There aren’t a lot of green web hosting services out there. A couple. But a lot of companies that call themselves green are “green” in name only. These so-called “green” companies often buy energy credits from other companies. Energy credits are like currency. They’re issued by the government and each company is assigned a certain number of green credits. So far so good.However, many company’s maintain a low carbon footprint. They don’t need all of the credits they receive from the government and, guess what? They can sell these energy credits on the open market to other companies – some of which call themselves “green hosts” though these hosting services are sucking up as much juice as ever.Yeah, they’re technically green but in practice, they’re still contributing to the pollution that affects us all. So, what is a true “green host?” Well, it begins with the core values of the company.Green Corporate Culture Good corporate citizenship is an important part of any company brand. That’s why big companies associate themselves with charities, fund raising, scholarships and other benefits delivered to their communities or service areas. This is a good thing. The people benefit from donations of cash or blood (corporate blood banks have grown in popularity) and the companies that sponsor these community-centered events develop good will.That’s a good thing. But many companies are expanding their efforts at good corporate citizenship by going green – using less energy and shrinking their carbon footprint.For a web host, this is a MAJOR change in corporate culture. Web hosts suck up energy faster than a kid sucks of a shake. Web hosts employ rack after rack of servers, each of which requires energy to get those web sites out there onto the W3. So, establishing a green approach to corporate culture is a huge undertaking for a business that relies heavily on electricity to service its client base and keep all those hosted web sites on line 24/7/365. Web servers don’t shut down. They never sleep.So, the first thing to look for when choosing a green host is to read the site text carefully. A company can call itself green and still pump toxins into the atmosphere – as long as they’ve purchased enough carbon credits from another company. A real green host doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk by taking steps to actually shrink its carbon footprint by using less energy.Energy Star Servers Start by asking questions. The first question to ask is, “Are your servers “Energy Star” approved. You see the Energy Star symbol on appliances like stoves and dishwashers. Now you’re seeing it on computers and, yes, servers which are nothing more than big hard drives.Does your green host use Energy Star approved servers? They cost a little more but they use a lot less energy. In the long run, the hosting company actually saves money on energy costs, but the motive behind the purchase of Energy Star servers isn’t a financial consideration.It’s built in to the core values of the green web host. So, before you sign a long-term contract with a web host, contact the company (the good ones provide a toll-free number), talk to a rep and ask if the host employs Energy Star servers. If it does, you’re dealing with a company that puts zapping pollution before zipping up profits.Energy Generation Next question: how is the energy used to power your company’s servers generated? If you get an “ummm….ahhhh….hmmm,” move on. Green web hosts are proud of their commitment to the environment and they’ll be glad to explain the sources of the energy employed to power their servers.The true green hosts employ carbon neutral sources of energy – energy that is NOT generated by traditional coal or gas fired furnaces and old, out-dated generators. These energy sources pump tons and tons of pollutants into the air, making the air dirtier and dirtier today, tomorrow and as far as they eye can see (or can’t see).Wind turbines generate electricity converting wind into electrical energy with no toxic residue. Other sources of carbon neutral energy include solar power, which is becoming more efficient every day with advancements in solar tech, and deep-core earth energy sources that use a long series of pipes to generate warm or cold water instead of heating or cooling water the old fashioned way.Avoid web hosts that are still sucking juice from the grid. You don’t gain anything and, for sure, future generations don’t gain anything. In fact, by using a green hosting company, you make a positive statement about your business’ corporate values – you value the health and well-being of the planet and the people who live here. That’s a powerful statement to make, whether you sell office supplies on-line or clothes on Main Street. Tell the world, tell your prospects, that you value a greener environment in everything you do.Responsible Disposal of Equipment You may not know it but your computer is loaded with toxic heavy metals – mercury in your monitor, cadmium in your motherboard and highly poisonous residue from the harsh acids used to etch circuit boards. This stuff will kill you if you don’t dispose of it responsibly.Oh, you might be inclined to dump that old monitor at the town landfill. It’s only one monitor, right? But what if thousands of old, outdated monitors end up in thousands of landfills across the country?Over time, those heavy metals make their way into the ground water where they’re carried underground and may well end up in YOUR well. Your source of drinking water for the entire family.Responsible disposal of computer equipment is essential to protecting the planet from further harm. Much of this material can be recycled and used in new computers. So outdated equipment can be stripped of circuits and other parts, cleaned and rebuilt from scratch.Now imagine a web hosting company that runs hundreds, even thousands of servers. Parts wear out. Servers become outdated and need to be replaced. A green host takes this outdated equipment and disposes of it responsibly, in a way that NO heavy, toxic metals ever make their way into our fragile water supply.Indeed, this costs the hosting company more money than just hauling outdated equipment to the local landfill, but hosting companies that have, as part of their corporate culture, “green” as a centerpiece, take steps to lessen the flow of dangerous toxins into our water supply.So Is Your Green Host REALLY Green? It may say it’s green. It may even brag about its use of solar or wind generated power. But if that company doesn’t employ “cradle-to-grave” green practices, your host isn’t as green as you’re being led to believe.A truly green host buys energy efficient servers. It runs those servers with carbon neutral energy sources. It uses cold water that’s constantly cooled and recycled to keep the temperature of those servers in the acceptable range.When parts wear out and are replaced, the old parts are recycled for use again and again instead of leaching toxins into our water supply in five or 10 years. It all begins with a green corporate mindset. It starts at the top with a commitment by web host managers to improve the planet’s health.So ask you host a host of questions: do you employ Energy Star equipment? Do you use power from carbon-neutral sources? How is the office powered? How are the servers cooled? How is old, outdated equipment disposed of?If you don’t like the answers you get, you won’t like working with that web host. Further, a truly green hosting service wants YOUR site visitors to recognize your commitment to a cleaner planet today and in the future so most offer an emblem you can display on your web site – an emblem that proudly proclaims that your site is hosted by a green corporate culture…….a corporate culture that becomes YOUR corporate culture. So go green and tell prospects all about yourself.It’s the future of web hosting today. Green web hosting is the future of our planet. Today.
Top web hosting providers recognize that our success depends on your success so, as part of our core corporate culture, we provide all the tools you need to build, launch and manage a successful web-based business – including the information you need to do it RIGHT! So welcome to the second in our series of articles on topics related to web server security. We’ll keep it simple, eliminate the techno-babble and provide, not only the tools, but the know-how to achieve web success.Your success is important.The basics of web server securityWhere to start? Well, if you don’t know anything about the world wide web, that’s the place to start. How does it work? In our previous blog entry, we discussed server security in the article: Is your web hosting company secure? It sure better be.How does web hosting security affect you?For millions of people earning good money on the W3, either as full-time business owners, or to supplement their day job paychecks – a secure web hosting provider is crucial to the success of their business. Not only can a successful web business be developed by seasoned business owners, it can be achieved by beginner entrepreneurs. It’s done every day by people who are no smarter or business savvy than you are. So, yes, the odds ARE stacked against you but, if you do it right and have a web hosting provider that is working towards your success, you can make money of the web.Whatever you plan to sell, enter that product or service into the Google search box and see how many competing sites you’re going to face. Opening a small computer repair service? 1.75 million other computer repair companies and geeks are in front of you. They’re online and doing business. Those are your competitors and they have a head start. The most important thing to remember may also be the most painful and difficult web success concept to keep in mind: web site visitors don’t give a darn about you. People that purchase goods and services on the web are concerned about the security of their online data…the data that they provide when making an online purchase.What is cloud hosting?Cloud computing or cloud web hosting is often the term employed to describe the “as a service” model over the Internet. You will see the terms “infrastructure as a service”, “platform as a service”, or “software as a service” used as you conduct your research of the leading cloud hosting providers such as Rackspace Hosting, Amazon and SoftLayer. In our previous blog entry, we discussed the pros and cons of cloud web hosting.Cloud security in the newsIn April, technology giant Sony faced an outage to its PlayStation Network that caused a security breach relating to approximately 100 million users’ private information. Sony first became aware of the attack on April 19 after it discovered “several PlayStation Network servers had rebooted themselves unexpectedly. Four servers were immediately taken offline in order to figure out what was going on. By the next day, it was clear that another six had been attacked, and they were taken offline as well.” It wasn’t until May 3 that Sony admitted to a second, earlier attack that compromised 25 million Sony Online Entertainment users’ information including credit card numbers. Purdue University security expert Dr. Gene Spafford told Congress that Sony had been running outdated Apache software at the time of the attack. Sony has defended its security procedures, claiming that the proper measures were in place, including recently patched and updated servers and firewall’s. But what does this do to the future of web hosting in the cloud?The future of cloud computingIn a blog post on the Wall Street Journal, Ben Rooney says “the whole cloud computing movement has taken a bit of a knock, or perhaps has had a wake-up call.” Surprisingly, cloud service providers do not see security as their main concern. Perhaps Sony’s experience will make them think again. Some businesses are rethinking plans to move to cloud-based web hosting. Experts in digital security say that investors, businesses and consumers have put too much faith in the cloud. Some cloud web hosting providers are already seeing their clients trying to negotiate new contracts that put financial penalties on cloud providers for service disruptions or security problems.How to choose a cloud web hosting provider?Simple. You call them. Then, you start asking questions and taking notes. There are plenty of web hosts available. You want to go with the best because, in fact, your hosting company is actually your on-line partner.What kind of server-side security do you provide?Choose a host that provides hard-wired firewall’s, software firewall’s, proprietary anti-virus and anti-spy ware software, back-up power supplies, lock-down server rooms, elevated servers, staff background checks, algorithmic encryption, redundancy and the latest in updates and upgrades.Is your web site being hosted with the right web host?Floods, hurricanes, blizzards, heat waves – whatever nature throws at a premium web host, that host has a contingency plan. In fact, Plan A, B, C right on down the line. So analog threats are non-existent. If the host guarantees 99% uptime, you know that host is using state-of-the-art security technology from double locked cages to protect multiple servers to algorithmic-based access and smart-door technology to keep bad people from doing bad things in the host’s server room.Work with a green web hosting provider that takes security seriously. You do… right?