Maintaining your dynamic website

Guest writers: Al Morel, Carlos Ramos, and Dan Rouse of www.CommAreUs.com

Your car, house, and most things in life, take some amount of maintenance. Add to that list your website. A website can be comprised of thousands of files working with all kinds of tools and underlying code.

The days of ‘static’ websites, i.e. built with just HTML, is essentially over for most organizations. This article will speak to the steps to take when using a Content Management System, CMS, such as WordPress.

Your essential strategy is: BackupandUpdate.

Backup

This is your ‘get out of jail free’ option. Even if your website gets totally hacked, you forget to pay your hosting bill, the data center in Utah gets hit by a meteor, you should still be able to roll back and get your website back up.

With a dynamic site, it’s a little trickier because you have the site files such as the HTML and images, graphics, etc. And then there’s the database files, which in the WordPress scenario, starts at several thousand files.

The traditional method of backing up a site involves the lengthy process of manually backing up all your site’s files, exporting your database, and finally moving everything somewhere safe. There are software additions (called ‘plugins’ in the WordPress world) that will simplify this process and even automate it for you.

We add a plugin with all of our builds that lets you quickly backup, restore, and migrate a site – often times with only a single click. Most backup plugins will offer two different types of backups: full and database. Full covers all site files and the database, the database option only includes the database. The full backup is the safest bet and is generally the recommended option, however the database only backup might be more appropriate if you’re simply experimenting with settings on a plugin, or some other activity that only involves the database.

One key feature and advantage over manual backups, is that using a backup plugin allows you to set up an automatic backup schedule. For example, we recommend our clients schedule a weekly backup of the database and a monthly full backup. Manual backups can also be performed whenever needed.

In addition, most plugins have the capability to back up the site to your hosting server and to another source as well. So you can have redundant backups to a third party service such as Amazon S3.

 

Update

It is critical to schedule regular updates of your website as well. In WordPress, there are regular updates to the core code and also plugins. Your administrative interface or ‘dashboard’ will tell you when to update.

It goes without saying that no update (WordPress or Plugin) should be done before a full backup has been made.  Your dashboard will go to great lengths to tell you to backup first, so don’t ignore them! Although we haven’t seen many updates go wrong, it can happen.

Generally, we recommend to our clients that updates be applied as soon as they are available for security and stability reasons.

Once you have your backup completed, proceed to the Updates screen in the WordPress Dashboard. From here you can update WordPress, plugins and your themes. If you have an update to WordPress and plugins waiting, perform the WordPress update first, then proceed to update your plugins.

It’s worth noting that in recent WordPress releases (security and maintenance related) are installed automatically to promote better security.

 

Google’s ChromeBook – A realistic alternative to a Windows Ultrabook?

Google introduced its Chromebook in 2009; sales have increased and it can be considered a low-cost alternative to the pricier, Microsoft Windows-based Ultrabook, but Chromebooks have significant limitations.  Some also say that a Chromebook can replace a tablet, but comparison1 suggests otherwise.

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, Google’s Linux-based operating system integrated with Google’s Chrome web browser.  (Chrome was recently ranked the number one Internet browser used in the US with 31.8% of sampled traffic, followed closely by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer at 30.9%; reported by ADI, a marketing research branch of Adobe Systems.2)  As such, they are designed to be used primarily when connected to the Internet and are closely linked to Google’s Cloud-based services like Google Drive, Google Apps, etc.

Reasons to buy3 include:

  • User interface – Intuitive; easy to use and simple to navigate
  • Offline – Works best online, but supports some offline activity
  • Platform agnostic – Can access all Cloud-based data
  • Fast boot-up – Access the Internet within 8 seconds
  • Security – Google Rewards for bug notification
  • Apps – Growing application options
  • Price – Starts at just under $200

Primary disadvantages of a Chromebook:

  • Thin client that gets its best features only via an Internet connection
  • Offline mode requires setup and has severely reduced functionality
  • Fewer compatible apps and games than Windows-based devices
  • Limited connections to printers, scanners, and mobile devices
  • Low-end processor not built for intensive use

My take:  A Chromebook is a good, low-cost option under these circumstances:

  • You do not use processor-intensive applications (i.e.: games),
  • You use Google Apps for content creation and review,
  • Your data is completely based in the Cloud,
  • You do not connect to other devices, and
  • You always have access to the Internet.

Note:  Google dominates the search industry and makes its money through Google AdWords and other advertising programs.  The core emphasis of all of their efforts is to drive consumers to their advertisers.

Visit http://www.eweek.com/pc-hardware/slideshows/chrome-os-features-to-look-for-in-current-chromebook-crop.html?kc=EWKNLEDP06112014A&dni=132495452&rni=25374491 for an informative overview by Don Reisinger of eWeek.  And, visit Microsoft’s take on Chromebooks at http://www.scroogled.com.

REFERENCES

1Please see http://blog.laptopmag.com/chromebook-vs-tablet for the article “Chromebook vs. Tablet:  Which should you buy?” by Cherlynn Low of LAPTOP.

2Visit http://redmondmag.com/articles/2014/06/06/chrome-surpasses-ie.aspx for details on browser rankings from Kurt Mackie of Redmond Magazine.

3Visit http://blog.laptopmag.com/chromebook-buying-advice to review the article “Should I buy a Chromebook?” by Dann Berg of LAPTOP.

Bryley achieves Cisco Select Certified Partner

Bryley Systems has retained its status as a Cisco Select Certified Partner; this certification was achieved by Roy Pacitto, Anna D, and Scott Gold attending the week-long training and testing course to become Cisco SMB certified in both sales and technical areas.

roy-scott-anna

 

Roy Pacitto works almost 20 years at Bryley Systems

Bryley employees were recently celebrating Roy’s 20th anniversary when someone pointed out that it was a year early.  Since we already had a 20th-year cake, we ate it anyway.

Roy, a key member of the management team, started as service manager in 1995. He moved to the sales team in 1997; in the mid-2000s he became Director of Sales.  For his biography, visit http://www.Bryley.com/about/management-team/.

Now that the cake is gone, we will continue the celebration by having a random drawing with a chance to win a $30 VISA gift-card.  To be entered into the drawing:

  • Find Roy with his 20th-year cake at Bryley.com.
  • Click on the photo and fill-out the drawing-submission form completely.

On August 12th, 2014, we will randomly select one winner from all of the entrants that complete and submit the form and will send that person a $30 VISA gift-card.

Note:  Bryley employees and their relations are excluded from this drawing.