Email essentials

@_symbol.svgWe all use email, and probably these days simply take it for granted. Are there some things to be aware of when choosing how to setup your email? Yes! Let’s explain.

Email is like a mobile phone number, it’s not something you want to change often (if at all) and it’s also something you want to move with you, wherever you may work or live. Do you want to have to manage 2, 3 or more phone numbers? I doubt it, the same goes for email addresses. Therefore, give some careful thought to your email address.

Give some careful thought to your email address

Gmail is probably the most widely used free email service, and to be honest, you can’t get much better. If [email protected] email address is one you think suits your needs, go for it. There is no better spam filtering email service out there.

Here’s why this could be a wise and versatile choice: Gmail allows you to check other email accounts. You can have multiple email accounts behind the scenes, but can check them all in one single place, namely your Gmail account. For our existing customers, you can follow our Knowledgebase Article on this subject here: Checking Your Email From Your Own Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail Account

You can have multiple email accounts behind the scenes, yet check them all in one single place!

If a Gmail account is not quite the ‘personalized’ email address you want, why not consider purchasing your own domain name and then setting up an email address (or as many as you like) on that domain. That way, you can have [email protected] as an email address and that never needs to change. There are a huge range of domain names available now. See an article we wrote on this subject Is the .com all there is?  for more details.

Pro tip: Google offers an excellent product called Google Apps. Essentially, Gmail and all other Google tools @yourowndomain.com. For as little as $5 per month, per email address you could have the power of a Gmail account (including world leading spam protection) merged with the personalization of an email address @yourowndomain.com. This is the setup we recommend. Contact us for help in setting this up, we can make it happen for you.

Outgoing email (sending)

Your email has to be sent by a server somewhere, usually the one that hosts your domain name, or via your internet service provider (ISP). While this is the default setup for most people, using a proper outgoing email service can allow you to track email deliveries and even if emails have been opened/viewed or not. For newsletters as well as transactional emails (such as the ones we send from our helpdesk my.xyzulu.hosting ) you should use a service like Sendgrid or Amazon SES (simple email service). These systems can easily be integrated with your website to ensure any “contact us” emails and newsletters sent via your website, are going to be delivered correctly.

Some configuration is required, but we’re equipped to handle this for you. Why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you setup your own business outgoing email system. For a very small cost, you’ll be able to track your email deliveries and ensure your emails are arriving where they need to.

While we take email for granted, knowing that your emails are being received (and filtered for spam) as well as being assured they are being delivered correctly, is something essential to your growing business.

We look forward to hearing your questions in the comments below.

Has your password been stolen?

Almost every week a new item hits the news about compromised computer systems and stolen passwords. Do you know that passwords are actually sold on the black market for real money? Why? Because compromised passwords can, and are, being used to steal real money from internet users.

compromised passwords are being used to steal real money

Here is just one recent news item: Millions of stolen passwords and email addresses sold online

Are you at risk?

Yes, if you fit into any of these 3 categories:

  • You use the same password on more than one website
  • You don’t use a password manager
  • You don’t have 2FA (two factor authentication) enabled

Lastpass has outlined more details on why passwords matter, and what you can do to protect yourself. Please read this important article here: The 411 on the Password Black Market

Another sobering reminder about why you should never use the same password on more than one website is explained in this video: Password Cracking

How CAN I protect MYSELF?

At the very least:

  • Never use the same password on more than one website
  • Use a password manager so that you are not overwhelmed with passwords
  • Enable 2FA (two factor authentication) on any accounts of yours that support it

Does you or your business need further help on your IT security? Contact us for more information on the consulting services we offer. If you have any questions regarding this article, please let us know below.

 

Secure messaging, how?

TextSecure_icon.svgSecure messaging on the internet, is this even possible?
Believe it or not, it is. Why should you be interested, and how can you also send/receive secure messages?

Secure messaging is actually possible

What is secure messaging and why should you be interested?

It’s fair to say that despite what you think or have been told, privacy on the internet is almost impossible. When it comes to security however, this is something within your reach. It is something you should be interested in.

Consider how end to end encrypted messaging works. You send a message to me, and only my device(s) can open/read your message. Even if the data was intercepted during the transmission process, it would be impossible for it to be deciphered. This kind of security is possible today.

Read more about end to end encryption here.

While you may not be discussing anything ‘top secret’, surely knowing that your message can only be read by the recipient is reassuring.

How?

One free option is Viber (there are others). To see the details on how this works, see this Viber Support Article.

Basically, once you make a voice call and both parties click the secure padlock icon while on the call, an encryption key will be stored on both devices which ensures that all messages sent between these devices (your device and the other person’s device) cannot be read by anyone else. From that point on, voice and text messages with this person use full end to end encryption.

Do you need it?

It really depends on how securely you want to protect your information. When it comes to business, using secure messaging and data storage is essential to provide your customer with the assurance that you are doing your best to protect them and their data/information.

On a related note, do you offer your customers secure access to your website yet? If not, be sure to read our article on just how easy this is here: Do you SSL/HTTPS? You should. Find out why

Are there other messaging applications that you use and wonder if they are secure and also support end to end encryption? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll dig up the facts for you.

Does your web host offer multiple versions of php?

211px-Webysther_20160423_-_Elephpant.svgWhat is php? Why is having access to use multiple versions of php so important? Does XYZulu offer multiple versions of php?

What is PHP?

According to Wikipedia, “PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to server-side web development, in which case PHP generally runs on a web server. Any PHP code in a requested file is executed by the PHP runtime, usually to create dynamic web page content or dynamic images used on websites or elsewhere.”

Why should you be interested in this?

your website will load faster, and run more efficiently if you are using PHP 7

Your website will load faster, and run more efficiently if you are using PHP 7. Think of is as the fuel that powers the engine your website uses. Use the right fuel, and your web site will run at it’s best.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, that elephant is the official PHP mascot. 🙂

Why is having access to use multiple versions of php so important?

PHP is constantly being updated and deployed on web servers around the world. Usually these updates are to patch security holes and optimize the delivery of website content. Each new version of PHP however, usually brings a greater jump in speed as well as well as additional features for developers. A case in point is PHP 7, which is a big jump forward in performance.

Most major scripts like Joomla, WordPress and Drupal already support PHP 7. Utilizing the performance improvements is as simple as ensuring your website scripts (Joomla, WordPress etc) are up to date and enabling PHP 7.

Aside from the benefits of PHP 7, having access to multiple versions of PHP also means that you can run scripts that support older versions of PHP as well as the latest version of PHP. The choice is up to you. A shared web host that is not running multiple versions of PHP yet, is probably one to avoid for security and performance reasons.

Does XYZulu.hosting offer multiple versions of php?

XYZulu Hosting offers multiple versions of PHP

Yes! You can choose your version of PHP from cPanel > Select PHP version. If you need a hand checking to see if your script or website supports PHP 7, please be sure to contact us from our Support Portal.

Sign in with your phone instead of a password

Instead of typing your password each time you sign in to your Google Account, you can have a prompt sent to your phone.

Security is important, but constantly having to type your password and enter your 2FA (you know, those codes that change every 30 mins) code can be tedious. You already have 2FA enabled I’m sure, but what about this new feature released by Google today? How does this work? Is it secure? How do you enable it?

GPHow does it work?

You simply tap the notification on your phone from Google to confirm, and you’ll be signed in quickly and securely. If your phone isn’t nearby, you can select “Use your password instead” on the sign-in screen.

Is it secure?

Yes. It’s a second factor authentication. Google knows if you are logged in using your phone, and this only works with phones that have either a passcode or fingerprint lock enabled.

I want it, how do I make it happen?

Simply follow the steps in the Google guide: Sign in with your phone instead of a password You will need to ensure you have the “Google Search” app installed, however most of you will already have that installed on your Android or iPhone.

Another simple guide from Google is here: New settings for 2-Step Verification

It is a secure two factor authentication process

Do it! Let us know how you go or if you have any questions.

Bbbbbb Backups

Do you know what backups are? If so, do you have them? Here’s a link to a post we recently wrote on this subject: backups-are-for-sissies-right

Backups could save you $1000’s

If you have not read it yet, please do. It could well save you $1000’s in lost time and data.

If you don’t yet know what backups are and why you need them, we suggest you take some time today to find out. Backups could save you $1000’s.

Backup today!

Is the .com all there is?

tldWe are all familiar with the most popular website extension, namely .com. Have you noticed that things have changed and now we have so many different domain name extensions available? What’s going on? Which is the best domain extension? Should you still continue to use .com/.com.au domains, or should you look at the other options available? Let’s try to explain and answer those questions.

Things have changed

History

The .com is probably the most well-known domain name extension. For some, local country domains such as .com.au have also become recognised as the most accepted domain name extension. Some domain name extensions, like .com.au for example, are regulated. So, for these you have to meet certain requirements, such as in the case of a .com.au you need to be a registered business in Australia. There are no such rules for .com domain extensions which make the .com space essentially a free for all.

.com domain names are hard to find these days with millions of them being registered and in use. A number of years ago planning was put in place to facilitate the rollout of other top level domain names (TLD’s). Many of these new TLD’s are now available. They are usually reasonably priced as well, except for a few premium regulated ones. For a full list of all available domain name extensions, see this Wikipedia List

Why?

There certainly is a vanity factor to these new TLD’s, however, many of these are far more suited to your business than a .com and could make your website more memorable. For example, our domain name xyzulu.hosting explains exactly what we do and might even be more memorable than a .com

How?

It’s simple to enable your website to work with a new address

It’s simple to enable your website to work with a new address (and redirect all search engine links to the new address), just ask us to make it happen if you already own a new TLD name and are a current customer. If you are interested in purchasing a new TLD name, head over to our Customer Portal and start searching. Contact us if you have any further questions, or post them in the comments below.

Are your contacts backed up?

ContactsTo put it another way, are you able to access your contacts from all your devices (desktop and mobile)? This is another no-brainer that takes only a few minutes to setup no matter what device and platform you are using.

You can choose to sync your contacts via iCloud or Google whitch are the most common options.  Plenty of other services also exist to allow contact syncing and backup. Once you have set this up, you will have no issues moving to a new device as all your contacts will just sync to your new device once you login. Again, this is something you should enable if you have not yet done so. For some tutorials and directions on how to do this on your device, see some of the links we have provided below.

Pro tip: only use one syncing service to avoid conflicts. Our top pick is your Google/GMail account followed by iCloud as a close second if you use Apple. And, yes, you can sync google contacts with your Apple just fine. While you’re setting this up, why not also enable calendar syncing?

Some helpful links:

Apple: Managing iCloud Contacts, Calendars or reminders

Google: Sync GMail, Contacts, Calendar and Chrome

Once your contacts are being backed up, you’ll be able to sync or access them from any of your devices (computer or mobile).

Questions? Please let us know in the comments below.

Ugly monster lurking in your email inbox?

Are you still reading? Just hearing the word ’email’ or ‘inbox’ will often make even the most tech savvy person cringe with embarrassment. Do you have an ugly monster lurking just inside that app you only open if you have to? (Your email inbox). So, what is the secret app to solve all your email issues? Get ready for it…There isn’t one. The secret starts with you and your approach to email.

Treat email like milk, not precious heirlooms

Here is a great start:
Treat email like milk, not precious heirlooms

Remember, step one is cleaning up your email inbox. This may take time, but will be worth all the effort if you commit to step two. Step two is deciding to deal with your inbox in a way that never allows it to get out of hand. It can be done. How?

Here are a few ideas that work for me:

  • If possible, deal with an email when you first open it. Does it need a reply? Can you reply now and archive or delete it straight away?
  • If you are not able to reply when you first open the email, can you resolve to reply or deal with the email before the workday ends?
  • Do you have a “pending” email mechanism? It might be as simple as a folder that you move any email to that can’t be dealt with today. Get it out of your inbox at least. In the Google/GMail new Inbox app, you have the option of using the snooze feature. See more about Google/GMail inbox here: www.google.com.au/inbox
  • Consider setting up simple filters that move less important (but still emails you want) to a folder outside of the inbox. GMail or Google Inbox both have features that do this automatically. I use these features extensively. See: Gmail and Google Inbox
  • Keep in mind that not dealing with an email today, means that your inbox is likely to get out of control again. Once an email is no longer “new” or at the top of your inbox, you are less likely to give it the attention you would have when it first arrived.

Inbox zero is possible

By changing your approach to your inbox and working to keep it in order, rather than viewing it as an ugly monster you need to set aside hours of time to defeat, you can reach inbox zero. Doing so will leave you feeling satisfied at the end of the day and more productive overall. Don’t let your inbox defeat you, get it under control and keep it that way. Do it today, and you’ll enjoy the benefits!