F I R S T L I N K

What 6 Questions Should You Ask A Hosting Provider?

Choosing the Right Hosting Provider

There are many choices for a hosting provider and picking the right one can seem overwhelming. Web hosts offer everything from free websites and email to rock bottom prices for hosting. It’s important to ask and learn the answers to specific questions when choosing a host. The hosting providers for the free websites may not have the security features you need for your custom or e-commerce website you’ve spent months working with a designer and developer building.

Questions to Ask:

  1. What is your security policy? A DNS host should understand potential security threats and have firewalls, intrusion detection services, DDoS mitigation strategies, and access policies established and ready to go. A reputable provider will be happy to answer any questions you may have about their security protocols.
  2. What is your scalability? A hosting provider should offer a range of hosting options allowing you to scale up or down as your needs change.
  3. How responsive is your customer service and tech support? You want to speak to a rep that works for the company you contracted with, not an outsourced contractor, or third-party. Ask if the person who answers the phone will be able to solve your issue or if you will be transferred to another department before being helped.
  4. What is your server reliability? You want a company with a redundant infrastructure. Should there be a failure in one part of the network, the system routes requests to other servers and end-users don’t even notice there was an issue. This ensures a historically high uptime score, hitting the Service Level Agreement of 99.9% and above.
  5. What is your back up policy? A hosting provider should perform regular back ups to ensure that, in the event there is a failure, no data is lost permanently.  FirstLink backs up your data and your environment daily and we store full backups for 30 days.  If needed FirstLink can create a custom retention solution for more long term backup requirements.
  6. What if I am not satisfied? Be sure you understand the policy regarding satisfaction and your contracted obligation. Know the terms of your agreement and what your options are if you are not happy.

As a hosting provider, security is of utmost importance to FLT (FirstLink Technology) and we monitor our servers 24/7. We have our primary servers in our office building in south Denver, CO, which we own. We maintain two additional server locations; one in downtown Denver, the other in Freemont, CA. These provide outstanding redundancy in case of failure. FLT safeguards our servers with redundant power and generator back-up as well. We perform and store daily back-ups and maintain incremental back-ups for at least 6 months.

As a managed service provider, FLT exceeds the standard SLA uptime score of 99.9%. We are a monitored 24/7, operating webhost providing stable network connections. CloudFlare provides our DDoS protection.

We offer a range of hosting packages, able to be customized for any specific business needs. Part of our “White Glove” service at FirstLink is determining which hosting selection will work best for you; shared, dedicated or dedicated cloud hosting options are all available. Any hosting option you choose is adjustable as your business changes.

Firstlink Managed Service Provider hosting

When you call FLT, a knowledgeable FirstLink tech will answer the phone. Our IT services are not outsourced. You will always reach a highly responsive FirstLink employee. If you are not satisfied with your experience, we’ll remedy the situation, or we’ll get you moved on to another situation better suited to your business needs.

No matter what hosting provider you choose, keep the 6 questions above in mind. They will not steer you wrong. Finding a solid company that provides necessary, basic function over frills is the cornerstone of a good host. These six questions will keep your website and email accessible, your data secure and all your applications humming. Call FirstLink Technology for a free phone consultation today, 303-691-8200 or toll free at 800-528-2010.  We also respond quickly to e-mail inquiries at [email protected].

DNS Hosting, What To Consider When Choosing A DNS Provider

Choosing a DNS Provider

When choosing a DNS provider (Domain Name System) hosting service, it’s important to understand a few basic concepts behind DNS and the internet. Familiarizing yourself with basic DNS hosting concepts and some potential vulnerabilities will help you choose a hosting service provider right for you and your business needs.

A comprehensive DNS hosting provider, one that looks at the big picture and provides security and reliability will protect against all possible vulnerabilities. This is what you want to safeguard your business assets. Choosing a competent provider to manage your DNS can be a difficult task if you don’t understand the basics. It’s one of the most important things about the internet. Ask yourself; are you taking your DNS seriously?

So, what is DNS?

It’s the naming system for the internet’s addresses. Each domain name, (ex. hello.com), corresponds to an IP (internet protocol) address, a series of numbers (66.37.140.33), which goes to a website. The IP addresses are assigned domain names as they are easier for users to remember than the number sequences.

Individual computers, in fact each individual device, connected to the internet has its own IP address. For devices to communicate on an IP network, they need an IP address. It’s like a street address for a house. Websites have IP addresses too.

Everything on, and attached to, the internet has an address. Your computer and phone link to the internet via IP addresses, but so does your WIFI connected LED lights, robo vacuum, programmable thermostat and security system. They all have an IP address. Every destination online has its own unique address also. We just think of it as a domain name. DNS is what converts the number address into the domain name. We need DNS servers to house, or host, these domain names and translate their IP address to a common known domain name.

These IP addresses reside in physical hardware devices in their network settings. DNS servers are housed in physical locations and are maintained, monitored, and serviced by a DNS provider, like FirstLink Technology, for end users.

When a request is sent to the DNS server to resolve a query, 4 servers are involved in loading a webpage; the DNS recursor, the root server, the TLD nameserver and the authoritative nameserver. There are a lot of moving parts and steps. There are 6 Steps to a DNS Lookup:

  1. DNS request begins when you try to access a domain name on the internet
  2. The first stop is the local DNS cache
  3. If the IP address is not in your local DNS cache, then DNS will check with a recursive DNS server.
  4. A request is made to the TLD name server
  5. Request sent to authoritative nameserver and IP address is given to recursive DNS server where it is stored in local DNS cache to your computer.
  6. Your DNS service gets to the IP address and connects to the domain name you queried

DNS caching is helpful as it speeds up DNS requests by reducing the bandwidth of the DNS requests across the internet. DNS changes need time to update and it takes time for every DNS server to have their cache updated to the latest IP address data. However, DNS cache is vulnerable to hacking.

Major Vulnerabilities:

  • If an attacker gets inside a firewall and they have control of a computer, they use DNS to lookup important server names like mail servers and name servers. They can get the internal DNS server to send over lots of domain zone information or perform what’s referred to as a DNS zone transfer attack.
  • DNS caches aren’t “authoritative” and hackers have figured out how to manipulate them and spoof DNS responses
  • Hackers use covert channels to exfiltrate data without setting off any alarms like DNS tunneling

It’s critical to choose a hosting provider that not only monitors zone files and spf (sender policy framework) records which protect against email spoofing and phishing scams, but also ttl files which control how often a website refreshes. All of these provide security on the domain name. When choosing a DNS provider be clear on your business priorities and needs. We’ll explore questions to ask your hosting service in our next segment.

FirstLink’s primary hosting services are website hosting, email services, and cloud computing. We offer everything from simple shared hosting accounts to full enterprise virtual cloud environments. Our focus is security and reliability, which is why we go the extra mile in our hosting services. Contact FirstLink today for a free, no obligation assessment of what hosting option would be the best fit for your business needs.

IT Solutions For Your Small Business

IT solutions (internet technology) has helped to revolutionize business in countless ways. With productivity the goal, IT has become a necessity to ensure the daily function and success of small business. This leads many to the ever-evolving question: “What IT solutions do I need to meet my business needs in today’s world?”

Having a focus on IT isn’t just for multi-million-dollar companies. With so much of today’s small business activities taking place on the web, it’s essential for practically every entrepreneur and small business to at least have some planning in place. Getting state-of-the-art equipment and work management software can become incredibly costly very quickly. Here at FirstLink Technology, we specialize in hosting and managing your networks (among many other services), providing you with the best solutions backed by decades of experience in the industry.

IT Solutions FirstLink provides:

  • Network Monitoring and Management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Business Continuity
  • Remote IT Support
  • Cloud Computing Services
  • Server Virtualization

The more of your business that you manage online, the more of a target you are for cyberattacks. You must have a trusted ally supporting your network 24/7 to keep everything running smoothly. So you don’t find yourself playing ‘clean up’ later, you require a strong infrastructure to proactively address both network maintenance issues and security threats.

The Top Reasons Small Businesses Outsource their IT:

  • Cost Cutting
  • Focus on Core Business
  • Capacity Issues
  • Stronger Security
  • Better Quality and Added Expertise

Internet technology is constantly changing — and so are digital security issues. Let FirstLink take on this this vital role so you can have the peace of mind. As a business owner, you won’t have to worry about waking up one morning to find your website or network is down. Our IT solutions packages will monitor all aspects of your business online and make sure that everything is smooth sailing. While the word “outsourcing” has negative connotations for some, it can be a genuine lifesaver for your small business. Stop stressing yourself out and wasting your energy! You’ll be amazed at how FirstLink will transform your IT security. Contact us today for a free consultation.