What Used to be Great Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

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At Nebraska Digital, we’ve been designing and hosting web sites with WordPress since 2004. A lot has changed, but on the server side, an awful lot has stayed the same. All of that changed in 2016 as we worked to upgrade our WordPress hosting platform.

We still think WordPress is the greatest content management system in the world. But the truth is, it’s become more resource hungry than ever before. Automated hacks have become more sophisticated. Security is more important. Some updates need to be done in real time. Themes are more complex (and code bloated) than ever. At the same time, Google started rapidly dictating its own constantly evolving standards for speed, mobile friendliness, security and SEO. Ignore them at the peril of your search engine listings. And your bottom line.

So we faced a choice: We could do what many other design and hosting companies were doing and just merrily go about our business as if nothing had happened. Or we could get better. We decided better was good.

Here’s how we got better in 2016:

  • Faster SSD drives: The new solid state drives run WordPress 15 times faster than our old mechanical drives. Google rewards that speed in its search results.
  • SSL certificates on most sites: Google wants to see an https on your site. We’ve made them quicker and less expensive to install.
  • Better hardware and software: Our new servers run Centos 7, PHP7 and NGINX. Before your eyes glaze over, our testing shows they are 18 times faster than the old ones many hosting companies are still using. Plus they handle much more traffic than ever before. The G man loves us!
  • A single firewall to block the nasty stuff: We standardized the firewall we use to block denial of service attacks, login attempts and malware across all of our servers. In 2017, we’ll get even more sophisticated by enabling real-time information sharing across all of our firewalls to block new threats. Attack one of our servers and we’ll block you across all of them before you can say “Boo.”
  • Backups with long-term memory: Our new backup system stores daily copies of your site for as long as you are a customer. So if you need us to jump back in the time machine to retrieve a copy of your site from 103 days ago, we should have it available. Sure, that’s terabytes of data. But we tell our customers they are worth it, because, well, you are.
  • Faster software updates: We installed a special admin-level control panel that can be used to quickly update WordPress software and plugins across all of our sites.  A new zero-day threat no longer means skipping Christmas Eve with the family. (Yes, that happened in 2013!) Certain sites with unique configurations can be excluded. Nifty and safe!
  • Better security by default: As new customers have come to us asking for help in getting their hacked WordPress sites fixed, we’ve become more sophisticated in the way we go about hardening and protecting all of our sites. We’ve taken that knowledge, standardized it and rolled it out across our entire customer base.

So are we perfect? Heck no! But we’re proud of the extra work we put in last year and are looking forward to even greater things in 2017.

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