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Is That Free Offer Legit? Tips that Can Help Everyone loves the chance to cash in some great free stuff, but navigating the world of freebie offers, especially online, can be like navigating a minefield. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there use the love others have of taking advantage of free deals to scam them out of money or personal details that can be used in identity theft scams. All of this gloom and doom doesn?t mean that you have to give up on free things altogether, however. The good news is that there are some simple, common sense steps you can take protect yourself from online freebie scammers. These tips will help give you the confidence that you can enjoy taking advantage of free offers without the fear of ending up facing some negative consequences. First and foremost, when you are checking out a free offer on the Internet, take a closer look at the website, beyond just reading the words and figuring out what you have to do get the free goods. Does the website look like it was made by a professional, with some consideration, or does it look like a five minute amateur job? Are typos and clip art the order of the day, or does it look like a website any business would be proud to call its own? What about the web address ? is a domain name that matches the business the website claims to represent, or is a ?free? domain address that includes the name of the domain company in the address? All of these factors can be red flags that determine the difference between a scam and a legitimate free offer. If the website looks half hearted or doesn?t seem to exactly ?match? the company it purports to represent, then don?t even think about trying to get anything from it. When you?re reasonably sure that the website is actually the front of a legitimate business, it?s time to turn your attention to the privacy policy of the website. The best privacy policies guarantee you that the email address you use to sign up for this offer will not be shared with any other companies ? but when it comes to free stuff, those kinds of privacy policies are few and far between. Many companies cover the costs of the free things you get by selling your email address to other companies that may have offers you they think you might be interested in. If you can?t find a privacy policy that lets you opt out of getting unwanted solicitations, at least make sure the site is secure and that any personal information can?t be obtained by hackers. Other things to look out for when you?re looking for freebies is products that are free but that require you to pay a shipping charge that seems beyond the pale for what it should cost to ship and freebie offers that seem to ask for way more information than needed for what the product actually is. Twenty pages of personal information for a travel size bottle of shampoo? That doesn?t make sense, and it should set off warning bells in your head. All of these red flags aside, giving out some amount of personal information comes part and parcel with freebie offers. There are a few things you can do to make life easier on yourself. Set up an email account that you will use specifically for freebie offers so all of the inevitable spam doesn?t clog up your main account. Use a phony phone number (preferably one that can?t be anyone else?s, like one that starts with 555). Last but not least, if you?re unsure about an offer, keep on moving. Better safe than sorry.

How to Avoid Spam and Junk Email and Still Enjoy Freebies Free stuff is great, but when you are facing an inbox that is literally choking on spam, than you may find yourself wondering just how free your freebies really are. Spam and junk email are the unwanted consequences of cashing in on great free deals online, and it is enough to keep some people away from freebie offers entirely. Here?s the good news, however ? you might not able to stop the spammers in their tracks completely, but there are a lot of things you can do to keep the annoyance caused by junk email to a minimum. Get on the defensive and reclaim the control you have over your inbox. Rule number one for cashing in on freebies is to set up a separate email account that you use only for your free stuff hunting. There are tons of web based email programs that you can join for free, and you can use these new email accounts as your point of contact for the companies from who you get freebie offers. After all, giving your email address to a company is simply part of getting freebies ? that is why the company is giving away freebies in the first place. They want to collect your email address so they can email you about their products and hopefully convince you to shell out some cash for them in the future. By protecting your main email address, you can easily control the amount of spam you have to wade through when you just want to read your personal or business emails. You know that a company wants your email address in a exchange for a freebie, and you know why they want it, but what you might not know is that not all companies are created equal when it comes to it how the treat your email address. To know this, you have to check out a company?s privacy policy. Some companies will allow you to opt out of all future emails, including the ones from them, meaning in theory that your email address should never end up on any junk email solicitation list after your get your freebie. Other companies don?t let you opt out of their emails, but they let you choose whether or not they can give your address to partner companies who have products to offer that you ?might be interested in.? With these companies, at least you can keep the amount of solicitations to a minimum. Still other companies follow a ?no holds barred? kind of plan, in which they are allowed to share your email address with anyone they choose. These last kinds of companies are the kinds that end up loading you up with the spam, because they often sell the lists of email addresses they collect to companies that send out spam messages. Proceed with caution when a company has a policy like this one. If you can?t find a privacy policy at all on the website from which you are getting your freebie, then it might be best to move on to a different free offer. Another spam reducing trick that a lot of people miss out on is ignoring spam completely. Don?t open your spam messages, and whatever you do, don?t ask to be removed from a mailing list. That might seem like the logical way to stop the spam, but all you do when you do that is confirm to the spammers that their email is going to a real, live person. Last but not least, if even your dedicated freebie email address is gasping under the pressure of the spam, abandon it and start a new one. If you collect freebies on a regular basis, the word will eventually get out and the junk emailers will find you. Start a new address and get a clean slate.

Web Hosting - Is a Dedicated Server Worth What You Pay? In reviewing web hosting plans, many web site owners are faced at some point with the decision of whether or not to pay for a dedicated server. A dedicated server is one which holds your site(s) exclusively. It's not shared with other sites. You then have the option to put one site or many on that piece of hardware. But the decision is never easy. There are multiple considerations to take into account, far beyond just the higher dollar outlay that inevitably accompanies a dedicated server option. Performance is (or should be) a prime consideration for the majority of site owners. Studies show that when a page doesn't load within about 10 seconds or less, almost everyone will give up and go elsewhere. The delay may be caused at any of a hundred different points in the chain between the server and the user. But often, it's the server itself. In any case, it's important to eliminate the server as a possible bottleneck, since it's one of the few points over which the site owner can exercise some control. That need for control extends further than just performance, however. Other aspects of the user experience can benefit or suffer from server behavior. Security is a prime example. With the continuing prevalence of spam and viruses, a server can easily get infected. Having only your site(s) on a single server makes that issue much easier to deal with. With fewer sites on a server, there is less likelihood of getting infected in the first place. Also, since you will place a higher value on security than many others, it's easier to keep a dedicated server clean and your site well protected. You can use best practices in security to fortify your site. Having other sites on the server that you don't control raises the odds that your efforts are for nothing. One way your efforts can get watered down is through IP address sharing. Less sophisticated hosting services will often assign a single IP address to a single server and multipe sites. That means your site is sharing the same IP address with other domains. That leaves you vulnerable in several ways. Virus or spam attacks may target a particular IP address. If you have the same one as another site, one that is more likely to attract hostile intentions, you suffer for and with someone else. In other cases an IP address range is assigned to the server, with each site receiving its own address from within that range. Though better than the one IP:server scenario, this still presents a vulnerability. Many attacks try a range of IP addresses, not just a single one. But even legitimate sources can give you trouble when you share an IP address or a range. If another site engages in behavior that gets it banned, you can suffer the same fate if they ban the address or range. If the miscreant that shares your server/IP address or range is himself a spammer for example, and gets blacklisted, you can inadvertently be banned along with him. Using a dedicated server can overcome that problem. There's a certain comfort level in knowing what is installed on the server you use, and knowing that you alone put it there. But a dedicated server option may require increased administration on your part. If you're not prepared to deal with that, you may have to pay still more to have your dedicated server managed by someone else. All these factors have to be weighed carefully when considering a dedicated server plan.

Web Hosting - Free vs Paid Web Hosting Options Everyone likes to get something for free. But as the existence of spam shows, free isn't always good. Sometimes, it's downright harmful. Deciding whether it's worth the cost to pay for hosting involves a number of complex considerations. Hosting companies that offer free services obviously can't stay in business from the money they make from you, since there isn't any. So why do they offer free hosting and how do they make money? Why should you care, so long as you get yours? Because, in reality, there's a price of some kind for everything, even something that's free. Free hosting may come from a company doing a promotion to attract business. They expect to demonstrate their value, then charge an existing customer base fees to make up for what they lost by the (short term) offer. It's in essence a form of advertising. But free hosting is offered by lots of companies that are not dedicated to managing servers for websites. Google, Yahoo and thousands of others provide a modest amount of disk space and a domain name on a server for free. Users are free to do anything they like with it, though if the load becomes excessive you can be shut down. That introduces one of the more obvious drawbacks to free hosting: resource limitations. Typically free hosting offers a relatively small amount of space. That's often enough to host a few dozen pages. But an active site can quickly run out of room. A more serious limitation is load. Free hosting often places strict limitations on the allowed amount of bandwidth consumed. If you become a well-visited site, when users start banging away on the server, you can be asked to leave or simply be blocked for the rest of the month. Or, you may be permitted a certain quantity of total bandwidth use per month. Once it's reached, no one else can reach your site until the beginning of a new month. At the same time, you will certainly be sharing equipment with thousands of other sites. Their load can affect your performance, prompting you to move. Migrating an established site brings with it a number of thorny issues that might be better avoided in the first place. Free hosting has another potential downside: lack of support. When you pay for hosting you typically get, at least in theory, a certain level of support. Backups in case of disaster recovery from a hack or server failure, assistance in analyzing connection problems... the variety is endless. With free hosting you usually get none of that. A company or site that offers free hosting will usually recover a disk or server that fails completely and you'll be back up when they do. But if only selected portions of the drive fail, or you lose a few files through a virus attack or accidental deletion, you have to rely on backups to recover. A free service will usually come with no such option. That may not be a problem if you have a small site. You can make copies of everything at another location and simply recover the site yourself - if you have the discipline to keep it current and the skills to make and restore the copy. Free hosting will typically come with a few email addresses, intended to be used for administration and other tasks. But if your needs grow beyond that, you'll need to seek another option. The email service also comes with minimal oversight. The server may be protected against spam attacks and provide virus scanning. But few free services will provide even minimal help with any issues that arise. But the most serious limitation may have nothing to do with any technical issues. Free hosting services often require that your site's pages carry some form of advertising that pays the host, not you. That may be fine for you, or it may not. Individual circumstances vary. On the other hand, if you're just starting out, a free hosting option can be a great way to learn needed skills and a few of the potential pitfalls. You can set up a site, learn how to maintain and improve it, and not care too much if it gets hacked. Freely hosted sites can be a great platform for learning the ropes. Free services don't usually offer any of the features that an active, commercial site will need sooner or later. So if you plan to grow, it may be reasonable to get the free service for a while, knowing you'll have to migrate when you become popular. But in the long run, you get what you pay for and you may need to pay for what you want.