August 28, 2012

Online, offsite backup is crucial, but slow to restore

We've recently upgraded our primary desktop computer from a Dell Inspiron 530 to a new HP Pavilion.  The Dell was not dead, but we had one too many BSOD events and it was clear that the time had come.  We cannot afford to be surprised with a dead computer. 

As with any new machine, the problem of data migration comes up.  In our case, we have been using an online backup system for several years.  It is a "set and forget" model, where you just tell the program what directories you want backed up and new or changed files are instantly added.  The comfort of knowing your data is safe, offsite, and ready to be restored at a moment's notice is invaluable.  Anyone who cares about their data needs to sign up for one of these services. 

As we are now in the process of restoring the data to the new machine, we've learned a few things.  The first caveat is that there is really no option for a piecemeal restore, at least, not with the service we are using.  This became an issue when Windows decided that a security update was due at 03:00 in the morning.  The new PC rebooted, and the restore effort was halted.  Not just halted, but terminated.  There was no way to restart from where we left off; the only option was another full restore. 

The second lesson is that a full restore is not terribly fast.  Our current SpeedTest.com results show a download speed of 11.72 MBPS.  Converting to GB/hour, that speed is about 5 Gigabytes per hour.  However, after 10 hours of running (after the reboot halt was discovered), we have downloaded only about 8 GB of a 25 GB drive.  At that rate, it will take nearly two days to restore this drive.  Based on the speed test, we should have been looking at maybe 5 hours.  A far cry from the 30 it may take.  Even if you allow for the fact that other computers and devices were using the network, the same devices were connected during our SpeedTest. 

The lesson learned is to ask about the restore timeline and restart capability before you agree to an annual subscription.  Ask questions, see demos.  In the corporate data availability world, you will hear about recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives, RPO and RTO.  The online backup is very good for a strong good recovery point objective (how much data can you lose-- the amount of data loss is limited to those files changed right before the disaster that were not backed up by the service.  The recovery time objective-- the time until normal operations are resumed, is not the greatest, at least in this experience.

May 27, 2008

Does your website have WebTV problems?

Here at Promotion Web Design, we are familiar with the importance of designing your website to be compatible with various browsers.  For instance, if you aren't careful you might create a website that looks wonderful in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but breaks down when viewed in Mozilla's Firefox browser.  Now it appears there is another one out there to be aware of: WebTV.  And this one may be a little more...interesting...to design for.

One of our clients contacted us after she received an e-mail stating that her site was not appearing correctly in WebTV.  Here is how the site looks when viewed in Internet Explorer:

 Internet Explorer view of Life Is Worth Living

Now here is how it looks when viewed on a WebTV viewer (a freeware downloadable viewer that theoretically gives you the same view a WebTV user would experience on their television).

WebTV view of Life is Worth Living 

I tried looking at some other sites using the viewer, such as CNN and Foxnews.com.  They looked so bad as to be unsurfable.  

In fact, the only site that looked just fine in the WebTV viewer was webtv.com.  Imagine that!

You can see what your website looks like in the WebTV browser by downloading the free viewer for yourself.  The URL is http://www.freewareweb.com/cgi-bin/archive.cgi?ID=481 .  Or just Google webtv viewer.

I'm not sure we're going to rush to redesign all our sites to be WebTV friendly.  No one else is, apparently... maybe it is going to be up to the people behind WebTV to get it working more like a conventional browser a la your PC or Mac.  Still, it's something to keep in mind.  For now, there are a few things you can do to be more WebTV friendly, according to About.com.

It's worth looking into and keeping in mind for future web designs. 

May 05, 2008

The Catholic Blog is Named! Follow up.

I thought it would only be polite to follow up that last blog entry with the good news that we finally settled upon a name for the our Catholic blog: St. Peter's Point.

Catholic Blog - Saint Peter's Point

It's perhaps not as clever as some blog names out there, but it's not completely brainless either... it's a bit of a play on words.  The church is in Stevens Point, which everyone around here calls "Point" and it is also the "other St. Peter's" (the original of course being in Vatican City - that would be, St. Peter's Rome vs. St. Peter's Point).  So it's not so much the name but the picture that gives you the idea behind the title. 

There you go, one more blog successfully named, I believe.

May 01, 2008

Blog Names - Trying to Name a Blog

We are webmasters for our Catholic church's website, and one thing we recently decided to do with it was to add a blog.  I am all ready to start playing with a design for it in Adobe Illustrator, but first, it needs a name.  I am really hoping we can come up with something interesting.  Here are the conditions it needs to fulfill:

1) While it can be humorous, it cannot be dated or irreverent in any way.

2) It should reflect the overarching theme of the blog, which is the daily struggle of lay Catholics trying to achieve holiness as they go about their day to day life.  There will be a lot of advice, spiritual direction and resources for such people in this blog.

3) It should somehow reflect that we are a true Vatican II parish... meaning, we read the documents and we want to live them out in our parish.  If you're an active Catholic, you'll understand what that whole concept is about, or you should.  Anyway...

I've seen some catchy names out there in the Catholic blogosphere, like Young Fogeys, American Papist, and The Cafeteria Is Closed.  I'd love for us to come up with something equally catchy, if not as polemical sounding. 

Any ideas?

April 30, 2008

Backward Links - Who links to my website?

How do you know if there are any websites linking to yours? 

Well, you have to ask the search engines.  And some are better to ask than others.

GOOGLE 

Google will show you some of the websites that link to yours, but it is definately not the best source.  Still, it's good to see what they have.  So, go to http://www.google.com and in the search bar type in this:

link:http://www.yourwebsitename.com  

OK, obviously, you insert your domain name in there.  For instance, if I am looking for backward links on my folk's bed and breakfast site, I would type in,

link:http://www.dreamsofyesteryear.com

Google finds 15 links, which are web pages which link to www.dreamsofyesteryear.com, many of which have 0 page rank (a value Google gives to sites showing their importance).  Some of them are familiar to me because they are directories we list the site in, or some of our sites that we link to hers with, or her blog, etc. 

YAHOO

Now let's try going to http://www.yahoo.com and in the search bar type this:

links:www.yourwebsitename.com

I am going to enter the Dreams of Yesteryear Bed and Breakfast site in again here.  This time I get 102 results, way more than Google gave me.  Here we find some newspaper websites that wrote an article about the bed and breakfast, the Yahoo Directory link, several other directories, personal websites of guests who stayed in the bed and breakfast and either blogged or made a web page about it (very nice of them eh), a website we made to advertise a bike package she does with another B&B, a link from Promotion Web Design, various local lodging websites, etc. etc.  Of couse there are a number of useless links here, some familiar as among the hundreds of link exchange requests she receives (and doesn't reciprocate... these haven't been helpful and there are way too many to try to establish worthwhile link relationships with them). As you can tell, Yahoo has a much more comprehensive list.  It is much more what you'd expect from a site that's been online since 1998.

There appears to be a similar function provided by Yahoo at https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/mysites

MSN - LIVE 

Huh, you can't use them anymore for getting your back links apparently.

But here is a nice tool you can use to check for your own links and compare to your competition's websites: http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop/

It is a little more complicated than just looking at the results from Google and Yahoo, but interesting to compare.

What does all this mean?  Well, nothing specific.  By doing this you can get an overall feel for the popularity of your website.  Each link coming into your site is a "vote" for your site that the search engines take into consideration when deciding if your page should show up on page 1 of their search results, or on page 20 or page no-where-to-be-found.  Incoming links, in general, are a good thing and you want them. Quality links are what you are going for.  Again this is only speaking generally!  But your typical link exchange (someone e-mails you and says they'll put your link on their site if you link to them from yours) is not usually very helpful.  Much better are natural links that develop because people like your site and they write a little something about you in their blog or in an article, or something like a press release, or an article you write to have placed on someone else's website, etc. Links that come from pages about a topic related to yours (anything travel related, for instance, in the case of the bed and breakfast) are more helpful than links from unrelated sites.  But don't be too picky.  Ultimately, links are links and links are good.  This does include, by the way, links on your own site that link to your home page.  Always remember to link to your home page. 

If you do your backlink check and find out you have very few or no links coming in to your site, you need to get going on a link building campaign.  Write more pages for your own site.  Write articles  which include your URL and have your friends upload them to their sites.  Do an online press release (a topic for another day), etc.  Or you could always hire someone to help SEO (search engine optimize) your site.  There are companies that do that kind of work ahem ahem. Laughing

 

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