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Web Hosting - Redundancy and Failover Among the more useful innovations in computing, actually invented decades ago, are the twin ideas of redundancy and failover. These fancy words name very common sense concepts. When one computer (or part) fails, switch to another. Doing that seamlessly and quickly versus slowly with disruption defines one difference between good hosting and bad. Network redundancy is the most widely used example. The Internet is just that, an inter-connected set of networks. Between and within networks are paths that make possible page requests, file transfers and data movement from one spot (called a 'node') to the next. If you have two or more paths between a user's computer and the server, one becoming unavailable is not much of a problem. Closing one street is not so bad, if you can drive down another just as easily. Of course, there's the catch: 'just as easily'. When one path fails, the total load (the amount of data requested and by how many within what time frame) doesn't change. Now the same number of 'cars' are using fewer 'roads'. That can lead to traffic jams. A very different, but related, phenomenon occurs when there suddenly become more 'cars', as happens in a massively widespread virus attack, for example. Then, a large number of useless and destructive programs are running around flooding the network. Making the situation worse, at a certain point, parts of the networks may shut down to prevent further spread, producing more 'cars' on now-fewer 'roads'. A related form of redundancy and failover can be carried out with servers, which are in essence the 'end-nodes' of a network path. Servers can fail because of a hard drive failure, motherboard overheating, memory malfunction, operating system bug, web server software overload or any of a hundred other causes. Whatever the cause, when two or more servers are configured so that another can take up the slack from one that's failed, that is redundancy. That is more difficult to achieve than network redundancy, but it is still very common. Not as common as it should be, since many times a failed server is just re-booted or replaced or repaired with another piece of hardware. But, more sophisticated web hosting companies will have such redundancy in place. And that's one lesson for anyone considering which web hosting company may offer superior service over another (similarly priced) company. Look at which company can offer competent assistance when things fail, as they always do sooner or later. One company may have a habit of simply re-booting. Others may have redundant disk arrays. Hardware containing multiple disk drives to which the server has access allows for one or more drives to fail without bringing the system down. The failed drive is replaced and no one but the administrator is even aware there was a problem. Still other companies may have still more sophisticated systems in place. Failover servers that take up the load of a crashed computer, without the end-user seeing anything are possible. In fact, in better installations, they're the norm. When they're in place, the user has at most only to refresh his or her browser and, bingo, everything is fine. The more a web site owner knows about redundancy and failover, the better he or she can understand why things go wrong, and what options are available when they do. That knowledge can lead to better choices for a better web site experience.

Free Downloadable Software ? Not Always a Scam Do you want to download free software off the World Wide Web, but you are afraid of getting your computer infected with a virus, spyware or other bad cyber invaders? If so, you will be happy to learn that there are many websites that specialize in legitimate free downloads that won't cause your computer to become awash in viruses or spyware. Here is a just a brief sampling of different websites that specialize in free (and safe) downloadable software. These sites let you enjoy the best of the web without the danger of less reputable websites. Get Your Fill of Entertainment at Download.com Are you looking for a place where you can download free games and tools? If so, Download.com should cause you to rejoice. This site contains a wide range of games, tools and utilities. This website bills itself as a haven for "safe, trusted and spyware-free" software. Savvy web surfers know that Download.com offers the best library of legal and totally free software downloads, game downloads and music downloads. This website is also known as a well-regarded repository of credible and relevant information about the latest game releases, software updates and other free downloads. All of the downloadable software found on this site is put through a rigorous set of tests. Moreover, registration is fast and free. You can even write your own reviews for software and participate in the active CNET forums. From fun to functional, you can probably find what you are looking for right here. Update Your Drivers for the Smoothest Web Experience In order to make sure that you always get the smoothest online experience possible, make sure to update your drivers on a regular basis. DriversHQ.com offers you an easy way to make certain that you always have the best and latest drivers on your computer. This site allows you to detect its own Driver Detective software services. Drivers Headquarters is known as the best driver update service. This service is easy to use and it is designed to help you upgrade your update your drivers in a safe and fast manner. They even have new drivers that support XP and Vista programs. Use their driver detective to find what needs to be updated, and to update your current drivers. Tired of Nagging Software Updates? Then Head On Over to Nonags.com Are you tired of downloading software, only to have it nag you with updates on a regular basis? Are you tired of being hassled by your own downloads to buy the upgraded versions? Here is a refreshing website that offers you downloads that do not put a limit on the number of days you can use them, and that do not constantly pester you to purchase the upgraded version of the software download. This website is an amazing compendium of the latest freeware, along with editor picks and user ratings. Get the Latest and the Greatest at Tucows Where can you turn for the latest and the greatest in safe software downloads. If so, you will want to place a bookmark on the Tucows.com website. This is one of the most amazing collections of safe and effective downloadable software. You can choose from freeware, shareware and pay software. Tucows.com features software downloads for your Windows PC, your Mac, Linux-based systems, your PDA and programs to streamline and improve your online experience. This site has become a popular spot to find hard-to-find software for Mac computers. Enjoy the editorial ratings and the myriad range of programs and tools. Enjoy everything from poker software downloads to design programs that help you achieve your highest level of creativity.

Why Taking that Vacation Can Lead to a Better Workplace Do you love your vacations? Are they relaxing, fun and entertaining? There are many reasons why a vacation can enrich your life and fulfill you with joy and happiness. But many of these reasons actually can also be directly translated into reasons for why taking that vacation can lead to a better workplace for you, your boss and other employees. Vacations are as essential to a hard working employee as a parachute to a person jumping from an airplane with the goal to land safely. Many employers would love to minimize the time you are gone from your workplace because they think the more time you spend there, the more work you will accomplish. This argument is right up to a certain amount of hours and days a months or a year, but whenever your body starts to get tired and exhausted, the amount of work that you produce decreases. The quality of your work starts to decline as well. Time off work, time together with your family, time to relax, time to regenerate and time to just plain have fun are very important in an employees life. Taking a vacation has many benefits to the employee, but also to the company you work for. The more relaxed and happy your worker starts a workday or the workweek; the better will most likely be his or her performances at work. Research has shown that relaxation and regeneration are essential to human bodies. Did you know that in some companies in Europe and Asia, the emphasis on relaxation goes so far that meditation, morning sport and a short power nap belong to their required parts of a work day? The United States is actually one of the only industrialized countries that does not mandate a minimum of vacation days that the worker has to take off. In fact, in many countries in Europe, a minimum of 20 and more days is the norm. Since the late 1970s, the average middle income family works in total hours three and more months a year more then they did back then and according to a research done by Boston College, approximately 25% of Americans do not take a vacation at all. After all these facts are slowly emerging from mounts of collected date, some of the bigger American companies have actually begun to realize that off-time and vacation are essential to prevent mishaps and screwed up designs and products. If you are not taking your vacation or your employers does not allow for any vacation, a series of health hazards such as stress and high stress, sleeplessness, burnout, heart attacks and even more serious health conditions can occur. Another big factor in working too much, working overtime or never having vacation can be problems and loss of family and friends. Problems with families and friends will directly impact performance at work and even though the employee might not talk about it at work or might b e holding back his or her feelings, the mood and general behavior of the employee will have an impact ion his work and other employees. Every employee should value the vacation time given to him or her and employers should grant the time asked for to their employees. Vacation is essential to the performance at work and the quality in products the company can deliver. Following the examples that are set by many European countries, the US should give their employees the time they need and also make sure that their employees do take the time off to be a better employee overall. Vacation is fun, relaxing and regenerating.

Staying Computer Safe while Searching for Freebies on the Net Who doesn?t love the idea of getting something for nothing? Free stuff can bring a smile to anyone?s face, and the Internet is destination number one when you are looking for cash in on a few freebies. The downside of free stuff online is that if you aren?t careful, the free item could end up causing plenty of headaches and heartaches, not to mention a lot of cold, hard cash. If you want to score with free stuff online, make safety your number one priority by following these tips. First and foremost, treat your personal information like its cash. That might sound a little dramatic, but anyone who manages to steal your identity online is after one thing, and one thing only, your money and any addition money they can grab by cashing in on your credit. Protecting your name, address, credit card number, bank account number, phone number, social security number, and so on and so forth when you are registering for free offers is the first step to making sure you don?t get hustled when you?re just trying to enjoy a good freebie. That means that if you are asked for some personal information that you don?t feel comfortable handing out, let the freebie go. Likewise, make sure the site from which you are getting your free stuff has a privacy policy and that you know it, understand it, and can live with it. Speaking of that site that is handing out the free goods: just who are these people? If you were walking down the street and a shady looking person said they would give you a free DVD player if you followed them, chances are you would run the other way. Online, it is hard to tell the legitimate people from the people looking at you like a free lunch, but there are a few red flags you can look out for. Does the website look like it was thrown up in about 5 minutes, full of clip art and bad spelling? Is it hard to find information about where the website is registered, or where the business the website is supposedly promoting is registered? If the website purports to be affiliated with a certain brand you know, does it really look like it is, or does the logo look different/colors look off? If you can?t get a reasonable feel for who are dealing with online, don?t deal with them. Red flag number one? Asking for too much personal info should send you running. Another way to protect yourself is to build a virtual fortress around your computer. The net is filled with people who know how to walk right into your virtual home ? your computer ? and flip through everything you have on there, taking whatever they want. Many of these kinds of hackers draw you in by creating phony freebie websites. The way to keep them out is to keep your computer on lockdown. Make sure your firewall is stronger than you think it needs to be, and make sure it is always updated. Also, make sure you have antivirus software on the patrol for you and that you keep this software updated as well. Last but not least, keep those passwords in the vault, and make sure they are extra strong. No freebie website has any reason to ask you about the passwords for your accounts so don?t give them away ? and don?t give them to anyone else online for that matter. Also, if you?re using your birthday or child?s name as password, don?t. Sure, it isn?t as easy to remember, but your password should be a random word and contain a collection of numbers and symbols as well. This will give you the extra layer of protection to make sure your online house is in order when you cash in on the freebies.