Losing Chinese Business Because of 2 Simple Mistakes

This is not an article about the market condition in China but more of a practical reality that I think most people and businesses have not considered. If you read the news you’ll feel the first impediment to business in China is going to be regulations or that your website may be blocked by the GFW (Great Firewall of China). However in practical terms this is something you’ll almost never encounter. There are however 2 simple but huge, crucial and critical mistakes that most businesses make when trying to attract prospective Chinese customers for overseas or cross-border e-Commerce.

#1 Common Mistake That Guarantees No Customers From China Will Ever Reach Your Site
Everyone knows Google has extensive reach in various online services and platforms including search but their reach goes farther in a very harmful way for anyone trying to get Chinese visitors to their website. This issue applies to almost any user in China whether they are a local or foreigner and whether you are hosting in China, Hong Kong or anywhere outside. This problem can only be resolved by an experienced web developer or team and is a mistake MOST developers unknowingly make.

This little mistake comes from the fonts specified in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) that are used to style and/or layout all websites on the internet. CSS itself is not the problem, but what is the problem is that a lot of designers use “Google Font APIs” from googleapis.com. This is a bad idea in my opinion aside from the main reason which is that you rely on a third outside party to make sure your website loads. If the remotely hosted fonts cannot be loaded due to a change in location or the server goes down, your website will not load. In the case of China on virtually all consumer grade connections “googleapis.com” is blocked, this means the third party font server is as good as down and your website WILL not load in China because of it.

Essentially what this means is that any website using Google Font APIs will not work in China no matter where it is hosted. The solution is to edit your CSS code and use alternative fonts, or to manually download the .ttf and edit your .css files.

#2 Hosting your site outside of Mainland China or Hong Kong is too slow
For those who have ever visited China, loading sites abroad such as in the US or even worse in Europe is a very difficult hit and miss experience. While most sites are actually not blocked by the GFW, a good portion of sites and services are unusable due to poor connectivity between China and a lot of ISPs. This can be solved somewhat with premium bandwidth that we use in China but really the best solution is to host your site in Mainland China or Hong Kong.

For those familiar with China, you will know that you need an ICP license from the Ministry of IT. This is not a problem if you have a presence in China or a friend who can help. But really the only legal way is to get a proper ICP license which means based on your business and not a personal ICP (we have seen these revoked for misuse). To make it short, if you don’t have an ICP in China your site will not work and will be blocked. So hosting your website in China is only an option if you have an ICP license.

The next best thing is Premium bandwidth from Hong Kong with direct China connectivity which is almost as good as being in Mainland China. But note the “Premium Bandwidth” and “Direct China Connectivity” because only some providers have this. Bandwidth is very expensive in Hong Kong and the only way providers can save money is by buying non-premium bandwidth that routes all China traffic through the USA. For cost it makes sense for those providers, but for you the end user and business who wants to have Chinese customers it doesn’t make sense unless you have direct China peering/connectivity. If you have a good connection to China from Hong Kong then users can essentially expect your site to perform as if it’s in Mainland China, in fact most users will probably feel it is located in China because of the low latency and fast response. In Hong Kong there is no requirement for an ICP license so this is really the best method for those who can’t the ICP license in China.

Don’t Lose Out
For companies who have targeted the Chinese market and have attempted to drive traffic to their own website or third party portal if you haven’t received the response you’ve expected the above could very well be why you have no Chinese customers. In another blog post I will show a few technical examples of how to fix it and still use Google Font APIs although the easiest, quickest fix is to stop using them.

Slow Internet in China especially Shanghai and Beijing!

A colleague sent me this article asking my thoughts: http://travel.cnn.com/shanghai/life/your-internet-connection-feel-slow-its-probably-not-your-router-684008/

A lot of people automatically assume the best internet experience will be found in Beijing or Shanghai but we’ve never known that to be the case.  A lot of people will automatically assume it is the GFW/Great Firewall but in fact from my experience it simply seems to be packetloss due to congestion.  China has an enormous amount of demand for bandwidth since it has the highest amount of users (736million as of 2017!) in the world. This is why for compevo and Techrich we’ve always avoided the major centers due to the congestion.  However, bandwidth and good connectivity inside and outside of China is not always dictated by the location and even the backbone in the same cities of China are not created equally.  It takes a lot of research to get access to reliable and fast bandwidth in China but this is a completely different book to write.

With that in mind there are many ways around the slow internet in China, if your local connection is fast and connection inside China is fast you could simply use an internet acceleration service that runs through a less congested part of China and even Hong Kong.  It’s a great way to optimize your internet.

My recommendation even in 2017 is that there are many places in China with fast and reliable internet but major hubs will not likely one of them anytime soon due to the user bases in major areas being so large.

How To Make Your Office IT/Computer Hardware More Green

As part of doing my part for the environment I consolidated a lot of other server/computer hardware in my office into a low-power, quiet and cool running Dedicated AMD Opteron Desktop Workstation Server from scratch.  It has kept my office cooler and quieter, all while saving on power and more importantly the environment.  I should have added that I also reduced the number of hard disks from several if not dozens in my office, to just 6 disks (all of them larger I believe 4-8TB each).

But I wanted to take it a step further and I admit I was also motivated each morning by the unfriendly smells of burning PCB no matter what I did.  It’s an exercise in efficiency, savings, environment and your own health and sanity.

In my office I have a gigabit 24-port rack mount switch and 42U server rack where I store parts and other items for testing and development.  Believe it or not but this switch seems to have made an incredible amount of heat and even worse, the burning PCB smell which can’t be healthy and it still baffles me because its fan is working just fine and the unit doesn’t get that hot.

This is where the waste part came in, the thing is that under my Desk I have a small gigabit switch for all of my other devices such as VOIP, phone, printer, laptop, etc… and the 24-port switch only has 4 or 5 ports active.  I’ve kept the 24-port on the rack and ready to plug in and I just switched in a humble but efficient 5-port gigabit switch which has reduced heat and the bad PCB smell in the office.

One thing I admit that I have done (or rather haven’t) is enabled any kind of sleep mode for my Desktop workstation and this is because it is nearly always active and I like to remotely connect to it at odd times of the day.  But still this current Opteron workstation runs cooler than my previous labyrinth of servers and workstations that were active so I can actually hear again.  By consolidating most services into a single unit with virtual servers you can often eliminate the majority of power usage which primarily comes from hot and power hungry CPUs.  This is one reason why I haven’t upgraded to newer Opteron architecture, yes you get more cores per CPU but the power usage ends up being more than what I am into now and is no more efficient and far exceeds my current needs.

Personal Best Hosting Advice for Shared, VPS and Dedicated Servers

Since one of our product offerings is offering hosting I’m often asked by friends and family which company they should use and where they should host, and which host is the best for their shared hosting, VPS or Dedicated Server.

Surprising to some the answer is not always, host with compevo but based on their actual needs and goals.   If someone needs to host their site in Australia or another location we do not offer, I’m not going to suggest they host elsewhere unless there is a good reason or actual business case for it, or if they have a niche we don’t cover, I always recommend they find a niche provider for their industry and usually the company I recommend will not be the typical one most have heard of.

The biggest issue I find trying to help people is getting friends and family to understand what they need and to get the actual requirements from them.  In the case that they can’t describe what they want then I’ll try to guide them.

For example I have a friend from Australia who has clients that are mainly from North America and Europe but said he wanted to host in Australia.  I told him not to host in Australia as things tend to load a bit slower to most areas from Australia as its not on a main fiber route (eg. multiple routes with lots of traffic transiting since Australia is isolated by the ocean and has no other country physically connected to it).  It would only make sense to host in Australia if most of your clientel were from Australia.  I suggested he host in North America because it was a middle ground compared to Europe, specifically the mid or east which can provide low ping to most of Europe (in many cases around 100ms), and yet Asia and the rest of the world has excellent connectivity here too.

What surprises me about the questions I get is that a lot of people incorrectly assume they need a powerhouse of a server with loads of RAM to host their website.  Unless you have a large amount of traffic that’s not going to be an issue for most sites so I try to save them money.  In a case like the above I would normally recommend a VPS in Canada or the US as long as privacy is not a primary concern.  If data security and privacy is of the utmost concern I usually recommend Hong Kong, China or Russia depending on the type of the business and if it has fierce competitors in the region it will be hosting.

Depending on what they are after and what they need,when I recommend compevo here’s where I’ve usually sent them:

compevo.cn for VPS in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Dedicated Servers in China

compevo.com for VPS in Hong Kong near Mainland China

compevo.com Dedicated Servers on Linux and Windows in the USA with premium bandwidth

 

Windows VPS Server 2008/2012 VPS (Virtual Private Server) are too RAM intensive

I’ll let the image for this post do the talking.  It is a freshly installed Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter VPS that I quickly provisioned in my test lab (for testing :)).  The only thing installed was ClamAV/ClamWIN and Firefox was open with a single tab.

However the memory usage itself was coming from something less obvious.  This server boots up and initially uses “697MB” of RAM (quite hefty in my opinion at least compared to the lightweight world of Linux).  From that point it only goes downhill in terms of memory usage.

The memory usage ballooned quickly to nearly 1.2GB and was steadily climbing all because of Windows Update doing updates.

This is staggering because many VPS Plans and providers will allow you to run Windows 2008 Server on as little as 512MB of RAM and as we can see below 1GB of RAM isn’t even enough.  In fact it could be argued that the real minimum is probably at least 2GB for basic usage (which I define here is just running Windows Update!).

Windows poses unique challenges for virtualization environments and hosts because even a single Windows VPS will start swapping easily with less than 2GB of RAM.  The problem with swapping of course is high and constant disk IO/bandwidth being consumed by a single VPS.

As shown in the pic above it doesn’t take much to get into high RAM usage territory and is also likely why some feel Windows does not run well in a virtual environment.  In my experience it runs lightning fast and at bare-metal speed but it won’t seem that way if someone tries running it with less than 2GB of RAM.

About Areeb Soo Yasir and compevo communications

Areeb Soo Yasir is the CEO of compevo communications and founded the company in 2001.  compevo communications was originally named by Areeb Yasir, “computer evolution” started out by offering outstanding technical support services, locally in the Vancouver, BC area of Canada while attending BCIT.  Areeb Yasir quickly expanded compevo’s reach and offerings to nearly all things IT, with a focus around business IT solutions, web hosting (initially web hosting, then VPS, then Dedicated Servers), IT security, and IT consulting.

15 years later, compevo communications has survived the dot bomb era and financial crisis of 2008 and has been constantly growing thanks to our highly targeted and unique in-house services.  compevo has multiple facilities worldwide with a strong focus on North America and Asia.

compevo communications offers superior IT solutions and has excelled in bundling in house support, consulting and VPS, Dedicated Server hosting solutions.