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Server Intellect
The Server Experts - Managed Dedicated Servers and Cloud Hosting Solutions
The Server Experts - Managed Dedicated Servers and Cloud Hosting Solutions

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When I started Server Intellect more than 10 years ago, I started it with the goal to do things differently.

My goal was to consistently go Above and Beyond for my customers. I wanted to treat customers the way I wanted to be treated. I wanted to Wow them with every interaction.

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We all find our zen in Servers.

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Three IIS Tuning Tips to Speed Up Your Web Server

Internet Information Services (IIS) is the heart of Windows web hosting. If you run a Windows environment, you probably use IIS for hosting services. Forty percent of users bounce from a website that takes more than three seconds to load, so performance is imperative for good sales conversions. Here are three ways to quickly speed up a web server for better performance.

Enable Compression
Bandwidth is a necessity for fast web pages, and compression uses your bandwidth more efficiently. Compression reduces the size of files stored on the server and transmitted to the user’s browser. 

Open IIS and find the “Compression” icon in the list of website features. Click “Enable dynamic content compression.” Click “Apply” and that’s it. Compression is enabled for your pages. For more advanced users, you can specify file sizes, filter applications and choose a cache directory. For basic compression, allow IIS to manage these settings.

Alternatively, for those people who prefer the command console, dynamic compression can be enabled by typing “appcmd set config /section:urlCompression /doDynamicCompression:True” in the console command line.

Enable Output Caching
Similar to a browser’s cache, IIS also hosts its own cache system. Each time a user requests a page on the server, IIS processes the page, the database is called, and then the page content is sent to the user. Caching keeps a copy of pages in memory, which greatly increases performance. Caching should only be used for pages that don’t change often.

In IIS, click “Output Caching” to view a list of current rules. Click “Add” to create your own rule. Type the file extension for pages you want to cache. For instance, if you have a storefront with pages that rarely change, you want to choose these file extensions. Typically, dynamic file extensions are PHP or ASPX. 

Click “Advanced” to choose how long you want to store these cached pages, and to choose any query string variables. Choosing query string variables will limit cached dynamic content, so you can filter specific pages. Expiration dates determine the next time the server will execute dynamic data and re-query for new page content.

Turn Off Logging
IIS logs each page request in a text file, but flat-file systems are slower than the internal Windows Event Viewer. Event Viewer is standard with all Windows servers, and it’s a convenient way to find page errors. Flat files grow into gigabytes of data for high-traffic sites. Logging is useful in development and testing environments, but logging should be turned off in production environments.

Open IIS and click “Logging” in the website features. Click “Disable.” In the logging section, IIS displays the directory in which files are stored. Delete these files to free up some hard disk space.

These three configurations speed up an IIS server, but they also don’t circumvent good coding, fast hosts and bandwidth availability. If you think the site needs improvement for any of these factors, tuning IIS will only place a small band-aid on a larger performance bleed. Tuning IIS helps improve speed, but a full audit is needed for sites with severe performance issues.

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Information on the PRISM Program and the Utah Data Center.

(This is a parody site, and they did a good job on it)


Choosing a Server Operating System: Windows vs. Linux

Every day wars are waged in forums across the internet over the question of Windows versus Linux. When the task at hand is running a dedicated server, most industry professionals say it’s a simple matter of finding the best fit for your needs.

At the level of basic functionality the comparison can be accurately boiled down to a choice between stability and limited flexibility under Windows versus more complex upkeep but nearly limitless options with Linux.

Because Windows is the property of one corporation which handles all of its development and software updating, choices for a network administrator are constrained to the functionality built into the system by Microsoft. On the flip side, the relative limiting of choices often ensures that each aspect of the server software has been rigorously tested and will perform reliably.

Due to its Open Source nature, options for software tweaks, add-ons, and expansions under the Linux system are vast and widely varied. In consequence, there is more potential opportunity for any individual piece of the system to malfunction. 

To navigate this difference, first decide what duties the server will be required to perform. If you need a simple file server, the chances are slim that you’ll require access to the range of options under Linux, and would likely be better suited to a Windows system. On the other hand, complex databases or servers required to run a variety of software that’s proprietary to your needs would likely benefit from the looser constraints of Linux.

The foundation of this decision rests in large part on the skill set of the network administrator. Even the widest universe of Linux software possibilities will be meaningless if the administrator is unfamiliar with the system.

To most network administrators the reality of this learning curve is the determining factor. Given their own choice, the average administrator would much rather work with the system he or she is most familiar with.

The second question to take under consideration is one of cost. Every office is familiar with the cost of Windows licenses, and it’s no different for Windows Server systems. Linux, by its very nature, is “free,” but simple sticker price for a license isn’t the whole story.

Though the Linux universe is Open Source and heavily emphasizes free software, there are plenty of add-on programs out there which may be suited to your server needs but must be bought and paid for like their Windows counterparts. 

The cost of man hours required to run the system should also be taken into account. While Linux allows a savvy administrator to delve into every piece of code from top to bottom, those benefits require time and effort, and it’s quite possible that paying for those hours will very quickly negate the system’s sticker price advantage over a Windows license.

When it comes to system security Linux holds the historical advantage, but Windows systems have gained parity over the last decade. In the first twenty years of the internet’s history, Windows server software was accurately painted as notoriously vulnerable to viruses and unwanted network intrusions. Because of this, Linux and other systems held a dominant market share. The knowledge base and familiarities gained during this legacy holds true for Linux systems into the present day. This makes it more likely that experienced administrators will be most familiar with Linux, but when it comes to the realities of each system’s security the differences between the most recent software versions are minimal. 

The final factor to consider is one of compatibility between systems. While Linux servers are perfectly capable of interacting with other systems, the potential for conflict exists if the server will be required to regularly interface with individual computers operating under a Windows desktop operating system. Linux supporters may accurately characterize this as a problem stemming from Windows itself rather than Linux, but the fact remains that the potential exists.

Perhaps the single most important step to take when setting up a network or server system from scratch is bringing the network administrator into the conversation. An administrator at the top of his or her game will be able to wrangle either system into performing the functions required of it, but may feel better suited to one or the other. The most reliable way to ensure that unnecessary man hours aren’t being drained by network maintenance is to make sure the administrator isn’t being asked to take on more than they’re comfortable with.

Once these questions have been taken into consideration and considered thoughtfully, the answer to the Windows versus Linux debate will likely become self-evident.

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Join the community to start sharing, discussing, and posting all about Servers!

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Guess the Data Center? :)

Now that Google+ is picking up steam, we will be posting a lot more to this page, as well as redoing our Top Banner. Stay tuned!
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