If you run your entire business & life off of your computer, you’ll exist in one of two states of thinking. Namely, you’re either complacent & hesitate to change anything unless it’s an emergency, or you’re constantly thinking of new ways to get ahead of the pack.
This goes doubly for people operating their own websites & servers, and you can tell who is who. If things take 10 minutes to load & your browser warns you the site isn’t secure, there’s a good chance you won’t be visiting that website again unless you absolutely have to do so.
Just in case you didn’t read the title of the article, we have a strong preference for the latter mentality. Technology is improving nearly every day, and all it takes is a few months of apathy to ensure you end up falling behind. Everything’s getting faster & more secure: why aren’t you?
We’ll assume you’ve been riled up by this call to action & are ready to take on the challenge of improvement. However, you might also be curious about how you’ll get this process going.
No need to worry: we’ll be breaking down some key terminology & strategies to help you out.
Safety comes in many forms, as do the things that compromise it. Many privacy breaches, as you may already know, involve vulnerable email servers. If all your correspondence is in, say, Google’s servers, they’re free to send you all sorts of ads & potentially check your emails.
We don’t know how much you mind that sort of thing, but if you’re running your own business or are otherwise deeply dedicated to privacy, you might be better off setting up a private email server. It can be tough, but we’ve got some advice to make the process easier.
To give you an idea of the difference between this & the standard Gmail account, you’ll have your emails stored wherever you decide to have them held, rather than at Google’s facilities. There’s additional responsibility involved, but being a tech genius isn’t a necessity at all.
First off, you’ll need a solid, quick Internet connection to ensure everything runs smoothly. Poor internet means someone who emails you can get their message sent right back.
As far as the hardware, you’ll need a separate computer (not a monitor) with the space to store all the emails you’ll need to send & receive. Power isn’t a necessity, though, given that the thing’s only running email.
After that, choose which operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.) you want to run it on, figure out the software you’ll need to route & sort the messages. Bring a spam filter to the party, too, unless you enjoy some clutter in the ol’ inbox.
From there, you’ll need a website domain. DreamHost, for instance (*wink, wink*), offers plans that set you up with a domain and a variety of related services at reasonable monthly & yearly rates well under $20 per month.
You can find all sorts of tutorials online to help you set things up, although it wouldn’t also hurt to bring in an IT expert at this point to combine the pieces. We’d love to discuss it more, but now it’s time to talk about something that’s downright vital nowadays: domain security.
There are two key ways to keep your domain secure: Secure Socket Layers, or SSL, and Transport Layer Security, regularly shortened to TLS.
SSL is the one that most people are familiar with, even if they don’t know it. According to their website, it’s “...the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.”
“This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.” Most major websites you visit (Youtube & Facebook, for starters) will probably utilize this service. If you want to do the same, you have to obtain & maintain an SSL.com certificate.
You can obtain their basic version for $36.75 per year if you get five years in advance, although it rises to $49.00 if you’re paying for a single year.
If all the big players are using SSL, though, what’s the deal with TLS?
Well, it’s meant to perform the same essential function. Major & minor businesses alike use it to have secure communications between their server & browser, and some believe it to work better and be more efficient than its counterpart.
However, in the past, certain flaws in the design have lead to security breaches. That being said, though, newer version promise (& show) much more effective security measures.
So what’s the difference between SSL and TLS?
Well, they were developed at different times (TLS was actually developed off of SSL 3.0), but the technological differences between them are similar to the level of difference between newer & older versions of one or the other. TLS is more nuanced, but SSL is more common.
Realistically, you’ll be fine with either option (some certificate vendors even label their products as SSL/TLS certificates). TLS has updates that make it objectively better in certain ways, but SSL is used by a wider array of businesses. The one you pick is up to your discretion.
Now that you’ve handled security, you’ve got time to focus on the important things, like making sure your server is efficient enough to do everything you need it to do.
Before you begin trying to amp up efficiency, you need to figure out where you’re currently at. To do that, you’ll likely need to invest in SERT, the Server Efficiency Rating Tool, made by SPEC, the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation
It’s been considered the industry standard for evaluating server performance for the majority of the decade, and that’s for good reason. Through its processes, it checks every type of function performed by the server & sees how much power is being used for each one.
Once you know which processes are taking up the most power, you’re in a much better position to think about everything else you can do to improve performance, whether that be prioritizing some applications over others, adjusting storage, or picking more efficient times of operation.