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Upcoming Hosting Changes

It’s been a busy month at Safe Shark Hosting, and a busy year all around! Here’s the recap:

  • Earlier this year, we added a second hosting server (NURSE) to handle our increased number of clients.
  • This past month, we retired our original hosting server (HAMMERHEAD) in favor of a new, faster server (MAKO)
  • We’ve added new DNS servers in more distributed geographical locations around the US to increase responsiveness.
  • We’ve upgraded the software used on our webservers to handle higher capacity traffic through the use of aggressive Varnish caching, helping ensure that a “Reddit hug” traffic spike won’t be bad news.
  • We’ve continued to fine-tune our custom-built security code which scans our WordPress client sites for malware that may have slipped past our initial defenses. In the past year, we’ve caught a number of vulnerable plugins/themes before they had a chance to do any damage to our client’s sites.
  • We’ve gotten help from @Jangasm for promotion & community management, and Noëlle Anthony for WordPress development.
  • We’ve begun limited beta testing of a new WordPress plugin written by Noëlle called MassiveUpload, helping make our podcaster’s lives easier by allowing them to upload their large MP3 podcast episodes directly from inside the WordPress admin panel, rather than needing to upload them separately via FTP.

We’re committed to providing you the best WordPress hosting service we can, and in short, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done!

However, we still always see room for improvement, and the concerns we see a lot from new clients is “Which hosting package is right for me? Are these plans big enough to host my traffic? What does this amount of bandwidth mean to me? Do I care about more MySQL databases? ”

Those sound like worries! We don’t like worries. Worries make sharks sad 🙁

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that there are some upcoming changes to our webhosting packages.

  • Effective later today, all of our plans now offer UNLIMITED bandwidth and UNLIMITED disk space on one domain & unlimited subdomains.

Note that UNLIMITED has one minor caveat – we’re not meant for backups or filesharing, legal or otherwise. Our webspace and bandwidth is meant to be used for the sole purpose of building and supporting websites. We’re removing these limits to help our very high traffic blogs stop worrying about whether they’ll get “too popular” to afford our service any more, and to dispel the notion that we can’t handle podcasts with lots of listeners.

  • We’re removing all limits on MySQL databases. In practice, this limit hasn’t meant anything to any of our clients, so rather than leave the question hanging out there, we’re just moving to UNLIMITED MySQL databases
  • Our new “one size fits all” plan is called the Hammerhead plan, priced at $12 per month, or $120 per year with free included domain.

We were sad to retire the HAMMERHEAD server, so we think our new mega-plan deserves to be named after it. Besides, hammerhead sharks are SO COOL. We know this price is still generally higher than other large, corporate web hosts, and indeed higher than our Tiger Shark plan. However, we feel we offer a high-quality service focused on WordPress users at a much lower price than other “WordPress-only” hosts, and still offer many additional benefits for free, like free managed transfers, access to premium themes, and more. We hope you’ll understand!

  • If you’re currently on the Tiger Shark plan, we’re moving you to the Hammerhead plan.

If you currently pay monthly, you won’t see any change until March 2014 – after that, we’ll be adjusting your pricing to reflect the cost of the Hammerhead plan. If you signed up with any percentage discounts or promotions that haven’t expired, we’ll apply those to your pricing.

If you currently pay annually, we’ll be increasing your pricing at the next renewal, and will factor in any lifetime percentage discounts you may have signed up with accordingly.

We don’t really like the idea of raising costs on our clients, but we feel it’s necessary in this case to offer the additional benefits of unlimited disk space and bandwidth, and to allow us to continue improving our service. We hope you’ll understand!

  • If you’re currently on the Thresher Shark plan, we’re moving you to the Hammerhead plan so you get to benefit from the immediate perks of unlimited disk space and bandwidth.

If you currently pay monthly, your next & future monthly bills will reflect the lower cost of the Hammerhead plan. If you pay annually, your next renewal will reflect the new price, and we’ll provide you a credit to reflect the remainder of your annual plan at the new pricing.

  • If you’re currently a non-business/organization on the Great White Shark plan, we’re making the same changes to your package as we are to the Thresher Shark plan – you’re moving to Hammerhead, and we’re adjusting your monthly/annual billing accordingly.
  • If you’re currently a business/organization on the Great White Shark plan, we’re increasing your bandwidth and disk space limit to UNLIMITED, but the rest of your plan is remaining the same.

We hope these changes aren’t too confusing, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments, or catch us on Twitter. Thanks for letting us host you!

 

 

Shark Week 2013!

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It’s that time again – Shark Week!

An entire week dedicated to the awesome, fantastic creatures of the deep.

Maybe we’re a bit biased, but Shark Week is pretty much like Christmas.

Sort of.

It can be Christmas for you, too – this week only (until August 11th), we’re offering a 50% discount on all new signups and upgrades for annual hosting packages. Want to take advantage of the sale? Just use promo code SHARKWEEK2013 when checking out.

But wait, there’s more! Last year, we raised $100 to donate to the World Wildlife Fund to adopt a shark – we’d like to raise money again! So, for every new signup we get in the month of August, we’ll donate $5 to the World Wildlife Fund.

Cheap hosting, environmental donations, and sharks! Does it get any better?!

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, all! 2012 was a pretty fantastic year for us at Safe Shark Hosting – we opened our doors up, and we’re pretty pleased with the results. We hope you are too! The New Year is a time when lots of people start making resolutions: exercise more, eat healthier, volunteer more, quit smoking – lots of options! We’ve got our resolutions set, but what about yours?

With the close of our December 2012 Hosting Raffle (find out the winner here!), we’re kicking off the January 2013 Hosting Raffle, and we’ve added in a new question which can earn you extra entries into the raffle – tell us about your New Years resolutions! There’s lots of ways to get entries in the hosting raffle – get started today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Perhaps we’re a bit biased, but we definitely recommend blogging more as a resolution – and what better way to blog than with us? For the entire month of January, signing up for a year of hosting with us can be had for 35% less! A Tiger Shark plan ends up being only $52 for a year, and that includes your own domain name, too! That’s $1 per week – and with that, you get fantastic hosting and support, ready to help in any way we can! Fork out some cash, and maybe it’ll help you keep a “blog more” resolution going!

Go take a look at our hosting packages, grab one that catches your eye, and be sure to use promo code NEWYEAR2013 before you check out! We promise you won’t be disappointed!

Safe Shark Hosting – we don’t bite!

Twitter API Changes & You

Recently, we’ve noticed errors appearing on sites using the Jetpack plugin’s Twitter widget, as well as issues with any other widgets offering the display of Twitter feeds.

Concerned about this, we dug into the issue – after all, error messages are a bad thing. Unfortunately, we don’t have good news to report. Twitter recently made some changes to how they allow outside services to communicate with their servers to post and read tweet information – these activities are now more strictly rate limited than they were previously. Currently, the rate limit is 150 per IP per hour.

You can see the problem, can’t you? We’ve got a minimum of 80 sites currently displaying Twitter feeds – if someone posts a new blog post which gets a surge of traffic, we pretty easily hit that 150/IP/hour limit. Not good!

Currently, we don’t have a good solution to this problem, but it’s something we’re actively working on. We’ve got more IPs available to us, and we may be redistributing sites among them soon to hopefully limit our chances of tripping the request limit. We’re also actively monitoring Twitter widget development to find plugins that manage to find ways (caching, most likely) to help minimize this issue – when we find a better solution, we’ll be sure to let you know!

Bad Behavior

It’s pretty tough to run a blog for very long without dealing with spam comments – and as you start getting more traffic, the spam comments start rolling in at higher and higher rates. The Akismet plugin that ships with WordPress is a fantastic place to begin stemming the tide of garbage that might otherwise threaten to overwhelm you, but some days even Akismet simply isn’t up to the challenge.

Enter Bad Behavior.

I won’t spend time lauding this plugin’s accolades and adopters – the plugin page points out some noteworthy users, and the download count speaks for itself.  What I will say is that this plugin is a fantastic and powerful complement to Akisment – not a replacement.

Spammers are a creative lot who continually shift how they manage to unleash a torrent of U BUY SEX SITE and FAKE PURSE FOR CHEAP, and many of them use pretty easily scanned words or garbage links that Akismet can pick up on and automatically recognize as spam. The problem is that your site still has to spend the time scanning all those incoming comments and filing them away appropriately. If your site is popular or even just experiencing a spike in traffic, this isn’t something you want to deal with – slower page times lose readers. You have to remember that to post comments, these spammers (even automated ones) still need to load your web page, which costs you bandwidth, too!

Bad Behavior kicks in before the comment spam can start. Using heuristic detection, Bad Behavior can figure out if the person/computer requesting your page is friend or foe. If it’s foe, it won’t even load the page to allow them to post the comment! If it’s a friend, or appears to be a friend, they won’t even notice a thing.

Spammers get a page like this - or in very rare cases, a person might see this.

I installed this plugin on one of the bloggers I host who has consistently high traffic (and consistently high incoming spam) approximately two months ago. Here’s what it managed to do in the past week alone:

That's just shy of 250 pageloads per day that were blocked as likely to be spammers.

In comparison, here’s what Akismet’s done on the same blog – and this is data for four months:

In comparison, this comes out to about 25 comments blocked per day.

That’s a lot of potential spam that Bad Behavior blocked that Akismet might’ve had to tangle with. I can’t speak for you, but I know I’d much rather be worry free.

If you’re a current customer of Safe Shark Hosting and would like us to install this plugin for you, let us know! If you’re not a current customer, what are you waiting for? Low prices, fantastic customer service, and a plethora of satisfied customers. Let us help you blog at your best!

 

WPTouch

 

It’s pretty tough to overstate the fact that we live in a mobile and digital age. Roughly 46% of US mobile phone consumers have smart phones, and this number is going up at an inexorable rate. We have the ability to be constantly connected to the Internet and to social media.

Bloggers, you need to take this into account – people can and will be looking at your blog while they’re on the go. It’s pretty typical that when I’m waiting for my gas tank to fill, I’ve got my Android out and I’m trying to keep caught up on posts by bloggers I read regularly. I’ve never gotten into RSS feed readers, but the simple fact is that most WordPress themes (even in this increasingly mobile world) are simply not designed for mobile phones.

Fonts are too small or hard to read, navigation links can be tough to select unless you’ve got toothpick fingers or a stylus, and they generally load slowly. Page load time, even on mobile phones where it’s expected to be slower, will detract viewers from coming back and reading your content.

The easiest solution to this problem is the WPTouch plugin. Simply put, this plugin adds a second hidden theme to your site that is only shown to mobile browsers. This secondary theme is optimized to be more navigable, readable, quick, and cross-platform.

It’s got a plethora of options – you can tweak colors, layout, icons, and so much more.

Unfortunately, this post isn’t so great at the “show, not tell” adage of writing, so I’m going to have to direct you over to a workable demo which can illustrate the value this plugin presents – view http://demo.yellingontheinternet.com in your mobile browser. To begin with, it’ll load using the WPTouch generated layout. After you’ve tinkered around with it for a few moments, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the Mobile Theme slider. The page will reload, and at that point, I hope you’ve got your reading glasses at hand, because your ability to see anything with this layout (a very commonly used WordPress layout!) is virtually nonexistent on a mobile phone’s screen.

Don’t make your site be one of the unreadable, messy blogs that can’t be read on a normal phone and inspire your readers to get out torches and pitchforks!

If you’re a current customer of Safe Shark Hosting and would like us to install this plugin for you, let us know! If you’re not a current customer, what are you waiting for? Low prices, fantastic customer service, and a plethora of satisfied customers. Let us help you blog at your best!

WordPress.com Custom CSS

There are thousands of WordPress themes available (either paid or free), so it’s pretty safe to say that if you have a vision for how you want your WordPress blog to look, there’s probably a theme that can get you 90% of the way there already in existence.

But maybe you don’t like how their links are colored, or that they’re underlined. Perhaps the theme only supports a background color when you’re hoping to use a sweet tiled texture. Maybe there are elements of the theme you’re not a fan of, and would be better hidden away. What’s the best way to achieve any of these goals?

There are three approaches.

First, you could edit the files of the theme directly.

Wordpress Theme Editor

The WordPress theme editor allows you to change any of the theme's files directly online.

Seems like a great and powerful option, right?

Sheesh, be a bit more polite, Lex.

Editting a theme’s files directly means that when that theme releases an update (and if you’re using a theme, you want to be using one that updates frequently), your edits are gone. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy having to redo the same work multiple times.

You could always create a Child Theme – and in fact, this is the most recommended approach you could take, including by WordPress.org themselves. A child theme is basically a copy of an existing theme, but you change the style.css file to reference the theme you cloned (also known as the parent theme), and you only include files that are different from the ones in the parent theme. WordPress then places the child theme’s files over the parent theme’s files, giving you a smooth, dynamic way to make permanent changes to how your theme looks and functions.

Child themes are a fantastic option, but they require you to know a bit more about the internal nuts and bolts of WordPress to use them, and maybe that’s just not your cup of tea. Or, maybe you want to go the route of a child theme, but need a chance to play around with the CSS changes you could make to your blog.

Enter the WordPress.com Custom CSS plugin. This plugin adds a new option to your Appearance menu called Edit CSS, like so:

Clicking that link takes you to a whole new world of easy customization:

Maybe the YouTube video was a -smidge- unrelated.

Now you can simply paste any CSS you want to experiment with into that text box, click Save Stylesheet, and then refresh your site to see your changes in action. Best of all, this plugin uses the same WordPress revision system that your blog posts use, allowing you to very easily revert to a previous version of your custom CSS.

If you find a set of modifications you want to stick with long-term, you can always transition them into a child theme later. Meanwhile, though, you can be revamping your theme in minutes using this plugin.

If you’re a current customer of Safe Shark Hosting and would like us to install this plugin for you, let us know! If you’re not a current customer, what are you waiting for? Low prices, fantastic customer service, and a plethora of satisfied customers. Let us help you blog at your best!