrypted session.
  5. Encrypted data is then shared between the browser/server and the web server.

Don’t Get Flagged!

Having an SSL certificate is now a must have if you want visitors looking at your site – which you most certainly do. It’s important for SEO and user experience. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate you could be losing hundreds of potential customers every day – or more depending on the size of your business.

5 Ways to Spot a Phishing Attempt

Phising is an attack often used to steal user data, ranging from email addresses, to login credentials, to credit card numbers, to Social Security numbers. The attacker disguises themselves as a trusted entity and uses this credibility to trick users into opening an email or text message that can lead to the installation of malware, a ransomware attack or the reveal of sensitive data. It can be difficult to spot a phishing attempt quickly, so here are 5 ways to spot a phishing attempt to help protect your email and your computer from the nasty effects of a phishing attack. phishing attack icon

Message URLs are Mismatched or Misleading

It’s not uncommon that a phishing message contains a URL which looks valid. Hover your mouse over the top of the URL to see the hyperlinked address, and if the hyperlinked address is different than the address displayed, it’s likely malicious. Additionally, look for misleading domain names. Attackers often utilize big names like Apple or Microsoft in a domain name to disguise a malicious link. The DNS naming structure is ChildDomain.FullDomain.com. An example would be, info.LegitDomain.com. A phishing attempt, on the other hand, would restructure to FullDomain.com.MaliciousDomain.com. For example, Microsoft.com.MaliciousDomain.com.

Spelling and Grammar Errors

Any official message sent from a legitimate company will likely be reviewed for spelling, grammar and legality. If a message is full of errors it’s likely malicious, so delete it!

It Gets Too Personal

If an email is requesting personal information, be wary. A reputable company will never request a password, credit card number, or security question. It’s even be likely that a phishing attempt will request money to cover expenses, taxes or fees.

You Didn’t Initiate the Contact

If you receive an email stating you were selected as a winner for a lifetime supply of magical, age-reversing skin care, but you never heard of the company and you never entered the contest… delete it. If you are announced as a winner or provided a promotional opportunity, but never initiated contact with the company, it’s a scam. And, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Unrealistic Threats

Some phishing attacks use intimidation to trick people into giving up sensitive data. Some key phrases for these messages include, “Urgent Action Required!” Your account has been compromised!” “Your account will be closed!” Scammers pose as banks, credit card providers, email providers and government agencies to scare people. Financial institutions and government agencies will not request sensitive data over email, so do not be tricked! If something just doesn’t look right in an email, trust your gut reaction and delete the email. It’s always helpful to have an email hosting support team to assist in identifying phishing attacks. We take website security and email security seriously. Many email hosting support teams are not readily available to offer quick advice or assistance in the event of a phishing attack. But, it’s just one of the many benefits you get when you choose our Omaha website hosting team – real human support when you need it!

Get Email Hosting Quote

Meet Carl Jacob, JM’s Tech Support Specialist

JM’s newest team member is Carl Jacob, Tech Support Specialist. From over-the-phone troubleshooting to back-end server builds, Carl keep JM’s internal team and JM’s clients’ websites and email running smoothly.

Carl Jacob Working at His Desk

As a Tech Support Specialist, Carl works within a growing department at JM where consistent growth and continuing education on technologies and strategies is necessary to provide the best service possible. Carl loves the challenges and growth available in the department, and works closely with JM’s Server Admin to best servre JM’s customers.

Carl was born and raised in Omaha. Outside of work, Carl enjoys reading, video gaming and PC hardware/upgrading (clearly a great hobby for a tech support specialist).

Protect Your Website, Protect Your Customers

website security icon with shield and lock

Our Omaha web design and development team builds beautiful websites we hope will be kept updated and secure. Website security is one of our passions; as it helps keeps our websites and customers in business and successful.

Website security is so important to us that we have an entire team dedicated to website hosting and website security.

So, you say you don’t need website security…

Many businesses are skeptical of needing additional security for their website. Usually they retort with, “we don’t have anything valuable on our website.” And that seems reasonable, right? The website is not collecting sensitive data or payment information. But hackers are not usually looking for this type of “valuable” information. Instead, they are looking for a clean reputation. It’s not about how popular the website is or if it takes credit card information.

A clean website is the perfect place for hackers to host their own malicious content and mount a phishing campaign to collect data from users.wordfence logoMost of the websites our Omaha web development team builds are in WordPress. And WordPress is vulnerable to these hackers. But, WordPress and most WordPress plugins are being updated on a regular basis to resist these hacking attempts and protect websites and its visitors.

WordPress and WordPress plugins do not update automatically, and require manual work to protect against the most recent threats. Additional monitoring through Wordfence and server administration are also advised for best protection.

How can we help protect you?

It’s the recommendation of our Omaha web hosting team to update often. So often that we offer a website security package, through which we will update WordPress and plugins the day an update is released. Taking this small step to secure your website will save you hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars and will protect your website visitors from phishing campaigns.

So, while your website may not be collecting valuable information, and may only be a static, your website is not immune to attacks. Be educated and be proactive!

Protect My Website

Happy 20th Birthday, JM!

birthday cake icon to celebrate omaha web design firm's 20th birthday

JM is celebrating 20 years this month! Born the same year as Google, JM’s CEO Jonathan Patton realized the importance of web design and development early-on. And so, in 1998 at 14-years-old, Jonathan founded JM Web Designs to help businesses across Omaha and the country harness these powerful tools.

For years we’ve called ourselves “the endless resource for your small business.” And for the last 20 years, JM has adapted new technologies, broadened services and expanded its team of professionals to be a resource for clients.

Our team works diligently with a strong sense of gratitude for YOU. Trusting the success of your business to us is no small complement, and we do not take the responsibility lightly. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve businesses across Omaha with web design, SEO, web hosting and Internet marketing.

So, THANK YOU, to all our clients. It has been a pleasure and a privileged to serve you these 20 years, and we look forward to serving you for at least 20 more.

New Website Launch: Washington County Historical Association

Washington County Historical Association (WCHA) plays an important role in supporting the community and educators, keeping history alive for the entire county. The WCHA website serves as a marketing piece to serve visitors and educators.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this website is the client’s own materials. Being a historical association with access to hundreds of unique images, our Omaha web design team could utilize this resource to create a compelling website design. While the overall website style is reflective of its mission and services, the website images truly add a personal and unique design component – which many websites lack.

This pre-built WordPress template offers our Omaha web designers flexibility with respect to design and development, but also offers flexibility for WCHA in updating their website. Additionally, this WordPress website is mobile-friendly, utilizing responsive technology.

View Washington County Historical Association Website

Google Chrome and Firefox Web Browsers Change Website Security Requirements

http browser security message

Google Chrome and Firefox have rolled out changes that affect all websites not using a secure connection (HTTP). As part of a gradual change, when users pull up an HTTP page with a form including passwords or credit card fields, they will get a warning indicating an unsecure connection.

HTTPS is shifting to the new standard. As security risks become increasingly prevalent, users will be warned if any form transaction is insecure. And, moving forward, all websites will be flagged as unsecure if not HTTPS, no matter a website’s features.

Our Omaha web design and web hosting team can assist in securing your website and ensuring an HTTPS connection and compliance to these new security standards. For $180/year our web hosting support team will purchase an SSL certificate and install it on your website, ensuring all visits and features of your website are secure. Call us at 402.292.7500 ext. 102 for more information.

Happy New Year From JM Web Designs

Happy New Year from the JM Web Designs team! Our Omaha web design and development team is excited for the new challenges and successes 2016 will bring, after a ground breaking year of growth.

From 2014 to 2015 we experienced 18.5% growth. Our small and local team provided excellent service and products to Omaha businesses in the form of custom web design, prebuilt responsive design templates, internet marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) services, web hosting and more, gaining many new customers along the way.

JM provides secure web hosting services to hundreds of businesses all over the country; and among growth we experienced in all our services, web hosting saw a significant increase in 2015 – gaining over 150 customers. Our team also implemented many new hosting technologies in 2015, decreasing tech issues and increasing up-time.

JM has provided web hosting, web design and web development consistently for 17 years. But over the last few, our team has expanded to providing many new services – including SEO and Internet marketing. This year, we’ve expanded even more to meet our customers’ needs, adding security packages for web hosting and WordPress customers, Google remarketing services and Google+ optimization.

Looking toward 2016 we hope to continue expanding our services and team to meet the needs of Omaha businesses. Perhaps our biggest undertaking for 2016 will be a custom Customer Relations Management (CRM) system. This new CRM will increase our internal efficiency and expand the communication capabilities we have with our customers.

2016 is paved to be great for JM, and we wish the same for all our customers. Cheers to you, and much success the coming year!

Omaha Web Hosting Company Sees Success with Spam Filter Service

Recently, JM made a huge switch that has proven to benefit our internal communication, as well as that of our email clients. In light of our previous spam filter company discontinuing service, our Omaha tech team decided to make the switch to MX Guard Dog for spam prevention. And boy, are we glad we did!

As our Omaha web design team (as well as our clients) have seen MX Guard Dog protects email accounts from Spam, viruses and Malware, among other things. All offending mail is held in secure quarantine in their network and users can receive a quarantine report containing recently stopped messages, or can view quarantined messages online in real-time.

Our company and web hosting/email hosting clients have seen a huge difference in the quality of emails being delivered to their inbox. MX Guard Dog blocked hundreds of thousands of spam emails with near perfect accuracy and decreased our web hosting server load – since the server never sees or processes these spam emails. On top of the excellent deliverables our clients have received through MX Guard Dog, we have been thankful for the excellent customer service and support provided by this company.

If you’re interested in web hosting or email hosting with JM, give our Omaha web design team a call for more information – and you too can see the great benefits of a quality spam filter.
Stop Spam with MX Guard Dog

New Website Launch: Jensen Service & Diagnostic

jensen-top

Jensen Service and Diagnostic is a long-time Omaha business. For more than 50 years, this family-run operation has provided excellence in service. Recently, Mike and Dave partnered with our creative web design team to build a site to capture the classic feel and timelessness of their quality customer service.

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