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Web Hosting - FTP and Other File Transfer Tools
Anything related to the Internet or computers is bound to introduce technical issues pretty soon. One of the earliest that novice web site owners encounter is FTP, which is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol. Seeing it spelled out, it's easy to see why those in the know quickly move to speaking in short hand.
The reason web site owners soon will (or need to) become familiar with FTP is obvious to anyone who has built a site on a remote server. You have to have some way of getting the files to the remote computer and FTP is one of the most common tools. It's also one of the simplest and most efficient.
FTP is composed of two parts: the client software and the server software. It's similar, in a way, to talking to someone on the phone who writes down everything you say. You (the client) make a request ('transfer this file to the server') and the listener (the server) takes the request and acts on it.
That request to copy a file from a local computer to the remote one is carried out (often 'under the covers') by a PUT command, as in PUT this there. You create the web page (in the form of a file) and then PUT the file on the server. To move a file in the opposite direction, from the remote server to your local computer, your client software issues a GET command.
Many FTP clients have graphical interfaces, similar to Windows Explorer, that allow you to drag-and-drop or otherwise copy the file without ever seeing the actual commands that carry it out. But it's helpful sometimes to know what goes on underneath. In tricky cases it can be an advantage to use a command line interface (in Windows, the 'DOS box', with a similar interface familiar to most Linux users).
Knowing the commands and being able to use them in the command line form can sometimes help you diagnose what is going on when the graphical tools misbehave.
But FTP is not the only way to get a file from here to there. In fact, your browser moves files around from a remote computer to your local one all the time. In most cases, when you type in or click on a URL, what happens under the covers is in essence a file transfer process. The web page is transferred from the web server to your local computer then displayed by the browser.
Alternatively, you can sometimes even email a web page/file from your local computer to the remote server, then use an email client on the server itself to get the file and put it in a folder. That requires that you have some form of access to the remote computer. But there are many ways of doing that, such as in-built utilities in the operating system or using commercial remote control programs.
Those alternatives can be helpful to know in cases where the FTP file transfer process is misbehaving. Having more than one way to accomplish the task helps you diagnose what might be going wrong. It also helps you get the job done when the usual tools aren't cooperating.
The more you learn about these sometimes puzzling acronyms, the easier you can accomplish your own goals.
Positive Reasons Why Employee Turnover Can Be a Good Thing Employee turnover is the bane of many an organization. If you pick up any business paper, you will find headline after headline screaming about how much turnover is costing companies and how to keep your employees happy and on board to avoid the headaches and hassles of high turnover. The tide, however, is starting to turn. More and more business experts are stepping up and saying turnover doesn?t have to be the end of the world. In fact, in some cases, turnover can be the best thing that ever happened to your company. While some turnover is as bad as traditional wisdom assumes it is, other instances of turnover can be a real positive for your business. How can turnover possibly be a good thing? It all comes down to who is leaving the company, and why. Every office has its workers that are a drag on the business for one reason or another. Maybe the employee is dissatisfied with their job because they have been working it for too long and are overqualified, but they don?t have any room for advancement. Maybe an employee thinks that all of the decisions you are making about the business are the wrong ones and are constantly critical. Maybe the employee just has a personality conflict with the other people in the company and you and other works simply don?t like them very much. When these kinds of employees leave your company, it can be a shot of life into the business. Suddenly, everyone feels hopeful and re-energized because the negative energy in the air is gone. Negative vibes in the office can have a very damaging effect on the staff, and by extension, your business. When the person causing the bad feeling heads for the highway, they take with them all of the problems they created. Not only does the departure of an employee who was causing trouble in the office boost morale for the employees who are left behind because the bad feelings are gone, but it also boosts morale because it creates a job opening within company. If the person who left was a superior to many people in the office, there is now an instant opportunity for advancement. Your workers will step up with their games as they vie for the position, creating new business opportunities for you and generally keeping the spirit high in the office. If you decide to promote from within whenever possible after a turnover, your employees will work harder with the knowledge that they have a chance of moving up. These turnover positives hold true whether the employee in question quit the job or was fired. Who they were in the company and why they left are often much more important in determining whether the turnover was positive or negative. While losing an employee who is bringing everyone else down is a positive thing for your business, losing an employee who was an integral part of the corporation is another. Of course, there are costs involved in a turnover ? you have to re-train an employee, and if you hire from outside of the company, you have the costs of advertising the job and the cost of the time spent interviewing candidates. If you are losing employee after employee, and the employees you are losing are the ones who were holding things together at the office, then you need to consider things you can do to reverse the turnover trend. Despite the potential negative side, turnover doesn?t have to be a bad thing for your company. If you manage it properly and if you are dropping employees who have been bringing your business down, turnover could be just the thing to turn your fortunes around.
Web Hosting - Redundancy and Failover Among the more useful innovations in computing, actually invented decades ago, are the twin ideas of redundancy and failover. These fancy words name very common sense concepts. When one computer (or part) fails, switch to another. Doing that seamlessly and quickly versus slowly with disruption defines one difference between good hosting and bad. Network redundancy is the most widely used example. The Internet is just that, an inter-connected set of networks. Between and within networks are paths that make possible page requests, file transfers and data movement from one spot (called a 'node') to the next. If you have two or more paths between a user's computer and the server, one becoming unavailable is not much of a problem. Closing one street is not so bad, if you can drive down another just as easily. Of course, there's the catch: 'just as easily'. When one path fails, the total load (the amount of data requested and by how many within what time frame) doesn't change. Now the same number of 'cars' are using fewer 'roads'. That can lead to traffic jams. A very different, but related, phenomenon occurs when there suddenly become more 'cars', as happens in a massively widespread virus attack, for example. Then, a large number of useless and destructive programs are running around flooding the network. Making the situation worse, at a certain point, parts of the networks may shut down to prevent further spread, producing more 'cars' on now-fewer 'roads'. A related form of redundancy and failover can be carried out with servers, which are in essence the 'end-nodes' of a network path. Servers can fail because of a hard drive failure, motherboard overheating, memory malfunction, operating system bug, web server software overload or any of a hundred other causes. Whatever the cause, when two or more servers are configured so that another can take up the slack from one that's failed, that is redundancy. That is more difficult to achieve than network redundancy, but it is still very common. Not as common as it should be, since many times a failed server is just re-booted or replaced or repaired with another piece of hardware. But, more sophisticated web hosting companies will have such redundancy in place. And that's one lesson for anyone considering which web hosting company may offer superior service over another (similarly priced) company. Look at which company can offer competent assistance when things fail, as they always do sooner or later. One company may have a habit of simply re-booting. Others may have redundant disk arrays. Hardware containing multiple disk drives to which the server has access allows for one or more drives to fail without bringing the system down. The failed drive is replaced and no one but the administrator is even aware there was a problem. Still other companies may have still more sophisticated systems in place. Failover servers that take up the load of a crashed computer, without the end-user seeing anything are possible. In fact, in better installations, they're the norm. When they're in place, the user has at most only to refresh his or her browser and, bingo, everything is fine. The more a web site owner knows about redundancy and failover, the better he or she can understand why things go wrong, and what options are available when they do. That knowledge can lead to better choices for a better web site experience.
Web Hosting - How To Select A Web Host As with many purchases, our first impulse when selecting a web hosting company is to go with the cheapest. Hey, they're all alike, why pay more? Au contraire. There are a number of objective criteria that separates one web hosting company from another and money is only one of them. And not the most important one. Selecting a company based on price alone is equivalent to selecting an auto mechanic on price alone. Sure, he may maintain or fix your car cheaper. But will the car spend all the time in the shop and none on the road? The first consideration is 'horsepower'. Do they have the capacity to carry your load and deliver decent performance? Most hosting companies will advertise that they have huge bandwidth and hundreds of servers. They're usually telling the truth. But there's a difference between existing capacity and usable capacity. If they also have thousands of sites with millions of visitors per day the available or free capacity will be much lower. A big pickup truck may be able to tow 5,000 lbs. But not if it's already carrying 4,999. Be sure to ask about available capacity, and have the prospective company back it up with reliable numbers. If you can't interpret the information they provide, find someone to help you do so. Next, and a very close second, is reliability. A lot of power is worthless if it's cut often. Outages are a normal part of business. Even Google and Microsoft go down from time to time. The difference is, it happens rarely and they have failover plans. That means, if their site/system does go down it's either up again in a flash, or you never see the outage because a backup system kicks in automatically and seamlessly. Be sure to grill the company closely about their up time. They'll often tout 99.6%, or some such figure. But, like the on-time figures of the airlines, those numbers can be shaded by adjusting the definition of 'up time'. What matters to you is whether your visitors will be able to reach your site at any time of the day or night they might want to. Find out what systems, both technical and human, they have in place to deal with failures of all sorts. Servers can go down, networks can fail, hard disks can become defective and lose data even when the other components continue to work fine. The result is YOUR site is unavailable, which is all that matters to you. The web hosting company should be able to deal with all of that and have you up again very quickly. Last, but not least, is security. With the continuing prevalence of viruses and spam, you need to know that the web hosting company you select has an array of methods for dealing with them. That means a good technical plan and staff who are knowledgeable in dealing with those issues. The old saying: 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' is more true here than anywhere else. All these issues are central to finding a web hosting company that can deliver the services you need. After those criteria are satisfied by a number of candidates, then you can start narrowing them down by price.