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How well do you trust your neighbour?

by  David Dwyer on  05/02/2018

Low price will most often mean dismal value!

Your neighbour on a shared server could cost you your online reputation. As fines soar, do you want to risk it?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is doing its job. Last year, it handed out fines totalling almost £5m for data breaches: that’s a record. Much as the average fine issued in 2016 for spam was £40k, data breach fines are fast catching up. 

‘Good,’ I hear you say. ‘The cheats and timewasters should be clamped down on. I comply, why should they get away with it’.

Quite right, but even if you do comply for spam and have tightened up for any data breaches, does your neighbour?

If, like many others, you have opted for the lower cost option of a shared server to host your website, you need to ask that question. I can’t stress it too much, shared servers can be dangerous to your online health, and you must understand the risks – fully.

Bad neighbourhood

Your neighbour on a shared server could impact you in a multitude of ways. If they’re an individual business owner, do they know enough to keep their site secure? If you’re currently a client of another web agency, are they being diligent in keeping your site properly maintained?

As fines soar, do you really want to risk everything?  (They will go up again next year, trust me, as the implementation of GDPR in May tightens regulations on who you can email, and about what.)

You need to get ahead of this.

Now, while your shared server neighbours don’t care about you, at Inspire, we do. Our mantra is to get you online, keep you safe online and ensure you get value online. To be blunt, shared servers generally equal dismal value.

Let’s first ask who you’re going to be sharing space with?

The truth is you’ll never know. It could be anyone.

If you’re sharing a server with someone who spams, or is blacklisted for any reason, because you share the same IP Address (same server) you will be blacklisted as well!

Even if you’re not faced with the fine, just stop a moment to think about the cost of that to your business… not just directly, but imagine the reputational damage alone if your site goes down through being blacklisted. Your clients don’t care if it wasn’t actually you sending the spam.

If that’s not enough to put you off…

  • Shared servers slow down your site performance – and speed impacts your seo rankings. Lower rankings equal less traffic, lower conversions and a poor return on your investment
  • Your hosting provider can also control the software you can run on your shared server, limiting e-commerce solutions and other functionality options that you can apply on your site
  • Configuration (.htaccess) can be misused or poorly configured by one company and this can impact everyone on the shared server.

But perhaps your number one consideration should be site security.

Wanna cry yet?

It’s not just rogue teenagers in back bedrooms, or agenda-driven groups targeting ‘big business’ you need to worry about. Why?

Well, all governments are developing weaponised hacks. The wannacry virus launched from North Korea last year was originally developed by the NSA in the USA! When it was stolen, the NSA came clean with Microsoft, who immediately patched the security loophole the virus exploited and released an update. Trouble was, thousands of sites – including hundreds of UK GP practices and even some hospitals – didn’t update their MS software. To be fair, some couldn’t, given the hardware they still rely on.

The point is, your shared server neighbour could be in the same boat in a future attack, and that could disrupt your service even if your software is up-to-date.

Keeping you safe online
Inspire provides a proactive service that keeps you safe online.

  • We will only host those sites which we manage on your behalf 
  • We only recommend systems administrated server solutions, ie those managed by experienced server staff.

We’ve set out the risks: from blacklisting, viruses, poor seo, and lack of control. But what’s the alternative?

Dedicated to an alternative solution
Dedicated servers – those with just your site(s) hosted, entirely under your control – offer real value for money. At Inspire, we recommend dedicated servers for almost all our clients, and work closely with our preferred supplier, UKFast, to ensure the benefits are tangible.

A dedicated server means your site has its own private resource, set up solely for you. Its privacy means it is more secure from attack, and you can customise its configuration to meet your own needs – great if you’re running a proper e-commerce function.

Here’s another example of how a dedicated server helps.

Help! We need somebody… proactive
In November 2017, one of our Perthshire based clients – Scone Palace – featured in a TV programme hosted by celebrity baker Mary Berry.

When we saw the programme’s advance advertising, we contacted the team at Scone and highlighted that during and immediately after the broadcast it was safe to expect a spike in site traffic.

Did they want us to monitor this, and respond if needed?

The answer was yes. Scone Palace had marked its 50th year as one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions in 2016, and the 2017 season saw more than 115,000 visitors attend. The venue’s website regularly sees thousands of hits every month.

So, on the night of the broadcast, we were working with UKFast to monitor site traffic in real time. Sure enough, traffic rose by 75 times the daily average for that 1 hour time slot. Without action, that spike would’ve impacted on the CPU and RAM performance, at best slowing the site response and giving a poor user experience or at worst taking the site offline.

Working with us, UKFast adjusted things so that performance went from 100 concurrent connections to 200, to 400 and then 800, to satisfy demand when it was needed, without impacting performance in any way.

I’m pleased to see that that peak of interest transformed into a boost in actual visits.

Inspire-d Support
This is not a one off. We carried out a similar exercise when another of our clients found out they’d be on the TV.

Charlotte Flowers Chocolate is an artisan chocolatier based near Aberfeldy, Perthshire.

When the business was featured on the BBC’s Countryfile programme, in January 2018, we planned the same approach the result this time being the busiest spike in online orders they’ve ever had.

Great for business? Definitely

I think it’s clear that your investment in an online presence must stretch beyond the design and launch stage to include the right infrastructure. To do otherwise is a dereliction of duty!

That’s why we offer pro-active support for all our clients, with two meetings a year to review what your is going on in your business; what your plans for the next 6 months are; what your targets are; how your site is currently performing; and advising you on online trends that can impact your return on your investment.

Ask about the server solution you’re currently using, and really consider if it gives you what you need to stay safe online, and profit from being online.

Or come and talk to us about how we can work in partnership to deliver a real return on your online investment.

In the meantime, check out 6 steps to secure your server or even better call us on 01738 700 006 or use our contact form at the bottom of this page.

Customer Service, Developer SOS, Digital Trends, Disruptive not Disrupting Tech, e-commerce, e-Marketing, Google Analytics, Inspire Web Services, Internet of Things, m-commerce, Mobile Commerce, Search Engine Optimisation, Server, Server Infrastructure, Systems Administrator, The Evolving Web, Website Management, Website Support
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To comply with data protection regulations (2018), we are unable to store and use your information unless you give us your permission. Please select Yes to allow this. View our data protection policy for details.