Having a reliable and fast serving website is essential today. You can have the best website in the world but if it is not up when people are trying to load it then there is not much point. Not to mention how important it is to have a fast loading website. Having a content delivery network can improve your website load time, but a decent content delivery network costs money and if you are on shared hosting you might not want to pay more money for a content delivery network just yet. Not to mention a content delivery network does not help to keep your website safe from hackers, spammers and botnet zombie machines.

This is where Cloudflare comes in. Cloudflare helps to protect your website by doing several things. First it helps to protect it from the visitors you don’t want to visit your website. It uses threat data from Project Honey Pot and a variety of other third-party sources to identify online threats. Cloudflare will then challenge. You can even use the threat control panel to ban ip addresses even entire countries.

Cloudflare can also keep your website online when for some reason or other your server goes down. Cloudflare can offer visitors cached pages while your server is offline allowing them to browse and read your content while your server is not available. Visitors will see a small notice that your server is not available. The notice will disappear as soon as your server comes back online again.

Cloudflare will also improve your websites load time, by caching the most used parts of your website. Images, javascript files and cascading styles sheets can all be cached and served through Cloudflare.

I have been using Cloudflare for just over a month on several of my own websites and I have been impressed so far with the service. I am only using the free service, but with the four sites I have added to the service I have seen a overall speed increase of 49%, saved 3.1GB in bandwidth and saved myself from 9,406 unique threats. I have also had the opportunity to test how Cloudflare can keep a website online when the server goes offline. While it was only for a short time the websites content was still available while the server was offline. Cloudflare has certainly improved several of my websites that on shared servers. I am currently only using the free Cloudflare service on some personal websites, but Cloudflare does offer more stats and control.

To get a sense of what Cloudflare can do for your website check out the 90 second video of what Cloudflare does. Also be sure to check out the Cloudflare tour page for more information.

Overall, Cloudflare is am impressive service. I am going to continue to use it for my personal sites and see how the performance improves over time. If you want to try out Cloudflare it only takes a few minutes to setup. If you do come back and leave a comment about what you think of the service.

MozyHome Alternative

I am sure if you have stopped by here in the past and read a few posts you would know that I am a pretty hard core Mozy online backup fan. I have good reason to be, they have helped me keep my business data safe with MozyPro. I have survived a hard drive failure with no data loss and it has helped me to occasionally recover files that I deleted by accident.

I liked MozyPro so much I started to use MozyHome to backup our family data. Mostly photos and videos. There is some other files in there as well, but the large majority of the files I backup with MozyHome are photos and video. It adds up to several hundred gigabyte, not a small amount. It has been great knowing that those files are safe offsite in the event that my local backup fails or both the local backup and computer are stolen or destroyed somehow.

Recently though Mozy has announced new backup plans for MozyHome and as result my several hundred gigabyte backup will go up in price from $103.95 every two years to over $825.00 / two years and that is assuming I create no more photos and video in the next year and a half I have on my current subscription. That is a fairly large price increase. Thankfully I do not have to worry about it until my current subscription expires in about a year and a half.

I understand that Mozy has not had a price increase for MozyHome for a long time, I also understand that I am probably part of the 10% of users that backup a lot of data. I looked at what I backup to MozyHome after the price increase was announced and yes there are some files I can remove, but the majority of them are files I want to make sure are safe. Things like photos of my kids, videos of their first steps, their first school concerts, and so on. These files are precious to me and despite what someone else might say, I want them to be backed up and safe. That is why I keep local backups of them, and why I want an online backup of them as well.

I still like Mozy, and will continue to use MozyPro to keep my business files safe, but I have to admit when my MozyHome subscription is close to over I will likely be moving my family backup to another service. I do not say that lightly, but the new MozyHome plan quotas are to small and too costly to stay with them.

When it does come time to move my home backup I am leaning towards Backblaze. My wife’s laptop has Backblaze installed on it and it works well just automatically backing up everything. I like the fact that if I need to restore all of my files from them I can have a USB drive shipped to me with the files on it. You can read a Backblaze review if you want to know more about the service. Of course if you want to sign up you can go straight to the Backblaze website.

If you are like me and have a lot of personal data that you want to keep safe take a look at Backblaze. If I referred you to MozyHome for your home backup and you are not happy about your price increase take a look at Backblaze, they appear committed to staying an unlimited backup service.

Rest in Peace

Yahoo’s stupidity continues with news that they are closing down Delicious. While not making many headline lately Delicious was a fantastic service that allowed people to bookmark websites so you could access them anywhere. I used to use Delicious regularly to save sites that I would find so I could access the bookmarks from anywhere. The mere fact the Yahoo is closing down a service that was used by millions regularly giving them a database of website bookmarks with tags is astounding to me. How could they not find a way to make money with this service shows how poorly Yahoo had and is being run.

Of course if you use Delicious you are now going to have to export all of your bookmarks to use on another service. Search Engine Land already has a roundup of 10 alternatives that you can switch over too and a good place to start if you want to maintain your bookmarks in the cloud. One service that is not mentioned is Xmarks. While Xmarks is not the same as Delicious, it does provide you with the ability to sync your bookmarks across web browsers, and access your bookmarks over the web from any web browser. Xmarks also had a close call with closing down recently but have been acquired by LastPass so they will be around for a little while longer. At least if Xmarks does close down you will not have to worry about exporting your bookmarks since they will already be one your computer.

I wonder how long until Yahoo closes down Flickr? Course maybe someone could help out my buddy Rhett raise some money to buy it from Yahoo and make it work.

Dropbox Android App

There are some applications that I use all the time and has made my life easier. Dropbox is one of those applications that I mostly use to sync files between my main desktop and my laptop so I always have the latest version of the files I am working on. It is also great to sync my latest favorite album so I can listen to it on the laptop as well. I was looking forward to the Android application coming out so I could use Dropbox to always have the most important files I need available on my phone. After installing the app from the Android market here is what I like and don’t like so far.

The Good

  • Allows me to easily upload files from my Motorola Milestone to Dropbox.
  • Can stream music to my phone, which is handy on a wifi connection.

Things I wish it could do

  • Sync – I am amazed the I cannot sync at least some specific folders to my phone. This is one of the things Dropbox does best and it is missing in the Android app.
  • Download a whole folder – I can download individual files, but it is not possible to download a whole folder at a time.

Dropbox on my laptop and desktop are great, but I have to admit I am a little disappointed in the Dropbox Android app. It seems like they just missed ignore what makes Dropbox great. Sure streaming music to your phone is cool, but I want to be able to wirelessly sync data, music and video to my Android phone so I have it when I am not connected.

Firefox CacheViewer Addon

I was reminded recently that I am human. I made a mistake and when I make a mistake it tends to be a big one. Now I am pretty paranoid about backing up data so when I discovered what I did I knew I would be able to restore pretty much everything from the backup I had, but there was a few pages of new content that I did not have a backup for.

As I started fixing my error I kept wondering how I was going to restore that new information that the client had placed on their website between the last backup and my screw up. Then it dawned on me, I had read the pages that the client added to the site on both Firefox on my desktop and Firefox on my laptop. A quick about:cache?device=disk and sure enough they information was cached. The only problem is that Firefox does not give you a very user friendly view of the cached files. I needed an easy way to save the information so I could add it back into the website.

This is where I discovered the Firefox CacheViewer Addon. It allows you to sort the items in the Firefox cache by key, size, type and date. Using the Firefox CacheViewer I was quickly able to find the couple items I needed, save them as HTML files and copy the information out that I was missing.

If you every need to go looking though your Firefox cache for some information that you might have lost, or just want to browse the cache and see what Firefox has saved take a look at the Firefox CacheViewer Addon. It sure helped me when I made my mistake.

What is My IP Address

Your IP Address Is:

It seems like I need this information at least once a day lately from one client or another so I thought I would make it easy for me to find.

If you need to find your IP address often you might want to signup for a service like DynDNS that will assign a domain name to your DHCP IP Address. I use it for my office IP Address and it makes it easy to connect to my office network.

Dropbox Review

There are a number of tools that I use regularly and tend to take for granted, one of those tools is Dropbox. I have a desktop computer that I do the majority of my work on, but there are times when I meet with clients and I take my laptop. While I take transfer the files that I need from my desktop to my laptop there are occasions when I do forget a file or I create some new documents and I want to make sure that they are stored back on my desktop just in case something happens to my laptop.

I used to carry a USB flash drive around but there have been occasions when I forget to take it with me. There is nothing worse than being at a clients and realizing I forgot an important file or folder on my desktop that I wanted to show them. This is where I will usually use a VNC remote desktop to connect to my desktop computer copy the folders and files I need into my Dropbox and in a couple of seconds (or minutes depending on how large the files are) and the files are there for me to use on my Dropbox on my laptop and accessible through the web interface.

Dropbox has also come in very useful when I have created new documents on my laptop and want to make sure I have a copy of them when I am back at home just in case something happens to my laptop before I get home. I have Mozy installed on my desktop at home and it automatically backs up my files there, my laptop does not have Mozy so I backup the files using Dropbox to my desktop which will automatically backup the files. Dropbox makes it very easy for me to make sure those files are safe and where I need them. That way I don’t have to worry about losing my USB flash drive.

There are lots of other things you can do with Dropbox. I am sure I have only touched the surface of what can be done but it works well for what I need it to do. Dropbox gives you 2gb for free so you can use it without it costing a cent and it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. If you need more space you can purchase a larger account. The next account size up from free is $9.99/month or $99.00/year for 50gb. They also have a referral program that will get you more space for every person that you refer. If you need to sync files between two or more computers or want to have instant web access then take a look at Dropbox it might be just what you are looking for, I know it has helped me numerous times since I installed it.


Want to know what other websites someone else owns or works on? Thanks to SpyOnWeb you can get a pretty good idea of what other websites someone owns or is involved with. Just enter the URL of the website you want to know about and SpyOnWeb will return the other website names that are associated with that address. SpyOnWeb does more than just look up the sites that are on the same IP address though, it will look for sites that have the same AdSense publisher id and the same Google Analytics ID. This gives you a much better idea of what other sites a person is involved in.

This service is similar to another one I talked about at one time called You Get Signal. You Get Signal only returns the other websites that are on the same IP address though. If the persons website is on shared web hosting then there is no guarantee that the other websites are theirs or belong to someone else. The fact that SpyOnWeb checks not just for IP addresses but also Google AdSense and Analytics ID’s give it a better percentage that the sites it returns will be have something to do with the same person.

There is a lot of information you can find with a tool like this and while it can be fun to see what other websites people have, it may not be totally accurate as well. For example, some of the sites that it returns for me are not my personal websites, but my clients websites. Yes I do have something to do with the site, but it is not my website. There were also some websites returned that are no longer mine or on my server. Overall it can be a useful tool, especially if you are wondering what else your competition might be up too. Remember to play nice though. Like Search Engine Journal says:

I don’t advise though to use this tool for any malicious purposes.

I read about this service thanks to a post over at Search Engine Journal.

7 Easy to Use Document Sharing Websites

Sharing information is what the Internet is about. The problem is that not all information is easily made into HTML pages so it can be easily shared. The creation of easy to use content management systems has made it easier for anyone to become a web publisher, but there are still times when it is not easy to put the information you want to share with the world online. Often the problem is because the format the information is in is not easily converted to HTML. Fortunately there are now easier ways to share documents that do not require you to export documents to HTML. Here are some of the easiest ways I have found to share documents on the web.

Google Docs

Google Docs allows people to upload many different formats of documents which you can then share. Speadsheets and Presentations can be embedded into web pages, and word processing documents can be saved as web pages. For example here is a quick document I made just to share with all of you.


Scribd is my favourite way to embed PDF and Word documents online. They support a wide range of document types including:

Microsoft Office: Microsoft Word Files doc, docx Microsoft Powerpoint Files ppt, pptx, pps Microsoft Excel Files xls, xlsx

PDF: PDF pdf, ps

Open Office: Open Office Documents odt, odp, sxw, sxi, etc.

Text: Text Documents txt, rtf

Once the documents are uploaded you can copy and paste the embed code and add the document as a flash reader to your website or blog. Makes it great for people to read that PDF instead of downloading it.


Docstoc is similar to Scribd in many ways. You can upload documents and embed them in your website. Docstoc recently just came out of beta and has also started an AdSense revenue sharing program. This gives people the opportunity to share in the money that is made from their documents that they upload to Docstoc. Check out the video below if you would like to know more.


I just recently came across edocr, and have not much of a chance to try it yet. It looks similar to Scribd as well, but the site appears to cater more to business than to individuals. If anyone has more experience with them leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.


SlideShare is my favourite way to embed presentations in a website. Simply upload the presentation and you can then easily copy and paste the embed code to add the presentation to your website to let people click through the slides.


Similar to SlideShare but with more of a focus on business presentations and sharing with other business colleagues.


Is not just a presentation sharing website. They allow you to create your own presentaions online and then embed them into your website using a flash embed.

Those are some of the web services I have found and use to easily embed documents into websites and blogs. As I mentioned I have my favourites, what are yours?

Online Invoicing: FreshBooks or Cashboard?

I tweeted recently that I was doing my invoicing and that I needed to find another way of doing it. Two suggestions I got from people were FreshBooks and Cashboard. I checked out both and signed up for the free trials.

Feature wise both FreshBooks and Cashboard offer similar things. Invoicing, recurring invoicing, time tracking, estimates and reports. A couple features that FreshBooks offers is the ability to enter expenses and snail mail an invoice to clients that do not have email. Cashboard has expense tracking on their being developed feature list so I image that will be added soon.

Recurring invoicing is one of the tasks I tend to get behind on and it was the main reason for me to look at finding a new method to do my invoicing. Both FreshBooks and Cashboard offer a recurring invoicing system and from what I can see they both work fairly similar. Invoices are created automatically and clients can then login and either download and print the invoice and depending on your payment options pay you online. This feature alone will save me several hours a month and my clients will no longer have to wait for me to get the invoice out to them. It also gives me a great overview of how much regular money I have coming in every month.

The tracking project time is another nice feature and again I could not see a great deal of difference between FreshBooks and Cashboard. Both offer time tracking based on projects and tasks. Cashboard does allow you to create an invoice from your tracked time, I was not certain if Freshbooks is able to do that. I still track much of my time using a spreadsheet on Google Docs because I often have GMail and Google Docs open while I work.

Invoicing in both systems is similar, but I did notice that Cashboard allows you to attach a PDF to the email when you are sending an invoice by email. This is a nice feature that means the client does not have to go and download the invoice from the Internet. It would be nice if the recurring invoices allowed that as well on Cashboard. FreshBooks does not appear to attach a PDF file to the email when invoices are emailed out. FreshBooks does however allow you to send a snail mail invoice so that could be a real plus for those people that have clients that do not have email (is that possible anymore?).

I have to say I am impressed by the features of both FreshBooks and Cashboard. At this point I am leaning towards signing up for Cashboard mainly because of Cashboard being slightly less expensive for the features I need. Hopefully soon I will be on my way to invoicing heaven.

What do you use to do your invoicing and why?