Courtesy navigation

Blog posts in The internet

IT for Donuts: how to buy a domain name

March 28, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts: how to buy a domain name/How to buy a domain name{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week: how to buy a domain name. If you’ve chosen the domain you want for your website, how do you go about securing it?

Who sells domain names?

Although domain names are controlled centrally (for instance, all domains ending in .uk are managed by a non-profit organisation called Nominet), they can be bought from many different companies.

These companies are called domain name registrars. They can register a domain name for you, enabling you to use that domain for your website, email and so on.

Major domain name registrars in the UK include GoDaddy, 123-reg, Heart Internet, 1and1, Fasthosts and Names.co.uk.

To buy a domain name from one of these providers, go to their website and search for a domain. Choose the one you want and enter your payment details. It’s that easy!

How does buying domains work?

When you buy a domain name, you get the right to use it for a certain period of time. When that period ends, you must renew your domain to keep using it. You can usually buy a domain for anything from one to ten years.

You can normally register your domain with one company, host your website with another, and then link the two so that people who type in your domain name end up at your website.

However, it’s important to check how easy it is to do this. It often involves some technical steps.

Many domain name registrars offer support to get everything working. But for a hassle-free setup, it can be easiest to buy your domain name and web hosting from the same company.

You might also get your domain name free or discounted if you buy it as part of a bundle that also includes hosting and email services.

What are the catches?

The domain name market is competitive, so registrars frequently offer deals to tempt new customers in.

However, these heavy discounts usually only apply to the first year’s registration. After that, you can end up paying an inflated renewal fee.

Other things to check include:

  • Watch out for lock-ins. Once you’ve bought a domain, the registrar should make it easy for you to transfer it to another supplier or point it at a different website, without excessive charges.
  • Get it in your name. Your domain is central to your online brand, so make sure it’s registered in your name — not that of your web designer or another supplier.
  • Auto-renewal can be handy. This means the registrar will renew your domain for you when the registration period expires. (Of course, you may prefer to renew manually to retain more control over payments.)

Finally, be aware that many domain name registrars now offer domains for sale on both the primary and secondary markets.

The primary market is where most people buy their domains. When you buy from the primary market, you’re buying a domain that nobody else currently owns. These domains are available at standard prices. Expect to pay around £5 a year for a .co.uk domain, or £10 — £15 a year for a .com.

The secondary market is where people trade domain names that they already own. Prices here tend to be higher and less predictable — you can pay anything from £50 to thousands.

Posted in The internet | Tagged IT for donuts | 0 comments

Broadband and the British national obsession

March 26, 2014 by John McGarvey

Broadband and the British national obsession/House keys - Broadband included?{{}}Well now. Here’s a news story that marries broadband speeds (one of the IT Donut’s own obsessions) with one of the Great British public’s favourite topics of conversation.

You see, property listings website Rightmove has released research suggesting that slow or non-existent broadband could wipe to 20% off the price of a house.

Cue — obviously — a story in the Daily Mail, complete with ropey stock photography and everything.

Broadband is the fourth utility

Even if you doubt the specifics of this research (a 20% reduction sounds like an awful lot), it certainly backs up the idea that broadband is fast becoming the fourth utility.

And it’s true: we treat our internet connections like turning on the lights or central heating. When we need it to get online, we expect to be able to do so.

A reminder for your business

The Rightmove story was released because the property firm has now added a broadband checker to its own website, to tell you what sort of connection you should get at a house you’re interested in.

But it provides an interesting reminder about the increasing importance of the web in our lives.

We spend more time online than ever. We’re connected not just at home, but nearly wherever we go. We’re buying things when we’re on the move.

If we’re at a point where broadband availability ranks alongside off-street parking, good schools and public transport links as factors in house desirability, surely it’s time to make the internet more central to your company, too.

In short, if you’re running a business — any sort of business — and you’re not thinking regularly about how the internet can help you, you’re missing a trick.

More than just a website

The internet is so ingrained in our lives that it’s not enough to build a website and leave it at that.

You need to stay up to date with new developments, like Google’s continued efforts to appeal to target mobile ads by location, or the fact that showrooming is rife. Is there any way you can turn these — and other — trends to your advantage?

You don’t need to transform how you do business. Nor do you need to panic.

But these days, people tend to turn to the internet first, no matter what they’re looking for. That creates new threats, and new opportunities. Are you ready to take advantage?

Posted in The internet | Tagged broadband | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: how can I create a website on a budget?

March 21, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts: how can I create a website on a budget?/Build a website{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week: if you need to build a website but you’re on a tight budget, what’s your best option?

Building your own website

If you’re looking to build a website on the cheap, you won’t have the cash to commission a designer to create your site for you.

And unless you’re already familiar with the principles of web design and the ins and outs of the HTML computer code that websites are built from, you won’t be able to create a convincing site from scratch. (Professional web designers and developers take years to learn how to do this well.)

But being cash-strapped doesn’t mean you have to make do with a below-par website.

Use a DIY website builder

There are many packages available that enable you to construct a website using pre-defined templates.

You don’t need to have any technical knowledge to use these website builder packages. You just have to choose your templates, add images, content and other elements like videos, then arrange everything as you want.

It used to be that the limited range of templates in most website builders meant they all looked rather similar.

However, nowadays website builders are more versatile. You still have to spend time learning how your website builder works, experimenting with templates and creating the content for your site.

But a few days’ work over a couple of weekends can leave you with a site you’re justifiably proud of.

That means a website builder is a good way to create a web presence for your business when you’re starting out or on a tight budget.

Finding a website builder

There are many website builder packages on the market. Here are some things to think about when choosing one:

  • How easy is it to use? Do you need any technical knowledge to make a start? Is the interface clear and simple to understand?
  • Does it have the features you need? Are there limits on the number of pages you can create? Can you add in ecommerce functions?
  • Will it cater for mobile users? Any new website should be easy to access from a mobile device, like a smart phone or tablet.
  • What other sites use it? Try and find examples of real sites that use the website builder you’re looking at. Are they any good?
  • Do you get everything you need? Every website needs a domain name and web hosting. Many site builders include these, but not all.
  • How much will it cost? You usually have to pay a monthly charge for your website builder. Check whether there’s a minimum contract period.
  • What happens if you decide to cancel? It’s important you’re able to extract and keep all your website content and data.

To get you started, here are some companies offering popular website builder packages: 

Most popular packages offer a free trial to begin with, so you can get a feel for the website builder before you commit to using it. 

Posted in The internet | Tagged IT for donuts | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: what is a dongle?

March 14, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts: what is a dongle?/A typical 3G dongle{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week: if you’ve been investigating how to connect to the internet when you’re out and about, you might have been told that you need a dongle. So, what is a dongle and should you buy one?

Get online on the move

If you travel for work, it’s important to be able to get online from different locations. You can use your smart phone to check for email and look at web pages, but it can be trickier getting online with your laptop or tablet.

Free Wi-Fi is a good option, but isn’t always convenient. You usually have to buy a drink in a café. In rural locations it might not be available at all.

A dongle gives you flexibility in when and where you connect to the internet, because it lets you use a mobile data connection rather than requiring you to be near a wireless network.

This means you can get online wherever there’s a mobile phone signal.

Alternatives to a dongle

A dongle isn’t the only way to connect to the internet when you’re out and about. You can also consider:

  • Tethering your laptop to your smart phone. You may be able to connect your laptop to your phone via Bluetooth, so your laptop can use your phone’s data connection. However, some networks charge extra for this and it can run your phone’s battery down faster.
  • Getting a tablet or laptop with a slot for a SIM card. Some laptops and tablets include a slot for a SIM card, enabling them to connect to directly to a 3G or 4G data network without a separate dongle.

What is a dongle?

A dongle is a small gadget that looks very much like a memory stick (see image).

Most dongles have a standard USB connection, so you can plug them into your laptop. They may work with some tablets too, although this depends which model of tablet you have.

A dongle has a slot for a SIM card, like the one in your mobile phone. Once you’ve inserted a SIM, it can connect to the internet.

How to use a dongle

To start using a dongle, you need a SIM card as well as the dongle itself.

All major mobile phone networks sell special ‘data SIMs’, designed to be used in dongles rather than mobile phones.

The amount you pay for your SIM depends on how much data you need to transfer. For occasional use, it’s usually best to pay as you go, topping up your data allowance when it gets low.

If you’ll be using the dongle regularly, you can get a SIM on a contract, paying a fixed amount each month (usually £15 — £30) for a fixed amount of data.

If you’ve not used a dongle before, a good way to get started is to buy a package that includes a dongle and pay-as-you-go SIM card. These are available for £30 — £50, including some data.

This lets you see what it’s like to use a dongle in practice, before you sign up to an expensive contract.

Once you have your SIM card in the dongle, all you need to do is plug it into your computer. Most dongles will automatically install software to connect you to the internet. Then you can browse the internet as normal.

Dongle connection speeds

When you buy your dongle, you can choose between a 3G (third generation) or 4G (fourth generation) connection. Although 4G is faster, it’s also more expensive and coverage is generally limited to larger towns and cities.

A 4G dongle will automatically drop down to 3G when necessary, so you’ll still be able to get online.

In strong signal areas, both 3G and 4G dongles will provide a good enough connection to browse web pages and check email. However, 4G is better for transferring large files and watching video.

Posted in The internet | Tagged IT for donuts | 0 comments

A beginner's guide to server colocation

March 10, 2014 by Albie Attias

A beginner's guide to server colocation/Data centre{{}}Colocation. Sure, it’s an unfortunate term that sounds a bit like one of those painful body cleansing treatments you get in health clubs.

However, if you run a new or small business, it’s actually something that can really help your company.

What is colocation?

Colocation is just like web hosting. The only difference is that rather than your data living on a server owned by the web hosting company, it lives on a server that you own.

The physical server belongs to you, but it lives in a datacentre owned by your colocation provider.

A datacentre is a special building designed to keep servers safe, sound and running 24 hours a day.

You use the colocation provider’s building, internet bandwidth and electricity. But you own the server that holds your data.

Colocation is more expensive than standard web hosting, but costs less than doing everything yourself. It’s also sometimes called ‘colo’, ‘co-lo’ or ‘CoLo’.

Why use colocation?

Colocation offers smaller businesses the benefits of a large, well-resourced IT department, but without the large costs:

  • Get more bandwidth for your buck. For instance, if you need to stream video from your server then you can do so for a relatively small cost.
  • Improve your cash flow. You only pay as you go, and usually only for what you need.
  • Get better protection and security. Because your server will be kept in a proper data centre (not in a corner of your office), you get redundant power supplies, firewalls and other extras to keep your server running.
  • You retain control. You’re just paying for space in the data centre, but you keep full control over your server and can use it however you wish.
  • It’s easy to move. If your business moves premises, you don’t have to figure out how to take your server with you. It stays in the data centre.

For smaller companies that don’t have much of their own IT infrastructure, colocation helps you compete with larger businesses on a level playing field.

So, what’s not to like?

One of the biggest problems with colocation is that it can be quite hard to find providers, especially outside cities. And even if you do, you need to consider:

  • Physical access to your server. This is likely to be only available during the provider’s office hours.
  • Cost. Colocation certainly costs more than basic web hosting. You can also end up paying a different amount each month, depending on how much bandwidth you use.
  • Upgrades and maintenance. You have to do this all yourself. Although you’re renting space from your supplier, the server is your responsibility. (If you’re not confident, managed hosting might be more suitable.)

It’s true that colocation isn’t for everyone. But for smaller businesses that have a modicum of IT expertise in-house, it can be a good way to gain access to the kinds of IT services that have previously been the preserve of larger organisations.

This is a post from Albie Attias of King of Serversan IT hardware supplier specialising in servers and networking.

 

Posted in The internet | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: how to view a website that's currently offline

February 28, 2014 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week: you need to urgently check a website for information, but that website has gone offline. It's probably having technical problems, but how can you get the information you need without delay?

How to get round 'website unavailable'

Once in a while, websites go down. It even happens to Google and the BBC occasionally, so pretty much nobody is immune.

If a site you need to access in a hurry is having a moment, don't panic. Google will almost certainly come to the rescue for you.

As Google crawls web pages to keep its index up to date, it takes a snapshot of most of them. This is called the 'cached' copy, and you can view it easily. Here's how...

First, go to Google and search for the website you're looking for. (If you know the exact URL of the page you need, just paste that into the search box.)

In the search results, find the page you're looking for. (If you searched by URL, it should be the top result.)

Select the green down arrow beside the result's URL, then choose Cached from the options:

Google cached search result{{}}

You'll see Google's copy of the page. At the top will be a line of text explaining when this snapshot is from.

When this won't work

Most of the time, this method should let you look up information you need.

However, if you're after something that's particularly time-sensitive, like the latest train disruptions or the weather forecast, Google's cached copy will probably be too old to provide accurate results.

To avoid any out-of-date information, always check when Google took its copy of the page.

Posted in The internet | Tagged IT for donuts | 0 comments

How to stop internet downtime crippling your business

January 30, 2014 by Guest Blogger

How to stop internet downtime crippling your business/Frayed Internet Cable{{}}When your internet connection goes down, your business can suffer disruption that wastes your time and hits your bottom line.

If that sounds all-too-familiar to you and your company, here are a few ways to reduce disruption caused by an unreliable internet connection.

1. Upgrade your old router

Consider upgrading your router if it’s more than five years old. Newer routers offer more reliable, stronger wireless signals, better security and faster downloads.

If you have laptops, smart phones or tablets that can operate using newer, faster wireless networking standards then make sure your router can perform at the same speed, too.

2. Check your computers for security problems

Security problems like malware and viruses can hit your internet speed by consuming your computer’s processing power and sending data across your internet connection.

Make sure you have good security software that’s working properly and gets regularly updated.

3. Reposition your router

If you rely on a wireless internet connection on your premises, where you position your router can dramatically affect the strength of the signal — and therefore the speed of your connection. Try and position it near the centre of your office, rather than leaving it in the corner by your phone socket.

If you still struggle to get a strong connection, consider getting a signal booster to improve coverage or connecting the most important devices to the router via a cable.

4. Check your contract

Some ‘unlimited internet’ packages aren’t actually unlimited. They have fair-use clauses or restrictions to ensure that one user’s heavy use doesn’t slow the service for others

If you exceed your package’s usage limit, you might be charged extra of have the speed of your connection capped. Your internet provider may also limit speeds at peak time, or slow access to sites that require a lot of bandwidth, like YouTube.

Ultimately, if your business requires a reliable, fast connection then you should consider investing in a fibre connection, if fibre is available in your area. However, these tips are a good way to make your connection more reliable without having to splash out on an upgrade.

This is a guest post from Christian Nellemann, founder and group CEO of XLN Telecom, a specialist provider of small business broadband and phone services.

Posted in The internet | Tagged broadband | 0 comments

IT for Donuts: do I need a 4G connection?

January 17, 2014 by John McGarvey

4G mobile phone{{}}

Image: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

IT for Donuts is our regular Friday feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This week: now that most mobile phone networks offer 4G tariffs and handsets, is it worth considering 4G for your business?

What is 4G?

4G is a relatively new kind of mobile internet connection. It allows you to connect your smart phone or tablet computer to the internet at very high speeds, while you’re out and about.

4G is named because it’s a fourth generation mobile network. It follows on from 3G, which you probably use at the moment if you access the internet through a smart phone. The main mobile phone networks offer 4G connections, including O2EE and Vodafone.

What makes 4G special?

If you’re familiar with 3G, you can think of 4G as the same thing, but much speedier. In the right circumstances, a 4G connection can be three to four times faster than your average home broadband connection, giving you the ability to do more online when you’re out and about.

All that speed means 4G can be a boon if you need to send and receive large files when you're on the move, like this aerial photography company that uses it to process large images.

But because 4G is faster, it's also makes for snappier all-round internet access. For instance, your phone or tablet should download emails and display websites faster, reducing those frustrating moments while you wait for something to load.

Sounds great. What's the catch?

To get a 4G connection, you need three things:

  • A mobile device capable of 4G. Many of the latest smart phones and tablets can connect to 4G networks, but you'll find most older devices won't be able to.
  • A 4G mobile tariff. Guess what? Because 4G is better than 3G, it costs more to get a 4G contract from your mobile network. Expect to pay at least £5 — £10 a month extra.
  • A 4G signal. 4G network coverage is improving fast in urban areas, but if you spend a lot of time outside major towns and cities then you'll find 4G availability is patchy.

So, to start using 4G you're probably going to need to buy a new mobile device, get a new contract, and check the coverage in areas you expect to use it.

Should I move to 4G?

4G is a genuinely worthwhile upgrade, if you can afford it and if it's available in the places where you spend most of your time. You'll notice a real improvement even compared with a good 3G connection, and it should eliminate some of the frustrations of mobile internet access.

However, at the moment it's hard for your average company to make a convincing case for moving to 4G. In fact, 3G is still more than adequate in most circumstances, even if you might have to wait a few extra seconds to download your email.

That means most businesses will be fine with 3G for now. But improving coverage and (hopefully) falling prices, the story could be different in six to 12 months' time.

Posted in The internet | Tagged IT for donuts | 0 comments

How to stop internet downtime crippling your business

January 15, 2014 by Guest Blogger

How to stop internet downtime crippling your business{{}}When your internet connection goes down, your business can suffer disruption that wastes your time and hits your bottom line.

If that sounds all-too-familiar to you and your company, here are a few ways to reduce disruption caused by an unreliable internet connection.

1. Upgrade your old router

Consider upgrading your router if it’s more than five years old. Newer routers offer more reliable, stronger wireless signals, better security and faster downloads.

If you have laptops, smart phones or tablets that can operate using newer, faster wireless networking standards then make sure your router can perform at the same speed, too.

2. Check your computers for security problems

Security problems like malware and viruses can hit your internet speed by consuming your computer’s processing power and sending data across your internet connection.

Make sure you have good security software that’s working properly and gets regularly updated.

3. Reposition your router

If you rely on a wireless internet connection on your premises, where you position your router can dramatically affect the strength of the signal — and therefore the speed of your connection. Try and position it near the centre of your office, rather than leaving it in the corner by your phone socket.

If you still struggle to get a strong connection, consider getting a signal booster to improve coverage or connecting the most important devices to the router via a cable.

4. Check your contract

Some ‘unlimited internet’ packages aren’t actually unlimited. They have fair-use clauses or restrictions to ensure that one user’s heavy use doesn’t slow the service for others

If you exceed your package’s usage limit, you might be charged extra of have the speed of your connection capped. Your internet provider may also limit speeds at peak time, or slow access to sites that require a lot of bandwidth, like YouTube.

Ultimately, if your business requires a reliable, fast connection then you should consider investing in a fibre connection, if fibre is available in your area. However, these tips are a good way to make your connection more reliable without having to splash out on an upgrade.

This is a guest post from Christian Nellemann, founder and group CEO of XLN Telecom, a specialist provider of small business broadband and phone services.

 

Posted in The internet | Tagged broadband | 0 comments

Product intelligence: the future of ecommerce?

January 02, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Product intelligence: the future of ecommerce?/boxes stack for delivery{{}}When you’re selling online, how quickly you’re able to deliver your products can make or break your business. If your next-day delivery promise turns out to be hogwash then you’ll see customers switching to more reliable competitors.

The University of Cambridge, working together with James and James Fulfilment, is carrying out research that it thinks could lead to a new means of online order delivery — allowing consumers to interact with their order almost right up until it arrives.

Ecommerce product intelligence

The research is based on the concept of ‘product intelligence’, where computer models allow every product and order in a warehouse to effectively think for itself.

What does that mean? Well, if the researchers are correct, orders themselves will soon be able to communicate with warehouse and delivery staff to make sure that they are processed correctly.

Product intelligence could let consumers interact with their order right up until it is delivered.

For instance, currently if a customer wants to change the delivery address once an order has been dispatched, they have to contact the courier. But with product intelligence, they could let the order know the new address — electronically.

Popping out? Let your order know

In fact, it could be possible for consumers to interact directly with their online orders at every stage of the journey.

You might be able to tell your order that you’re are not at home because you’ve popped to a café down the road. Or you could even say: ‘use my mobile phone to come and find me’ while your parcel is out for delivery. Imagine that: no more ‘we called while you were out’ cards.

The difference with product intelligence is that the order will tell the carrier what it needs to do, rather than the customer telling the carrier. It sounds futuristic, but the infrastructure is mostly already in place, so the technology could become available very soon.

Product intelligence and efficiency

Product intelligence could also allow goods to decide where in a warehouse they should be stored. The researchers have found that doing this can be 20% more efficient than current best practice.

Although it might seem obvious that the fastest-selling products should be kept closest to the packing station, actually getting the information required to arrange products correctly is not easy.

When the products can confer amongst themselves, products that are frequently shipped together will know they should be stored together.

While online ordering has vastly improved in the past decade to become a slick, real-time process, many fulfilment centres and carriers have failed to invest at the same rate.

That’s why product intelligence has such huge potential: it could save businesses considerable time and money, and deliver much higher levels of customer satisfaction.

This is a guest post from James and James Fulfilment.

Posted in The internet | Tagged ecommerce | 0 comments

If your customers don’t know what SSL is, do you need it?

December 17, 2013 by Guest Blogger

If your customers don’t know what SSL is, do you need it?/SSL secure{{}}The average internet shopper doesn’t have a clue what an SSL certificate. Come to think of it, do you know what an SSL certificate is?

If not, here’s a brief explanation: an SSL certificate allows your website to display the secure padlock when people visit it. It also encrypts data transferred between your website and its visitors (like their credit card details), so it can’t be accessed by online criminals.

If you sell online, it is important to have an SSL certificate — and not just because it protects your customer’s card details. Here’s why:

1. Your customers do care about security

Just because your customers don’t know what an SSL certificate is doesn’t mean they don’t want reassurance when they’re shopping online.

Many factors help determine whether online shoppers feel safe enough to make a purchase from you, and you don’t control all of them. For instance, you can’t invent a trusted brand that’s been around for a hundred years.

However, you can make your customers feel more at ease by displaying an SSL certificate. One study found 94% of consumers were more likely to proceed with an online purchase when they saw the Norton Secured Seal during checkout.

2. It’s a legal requirement

Every website owner has a responsibility to make sure the data their website collects or uses is kept safe.

This responsibility may be a legal obligation, depending on what type of data you collect or use. If you process credit card details, for example, it’s essential that this data is securely encrypted.

3. Your reputation could be at risk

Barely a week goes by without news of data being stolen or hacked. Just one such incident can damage your company’s reputation.

Don’t think this will ever happen to your business? The numbers don’t look great: according to government figures, 76% of small companies suffered a security breach in 2012. What’s more, experts have warned that smaller companies are increasingly being targeted by online criminals.

This post was written by John Philips from SSLs.com, a reseller of SSL certificates.

Posted in The internet | Tagged ecommerce | 0 comments

How to handle Cyber Monday

December 02, 2013 by John McGarvey

Cyber Monday — online shopping{{}}

In what can only be a carefully-timed PR move, Amazon has this morning secured impressive coverage by announcing that it's testing the use of drones for deliveries.

Why so carefully-timed? Well, today just so happens to be Cyber Monday, the day when online sales peak in the run-up to Christmas. Experts are predicting that internet spending today could hit £500m, making it the biggest online shopping day in history. 

Self-fulfilling?

Never mind that drone deliveries are likely still years off — what matters to Amazon is that it has got its brand into the BBC website's top 'most read' slot on the busiest digital retail day of the year. 

While it's true that Cyber Monday has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, there is no doubt that the first Monday in December is a key online shopping day. So, if you sell online, it could pay to be prepared.

Last-minute Cyber Monday preparations

Ok, so without the PR budget of Amazon you're unlikely to secure similar levels of brand coverage. However, if you sell online, there are still things you can do to make sure you handle Cyber Monday well.

It's a little late now to do anything more than last-minute preparations, of course. But you can certainly make sure that your website's working properly and you're ready to handle orders that arrive:

  • Check your website is functioning ok. At any time of year, website downtime means lost revenue. But on the busiest day of the year, the impact will obviously be higher. Have you checked it today yet? Go on, do a test order right now.
  • Postpone non-essential maintenance. There is absolutely no point in doing anything that could hit your website sales on the busiest day of the year. Updating your website's software? Just wait till tomorrow.
  • Consider upping your online advertising. It depends on your budget and your market, of course. But in general, more consumers will be online today hunting for gifts. You could reach more of them by increasing your online advertising spend.
  • Be ready to pack and ship orders. One of the most effective ways to keep your customers happy is to pack and send orders quickly. Now's the time to nip out for bubblewrap and sticky tape, if you're running low.
  • Think about staying late. Retailers including Amazon and John Lewis expect sales to peak this evening, from 6pm — 9pm. It might be worth hanging on in the office, just to make sure your website keeps running smoothly.

How have you found Cyber Monday in previous years? Does it deliver a boost to your bottom line, or is it nothing more than a load of hype?

Posted in The internet | Tagged ecommerce | 0 comments

Is virtualisation a magical way to cut your costs?

November 28, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Is virtualisation a magical way to cut your costs?/cloud split into virtual servers{{}}Modern computers and servers are so powerful that many businesses tend to only use only a small percentage of their full capabilities.

For instance, if a server is only being used to store files and share internet access then much of its processing power is going to waste.

In recent years, more companies have started using virtualisation to help harness some of that untapped power. So, what is virtualisation and why should it matter to your business?

Virtualisation: many servers, one box

Virtualisation involves sharing computing resources so your business can get more bang for its buck. This clever technology allows one physical server to function as several servers.

That’s why they’re called virtual servers: although they behave like individual servers, they all run on the same piece of hardware.

For example, instead of running your each of your in-house applications (email server, accounting system, CRM system etc) on its own physical server, you can ‘virtualise’ one big server and run the whole lot on that.

Doing so means you only have one physical server to maintain. Virtualisation is also handy when different applications can't run together under the same operating system. For example, perhaps your accounting software runs on Windows but your website requires Linux.

Power when you need it

These days, you can take advantage of virtualisation without actually owning any hardware yourself. Instead, you rent your virtual servers from another company, often a web hosting or cloud computing firm.

In this situation, you’ll never see the physical server on which your virtual servers run. It sits safely in a data centre where it may be shared by other businesses too.

The beauty of this approach is that the resources needed to run your applications can be spread across a number of virtual servers, which are all shared between companies.

This means that there’s lots of computing power on tap should you need it — yet you don’t have to invest in expensive hardware yourself.

To spread the load, many virtualisation services split computing power between customers in different time zones, so there’s always enough spare capacity to go round.

Is sharing servers safe?

One of the first questions businesses have about sharing servers in this way is: ‘Are our applications and data safe if we’re sharing with other companies?’

Usually, the answer is yes, as long as you are dealing with a reputable provider. If they are a European firm and covered by EU data protection laws then that gives you extra reassurance. In general, you should ask the same questions of your provider as you would of any other cloud computing company.

Virtualisation is all about sharing the cost of computing resources. If more businesses can share a single resource, that resource becomes cheaper for each individual business. And that’s why virtualisation should matter to you.

This is a guest post from John Paterson, CEO of Really Simple Systems

Posted in The internet | Tagged cloud computing | 1 comment

Still confused about the cloud? You're not alone

November 20, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Still confused about the cloud? You’re not alone/Cloud question mark{{}}What is the cloud? You’ll get a very different answer depending on who you ask that questions.

That’s because ‘cloud’ is a fluffy term that has been blown around endlessly, used by different people and organisations to mean different things. There’s never been any consensus about what it actually does mean.

Some people argue it simply refers to the internet. Others suggest it’s just a manufactured term that means absolutely nothing.

In general, consumers are most aware of Amazon Cloud Drive or Apple iCloud. Often they feel as if the rest of the cloud computing industry has been thrown into the mix to confuse them.

The ‘official’ definition of cloud

The most widely accepted definition of cloud computing comes from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. It states:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

Now that’s all well and good, but if you’re a business owner embroiled in running and growing a company, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. You just want a straightforward solution that’s going to support your business as it grows.

Cloud in a simpler form

The company I work for — Names.co.uk — offers cloud services. When we talk about the cloud, we are referring to a cluster of servers. These work together, providing one large platform that can be sub-divided up into smaller chunks to do useful jobs like hosting your website or running a customer database.

Each user has an isolated virtual server, with its own operating system, control panel and software. They also get a guaranteed share of network resources, giving them confidence that the cloud will perform for them.

The cloud is about flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud in this form is flexibility. Users can increase and decrease their computing power as and when they want, only paying for what the need.

More and more businesses are moving to the cloud because they like the idea of not paying for services they don’t use. It’s like buying a mansion when you only need a one-bedroom flat, with the option of upgrading to two bedrooms if you need to.

But if you’re still struggling with the question: ‘what is the cloud?’, why not see some more answers? We asked some people what the cloud means to them. See their answers in this video.

This is a guest post from Names.co.uk.

Posted in The internet | Tagged cloud computing | 0 comments

The three downsides of cloud computing

November 07, 2013 by Richard Smith

The three downsides of cloud computing/thunderstorm{{}}Cloud computing has had a huge impact on business technology in recent years. It is capable of offering on-demand computing power, email services, collaboration tools, disaster recovery systems and security, often at a lower cost compared to on-site hardware and software.

The cloud is still growing fast, but before your company embraces it wholeheartedly, it’s worth looking beyond the hype to check out the possible downsides.

Like most technologies, the cloud does have some disadvantages. Here are three important ones.

1. Availability

When using cloud computing services you are heavily reliant on the availability of your internet connection and of the cloud service itself. Investing in a robust internet connection with a backup will ensure things are reliable at your end.

It’s also important your cloud provider’s servers are located in more than one data centre. This ensures they can continue providing you with access to files and data, even during problems at one of their data centres.

2. Security and privacy

Who can access your data? Is it safe on your cloud provider’s servers? Could it be stolen?

Every reputable cloud provider should meet all relevant data protection legislation and operate robust, encrypted networks. But even if you’re confident about your provider’s security precautions, the biggest dangers may lie elsewhere.

More specifically, those dangers may lie within your own business. Because using the cloud will enable your staff to access company data from anywhere, you need to work harder to make sure it stays within your business.

3. Accountability

Moving to the cloud does not mean liability falls into someone else’s hands. You still have full responsibility for your business operations, yet using the cloud means you’re effectively outsourcing some of your IT systems.

It is vital that you have a contingency plan to overcome any potential risks. For instance, how would you cope if your internet connection failed or your cloud provider went bust?

Get professional advice

If you’re considering a move to the cloud but want to proceed with caution, it’s important to seek a provider that can offer you advice and solutions tailored to your business.

It can be a good idea to identify a supplier that offers IT consultancy, support and traditional in-house expertise alongside cloud services. Moving everything into the cloud at once isn’t usually practical, but you can strategically move services when it’s right for your business.

This is a guest post from Leia Solanki, Marketing Executive; Tegen Ltd

Posted in The internet | Tagged cloud computing | 0 comments

How to cope in a world that's gone beyond information overload

October 23, 2013 by Ron Immink

How to cope in a world that's gone beyond information overload/yoga meditation{{}}Americans consumed about 3.6 zettabytes of information in 2008. You can bet the UK isn’t far behind.

That’s an enormous volume of information: the difference between 0.3 and 3.6 zettabytes is ten times the number of grains of sand on the earth.

This volume of information is apparent every day, in our bulging inboxes, our enormous choice of TV channels and an endless list of results on Google.

It’s no longer information overload. It’s filter failure.

Chaos on the information superhighway

There is chaos on the information superhighway. We can't see the wood from the trees. Facts do not exist any more, because every fact has an anti-fact on the web.

We create our own belief bubbles, our brains are mush and we are driven by what the smart phone tells us. It’s a cocktail for disaster. Or is it?

There’s nothing to worry about

In Smarter than you think: how technology is changing our minds for the better, author Clive Thompson talks about how technology and the internet makes us smarter and better.

His argument is convincing. Technology provides eternal memory, where we can recall anything and learn from it. And it creates cognitive diversity, providing a place to test, discuss and distribute our thinking with all knowledge at our fingertips.

Technology has also made us more literate. We are writing and reading more than ever with texts, emails, tweets and so on, but tech is also creating different types of literacy.

With video, images, data and — soon — 3D printing, the internet and technology is giving us more rich ways to express ourselves.

Constant distractions

If you put it that way, it is difficult to argue. However, Thompson does make reference to the fear of missing out (FOMO) syndrome, the dangers of constant distraction and the need to be mindful and aware of how you think.

And that brings me to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, fast and slow. His advice? Regularly step out of this stream of digital information. Take time to slow down. Meditate. Relax.

Kahneman thinks that, in future, we may all benefit from our own digital assistants. He cites Watson, the supercomputer that can play guess-the-question quiz show Jeopardy.

The technology behind Watson is now being used to help doctors diagnose patients based on the answers they give.

In five years, you could have Watson on your phone. It will be your digital, ambient, super-smart digital assistant who can help with your memory, knowledge, thinking and a lot more.

And what will happen then? Well, once you have a powerful new tool for finding answers, you can think of harder problems to solve.

Ron Immink is CEO of Book Buzz and a contributor to Small Business Can.

 

How the cloud changes your business IT

October 14, 2013 by Guest Blogger

How the cloud changes your business IT/Clouds-and-sun-changeable{{}}The term cloud computing has been around for years now. The idea itself goes back even further.

However, there are still plenty of businesses that haven’t yet considered using cloud computing as part of their IT. There are plenty more that use the cloud without realising it, or that simply aren’t clear on the impact of the cloud.

(Confused about the cloud? Read our simple introduction to cloud computing.)

Here’s a quick five-point guide to the key ways cloud computing could change how your business operates its IT:

  • More manageable spending. Although it’s not always the case that the cloud saves you money, cloud computing does make your IT costs more predictable and manageable, because you pay by the month instead of having to make big one-off payments for hardware or software.
  • IT as a single entity. Cloud services blur the line between software and hardware, because often you’ll pay by the month to access a service (the ‘software’) running on a server owned by the cloud provider (the ‘hardware’).
  • New job descriptions. Cloud computing services often include maintenance and support, so the job roles of your IT staff can change dramatically. They need to understand the implications of the cloud and how to integrate new services with your current systems.

  • Mobile working as standard. Cloud services come all ready for remote working. Because they sit outside your business, accessing them is the same no matter whether you’re on your premises or not. The cloud can really simplify remote, mobile and flexible working.

  • Different security issues. Cloud providers usually have very high standards of security, because they’re specialists and their whole business depends on maintaining security. However, the cloud can change the security challenge your business faces.

If you’ve introduced cloud computing to your business, have you seen these changes? What would you say to other businesses considering a similar move?

Russell Scott is Managing Director of Sycura, a firm offering cloud computing solutions and IT support in the Hertfordshire area.

Posted in The internet | Tagged cloud computing | 0 comments

49 of the UK's top 50 retailers don't have responsive websites

October 09, 2013 by John McGarvey

Responsive web design{{}}

Responsive websites adapt to fit different screens.

According to IDC's worldwide and US tablet forecast, 2013 will be the first year in which more tablet computers are sold than traditional PCs. But although consumers are increasingly using smaller screens to view websites and buy online, online retailers are lagging behind with their websites.

Digital solutions provider Venda analysed websites from the top 50 e-retailers as defined by IMRG and Experian (admittedly, this list is a couple of years old).

The results are quite striking. It found that only one of these retailers uses responsive web design to create a site that automatically adapts itself to different screen sizes. The retailer in question is Currys.

Make mobile shopping easier

Given that a third of all UK page views now come from smart phones and tablets, delivering a good user experience across all devices should be top priority for anyone looking to sell online.

Responsive web design isn't the only way to do that. Many businesses run a completely separate mobile website, designed specifically for small smart phone screens. Some also have mobile apps to help you search and buy items quickly.

Both these approaches are fine, but neither makes good use of screen sizes that fall in between smart phones and desktop computers. The great thing about responsive sites is that they're fluid, and designed to work on any screen, rather than those of specific sizes.

The argument for going responsive

If you've not given much thought to the experience mobile users have on your business website, now really is the time to start. You'll find that the argument in favour of a responsive approach is strong.

Responsive design is the best way to create a consistent user experience, no matter what device people are viewing your website on. The content on the pages remains fundamentally the same, but just displays differently.

This means that you don't have to find a way of identifying mobile users in order to show them a different website, or worry about redirecting URLs so people see relevant information on both versions of your website.

When people share links to your website, you'll also know that the pages will always be optimised for the viewing device, not the device the link was shared from.

Quite simply, responsive web design is the only way to cater for the ever-expanding range of devices that people are using to access the internet. It's time to start making our sites more flexible.

Posted in The internet | Tagged web design | 1 comment

What technology means for the marketing mix

September 24, 2013 by Guest Blogger

What technology means for the marketing mix/vector with speech bubbles in form{{}}Marketing has evolved as technology has evolved. Billboard ads and newspaper adverts feel somewhat outdated. Television, the internet and smart phones are taking over the marketing world, forcing marketers to shake up their strategies.

Now, instead of ringing up the local newspaper or radio station, marketers are emailing websites or working out how to integrate adverts into mobile apps.

Traditional marketing still exists

However, traditional marketing — such as networking and face-to-face marketing — is still around. In some cases, these channels have embraced technology. For instance, Skype and email have really made it easy for marketers to stay in touch with their target audiences.

Your marketing can now be optimised and targeted to show content or products to people who are most likely to be interested in them. Some say this has made advertisers’ jobs too easy.

One example of this is Facebook’s advertising scheme. This lets you specify what age, gender and precise interests you would like to pinpoint with your ad.

Facebook even allows you to advertise to people who are connected to a specific person. You can also choose to target to people with a specific relationship status, language, education level or workplace.

Tech enables social marketing

This brings a whole new level of marketing: social marketing. Sites that provide social marketing include Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp and YouTube. Each has its own, unique selling point, but all share a common factor: personal data collection.

Nowadays, marketers need to track and measure multi-channel campaign that may include email, search, social media, telephone, and direct mail. They will also track clicks, responses, purchase patterns and other such data.

It’s been a long time

Marketers have been using these digital methods for a long time, but not as long as traditional methods such as networking.

Networking events provide many benefits for a company. They build relationships with other businesses and create opportunities that could lead to new people coming into the business to work or to spend money.

In conclusion, technology has aided marketers greatly over the past few years. But although in many ways it has made marketing easier, it has also added complexity.

The ratio of online to traditional marketing now stands at about 70:30. Because of the enormous diversity on the internet, marketers must do outrageously impressive things to get noticed.

Adam Stevens is a technology and marketing enthusiast as well as a writer for Intxt, a bespoke mobile marketing specialist.

Posted in The internet | Tagged marketing | 0 comments

Friday tech tip: how to find free photos for your blog or website

September 13, 2013 by John McGarvey

Camera - free stock photos{{}}

When you're trying to keep your website or blog regularly updated, one of the biggest headaches can be finding good photos that you're allowed to use.

You can't go just grabbing photos you like from other websites, because it's hard to know who owns the copyright. If you're not careful, you could find yourself in hot water legally.

So, for this Friday's tech tip we reveal three places to find free photos for your website:

1. stock.xchng

Website stock.xchng offers thousands of free photos, most of which you can use freely on your website.

From the home page, just enter what you're looking for in to the search box.

When the results appear, select an image to enlarge it. If you like it, check the information beneath Usage in the right column. Most images are royalty-free, but always check.

If you can use the image, select Download to sign up for free and then download a copy of the image to your computer.

2. Morguefile

Morguefile is very similar to stock.xchng. Just search for images from the home page.

When you spot an image you like on the search results page, select it to view it in a box on screen. You can check the usage rights here — look for text that starts 'You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work...'

If you want to use the photo, just select Download Image.

3. RGBStock

Yep, the drill's the same on RGBStock too. Search, select the image you like, and then review the usage rights.

You need to be signed up to download images, but signing up is fast and free.

Are you sure I can use that photo?

Although each of these free sites offers photos that can be used in most circumstances, you might find there are restrictions if:

  • You want to use a photo of a person to endorse a product or service. It's often best to choose images without people in them.
  • You want to sell the images, either by themselves or as part of a product or service. For instance, if you're using them in website templates that you sell.
  • You want to use the image as part of a trademark. For example, you're looking for a free photo to use in your company logo.

If you want more flexiblility in how you use photos, it might be better to buy them from a site like Shutterstock or iStockphoto. These stock photography sites tend to offer a range of usage options, with prices to match.

Where did you get the photos for your website?

Believe it or not, UK broadband is pretty decent

July 02, 2013 by John McGarvey

Tortoise - slow broadband?{{}}If you seem to spend much of your working day cursing your slow internet connection or turning your router on and off to get it working, then the latest statistics on UK broadband might come as a surprise.

According to the EU Commission, the UK actually does pretty well when it comes to broadband prices, speeds and connectivity - at least compared to the other 26 EU states.

The latest figures show that a broadband connection with a speed of 8 - 12 megabits per second (mbps - that's typical for an ADSL connection that uses a standard phone line) costs an average of €19.78 a month. That's well under the overall EU average.

Similarly, if the figures are to be believed then 70% of the population now has access to so-called 'next generation' connections of 30mbps+, which are typically delivered via fibre-optic cables. That's well above the EU average.

IT deals

See the latest business tech bargains we've found online.

Tech bargains >>

Or buy IT equipment now from these trusted suppliers:

Given that we live in a country where online shopping is high and internet businesses account for a significant slice of GDP, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.

So, why are people's perceptions often so different? After all, we've moaned enough on our blog about the state of UK broadband.

Well, although the UK broadband market looks pretty healthy at face value, the headline figures do obscure a couple of important facts.

Speed discrepancies are common

Many businesses still find there's a big difference between the advertised 'up to' speed of their internet connection, and the speed they actually receive.

This is caused by the nature of the copper wires used for most broadband connections (we explain the issues in full here), but the result is that it can feel like you're paying for a connection you don't get.

The EU figures back this up. If you're using some sort of DSL connection (usually advertised as 'up to'), on average you only get 45% of the advertised speed. For instance, I'm writing this on an 'up to 20mbps' connection that tends to run at about 10mbps.

Many still can't get a next-gen connection

Although the EU figures suggest 70% of people can now opt for a faster fibre connection, that still leaves 30% of the population who can't. That's a significant proportion of businesses unable to benefit from properly fast connections that are reasonable value.

But then perhaps we shouldn't criticise this fact too harshly. The pace at which providers are rolling out this superfast broadband has increase significantly over the last year or so.

You can use this broadband availability checker to see what's available near you, or search for specific packages using uSwitch.

How do you find your broadband connection? Is it fast enough for your requirements?

Posted in The internet | Tagged broadband | 0 comments

Why PRISM means your hosting location matters

June 17, 2013 by Mateo Meier

Does PRISM mean hosting location matters?{{}}

Millions of businesses rely on cloud technology each day, and recent revelations about PRISM have thrown data security back into the spotlight, demonstrating that where your data is physically located can really matter.

Where's the cloud?

Over the last five years or so more and more companies have started moving business data to the cloud. But while the benefits of the technology are clear, the implications are often not.

In truth, cloud technology can present some real challenges. Not enough companies are giving thought to the legal and physical implications of the cloud. I believe cloud providers have a responsibility to highlight these factors, of which location is one.

Location, location, location

IT deals

See the latest business tech bargains we've found online.

Tech bargains >>

Or buy IT equipment now from these trusted suppliers:

It's widely accepted that companies should hold data in a secure facility (usually a building called a data centre, constructed specifically for the purpose). The location of that facility often get overlooked, but it matters.

For starters, some regions are prone to natural events such as earthquakes or floods. Others are beset by political instability and unrest.

The Euro crisis has hit confidence in some European countries which were previously considered rock-solid.

And then there's growing interference by governments - yes, we're back to PRISM again.

In light of these concerns, you're well-advised to investigate the setting of any potential cloud provider's facilities.

Where is right for you?

When evaluating the location of a cloud provider or hosting firm, these are the main factors to consider:

  • Environmental risk. For instance, is the area prone to earthquakes or flooding?
  • Political stability. Can you be confident the business environment won't change?
  • An efficient legal system. If something goes wrong, you want a framework that makes it easy to seek redress.
  • Low crime and corruption. You can be more confident about your data safety.
  • Respect for confidentiality. After all, your business data is likely to be sensitive.

Staying competitive

Not only do you need to keep your data secure, but you also need to maintain a competitive edge.

Cloud services give you extra flexibility and make it easy for you to work on the move, but location plays a part in competitiveness too.

For instance, server response times can vary significantly depending on whether your servers are located relatively nearby (the same country or continent), or further afield (like the other side of the world).

This can have a very real influence on your website's search rankings, because load speed is one of the factors Google takes into account.

These are just some of the reasons your business should pay attention to the location of servers holding your data. Have you give it much thought?

Mateo Meier is founder of Artmotion, which offers hosting services located in Switzerland.

Posted in The internet | Tagged hosting, cloud | 0 comments

Friday tip: fix your website's broken Twitter feed

June 14, 2013 by John McGarvey

Twitter feed fix{{}}Do you publish a live feed of tweets on your business website? And has it recently stopped working? For our tip this week, we can explain why.

It's all to do with changes Twitter is making to its API.

API-what?

Let's step back for a moment. API stands for application programming interface. It's a set of functions in Twitter that allows people to create applications using Twitter data.

For instance, if you use a program like Echofon or HootSuite to manage your Twitter account, that software accesses Twitter through the API. You can think of it as an official connection through which third party apps can plug in to Twitter.

So, why has our feed stopped working then?

IT deals

See the latest business tech bargains we've found online.

Tech bargains >>

Or buy IT equipment now from these trusted suppliers:

Back last year, Twitter announced it was moving to a new version of its API.

On 11 June this year, the changeover was complete, and the old API was shut down. This means any apps or tools that use the API stopped working.

We won't go into detail about all the API changes (here's more information, if you're interested), but one big difference is that it's now harder for apps to access a list of your recent tweets.

You now have to authenticate each app in your Twitter account, giving it permission to access your feed. Previously, this wasn't required.

How to fix your broken feed

If your website's Twitter feed has broken, it's probably to do with this authentication issue. There are a couple of ways to fix it, depending on how your website is built:

  • If your site was built for you by a developer, it's probably best to have a word with them about the changes. They should be able to update your site to work with the new API, or make other changes as required.
  • If you use a content management system for your site, it's likely you're using a plug-in or add-on to access your tweets. Updating this to the latest version may fix the problem.

You might also have to tweak how tweets are displayed on your site, as Twitter now requires tweets to be displayed in a consistent way.

Could Do Not Track hurt your online business?

May 31, 2013 by John McGarvey

Do Not Track sign{{}}Do Not Track is a relatively new initiative designed to make it easier for people to let websites know when they don't want their activities to be tracked.

From the perspective of companies trying to do business online, tracking internet users is important. It allows them to see how people use websites and target advertising more accurately.

Yet privacy advocates argue it's currently difficult for people to control and understand what data websites collect about their internet use.

The EU cookie mess

It was this situation that led to the EU cookie law, which came into full effect about a year ago. The result? A proliferation of confusing pop-up messages about cookies that don't really change anything. Well played, EU cookie law people.

Can Do Not Track make things clearer? It aims to put power in the hands of internet users via a new setting in their web browser. If you don't want websites to track what you do, you can just turn Do Not Track on.

IT deals

See the latest business tech bargains we've found online.

Tech bargains >>

Or buy IT equipment now from these trusted suppliers:

Do Not Track doesn't work, yet...

Fine in theory. The thing is, Do Not Track is entirely voluntary, so it only works on websites that have agreed to take notice of Do Not Track requests. Currently, the list is pretty small.

But if your business relies on tracking internet users, keep an eye on Do Not Track over the next few months.

Momentum behid the technology might be growing. Microsoft Internet Explorer now comes with Do Not Track switched on as standard. Firefox will be the same from later in the year.

If political pressure or legislation forces more companies to take notice of Do Not Track requests, then it could start becoming harder to track what users do online.

And while many will argue it's about time people had better control over their internet privacy, this could have a significant impact on the online economy.

Posted in The internet | Tagged website, cookies | 1 comment

Hackers: they're everywhere, every day

May 15, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Padlocks - SSL security for business{{}}Hackers. They attack someone, somewhere, every day. They are omnipresent on the internet. Their main targets include governments, TV channels, banks and big companies.

With the internet evolving so quickly, we must face a new reality. While the internet offers many exciting possibilities and is an essential part of our private and professional lives, we also have to face the downsides.

Security breaches are a reality and internet security is now more important than ever before.

Hacking is nothing new

Hacking is no novelty. It was back in the 1980s that the first hackers managed to access to sensitive data. But it wasn't until the 1990s that hacking started to become a serious problem for big institutions and companies.

High profile victims have included Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook, no less. The financial damage can be significant, but for organisations like these the more profound implications come from the loss of trust and the knock on effect on their image.

IT deals

See the latest business tech bargains we've found online.

Tech bargains >>

Or buy IT equipment now from these trusted suppliers:

This associated damage is hard to measure and even harder to fix.

Who would want to share personal information on a social network knowing its owners are not able to protect their security? Who would want to use an online bank service if it's easy for hackers to access sensitive information

Essential SSL?

Internet security is essential for everyone who wants to succeed in today's modern, fast paced and constantly changing world. Big companies and banks have been using secure connections (encrypted connections protected by SSL certificates) for many years now.

But what about smaller companies? What about a person who wants to sell online? Who guarantees customers are safe when paying for goods and services from smaller companies online?

It's easy to lose track of the possibilities and threats in a world that changes so rapidly. SSL certificates might be an obvious choice for big companies, but they are crucial for smaller organisations and individuals who sell through online shops too.

This is a guest post from Symantec. If you run a company that sells goods or services online, you'll find a wealth of information in Symantec's interactive security guide.

Syndicate content