We’ve launched our new website!

September 26, 2016 (Komoka, Canada) – CleverHost, a web hosting company based in the London, Ontario area, has announced the launch of its latest website.

The new website features a fresh design, small file sizes, and is easier to navigate than the prior website.

CleverHost specializes in website hosting, making it easy for professionals and small businesses to get their websites online and obtain a reliable email service. “We recognized a need to make our website easier to browse, a better way to highlight what makes CleverHost special, and ensuring greater flexibility going forward. Our new website does all, and more,” says Derek Silva, owner of CleverHost. “When customers know they can find the information they need, it benefits everyone involved.”

CleverHost also took this opportunity to split off its blog and news area to a separate subdomain. The blog is still based on WordPress, but the new website is not. This allows CleverHost to secure the new website more easily, while maintaining the ease of publishing blog entries and news with WordPress.

Over the past three years CleverHost has developed a reputation for providing high uptime, highly performant services to its customer base, and will continue to do so. CleverHost will be launching new services soon, and migrating to a new account management system that will make payments easier for new and existing clients.

CleverHost Acquires Ball Media’s Hosting Assets

November 23, 2015 (Komoka, Canada) – CleverHost, a web hosting company based in the London, Ontario area, has successfully acquired the web hosting customers of Ball Media, Inc. of Brantford, Ontario. CleverHost now offers shared web hosting services to hundreds of customers across Canada. Its purchase of Ball Media’s web hosting service and customers strengthens its position as a growing technology firm in southwestern Ontario, and lays the groundwork for additional growth.

CleverHost specializes in website hosting, making it easy for professionals and small businesses to get their websites online and obtain a reliable email service. “What CleverHost has always tried to do is drive value for its customers. Great services at inexpensive prices, making SSL certificates and website malware protection easy to obtain and implement, and generally just being here for our customers. Answering their questions with the right answers the first time, and giving them the knowledge they need when they need it,” says Derek Silva, owner of CleverHost. “When customers feel empowered, they keep coming back to you and tell their friends and colleages about you. The best to get advertising is to be great at what you do.”

CleverHost is completing the migration of all Ball Media web hosting customers over the next week, and will then be providing Ball Media with a new web development environment. Derek Silva explained, “Our partnership with Ball Media is strong and beneficial for both companies. We look forward to working closely with John Ball and his team. We will continue to grow alongside them, and we’re also on the lookout for additional acquisitions in the future.”

Over the past two years CleverHost has developed a reputation for providing high uptime, highly performing services to its customer base and will continue to do so for the newly acquired customers. Existing CleverHost customers will benefit from additional investments made to CleverHost’s web hosting infrastructure including additional servers brought online, enhancements made to the new servers that will be brought to existing servers previously in place, and a higher capacity to invest the time required to make additional configuration changes to keep the infrastructure performing well.

Why I’m Not Buying an Apple Watch

This blog entry is by Derek Silva, one of the executives here at CleverHost. He owns an iPod touch, iPhone 4s, iPad Air, and an iPad mini 2. He is planning on replacing his Dell desktop PC with a MacBook Pro after the next hardware refresh.

I really like Apple devices and operating systems, especially iOS. No, they’re not perfect, but they work really well and I have yet to encounter any serious limitations with any Apple product I have ever owned. iOS and OS X have their idiosyncrasies, like any piece of software, but they are overcome quite easily. The hardware quality is second to none, and my iPad mini 2 is easily my favourite piece of technology I’ve ever owned!

However, I will not be buying an Apple Watch. I watched the keynote where it was announced, and then the keynote when the launch date and pricing were unveiled. I was left severely underwhelmed. If you want specific reasons as to why I’m avoiding this product, here are a few:

  • It cannot do anything important that many, many other devices on the market already do; sharing my heartbeat with another Apple Watch owner is not an important feature
  • For what it is, CAD$449 is incredibly expensive; I’d much rather purchase the latest Pebble or Basis Peak for roughly half the price
  • The battery life is atrocious; I should not have to worry about plugging my watch in at the end of each work day, especially since I have already used up all the outlets behind my nightstand to charge my iPhone and power my lamp
  • I don’t like the interface; zooming in and out of apps using the crown, to me, seems tedious
  • On principle, I am not booking an appointment in order to try on and buy a watch, even if it costs the same as a Rolex
  • Lastly, I cannot think of a single business app that would be more useful to me on my watch than on my iPhone or iPad

Now, that all said, it sounds like they’re already selling like hotcakes. Good for Apple! That’s fine with me. But if you’re on the fence about whether or not to buy an Apple Watch, I would take a good, long look at the other options available before making any decisions. Smart watches are probably here to stay, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the market unfolds over the next few years, but I’m not jumping in just yet. Right now I’m really interested to see what the second generation device from Basis looks like, and what other features it will include.

Have you pre-ordered an Apple Watch? If so, why? If not, do you have a reason for staying away other than the ones I outlined above? Let me know in the comments!

Protect Your Website, Business, and Reputation

Do you own a physical bricks & mortar store? If so, we applaud you! We know that owning and operating a physical store location can be tough, just like any business, but yours especially so when you’re trying to convince people to come in the door, browse a bit, and buy something!

To that end, you probably have some security measures in place. Locks on the doors, and perhaps highly valuable products are locked up as well inside the store. You might have a security camera set up, or at least a security alarm in case the store is broken in to. These are all terrific things to do to protect your business. Then why do so many business owners leave their website “unlocked?”

Sometimes web-based threats seem vague and ill-defined. Sometimes the media makes it sound like security breaches only happen to poorly coded websites. But more and more we’re hearing about high profile, large enterprises that, despite strong Internet and network security measures being in place, are still be hacked! This includes organizations that are regulated and mandated to have protections in place.

Even if you run a physical retail location, you probably have a website of some sort. Whether you only offer information about your store, or you run an online storefront, your website is increasingly the first impression prospective customers get about your business. For this, and many other reasons, it’s worth protecting.

Protect your site, your business, your reputation, and your visitors with SiteLock by CleverHost. SiteLock helps protect more than just your website; it can protect your business. There have never been more threats to your website business than now. Hackers use many different techniques to steal customer data and redirect traffic, ruining your site’s and company’s reputation.

SiteLock by CleverHost scans your website daily to identify vulnerabilities and protect your site against threats. Also, the SiteLock Trust Seal provides your customers with the confidence that you take security seriously, and it has been proven to substantially increase your sales and conversions.

Google, McAfee, Symantec, Sophos, and other firms conduct these types of scans detects malware on websites. If they find a threat embedded before you do, they inhibit access to your website with a warning, or block it completely, in the visitor’s web browser. If you don’t know about the threat, that could mean days, if not weeks, of potential and existing customers receiving security warnings when they try to visit your website.

For the thousands or millions of dollars in potentially lost revenue, your hard earned reputation, and the first thing most consumers know and see about your business, isn’t your online presence worth protecting? We think so.

Prices start at just $24.95 per year. Order SiteLock by CleverHost today!

Stop Relying on Third-Party RSS Readers

selfoss002 Have you been looking for a great RSS reader lately? Much of what the market has to offer isn’t as good as it should be — no, not even the big names (we’re looking at you The Old Reader, Feedly, and NewsBlur)! Some of them fall short and lack essential capabilities you’re looking for, while others aim too high, include too many unnecessary features, are just too complicated or time-consuming to learn, plus they are always at the risk of being shut down (way to go Google). It would seem as if there was no optimal solution to meet this simple demand; but we know of one, and it’s called Selfoss.

selfoss003Selfoss is free, web-based RSS reader and aggregator with all of the firepower found in any other alternative. It’s simple, efficient, and it’s light – the code needs less than 2MB of disk space! It’s also incredibly easy to install with CleverHost’s 1-click installer; a single click that automatically generates the username, password, and even database and matching credentials – done! Plus, it’s open source, which means that it’s easily extendable, so anyone can improve the source code or add their own data connectors using the open source plugin system or RESTful JSON API.

In addition to that, Selfoss is able to bring in any RSS feed you choose. If you’re currently using another RSS reader, don’t worry because Selfoss also supports OPML import, making migration easy. Full mobile support is also included thanks to the web-based interface and third party apps available for Android and iOS.

That’s as good as it gets, really. There’s not much else to be said, other than inviting you to take a look at it for yourself. Why don’t you give it a try and check it out? Let us know what you think in the comments!

LiveSite – The free, easy website builder

Whether you own a clothing company or a furniture store online, having a professional looking website for your business is incredibly important. It’s not just solely online businesses that can benefit from having a website either because, according to statistics, 85% of consumers use the Internet to research local businesses. Launching a high quality, professional looking website is now much easier than it used to be, thanks to tools like LiveSite.

ss1_livesiteWhat is LiveSite?

LiveSite is a free, high quality website builder that is incredibly easy to use. Instead of offering a complex content management system, which requires downloading, configuration, and customization, LiveSite offers a one-click software install. This leaves you with more time to spend on other important areas of your business, and less time having to learn how to install complicated software. Best of all, with a CleverHost web hosting account, you can get LiveSite completely free!

Main Features

  • Free, Professional Looking Templates and Themes: With LiveSite you get a complete, high quality, professional looking web template, and have the option to choose from dozens of themes, which are completely customizable. You can even create your own CSS designs without the need to write any code. Offering over 150 plus fonts and an array of corresponding headers and buttons, LiveSite gives users a plethora of design options.
  • ss4_livesiteResponsive Web Design: Statistics show that responsive websites convert more. When a website has a responsive web design, it appears perfectly across all devices, from desktop PCs to mobile devices, like smartphones.
  • Video Integration: Statistics show that a customer is more likely to make a purchase if there’s a video on the page. With LiveSite, you can integrate videos on your site. You can even embed videos from popular websites like YouTube and Vimeo.
  • Blogs: All websites can benefit from using a blog as part of their content marketing strategy. According to statistics, customers are 60% more likely to purchase a product, or a service, if they have read content, like a blog post, about it first.
  • Social Media and Forums: With LiveSite, you can integrate social media and forums with your site. You visitors can share content, from blog posts to web copy with users on popular social media platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. You can also add forums to your website, and get more customers talking about your brand.
  • Analytics: Offering data reports for all of your pages, and Google Analytics, LiveSite allows you to track important metrics, from visitors to traffic sources.
  • Safe and Secure Shopping Platform: Offer a safe, secure and convenient shopping platform to your customers. With LiveSite, you can create custom checkout processes catering to different audiences, and take secure payments. LiveSite automatically encrypts sensitive information, and protects against unauthorized access to customer data, making things safer for you and your customers.

ss5_livesiteOffering automated email campaigns, RSS feeds, online chat and many more useful features, LiveSite is a fantastic website builder. LiveSite is a site builder that’s easy to use, even for first time website owners, and with CleverHost it’s completely free. Overall, it’s the perfect tool to use to build your first website.

Get free, gamified CRM with Zurmo

If you run your own business, or you are in sales or account management, you know that customer relationship management (CRM) software can either be a boon or a burden to your and your team’s objectives. Unfortunately CRM is necessary to help you manage leads, follow up with existing customers, and even to gain insight into customer buying behaviour. Used well it’s a terrific tool, but consistently using it and maintaining your database is really the hard part.

So while CRM software, along with the process itself, is very important to helping keep customers happy and grow the business, actually performing the tasks is usually seen as an inconvenience. And that’s where Zurmo is different. Zurmo looks at customer relationship management through a different lens.

zurmo-gamificationZurmo is built for gamification from the start, awarding points and badges for completing normal day-to-day tasks. You and your team still use Zurmo to do things like track and close deals, like any other CRM software, but Zurmo is designed to be fun! It’s also free, open source software so you can change the code as needed. Fun and freedom go together like beer and hockey.

Now that’s not to say you need to sacrifice anything in order to have that fun. Zurmo has standard features like contact information for leads and customers, you can input meetings, tasks, notes, and attachments all in one place, and see activities related to leads and customers. Included are premium features that you normally pay an arm and a leg for like drag and drop filters for reports, multiple chart types, and even being able to customize, save, and share reports with your team.

If you have a lot of products, Zurmo has product management features built-in like product catalogs, and adding products to opportunities & accounts. You can also completely personalize the fields, layouts, and dashboard views, and even integrate with services like Google Maps.

And the team behind Zurmo is on the ball, making sure that it’s mobile friendly, tested well on both iOS and Android.

So if you’re in the market for a new CRM system, CleverHost offers 1-click installation of ZurmoCRM with any hosting plan. Get started today!

WPTouch Vulnerability Disclosed – Update Plugin ASAP

Sucuri’s research team has found a very serious vulnerability in the WPTouch Plugin for WordPress. The vulnerability allows an attacker to upload files remotely to websites running an outdated version of the plugin.

A new version of WPTouch, version 3.4.3, has just been made available in order to patch the vulnerability.

Please access your WordPress administration area and update the plugin immediately in order to patch the vulnerability. You can learn more about today’s WPTouch disclosure here.

Evolving Small Businesses – Web Hosting & Design

There was a time, even just a few years ago, when entrepreneurs had little choice in how they got a new website going for their business. First it wasn’t seen as a necessity (it is now), and second it looked/sounded expensive (it was, and still is depending on what you want). Thanks to new tools and new ways of doing things, this is largely no longer true… at least, not when it comes to simply building a web presence for your business.

There tonnes of web hosting companies out there, including CleverHost. Some compete purely on price, but the old adage is true – you get what you pay for. Any free web hosting service either has very strict, and harsh, limits on how much disk space or bandwidth your website can consume, or they make it very obvious that you’re using a free service through the use of ads or co-branded URLs (e.g. http://YourBusinessName.HostingCompany.com). That does not look professional, leaves a bad taste in a prospect’s mouth, and probably isn’t how you want to present your business.

Instead, you need to purchase a domain name (e.g. YourBusiness.ca). Then, find a professional hosting company that charges reasonable rates, has good customer service, references/testimonials, and is willing to answer questions before you sign up. Pre-sales support levels are usually a good indication of what post-sales support will be like. Also remember that there is no such thing as “Unlimited.” Every web hosting company offering “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth will have a “fair use clause” in their Terms of Service that states the host can cut you off if they believe you’re using more than your fair share.

At the same time, don’t over pay. $15 or $20 a month is far too much for a company to host a small website designed to get your business online and noticed.

The other thing to look for is a web hosting company that makes it really easy for you to get started. Some companies offer web design services, typically starting at around $500. Other web hosting companies take a different approach, giving the entrepreneur/small business owner the tools they need to get started like an online website builder, or the ability to install a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal with just a couple of clicks.

WordPress, in particular, has many templates (called “themes”) available that make it very easy for you to have a professional looking website up and running. All in, including the domain, your first month of hosting, and a nice WordPress theme, your small business can have a website up and on the web for under $100 plus a few hours of time spent writing content and inserting some images.
You can also take advantage of your hosting account to install your first customer relationship management (CRM) solution, like ZurmovTiger CRM or SugarCRM, and host it on the same account as your website. A CRM solution takes some learning, but there’s no reason for a small business to pay $20/month/user until you can actually afford it. By the time you have 500 or 1,000 customers in your CRM, it’ll be time to upgrade to a virtual private server (VPS) or dedicated server anyway. Now you’re in full control of your software, and your customer information – that’s not the case with many software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, like Salesforce.com.

You could also install your own web-based analytics software (Piwik), live chat software, e-commerce solution (Magento, Cube Cart), or project management software. All available for free, and available to be hosted on the same account/plan as your website.

Now, when you’re ready for a more sophisticated website, that is when it’s time to start looking for a freelance developer, or a web design/development company to take over. Many are turning to the same tools I mentioned above, but the designs they create are entirely custom, built to your specs, and designed to really help your business succeed.

The bottom line is that, especially when you’re starting out, you have very limited capital to invest in an online presence. You know it’s a necessity these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to commit thousands, or even hundreds, of dollars to your first website. Take advantage of the tools available to you from your web hosting company, and do it yourself the first time out. Having a decent, self-designed website is better than not having a website at all.

Evolving Small Businesses – Phone Lines

Study after study has shown that Canadian small businesses are lagging in their spending on information and communications technology (ICT). When speaking with CleverHost’s existing and prospective clients, this has definitely rung true.

This is the first blog entry in a series we’re calling “Small Business Evolution,” and it is something seemingly mundane – phone lines.

Phone lines are not the most glamourous topic in the world, but they’re certainly an important one. Many small businesses feel having a phone line of some sort, whether it’s a landline or a cell phone, is a prerequisite for doing business. And in reality, it is, because lots of customers still prefer the phone over email or instant messaging/chat. You need to serve your customers in the manner they feel most comfortable with.
On the other hand, most small businesses simply call the incumbent phone company in their area and get set up. It’s the easy thing to do. Call Ma Bell, get a phone line or two, perhaps a fax line, and then buy some phones. The downside? That service now costs roughly $50 a month depending on where your business is located.

$50 a month for the privilege of making and receiving phone calls. Ridiculous.

Many of you have heard of Voice over IP (VoIP) in its various incarnations whether it’s Skype, TekSavvy’s TekTalk service, RingCentral, or Google Voice. The most popular flavour of VoIP is called a SIP trunk, which boils down to an Internet-based replacement for traditional landlines.

Calling it an Internet-based replacement is a bit of a generalization though. The signal certainly travels over the Internet for a period of time, but as soon as it hits the provider’s infrastructure, the conversation then traverses a private network. This private network is shielded from the typical jitter and packet loss you can experience with consumer-grade, very low cost solutions.

The benefits? Depending on the SIP trunk provider, prices range from $20-40 a month. Even on the high end, you could be saving your business $120 per year, per line. That increases exponentially if you can replace multiple phone lines with a few SIP trunks instead. Of course there are a few things to consider before replacing landlines with SIP trunks, such as:

  • Your business needs a high speed Internet connection – each phone call typically requires 128kbps (that’s less than watching a YouTube video)
  • If your business’ Internet connection is DSL, you’ll need to get the ISP to turn on dry-loop DSL or switch to cable Internet
  • If you don’t have high speed, make sure you put together an report comparing your existing expenses with the potential expenses to make sure it still makes sense to make the switch
  • If you don’t have an Internet connection, there are other reasons for installing one
    • You can switch to a high speed debit/credit terminal, eliminating the need to wait for debit/credit transactions to finish before making a call
    • You can also use the opportunity to eliminate a traditional fax machine with an IP fax service, driving further efficiencies
  • If you want to keep your existing phones, you will need to purchase a voice gateway – this voice gateway converts the connection from a digital to analog signal, making your traditional phones useable

There can be start-up costs, but these are minimal. The long term advantages in cost and time typically weigh heavily towards replacing traditional landlines with SIP trunks. In addition, business-oriented VoIP providers provide very high quality phone calls. Calls on SIP trunks are so good some customers have said they’re even clearer than traditional phone calls.

This is just the first in a series of blog entries designed to help small businesses make incremental steps towards increasing their use of new business-oriented solutions and applications. Our intent is to help small businesses save money, save time, and ultimately streamline and automate their processes so that they can spend more time running the business, and less time on non-revenue generating activities.