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Web Hosting - Why Backups Are Essential One thing most web site owners have little time for is... anything! Anything other than focusing on their site content and the business or service it supports and the information it provides, that is. That means that administration often suffers, as it frequently must. There's only so much time in the day. But the one thing that you should never let slide are backups. They are like insurance. You rarely need it (you hope), but when you do you need it very badly. Performing regular backups - and testing them - doesn't have to be a nightmare. A little bit of forethought and effort and they can be automated to a high degree. And, they should be tested from time to time. Even when a backup appears to have gone without a hitch, the only way to know whether it's of any value is to attempt to restore the information. If it can't be restored, the backup is worthless. Even when the web hosting company provides the service, there is still some planning involved for the site owner. Hosting companies often rely on one or both of two methods. They backup everything (called a full backup), then backup anything which has changed since the last full backup (called an incremental backup). Of special interest are any configuration files that have been tailored. If you've modified the default installation of a software package, you want to be able to recapture or reproduce those changes without starting from scratch. Network configuration files, modifications to basic HTML files, CSS style sheets and others fall into the same category. If you have XML files, databases, spreadsheets or other files that carry product or subscriber information - about items purchased, for example, or people who signed up for a newsletter - those should get special attention, too. That's the lifeblood of your business or service. Lose them and you must start over. That can break your site permanently. It should go without saying that all HTML and related web site files that comprise visible pages should be backed up regularly. It isn't necessary to record every trivial change, but you can tailor backup software to exclude files or folders. Usually they're so small it isn't worth the trouble. But in some cases those small changes can add up in scenarios where there are many thousands of them. Here again, the backups are worthless if they can't be used. Even if the hosting company charges for doing so, it's worthwhile to test once or twice a year at least to ensure the data can be restored. That's especially true of database backups, which often involve special software and routines. Database files have a special structure and the information is related in certain ways that require backups be done differently. Developing a backup strategy can be straightforward. Start simply and review your plan from time to time, modifying it as your site changes and grows. But don't neglect the subject entirely. The day will come when a hard drive fails, or you get hacked or attacked by a virus, or you accidentally delete something important. When that day comes, the few minutes or hours you spent developing and executing a backup plan will have saved you days or weeks of effort.

Send Free Cyber Greetings to Friends and Family with These Popular Sites Are you looking for a fast, fun and easy way to stay in touch with family? If so, consider sending free cyber greetings to your best friends and family members by taking advantage of the services offered by many fine e-greeting card services. Here are some reasons why you should consider sending ecards, and where you can find the very best in electronic greetings. Why Should You Consider Electronic Greeting Cards? The traditionalists among us will complain the World Wide Web is quickly eating away at the last traces of decorum and good manners. They will suggest that there is no replacement for the thoughtful and handwritten stationary note. While it is true that there is no equivalent to the handwritten note, it does not mean that you should exclude electronic greeting cards from your social life. Electronic greeting cards can actually be quite helpful in establishing friendships, keeping in touch and sending out a last-minute greeting. In truth, electronic greeting cards may be the saving grace of the modern electronic age. Sending an electronic greeting card is just casual enough to keep you touch, and just formal enough to send a meaningful greeting to someone that you really care about. When it comes to keeping in touch with the people you love, you may want to send out a paper greeting card. However, for those occasions where the important occasion has slipped your mind, an electronic greeting card is an easy way to tell someone that you have not forgotten about him or her. More Reasons Why You Should Send Electronic Greeting Cards Besides being a very quick and easy way to stay in touch, electronic greeting cards are also a great way to help the environment. As more of us move towards an environmentally sustainable future, you may want to send your environmentally conscious friend or family member an electronic greeting card. This is a fun and simple way to save paper and resources. Digital Greeting Cards are Fun and Easy Free virtual postcards are an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family. How do these virtual postcard services work? Usually, you simply select the card that you want from an assortment of electronic designs. Many websites even allow you to select various features of your card. You can often choose your own image, music, background music and other special design features. Then, all you have to do is simply type in your own personalized greeting. Then simply type in your recipient's email address, and wait to hear back from them. Your recipient will either receive an email message with an in-text card greeting, or a link to view their virtual postcard. Where Can You Find the Web's Best Electronic Greeting Cards Services? Fortunately, email has allowed us to become closer to own another, and electronic greeting cards are an easy and fun way to stay in touch. There are many fine websites that allow you to send and receive electronic greeting cards for free. Here is just a brief sampling of the web's best free virtual greeting card services. These include FreeWebCards.com, AllFreeGreetingCards.com, Greetings Island, E-Greetingz.com, Virtual Gravy Greetings, Electronic-Greetings.com, AAAPostCards.com, Radio Cards, E-Cards-Greetings.com, and CyberKisses. What to Look for in a Virtual Greeting Card Service First, although many greeting card services offer paid services, there are still plenty of free greeting card services to choose from. If personalization is important to you, choose a greeting card service that offers a large selection of cards and that allows you to choose from a selection of fonts, colors, music and other template and personalization choices.

Web Hosting - Domain Name Changes and How They Affect You New domain names are registered all the time, and ones previously registered expired. Sometimes that's the result of simple neglect. The owner of the name chose not to renew his or her ownership, so the name became available for someone else to use. In rare cases, a highly original mind managed to think of a new one. In the other common scenarios, someone chose to just let it go or sell it. When you choose to change your domain name, there are actually two separate steps involved: releasing the old name, and adopting the new one. But, just as the postal system can have difficulty forwarding your letters when you change your personal name, changing your domain name brings certain difficulties. One of the most prominent is the fact that any name change requires a change to thousands of DNS Servers around the globe. DNS (Domain Name System) is the set of software/hardware components that allows domain names to map to IP addresses. IP addresses are what are actually used 'under the covers' when one computer communicates with another. Note that there isn't always a 1:1 correspondence between a name and an IP address. One IP address can serve multiple domain names and one domain name can have multiple IP addresses. For the sake of simplicity, we'll stick to the common case here. DNS servers around the world maintain internal databases that match the name to an IP address. Not all servers have all pairs of names/addresses. A series of complex routines allows a request to be forwarded when the particular DNS server doesn't have a needed record. When you acquire a domain name that used to be associated with a given IP address, the odds of you acquiring the same IP address are extremely low. In the unlikely case, for example, that you acquired the domain name yahoo.com, you would almost certainly not get the IP address that was matched with it (unless you bought the Yahoo! company). So, as a result of the change, the name/IP address pair is no longer what it was. A similar circumstance exists when you retain your IP address, but want to change the domain name associated with it. In either case, the pairing has changed. The catch is this: when the change takes place, those DNS databases are not all updated instantaneously around the world. Even apart from the limited speed with which computers and networks operate, (and neglecting the human factor if/when the change is made manually to more than one server) the reason is something called caching. In order to communicate efficiently, DNS servers are designed to assume that changes will be relatively rare. Just as with the postal system, you don't move your address or change your name every minute. Since that's true, in general, the name/IP address pair is cached. A cache is a set of stored information that is reused so that fresh information doesn't have to be communicated with every request for a web page or data. A chain of DNS servers pass requests to the last known address. There is usually more than one system between your computer and the server you want to communicate with. Most of the time, that's your current name/address. When you change the name, that pair is no longer valid. In order to propagate the new name/address pair (so the terminology goes), that cache has to be refreshed. Something similar happens when you establish an entirely new name. That name is first associated with an IP address and that pair has to be communicated to DNS servers around the world in order for you to be able to reach any one of them at random. But DNS servers don't do that until they are requested to do so by your action of asking for information from a remote server. Because of that, but chiefly because of caching, it can take quite a while for the new pair to become known around the Internet. Caches can expire and get refreshed in a few minutes or a few hours. It varies. That time can be as short as an hour or less, if the path between your computer and the web server is very simple and only one DNS server needs to be updated. Or, it can take up to 48 hours or more. Though the 'official' range is often given by registrars as 24-48 hours, the average is closer to about six hours. But that's an average. The actual time in any given case can (and does) vary widely. In the meantime, a number of effects can occur. The most obvious is that, since the name/IP address pair can't be resolved properly, you don't reach the server you want. Your browser points to the old one (in the rare case it's still accessible by that name and address), or it simply reports there's no such name at that address. So, when registering a new name or buying an old one, you should establish the site, but not advertise it for at least a couple of days. Better to wait to get visitors than to turn them off by being 'not at home' when they call.