Category Archives: Control Panel

Tips For Improving SQL Server Performance

Database servers are a cornerstone of modern businesses ranging from Google to 7-Eleven. When you run your credit card at a convenience or grocery store, your purchase is registered into a point of sale system backed by a database. Your credit card company registers the funds transfer into a database server containing your financial records. If you use a discount card, yet another database server comes into play. Databases enable businesses to track inventory, perform margin analysis, automate purchases, and identify customer trends—and to do all of this much more quickly and efficiently than ever before!

It has been a long time since I visited any business that did not rely on some type of database server, if only to track purchases and expenses. But I constantly communicate with businesses that lack a plan to ensure these databases function properly on an ongoing basis.

Hosting Database servers at the ASPHostPortal.com data center helps your database remain a vital component of your business infrastructure, rather than a time-wasting black hole for IT resources. We recently sat down with our engineering team to provide you a few tips on how we help accomplish just that:

Tip 1: Host in a Data Center Simple power quality issues such as brownouts, blackouts or even a mere voltage fluctuation can result in your server powering down. SQL-based database systems are sensitive to these unanticipated shutdowns, resulting in errors in transaction logs and database instability. Hosting that same database server in a secure data center —where power quality is monitored every second of every day by trained engineers—helps ensure 100% uptime.

So when you are ready to start your business day, your SQL database will be ready to start as well!

Tip 2: Maximize IOPS One vital performance metric for database systems is Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS). IOPS is important here as a measurement of how fast storage devices can read and write, which is the primary operation metric of database systems such as SQL.

Remember that in reading from and writing to a database, most hard disks must physically move, which takes time—especially if you need to read and write from separate physical areas of your disk. By making read and write tasks concurrent, you can speed up this process with almost no administrative effort.

Instead of a single disk array handling both your operating system and application, opt for two arrays to handle each task on separate disks. Choosing serial-attached SCSI drives with high RPMs for your database, and enterprise-level SATA drives for your operating system will drastically improve read and write performance

Joomla 3.1 – The Ways Things Should Have Been

Like many technologies, whereas numerous solutions exist, choice of a technology usually boils down to two leaders. In the field of Open Source Content Management Systems for websites, although there are a number of players, the debate has become simple – which is better: Joomla or WordPress? These days the answer just might be Joomla.

Joomla has been around a long time. It started life as Mambo in 2000 and a split in the Mambo leadership led to Joomla being formed in 2005. This split came only 2 years after the launch of WordPress.

WordPress started life as a blogging solution, but very quickly morphed into a full-blown CMS. While people enthused over how easy WordPress had become to use, and how flexible it was, despite regular new versions, Joomla remained pretty much a staple diet of clunky management and a less than intuitive back end design.

At the end of last year I was about to embark on a new website project and I had pretty much decided to transition from Joomla to WordPress. However, I started to hear some great things about the upcoming Joomla version 3, so I decided to hang on a while. Joomla 3.1 – the first stable version of Joomla 3.0 – was launched April 24, 2013, and in the end I was glad I waited.

Joomla 3.1 is the Joomla version that Joomla should have been from the start. It is light (in comparison to much earlier versions) and has become much more intuitive, especially for someone familiar with previous versions.

Backend Improvements 

The first thing you notice when you open up the new version of Joomla is that it has a more commercial feel about it – this looks like something you would pay for and it is remarkable that it has actually been developed by volunteers! The backend administration screens have been revamped and are even customizable by adding a variety of templates. All aspects of administration are easily accessible from the single administration page.

Native Templates

Unlike many of the previous versions of Joomla, the native templates (the templates supplied with the software) are no longer throw away. Only people looking for the simplest of websites ever considered using the native templates Joomla previously provided, and most headed for commercial templates, or a developer. The reason for this was because the native templates were instantly recognizable, and using them gave a website a ‘me too’ look and feel. The templates that Joomla 3.1 offers – Beez3 and Protostar – are much more powerful. Protostar in particular is flexible and customizable enough that I had no hesitation in using it for my website. It has numerous module positions and options like custom colors, so it really is possible to design something that looks and feels unique.

Bootstrap 

What is truly great about Joomla 3.1’s native templates is that they are built using the Bootstrap framework. Built at Twitter by @mdo and @fat, Bootstrap requires less CSS. As a result, it makes templates fast and responsive. I am using a shared hosting account with the bare minimum of resources. But when using both the front end and the backend of Joomla 3.1, I genuinely feel as though I am using a more powerful hosting package. Bootstrap has now been utilized by a number of designers, and so a number of commercial Bootstrap templates are now Joomla 3.1 compliant.

Mobile Ready

Possibly the biggest advantage of the Bootstrap framework is that it is designed to make your sites mobile ready. This means you do not need to do anything else to make your site compatible with Internet capable mobile handsets, tablets, phablets, etc. Looking at your “Bootstrap” site through a mobile device is an “oh yes!” moment – I certainly didn’t expect the results to be so good. The menus are clearly laid out and even from a mobile phone with a 3.1 inch screen, I can access them very easily.

All the home page articles are ordered so that they appear as a list rather than next to each other as they appear on a PC. The effect is really good – Bootstrap really does make your website usable on a mobile device. The images below are from my Galaxy Pro – an old phone with a tiny screen. But Bootstrap means it is easy to navigate and read my site, even within such a small area.

Modules and Plug-ins

Joomla 3.1 comes with a number of native modules and plug-ins that add functionality to a site and add to its appearance. The system has a built in plug-in for Search Engine Friendly URLs which is a boon for any website. In addition, there’s a native plug-in for ReCaptcha, which is an absolute must these days. There is also a module for archived articles, articles categories, newsflashes, lists of related articles, custom HTML – in fact so varied are the number of native options, that I built my site using a minimum of third party plug-ins and modules. Those I did use integrated with the system very easily – for someone who doesn’t delve into code, that is a godsend.

Tags

Joomla 3.1’s Tags have been described as a solution to a problem that you did not know you had. And I completely agree. Tags make moving around a site lightening fast. Basically if you write an article on ‘London buses’ you give it a Tag called ‘London buses’. In the future, if you write other articles on London buses, you add the same Tag to those articles. Tag categories show as buttons at the top or bottom of each article, and if you click on a specific Tag, you are taken to a list of articles, all of which include that topic – click on the ‘London buses’ Tag and you are taken to a list of articles that covers or includes information on ‘London buses’. It is a phenomenal way to get around a site – very practical, and I am sure one day Tags will be an industry standard.

One Click Update

Earlier versions of Joomla have been troublesome as far as keeping current is concerned. New versions of Joomla arrived without fanfare or notification, as did modules and plug-ins. For me, upgrading Joomla to the current version meant getting a programmer involved. Checking modules and plug-ins meant visiting websites, downloading new versions, and installing them again. All very time consuming. Now Joomla 3.1 notifies you when new Joomla versions are available, and upgrading means simply clicking a button. In addition, the system notifies you when modules and plug-ins are out of date. What’s great about this is Google has now taken to giving a lower rank for websites that are not using the latest version of CMSs (such as Joomla). They are taking this so seriously that they are actually emailing people to ask them to update to the latest version because of security risks – see below. So, this is a great time for Joomla to simplify their updating process.

Conclusion

Joomla 3.1 is the way things should have been, but considering the price (free!) what you got before was good value for money. However, what you get now with Joomla 3.1 is outstanding – this is what they had in mind when they started. And now that updates to new versions are only one click away, there is no reason why Joomla users should not remain loyal forever.

Chinese SEO – More and more chinese choose you

If you are serious about targeting Chinese Internet users, securing a good web hosting provider in the region is essential; money spent on Chinese search engine optimization and website design can be wasted if your website hosting is not set up correctly.

The effects of Internet regulation in China – the so-called ‘Great Firewall’ – mean that unless your Chinese website is hosted in an appropriate location your website may be:

  1. Blocked altogether
  2. Blocked some of the time
  3. Extremely slow loading

The government managed firewall, officially termed the Golden Shield Project, is designed to monitor and control the content viewed by Chinese Internet users. If a website contains any content deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government it faces being blocked.

Worse still, if another site hosted on your server is banned, the whole server – your site included – is likely to be blocked. If you are hosted on a shared server outside the Chinese firewall, the very real potential for your site to be banned at any time might be beyond your control.

Choosing the Right Hosting

For most companies the ideal situation is to host your site with a provider based in mainland China, placing you inside of the “Great Firewall of China”.However, with current rules preventing foreign enterprises securing the necessary licensing, this isn’t always possible.

At Hostinginchina we will work with you to find the best hosting solution for your situation. This may be us helping you to set up a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) or Joint Venture (JV) in China so that you can secure the licences required to legally host in the country under your own identity.

Alternatively, it might be more appropriate to host in one of China’s special administrative regions – Hong Kong or Shanghai, which aren’t subject to the same restrictions or censorship but are treated favourably by the Chinese firewall. Once we have assessed your situation we will advise on the most suitable option for your business.

Chinese Websites – Inside the Great Firewall

Ensuring your hosting is suitable for the Chinese market is vital to provide visitors in China with good access to your site. Sites hosted in unsuitable locations risk being inaccessible, or are likely to load so slowly that Chinese users will give up and go elsewhere; it is equivalent to a Chinese website hosting and the Great Firewall of Chinatwo-tier Internet, where Chinese sites are ultra-fast and many of those outside are rendered so slow loading as to make them useless. SEO in Chinese has little chance of benefiting your company if your Chinese website cannot be accessed properly – by the search engines and by visitors.

Chinese search engines, such as Baidu, also favour websites hosted in China and give higher rankings to these sites. At least part of the reason for Baidu’s success is that they give priority in their search results for fast loading, Chinese hosted sites, producing a better experience for their users. The implications for good Chinese SEO are obvious.

Chinese Website Hosting – Restrictions

In order to host a website in mainland China, you must first have an ICP licence, which is issued by China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII).In turn, to get an ICP licence you need to have a legal presence in China.

Sharing an ICP Licence

Several companies have attempted to share ICP licences with Chinese partners, leading to problems with the regulators. In 2006, Google’s Chinese service got into trouble after MII took issue with their sharing of local firm, Ganji.com’s licence – the rules are strictly enforced regardless of whether you are an SME or a multi-billion dollar multinational.

Many local firms will offer to provide ICP licences and web hosting for foreign firms, but in reality they are not doing so, as without the client owning a Chinese business entity this is not currently possible. Instead, several businesses will piggyback on the provider’s own ICP licence, which can present several problems.

Sharing an ICP licence like this is against government rules, meaning the provider (and the websites hosted with them) could be shut down at any time, without any notice whatsoever. Also, if you share an ICP licence like this then your entire online presence in China – your website, its hosting and the domain name itself – is owned and controlled by another company who may go bust or simply choose to pull the plug at any time, leaving you with little or no legal recourse.

A Frontier Market

China is already a hugely valuable market and one which is still growing at an incredible pace. One of the admission prices Western companies must pay for access to this burgeoning market is being ready to adapt to regulatory conditions which can change from one day to the next, depending on the political situation.

Where Chinese .cn domains were once freely available for anyone to buy, they are now restricted to those with a legal presence in China. The rules on applying for ICP licences have similarly been tightened up. To get the best advice for the situation as it is now, and to ensure you are positioned well going forward, we recommend you speak to our team.

Our Chinese search marketing service can be tailored to meet your company’s requirements,  including the creation of a fully functional Chinese language site with Chinese design and search terms optimised for the local market, hosting and licensing. Chinese and Western website design are very different; to find out more take a look at our basic guide to Chinese web design comparing it to Western web design.

Contact us to find out about any aspect of our Chinese Search Marketing and SEO services now.