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Yes, There Really is a Freebie Santa Claus
If you are a cynic when it comes to offers of free stuff, you are not alone. Everyone has had notions like ?there is no such thing as a free lunch? and ?if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is? drilled into their heads, and for good reason ? these things often hold water. On the flip side, there ARE actually lots of places you can score some decent free stuff, if you know where to look and are willing to devote some time to hunting them down. The key to getting the best free stuff with the least amount of hassle is to stick with that healthy cynicism but to also dipping your toe in the freebie pool little by little.
But why would anyone give stuff away for free? It is certainly an obvious question, but if you stop to consider it for a moment, you can see that companies actually have a lot of motivation to give away free stuff. After all, if they give you something for free, you are bound to have a little soft spot for their company, and when you are ready to part with some cash, their product may near the top of your list. Also, by giving away free things, companies can convince people to try new products. You might not want to try a new kind of shampoo if you have to pay for it, but you?d certainly be willing to give a free sample a try. You may end up loving it and switching to that shampoo for good, turning you into a paying customer.
Another reason a company might give you free stuff is to complete market research. This is where getting free things can get a little complicated for some people because the products may not cost you money, but the offer may cost you a little time. A company might ask you to take a survey of your buying habits before they give you a free offer, or they may ask you to provide feedback on a regular basis as you try their product for free. Some people balk at the time commitment required here, but for other people, filling out some paperwork is a small price to pay for some free stuff.
Of course, to convert you into a customer or to communicate with you about market research, a company will have to contact you, which is complicated area number two for freebie lovers. You will almost always be forced to hand over your email address in order to cash in on a free offer, and that is a recipe for opening your inbox up to a barrage of spam (many companies sell your email address to offset the costs of their free promotions, which means the number of people soliciting you can go through the roof very quickly). If you want to avoid this downside of freebie hunting, set up a special email address specifically for your freebie deals. That way all of your spam goes to this one address and your regular email you use with family and friends remains free and clear.
One final note of caution about free stuff online: a lot of scammers have hit on the idea of using pretend freebie offers to solicit personal information about people or to convince people to send them money. Don?t send money, even for postage, to a company you don?t know and never, ever give out personal information online. No reputable company is going to ask for your social security number or bank account details for a freebie offer, so don?t hand them out to anyone. When in doubt, skip it and move to the next freebie.
Web Hosting - Why Backups Are Essential One thing most web site owners have little time for is... anything! Anything other than focusing on their site content and the business or service it supports and the information it provides, that is. That means that administration often suffers, as it frequently must. There's only so much time in the day. But the one thing that you should never let slide are backups. They are like insurance. You rarely need it (you hope), but when you do you need it very badly. Performing regular backups - and testing them - doesn't have to be a nightmare. A little bit of forethought and effort and they can be automated to a high degree. And, they should be tested from time to time. Even when a backup appears to have gone without a hitch, the only way to know whether it's of any value is to attempt to restore the information. If it can't be restored, the backup is worthless. Even when the web hosting company provides the service, there is still some planning involved for the site owner. Hosting companies often rely on one or both of two methods. They backup everything (called a full backup), then backup anything which has changed since the last full backup (called an incremental backup). Of special interest are any configuration files that have been tailored. If you've modified the default installation of a software package, you want to be able to recapture or reproduce those changes without starting from scratch. Network configuration files, modifications to basic HTML files, CSS style sheets and others fall into the same category. If you have XML files, databases, spreadsheets or other files that carry product or subscriber information - about items purchased, for example, or people who signed up for a newsletter - those should get special attention, too. That's the lifeblood of your business or service. Lose them and you must start over. That can break your site permanently. It should go without saying that all HTML and related web site files that comprise visible pages should be backed up regularly. It isn't necessary to record every trivial change, but you can tailor backup software to exclude files or folders. Usually they're so small it isn't worth the trouble. But in some cases those small changes can add up in scenarios where there are many thousands of them. Here again, the backups are worthless if they can't be used. Even if the hosting company charges for doing so, it's worthwhile to test once or twice a year at least to ensure the data can be restored. That's especially true of database backups, which often involve special software and routines. Database files have a special structure and the information is related in certain ways that require backups be done differently. Developing a backup strategy can be straightforward. Start simply and review your plan from time to time, modifying it as your site changes and grows. But don't neglect the subject entirely. The day will come when a hard drive fails, or you get hacked or attacked by a virus, or you accidentally delete something important. When that day comes, the few minutes or hours you spent developing and executing a backup plan will have saved you days or weeks of effort.