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Web Hosting - Redundancy and Failover
Among the more useful innovations in computing, actually invented decades ago, are the twin ideas of redundancy and failover. These fancy words name very common sense concepts. When one computer (or part) fails, switch to another. Doing that seamlessly and quickly versus slowly with disruption defines one difference between good hosting and bad.
Network redundancy is the most widely used example. The Internet is just that, an inter-connected set of networks. Between and within networks are paths that make possible page requests, file transfers and data movement from one spot (called a 'node') to the next. If you have two or more paths between a user's computer and the server, one becoming unavailable is not much of a problem. Closing one street is not so bad, if you can drive down another just as easily.
Of course, there's the catch: 'just as easily'. When one path fails, the total load (the amount of data requested and by how many within what time frame) doesn't change. Now the same number of 'cars' are using fewer 'roads'. That can lead to traffic jams.
A very different, but related, phenomenon occurs when there suddenly become more 'cars', as happens in a massively widespread virus attack, for example. Then, a large number of useless and destructive programs are running around flooding the network. Making the situation worse, at a certain point, parts of the networks may shut down to prevent further spread, producing more 'cars' on now-fewer 'roads'.
A related form of redundancy and failover can be carried out with servers, which are in essence the 'end-nodes' of a network path.
Servers can fail because of a hard drive failure, motherboard overheating, memory malfunction, operating system bug, web server software overload or any of a hundred other causes. Whatever the cause, when two or more servers are configured so that another can take up the slack from one that's failed, that is redundancy.
That is more difficult to achieve than network redundancy, but it is still very common. Not as common as it should be, since many times a failed server is just re-booted or replaced or repaired with another piece of hardware. But, more sophisticated web hosting companies will have such redundancy in place.
And that's one lesson for anyone considering which web hosting company may offer superior service over another (similarly priced) company. Look at which company can offer competent assistance when things fail, as they always do sooner or later.
One company may have a habit of simply re-booting. Others may have redundant disk arrays. Hardware containing multiple disk drives to which the server has access allows for one or more drives to fail without bringing the system down. The failed drive is replaced and no one but the administrator is even aware there was a problem.
Still other companies may have still more sophisticated systems in place. Failover servers that take up the load of a crashed computer, without the end-user seeing anything are possible. In fact, in better installations, they're the norm. When they're in place, the user has at most only to refresh his or her browser and, bingo, everything is fine.
The more a web site owner knows about redundancy and failover, the better he or she can understand why things go wrong, and what options are available when they do. That knowledge can lead to better choices for a better web site experience.
Continuing Education Key to Being a Better Employee Employers now recognize the importance of continuing education for employees. Over the past few years, more and more employers have begun to offer tuition reimbursement and continuing education classes to their employees. While this was once thought of as an excessive expensive, it is now understood that continuing education benefits the company as much or more as it does the employee. The job market is becoming more and more competitive everyday. Only the best employees are getting jobs in certain sectors. That means that your skills need to be sharp in order for you to remain valuable to your company. This is where continuing education comes into play. No matter what type of job you have, just about all companies are investing in continuing education. The reasons why are simple. Even though the company may spend a good deal of money on continuing education for their employees, they see an even larger return. By having employees that are on the top of their game, the company will be more productive as a whole. Thus the company will make more money. With that in mind, it is very important that employees always take advantage of continuing education classes when they can. You will be able to stay on top of whatever new trends are coming up and possibly acquire skills that will allow you to move up in the company. By taking continuing education classes, you will become more productive. Studies have found that employees that continue to have their skills refreshed and renewed are more productive on the job. This is a perk for both employees and their employers. You will be able to finish more work in less time and with more understanding. Thus making your time at work easier. If you are not sold on the idea of continuing education, think of it this way. Your employer is paying for it. It is a perk of your job that you should take full advantage of. If you are working towards acquiring skills that will lead you to a promotion or an entirely new job, you are doing something to better yourself. And, it is costing you less, or nothing at all. The best companies to work for in the country have great training programs. This is no coincidence. These companies, which also make a ton of money spend thousands of dollars training their employees so that they can go out and make the company the most money possible. Less successful companies have begun to follow suit. No matter what type of job you have, there are continuing education programs that can help enhance your job experience. Continuing education is a great way to break out of a rut. If you are eager to change jobs or get a promotion, you will fair much better in the job market if you do some continuing education. Use whatever means your company offers to better yourself and become more marketable. The type of continuing education you choose depends on your career goals. It is always helpful to have an advanced degree in a certain field. If tuition reimbursement for graduate school is an option, take it. Having a Master?s or PHD will help you become an expert in your field of study. If your job has company continuing education, take them up on it., Even if a promotion is not exactly what you are looking for, being cross trained is always a good idea. Gain as much in the way of knowledge and skills as you can. When you move on to your next job those skills will look great on your resume.
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