Should You Use Online or Offline Data Backup?

Online or offline data backup discussed in this blog postBy now, everyone should know the importance of backing up your files. It is insurance for your important data. It doesn’t take long to find stories about companies that were saved by having backups, or ruined because they did not have any. Here is a great video about one such company that was saved.

When choosing to backup your files, you essentially have two options: local or offsite backup. Each method has their benefits and weaknesses. Let’s go over the pros and cons of both options.

 

Local backup

Benefits:

Retrieving your files is much faster than accessing them online. The connection between the local server and your computer will be much faster than an average internet connection. A local backup is also more secure from theft than an online storage. There is little risk of someone stealing your files when they are secured on a physical hard drive in your possession. While the initial cost can be expensive, it will likely be much cheaper in the long term to store your data on a local machine.

Downsides:

Physically handling the hardware can be cumbersome. If you store your information on an external hard drive, you will need to find a safe place to store it. If there is a lot of data that needs to be protected you may need multiple drives. Other types of physical storage can be even more problematic. If you save data onto a CD or DVD, this requires that you properly label and store the disks so that you do not lose them.

The largest concern of local storage backups is the risk of losing the data, either through misplacing it or by an event like a fire or flood. One common measure is to gather a fire-proof safe and storing important data in there.

 

Online Backup

Benefits:

Storing your data in an online, offsite location is one of the safest methods for protecting your data. If something were to damage your office or computer, you can have peace of mind knowing that your important information is still safe.

There is no initial investment required for storing your data off-site because you don’t need to purchase any hardware like you would with local backups. However, the cost may become more over time as most companies charge monthly fees.

 

Downsides:

Speed of retrieving data

Retrieving your data can be much slower when retrieving it from an off-site location. Some companies will have to recover the data for you, limiting the times that you can access your data to their office hours. Even if you do have access to your data, you are limited to the download speed of your internet, which can take a long time if you are storing large amounts of information.

 

Which should you choose?

It really comes down to what is right for your business. If there are large amounts of information that need to be saved regularly, it might be worth investing in some physical hard drives that you can set to auto backup whenever you need to. If you don’t need to backup large amounts of data, an online backup system may be more appropriate.

For some people, a hybrid approach may be more suited. Perform regular backups on a local hard drive, and less regular online. This will allow you to have easy access in case you need your information quickly, and it also protects you in case of events like natural disasters.

Computer Programming Languages Simplified

computer codeTrying to understand what computer programming languages are and what they do be difficult, especially for people without a background in programming. This week, I went through and tried to explain in plain English what some of the most popular computer languages are, and how they are different from each other.

HTML + CSS

When designing a basic webpage, HTML and CSS are the go-to languages.

HTML is the basic language for creating webpages. It is the code that creates links, text, pictures, and other media. CSS is the code that determines how the HTML information is laid out. It gives the design of the website. HTML is like the backbone of a website, while CSS is like the appearance.

C

C is one of the most basic and older programming languages that is still used. However, these days it really only handles small and low level applications. C is still taught in schools because it is the basis for a lot of the other more advanced languages, and acts as a great learning tool.

C++

C++ was developed to address the issue of C not having the ability to use Object-Orientation Programming. Essentially, before this point, most programs were lists of instructions that acted on memory in the computer. OOP allowed objects to interact with each other to carry out the intent of the computer programming.

C++ is one of the most widely used languages in the world. As a result, C++ developers are in high demand in the job market these days. Many popular applications have been built with this language, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and all Adobe software. C++ is also used to build advanced games and operating systems like Windows.

Java

Java is used to develop advanced projects like business applications and video games. It has a huge job market and is typically regarded as an essential language for every programmer to learn. Java is very similar in design to C and C++ as it was essentially designed to be a more capable version of those languages.

The reason Java is so special is because of its portability. Once the code is compiled, it can run on any machine where Java Virtual Machine is installed. It was the first code that could run regardless of the operating system and hardware.

C#

C# is a Microsoft language. All Windows applications are built in C#. If you want to develop an app for a Window’s phone, it will require C#.

C# is essentially a combination of Java and C++. The idea was to create a programming language that combines the advanced features of Java, and the stability of C++.

Objective-C

Similar to how C# is designed for Windows applications, Objective-C was designed for Apple applications. All iPhone and iPad applications are written in Objective-C.

Objective-C was written to solve the same object orientation problem as C++, and was created around the same time. The reason Objective-C became so popular is due to the huge demand for iPhones and iPads in recent years.

PHP

PHP is an open-source language used to create dynamic websites. It helps create webpages more interactive by adding features such as password protection. Many famous websites use PHP such as Facebook and Yahoo.

PHP is easy to use because you can simply embed the code inside HTML. If that wasn’t easy enough, there are hundreds of other platforms like WordPress that can help you develop websites.

Python

Python is similar to PHP in that it is a high-level programming language used to design large sites. It also has its associated frameworks that help to develop web based applications, such as Django. The difference with Python is that it is much more straight-forward code and relatively easy to learn. Python was not a very popular language until Google started investing in it about a decade ago.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a client-side language that runs inside a user’s browser to process commands, rather than performing them on a server. Performing every action on a server can be quite taxing on that server. So JavaScript was developed to alleviate this server load, and make some commands run faster.

If you ever have a plan to become a web developer, JavaScript is a must-know language. Almost every website on the internet uses JavaScript in some way.

Ruby

Ruby is similar to Python in that it is a straight forward and readable programming language. Ruby is mainly used for developing web-based applications. Many programmers like to use it simply because it is fairly easy to use.

SQL

SQL (pronounced as sequal) is not a programming language like most of the other languages on this list. SQL is actually a language designed to view or change data in a database. Almost all applications use databases, and SQL is used to interact with that data.

 

This is just a very basic outline of a few of the more popular languages. There are hundreds of languages that programmers all over the world use. Hopefully this gives you a basic knowledge of computer languages.

How to Make Your Site Load Faster

Fast and slow progress loading barEveryone hates slow loading pages. The average user can easily be turned off by a slow website, especially because there is so much competition on the internet. Google even favors faster loading websites by listing them higher on search results.

What makes a website load slowly? Ever notice how some websites seem to load much faster than others? Most people are quick to point the finger at slow internet speeds or an outdated computer. However, quite often, it is the website that is loading slowly, not your computer.

So what do you do if your website is loading slowly? Here are a few things to look for:

 

Large Images

This is the most frequent cause for slow website performance. It is also one of the easiest to fix as it requires no formal knowledge of web design. If you host images on your website, make sure they are optimized for web. This means reducing the file size, or even changing the file type, to make it a smaller and more manageable file without reducing the image quality to the eye. There are many great programs to help you with this. Photoshop has a feature called Save for Web Applications. If you don’t have Photoshop, here are some tools to assist you such as pngcrush and jpegtran.

 

WordPress Widgets

One of the more common problems for slow running WordPress sites comes from widgets that are outdated, or need to connect to a database. Sometimes, people will install widgets that constantly require a connection to a database for every page. These apps can 4-5 seconds of load time that simply does not need to be there. The MailChimp plugin is historically guilty of doing this.

 

Images not Caching

When you load images and other information on a website, your web browser will save parts of that data (such as images), so that when you visit other pages that have that same content, it will load the content directly from your computer rather than fetching it from the web server again. This process dramatically reduces the load times of websites. Some websites don’t allow caching and are typically slower as a result.

To cache your images, update your web server configuration to provide an Expires header to your image responses from the server. For images that do not change often, you should specify a “far future” Expires header, typically a date 6 months to a year out from the current date.

 

 

Google Pigeon Update – What It Means For You

maps-pigeon-600The SEO world has been buzzing this last week about a recent update to one of Google’s search algorithms. There is no official name for the update, however it is being referred to as the Pigeon update within SEO communities. This Pigeon update has changed a number of things, mostly designed around the way local searches are ranked. Here is a quick summary of what the important changes are and how they can affect you.

Changes to local directory sites

Yelp, a widely used business review site, recently criticized Google for prioritizing Google+ reviews over Yelp’s reviews within search results. This recent algorithm update has implemented some changes designed to change that. Now, when Google searches contain the term “yelp”, a yelp review of the business should appear at the top. Yelp was definitely the most favored directory site in this update. Search results pages can now contain several Yelp reviews before the actual business website is listed.

This update essentially changes the frequency that local directories are shown on results pages. For instance, if you search for “fort collins restaurants” within Google, the results will look similar to this:

google-screenshot

Notice how all of the actual restaurant pages are located at the top in the carousal while the organic results are almost entirely local directories and reviews. It should be more common to see reviews of businesses toward the top of search results now.

Local listings

The main purpose of the Pigeon update was to provide more quality local search results. Google Maps has become more integrated with the search algorithm. With the increased integration of Google Maps, it is more important than ever to establish your company’s location within Google Maps.

Punished if you have more than 1 G+ page

If you have more than one Google+ page, you may now be getting punished. With this last update, Google decided that companies that have more than one Google+ page counts as spam and will punish them. The logic behind this comes from the fact that some companies were creating multiple pages in order to purposely manipulate the Google results and increase their rank.

Some companies may have multiple Google+ pages created for their multiple locations. It is worth making sure that your business does not have multiple Google+ pages so you do not get punished.