Forum Tips: Link Exchange, Server Backup and Basic E-commerce

This week forum members discuss creating related-links pages and offer tips on contacting Web masters for link exchange. Other topics include hardware for backing up Windows Small Business Server 2003 and a discussion on the basics of starting an e-commerce venture.

Feel free to add your own comments through a handy quick link to each topic, which lets you easily join in on the discussion and debate in our Small Business Computing forums.

Newbie Needs Help Creating Links
Using a do-it-all storefront system like a Yahoo Store means almost all the code and links are provided for you. Cisslybee2012 is using this system but asks our forum members how to go about expanding those links from store pages to external Web links.

Cisslybee2012 said, “I have no idea how to approach Web masters to ask permission to link to their site. I would imagine that not too many would be interested in linking to a new site with only 980 visits to date. For this reason, I’m feeling reluctant to approach Web masters online.

I have visited a few link-exchange Web sites hoping that I could build some links more easily rather than sending e-mail request to individual Web masters.  Sites like “Link Market” say that I have to create a link page and then paste in some code. “Link Dash” talks about Web addresses ending in php. I just don’t understand this!”

Roban said, “The Link Exchange process can be very time consuming and dreary. It simply consists of finding sites that are relevant to yours (relevant is the operative word). You can do this easily by typing any of your key words or phrases into a search engine. The return will be sites that are relevant to your own. Visit some of the sites and see if they have Link or Resource pages. Then go to the contact us page and send an e-mail to the Web master or whomever. In the e-mail explain that an exchange between your sites would benefit both sites. Include your link code, which will look something like this:

<a href=”the url of your site”>Your site name</a>Some relevant text about your site.

Now most Web masters will want their link on your site before they will add yours, so here is where you need to create a Link page on your site. Add their link before e-mailing them and include the URL to their link in the e-mail and suggest that you will edit their link any way they want it. Ask them to add your link and send you the URL to your link on their site. After about three days, if you haven’t heard from them you can either send another e-mail or delete their link.”

Cisslybee2012 replied, “Roban, I asked Yahoo how to do it, and they gave me some detailed instructions for creating a link page. I find the information a bit challenging to understand but I have no choice but to give it a shot. With the information you gave, I find it a bit easier to understand.

I’m going to give Yahoo’s and your information a whirl. May the Force be with me! If I screw up, I’m going to find a computer student to show me the way. Whatever happens, I will keep you posted. I managed to get two orders from my Web store without any links or serious SEO. “

·     Have you had success with any link exchange programs?If so, why not stop by the discussion thread and tell us about it?

Backup Hardware for Windows Small Business 2003 Server
Data backup is generally a popular topic of conversation on the Small Business Computing Forums, and this week forum member Gunshipolitico is asking for suggestions on what hardware to use for backing up his server.

Gunshipolitico asked, “I’m looking to backup our server. I was thinking about using an external hard drive, but nearly every hard drive we found wasn’t compatible with our operating system. We are running Windows Small Business Server 2003. Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

Darrenwilliams replied, “Is the operating system detecting the external hard drive? If not, then you must check your USB ports.”

OritGuy said, “I have more than 10 small businesses that run SBS 2003 and at all locations we use Acronis backup software with a Dell RD1000 disk backup solution. IT is external USB with storage options that run from 40GB uncompressed to 300GB compressed.

It is easy to setup, manage and of course frequently audit your backups. A backup is only as good as ensuring that the data can be recovered. We have completed 130GB full server recoveries in less than two hours with this product, which is why I swear by it.”

·     Are you familiar with options for backing up a Windows Small Business Server 2003? You can join in on the discussion here.

Setting Up An Ecommerce Buisness
Forum member Narendra_navin has decided to venture into the world of electronic commerce. After making this decision however, he made a visit to the Small Business Computing Forums to ask other knowledgeable members precise questions about linking a shopping cart and other questions aspiring online merchants commonly have.

Narendra_navin said, “I’ve been doing some research on E-commerce but I seem to be missing some facts. Could anyone help with the following questions?

1.    How do I link my shopping cart to an account?
2.    Do I need to create a special account for the funds to be transferred?
3.    Is there a complete solution software package to do this?”

Roban replied, “Most carts come with payment gateways (PayPal, Authorize.Net and others) as well as shipping modifications and other configurable assets that enable you to set up a cart rapidly. Some carts are free such as Cube Cart version 3, OScommerce, Zen and Joomla VirtuMart to name just a few. Others can get rather pricey but you get what you pay for in most instances.

Most carts are database driven and require Apache servers with php support but most hosting companies offer this, and some even have internal scripts that will set up the cart for you including your database. Hosting companies that offer CPanel as their back end usually have a program called Fantastico that offers several different shopping carts and CMS systems that can be set up with a few clicks of your mouse.

For your payment gateway you would need an account. Pay Pal is free and good for the novice. Others require a credit history for accepting credit cards. Some of the better (in my humble opinion) paid carts are CS-Cart, which I use, Miva and Volusion.”

Ericsaante said, “Roban, is correct, there are many solutions. I would suggest looking at OSCommerce. What type of products are you looking to sell? That will greatly drive the e-commerce solution that you choose.”

QuikShop replied,”I agree about taking a look at OSCommerce, it is free to use and very easy to get started with. For a truly good-looking shop you will need to customize it. You can also consider hosted eCommerce solutions, which provide all you need to start selling online and typically charge a monthly or annual fee.

We operate predominantly in the U.K. market and provide our shop keepers with a Web-based user interface to manage the contents of their shops, process orders and so on. I’m sure there are many really good U.S. solution providers out there to choose from that provide the same type of service.”

Rfresh added, “An e-commerce package is only part of what you are going to need. To accept credit cards on your Web site you are going to need the following:

1. A merchant account. Do not sign up for a merchant account with your bank – they charge way too much.
2. Your Web site will need a dedicated IP address, which is an extra cost item from your Web-hosting provider.
3. You will need to purchase and install an SSL Certificate.”

·     Are you just starting out with your own e-commerce business? Join the discussion for advice and tips to get you started.

The Small Business discussion forums offer advice on data backup, recovery, servers, marketing issues, and general topics related to current trends and practices. Fellow small-business owners can network and share tips, tricks and advice. You can use the forums for knowledge gathering or create a free member account to take part in the discussions and ask your own questions.

(Ed. Note: The forum postings in this story have been edited for grammar and clarity.)

Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal has been writing about computers, games and technology since the early 90s. She’s also the managing editor of

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the Forums. Join the discussion today!

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