We tend to focus most of our attention on the server-side tweaks and tips that will allow your media to truly blossom. Granted, that’s a very important part of the web hosting and web ownership process. But believe it or not, there are entire hosts of additional programs and utilities that you can keep on you side of the equation that will do just as much to enhance your experience.
Don’t believe us? Then you’re in luck, because we’ve got a full roster of some of our favorite time, energy and money saving utilities lined up and ready to roll below. We’ll try to keep things cross platform, that way you don’t have to worry about the operating system on either your server or your personal computer. With that in mind, let’s get diving! Starting with:
#1. Google Products
We could easily spend the entire article expounding upon the benefits of using Google Applications to save your web hosting company or experience a whole lot of pain. However, we’ll try to keep things concise here: To put it simply, adding the Google Apps experience to your web hosting whole can dramatically increase your performance, boost your productivity, and make you an happier webmaster. Let’s analyze how this is possible starting with Gmail.
You see, every web host in existence will offer you some kind of web mail option, as well as some sort of personal web mail management. This is a good thing, and you should always seek it out in a new host. However, is that dedicated web mail client really the best way to host your media?
In our eyes, not very. In fact, we’ve preferred the speed, simplicity and power of Gmail to almost anything else for a long time. Gmail comes with superior categorization, better labels, a smoother interface, cloud support (you can access your domain’s mail from absolutely anywhere) and far better archiving than any other service we have ever come across. All in all, it’s a truly star-studded and battle-tested way to receive and send your mail. Best of all, it folds directly into your existing hosting framework with little to no trouble. Sounds like a winner to us!
The same goes for other Google products like Documents, Drive, and others. In essence, you can tie all of these applications to your domain’s server space in a matter of minutes, instantly boosting what’s possible there.
#2. Cloud Storage
Do you have your server setup with the files that you want and need, but you’re butting up against a performance block that’s preventing your file space from truly taking off? If so, you might aught to consider some sort of third-party cloud storage solution. There are a number of options on the table, but not all of them are created equally.
Personally, our favorite happens to be DropBox. It provides a quick and convenient way to upload files to a secure and unbelievably accessible central drive that you can return to from any web portal. Furthermore, it’s free with a lot of gigabytes attached, which means you’ll earn a whole lot of bang for not a whole lot of buck. Lastly, DropBox is already integrated with some of the more popular services that you use. For instance, you can easily upload your WordPress backups to the service thanks to a few handy plugins. All in all, this makes the service budget friendly, user enhancing, and experience boosting from the ground up.
Not all of our app recommendations are actual bits of software that get downloaded to your personal hard drive! In fact, some of them are maintained on the Internet for you to use at any point in time. What’s a great example of this? A little web app called Smush.it.
This is a Yahoo! supported service that enables you to drop the file size of your website’s images without dropping their resolution. The service works with a number of popular file formats, which means you won’t have to stretch much to get your files to comply. Best of all, a lack of any drop in resolution means that the resulting, smashed images will not be any worse off than when they started. However, they will be much smaller, which can result in quite the speed gain for your server-side performance. And as we all know, a speedy website is an happy one! Yeah . . . That was kind of cheesy.
#4. An FTP Client
Of course, where would your web hosting experience be without a quality FTP client at the helm to ensure your files get where they need to go every time? On a baser level, how much harder would it be if you had to visit your web hosting company’s FTP portal every time you wanted to upload or modify the files located on your server? What if something goes wrong, and you need to twist the way your files are setup to save your site? All in all, you’re going to need one of these.
Our favorite is FileZilla. It’s a great application with a load of quality features, and its budget friendly nature means that you won’t have to work very hard to add it to your repertoire. Furthermore, it’s fairly easy to use, which means you’ll be pumping files up and down the pipe like a pro in no time.
However, that’s our cross platform favorite. Our actual best in class is a little application called Cyber Duck. We’ve been using it on the Macintosh for almost a decade, and we absolutely love it. If you happen to own one of the Apple branded wonders that we’ve seen floating around the coffee shops in our are, go ahead and grab this app. Its minimalist interface, quick to manage features, and history tabs ensure that you’ll get to uploading and modifying much faster than with other FTP clients. Best of all, it’s completely free with Growl support. Does it get any better?