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Start an Internet Store

What is an Internet Business?

An Internet Business is a business that drives most of its transactions through Internet.
A company can use the Internet in many ways to conduct its business, it can use email to reach clients and potential clients, it can use its own website to either acquire leads for selling products or sell the products directly on the Website. This Internet Business model is called E-Commerce and its main way of conducting the business is through a Website.
The early days of the e-commerce were held back by security concerns. Nowadays the security fears have lessened as the technology improved and people are confident when buying online. In fact buying online has become, for some people, the main way of purchasing goods.
Nowadays, if you have a good business idea or a good product to sell, opening your online business is almost trivial. You need a domain name, a security certificate, and a hosting company.
Initially the all of the Internet Businesses were hosted on the .com TLD, hence the name given to Internet Businesses – dotcoms. This has now changed and commercial organizations own several domain names on different TLDs.

What is e-commerce?

E-commerce is an acronym for Electronic Commerce and consists of the selling products and services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other types of computer networks. E-commerce also includes the process of marketing, delivering, servicing and paying using the Internet.
An e-commerce company is named e-tailer. E-tailers can be "pure-players" which means that the majority of operations are done on the Internet or, they can be “brick and click” e-tailers, which means that they have a physical storefront but use Internet to market their products and sometimes to complement the store sells with online sells.

Why is e-commerce so popular?

Buying online is very convenient; you can browse a search through products a lot easier than you do in a regular shop. It saves time, because you don’t have to go to the store. And usually the products are cheaper than in a regular store because an Internet Business has less expense associated with physical storage, salaries and other costs associated with a traditional store. These savings are reflected in the final cost of the product.
In fact nowadays, e-commerce has become so popular that we almost depend on it, and our lives would be more complicated if it didn’t exist. Virtually everyone has a computer, hence is a possible e-commerce client.

How Can You Start an Internet Business?

What if you don’t have a product to sell? You would like to start an Internet Business but you don’t have a product. In most of the cases that is not a problem, there is a niche for anybody. Many Internet Businesses actually, do not sell merchandise on Internet. They sell, e-Books, services, digital music, (iTunes and mp3), pay per view shows and movies, Domain Names, Websites, knowledge, and the list can continue. There are websites that live off of advertising only, they write good content and sell add space on their website.
When you plan your business, focus on the things you know very well and you are an expert in. Find your great business idea do a market analysis and start immediately. It is a good idea to buy the domain as soon as possible and start creating content right-away, even if your business will start later. Search engines rank websites using secret algorithms, but we know that the age of a domain name and the associated keywords are important parts of this algorithm.

Focus on Business not on Tools

Many people start an Internet business and lose the focus on the most important thing – the business. They start spending a lot of time on side tasks and most of the times it’s because they have chosen the wrong partner for their enterprise. It is important to choose wisely your online partner so you don’t waste your time assembling pieces of the puzzle from different providers. You need to choose a reliable and reputable partner, an established company that can offer you the tools and the support your business need.

How do you pick a good hosting company?

A good hosting company will provide you with all of the tools to start and not only. They know the market and they find out what tools you need before you do, and make them available to you. Having all of the tools integrated into one account make your life easier. You need to focus on developing your business and not on managing and finding tools.

Troubleshoot a Slow Network – Slow Server

Slow Server

How do we know the server is slow and the problem is not elsewhere?
Make a file transfer between any two other computers on the network. Compare the measurements with the server’s transfer rates.
What are the reasons for a slow server?
There are many reasons for a slow server. The server is many times the bottle-neck of a network. Here are a few reasons for a slow server:
An average, or below average network card, (you need good quality network cards for a server).
Server Network Card Underutilized. Connect your server on the backbone or on 1GB switch ports to make use of the high speed network card. You probably want to limit all your clients to transfer at 100Mb so that there is no traffic discrimination. If your server and switches support higher transfer rates, (10GB ports), make sure you make use of it.
Slow disks. Poor hardware is many times the main reason. Improper configuration, such as choosing the wrong RAID type, or not using write caching can be another reason.
Too many clients on a server. If too many clients make requests to the same single server this could overload the server and it will perceived as a slow network by the users. Measure your server’s performance on load using the performance logs and alerts and the system monitor in Windows. Usually the performance is changing over the course of a day based on the number of users who access the server at the same time. Sometimes adding another network card would be sufficient. Enabling cache writing on the SCSI card can help a lot, (make sure you install a cache battery), adding a new SCSI card and additional disks to offload the existing ones could be of help. Sometimes adding another CPU can make a difference, (if you have free CPU slots). Memory is very often the most used method of upgrading, but most of the times it is not the needed solution. Use the performance logs and alerts and the system monitor and compare with the recommended thresholds to determine what your bottleneck is.
Slow server response, (packet sniffer to determine the handshake time), Adjust the server’s configuration to optimize the handshaking time; (this is a fairly advanced optimization task).

This article is part of a five posts series regarding Network Troubleshooting.

Troubleshoot a Slow Network – The entire Network is Slow

The Entire Network is Slow

If the entire network or a part of the network is slow, this could be a strong suggestion for a faulty switch or a miss-configuration.

Poor network equipment
Usage of hubs is not recommended, (hubs are prone to collisions by design)
Cheap switches that cannot handle the total needed bandwidth. The switch’s chip can handle 100Mb/s for 12 ports, but the switch has 24 ports and all are connected. For low network usage this is not a problem, but if your network usage spikes, your switch will not be able to handle the bandwidth. The quick fix in such situation is to power off the switch for a few minutes and then power it back on.

A loopback is a network cable that has both ends connected to the same switch. If it’s a managed switch activating loop protection on all the ports could fix the problem. You can look on the switch’s log file for excessive broadcasts and isolate the two ports that are in loop. If you don’t have managed switches you can use a packet sniffer to determine if there’s a loop. A wrongly configured Spanning tree could cause a loopback.
FIX: Check all the patch-cord connections in the faulty switch. Check for patch-cords that have both ens into the same switch. Check for more than one patch-cord connecting the same two switches.
If you have cascaded switches it is normal to be slower for the devices in the cascaded switch but is not normal for the devices that are not cascaded. Check if any cascaded device is not connected on two ports on the wall, (usually the ports on the wall go to the network room). Your cascaded switch makes a loop into the upper level switch.

Bad Network Configuration
DNS issues
can cause a lot of slowdowns.
One common error is to use your ISP’s DNS server inside your Active Directory network. Your Active Directory computer members will try to resolve internal names by querying your ISP’s DNS. Those records don’t exist outside of your network.
Fix: For all of your Active Directory network clients remove any entries for your ISP’s and use only internal DNS servers. Configure your ISP’s DNS server as a forwarder on your AD DNS servers.

Network switching equipment wrongly connected is the reason of slow network for many small networks. Typically this happens when a small switch is connected to the router. When the switch becomes too small for a growing network, the first impulse is to connect the computers into the router directly.
: Install a switch that will accommodate all of the computers in the network. Disconnect any computers connected directly into the router.
Note: It is normal for the wireless connected computers to have slower transfer rate than the wired ones. Most of the wireless routers and adapters function at 54Mb per second. If your router is a modern router, (100 Mb or faster), and you still don’t get the expected transfer rates, you should revise your configuration as above.

Broadcast storm
You can efficiently detect a broadcast storm using a packet sniffer or a managed switch. With a packet sniffer you need to look for large numbers of broadcast/multicast (more than 20% of the total traffic it is an alarm signal). Locate the retransmission packets and search for the source MAC address. Disconnect the problem host.
If you suspect a broadcast storm in your network and you don’t have a managed switch or a packet sniffer, you can run download and upload tests by systematically disconnecting all of your computers in the network one by one. This is only practical in small network environment.

Virus Attack
A lot of connections originating from the same MAC address, to the same destination port, but for different destination address, and in short intervals.
Fix: Determine the source address of these connections and disconnect the suspect hosts. Run an antivirus scan on the computer before plugging it back. There are a few ways to determine the source of a virus. Use a packet sniffer, look on your managed switch for the ports with the most traffic and confirm it on the suspected computer by issuing the command “netstat -a -b”, (on a Windows machine). The command will show you which ports are active and which program, (executable), is using the ports.

This article is part of a five posts series regarding Network Troubleshooting.