Filter: Web Hosting

plesk wordpress toolkit

Plesk WordPress Toolkit

While Plesk offers many potential benefits to website administrators, including compatibility with Windows Server and other leading technologies, the company has also been working to differentiate it from other control panels for content management system (CMS) users. The headline product of those efforts is the Plesk WordPress Toolkit, a comprehensive integration which organizes and simplifies many processes for setting up and maintaining WordPress websites. The toolkit is widely used, and is installed on almost two-thirds of Plesk servers, according to a ZNetLive blog post.

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, and powers a staggering 28.5 percent of all sites on the internet, for a market share of nearly 60 percent according to w3techs. It is used by bloggers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, media companies, and enterprises to grow their audiences and engage with customers.

There are two versions of the Plesk WordPress Toolkit available. The SE (Special Edition) version is included with Plesk Web Admin Edition, and meant for use by site and server administrators. The full version is included with Plesk Web Pro Edition and Plesk Web Host Edition. The difference is that some of the advanced features in the full edition, such as cloning and syncing instances and staging environments are not included in WordPress Toolkit SE. With the special edition, updates are manual rather than automatic, and while the Toolkit does include 1-click hardening (more on that below), it only does so for instances which it has been used to install.

The Plesk WordPress Toolkit is designed for easy installation and use. It takes two clicks to install WordPress; one to choose the “Domains” menu under “Hosting Services,” and one on “Install WordPress,” toward the left side of the Domains options. The Toolkit is found on the “Extensions” page, which is seen under “Server Management” on the menu.  There it is the first option among the “Featured” extensions on the right side of the window.

Security

There are several key security features of the toolkit, including 1-click hardening through the security check feature. Hardening is defined by the University of Colorado’s Office of Information Technology as a process which “works to eliminate means of attack by patching vulnerabilities and turning off inessential services. Hardening a computer involves several steps to form layers of protection.”

In the Plesk WordPress Toolkit, hardening improves security by applying concepts like the “least privilege principle” and “defense in depth,” testing a number of known and potential attack vectors, reducing risks and attack surface, and layering controls.

To check WordPress security in Plesk Onyx Web Pro Edition, click “WordPress” under “Server Management” in the menu on the left side of the screen, and then from the “Installations” tab selecting those instances that should be checked, or all. When the user clicks “Check Security,” Plesk scans for the WordPress characteristics that hackers most often use in attacks on websites, such as a label indicating which release of WordPress the website uses, the default “wp_” prefix for database tables, and the privileged default “admin” username.

In addition to assessing each element as secure or in need of attention, the tool also identifies those changes that can be rolled back, and those that may affect plugin performance.

The security check can also be activated from the “Domains” page under “Hosting Services” in the side menu. Clicking on a domain name brings up the option in the “My CMS” section of the window.

Auto-Updates

Updating WordPress versions and plug-ins is critical to maintaining website performance and security, but can be time consuming and sometimes difficult to keep up with for administrators.

Like “Check Security,” “Auto-Update” is found toward the top of the “Installations” tab on the WordPress toolkit page. This brings up a page with options for setting up automated major and minor updates, only minor updates, or turning off auto-update for each or every WordPress instance.

Management Features

The Plesk WordPress Toolkit also integrates most common management functions.

Just like “Installations,” the Toolkit simplifies management of plugins and themes by giving them their own tab, with each allowing administrators to install and uninstall, activate, deactivate, and update them.

The full version also includes several advanced management functions. Websites can be switched to maintenance mode to make changes, debugging tools are available for testing and development, and search engine indexing can be turned off or limited.

Many Other Features

There are numerous other tools and integrations in the Plesk WordPress Toolkit. Along with the quick and easy installation of WordPress instances described above, migrating and cloning instances is simplified, with buttons found by scrolling to the far right of each installation. Administrators can choose to synch files, databases, or both.

Other advanced functions in the full version of the toolkit include a staging environment for testing and development in an exact copy of your production environment.

Reducing Problems, Saving Time

The same motivations that lead website owners and administrators to choose WordPress are reasons to use the Plesk WordPress Toolkit. WordPress allows its users to present their content in an attractive, effective, secure and customized way without developing it from scratch, providing a high level of functionality. Site changes are made according to business needs, rather than according to IT production cycles and capability.

Administrators, resellers and customers love the wide range of sites they can create, and plugins they can customize them with. Making changes that are simple for a single site may be time consuming and complex for those running multiple sites, however. Managing WordPress functions from within the control panel with the Plesk WordPress Toolkit extends the ease of use it is famous for, and provides Plesk hosting customers with the tools to make the most of the leading content management system.

Lunarpages provides plesk licensing for Windows shared, VPS Cloud, and Dedicated servers.

best web hosting

Choosing The Best Web Hosting For Small Business

The Internet has opened up access to global and local markets. We live in a highly connected world today, where people discover brands, products and services by searching on the web. Businesses without an online presence have a daunting task to keep up with competitors who do.  Small businesses simply cannot afford to miss this lucrative opportunity of reaching potential customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through their website. Setting up a website requires proper planning, creativity and execution but it should be pretty painless provided you have the right tools at your disposal. The most critical tool in creating your business website is having the right Web hosting service to publish your site online.

What Is A Web Host?

web host is a business that provides the technologies and servers to store and deliver the audio, video, documents, and other files that make up your website and its content so that it can be viewed by anyone on the web.

You can opt for shared, virtual or dedicated servers.

  1. Shared– As the name suggests, your website gets stored on a server with hundreds of other websites.

 

  1. Virtual Private Server– You are still sharing the server but with far fewer websites therefore, your site gets allocated more of the server’s power, memory, and storage space.

 

  1. Dedicated hosting- if your website gets a ton of traffic and it requires maximum data privacy then dedicated hosting is the way to go. You can lease your own server that hosts only your website.

Small Business Hosting Basics

Besides publishing websites, strong hosting companies will take on all technical responsibilities of running and updating your website so that you can focus on business-critical functions. Good web hosting services will also provide businesses with an integrated control panel for easy site management, top notch support and many more useful features such as custom domain names, email functionality, rich website creation tools, one-click installation of supported apps and database support.

Features You Definitely Need From Your Web Host

Before pulling out your credit card and signing up with a web hosting service, it is important to understand the resources you will need based on the type of website you will be running. Though different sites have different needs, here are some factors you must consider when looking for the best web Host for your small business.

  1. Reliability

It is important for small businesses to have reliable web hosting partners so that your site does not experience any downtime. The last thing you need to be worrying about is whether potential customers can access your web page. While most web hosting companies will have the occasional outage, the real differentiator is the recovery speed. Selecting a good web host that can handle a lot of traffic and guarantee high uptime will fetch you the most return on your website investment.

  1. Speed

The difference between visitors landing on your site and backing out or staying on to convert may depend on their web experience. Page load speed and performance rates matter to online users. If a web host is slowing down the speed of your website you definitely need to make changes. What you need is a robust host that can handle large files easily and deliver the performance your visitors expect.

  1. Support

Small businesses often do not have an on-site IT team. When something goes wrong with the site, you need Web hosting services to provide helpful and friendly technical support. Ideally you are looking to get an immediate response from your hosting company when you need help the most. A good host should offer 24/7 phone support, and have options for help through email and live chats so that you find a solution to your problem very quickly. Select web hosts that have active user forums, video tutorials and blogs for additional customer support.

  1. Price

Do not fall for the cheapest web hosting plans. Instead try to get the best services and features for your money.  Shared hosting deals are often sold very cheap on signup prices but are significantly hiked on renewals. So do check the terms of service and go over the renewal prices before signing up.

  1. Security

Web hosting services must have highly secure servers to keep your data safe from frauds and cybercriminals. The best Web hosting companies will offer precise security features to protect against the latest malware or virus trying to affect computers accessing your site. Good web hosting companies will have multiple data centers, offer regular data backups, provide free domain privacy and even have servers with RAID pre-installed  to keep your files safe even if the server crashes. For e-commerce sites that accept payment transactions, choosing a web host that lets you set up Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to secure the data being transmitted to and from the website is a must.

Get Started Now

Pick a web hosting company with the most features that best align with your website-building goals. Instead of finding the best in the world, your focus should be on finding the RIGHT web host for YOU.

Lunarpages hosting service offers an array of plans for small businesses with robust features at wallet-friendly prices. Try our Lunarpages Business Web Hosting for reliable services, higher resource limits and faster server hardware.

Web Applications

Understanding Web Applications

Without even knowing it, most of us are using web applications on a daily basis.  In fact, Gmail and Yahoo email, Twitter, Facebook, and eBay are used by most of us daily—and they are web applications. We generally confuse these web applications tools for websites.  So, what is a web application and how is it different from a website? What are some different types of web applications?  We will help you decipher which is best for the business functions you want to achieve- a website or a web application.

Website vs. Web Application

The best way to elucidate the difference between websites and web applications is to think in terms of purpose.  Do you want to provide information or do you want to get it?

Websites are simple, static, single page sites or marketing websites for distributing information. Websites generally feature and promote products, services, and organizations through articles, images, video, and files. A site informs the world about who you are and what you offer. For instance, you can check your local Italian restaurant website as a customer to check out the ‘Day’s Special,’ or hours of operation without giving away any information about yourself.

Web applications on the other hand are less focused on marketing and more on functionality to fulfill specific business purpose (submitting, storing, searching, and retrieving data). Web applications are software that runs on the web to provide some kind of service or to improve efficiency. Web applications generally always use databases, and are therefore called dynamic. It requires user interaction, as in the user has to provide information in order for the application to work. The big advantage of a web application is that it does not need the developer to build a client for a specific type of computer or a specific operating system because it runs in a web browser. Users can even be using Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox, though some web applications may require a specific Web browser.

An Example:

Think of the website of your bank, which promotes the brand and provides customers vital information about their services, and security features. Any member of the public can view the bank’s website but for account holders, the bank also offers web application tools focused on providing specific functionalities. For instance, to help check the balance on their account, submit an online loan application form, or pay bills online.

Technical Foundation

Websites and web applications both are collections of programming code for delivery of content and functionality on the web. The software run on web servers and is accessed through web browsers on a variety of devices.  Both use the same coding languages and tools (HTML, JavaScript, CSS and others) to develop the software. Web applications commonly use a combination of server-side script (ASP, PHP, or Python etc) to deal with databases, storing and retrieving information and client-side script (HTML, Javascript, CSS and others etc.) to present that information, along with frameworks like Rails, Django, etc. to develop and maintain the application.

Types Of Web Applications

There are three different types of web-based applications depending on the roles performed and logic placed and distributed by the server and the client browser.

Server-side HTML Web Application- In this type of web development architecture, the server generates HTML content and sends it to the client as a full-fledged HTML-page.

JS Generation Widgets (AJAX)- The page displayed in the browser shows widgets, where data is uploaded through AJAX query from the server into the content of the page. Any updates from the server show up only for the part of the page requested by the client.

Service-oriented Single-page Web Apps– An HTML-page is downloaded from the server, which acts as a container for JavaScript code to address a particular web service and retrieve business data only. The data is used by the self-sufficient JavaScript application, which generates the HTML content of the page.

It’s also possible to implement hybrid architecture to meet specific business requirements. The architecture of this collection of logically related interactive functions can consist of a number of components, including-

  • Business application functionality
  • Security
  • Browsers such as Internet Explorer
  • E-Mail functionality
  • Forums or bulletin boards
  • Custom-built Advertising

Web Applications Are The Future

Web apps can be customized and tailored for business purposes, like accounting software, reminder systems, order forms, and sales tracking for time saving efficiencies. Web applications can also be designed to strengthen both internal and external communication and improve data delivery and distribution. Advanced web applications are now available as online portals and eCommerce, which delivers content and the functionality of searching, adding to cart, and online financial transaction.

Most business owners understand the value of websites in their marketing plan but not many know the benefits of web applications and how they can offer stronger products and services, improve SEO, reduce cost significantly and help expand their business. Ultimately, whether you choose a website or a web application depends on your assessment of what you want to achieve.

hosts file

Easy Guide On Modifying Your Hosts File

From time to time you will find it necessary to modify your hosts file, this guide will give you step by step instructions on how to perform modifications which will enable you to override any DNS for a domain or bypass DNS propagation. This is useful when you want to test your website. Modifying your hosts file causes your local machine to look at the IP you specify.modifying host file

To modify your hosts file you would typically add 2 entries so the file that contains the IP address you want your site to resolve to. (In some cases antivirus/antimalware software may need to be temporarily disabled)

Example:

xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx www.domain.com
xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx domain.com

If you would like to disable a host entry simply delete the entry and save the file or just add a # before the entry then save the file.

Example:

#xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx www.domain.com
#xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx domain.com

Editing Your Hosts File On Windows 7 and Vista

  • Click Start > All Programs > Accessories.
  • Right-click on Notepad and select Run as administrator.
  • When Notepad opens, click on File > Open.
  • In the File name field, type C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts.
  • Click on Open.
  • Make the necessary changes to your hosts file.
  • Click File > Save to save your changes.

 

Editing On Windows 10 and 8

  • Press the Windows key.
  • Search Notepad in your search field.
  • In the search results, right-click Notepad and select Run as administrator.
  • From Notepad, open the following file: c:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc\hosts.
  • Make the necessary changes to your hosts file.
  • Click File > Save to save your changes.

Editing On Linux Including Mac

  • Open a terminal window.
  • Open the hosts file in a text editor (any editor will work) by typing the following line:
  • sudo nano /etc/hosts
  • Enter your domain users password.
  • Make the necessary changes to the host file.
  • Press Control-x.
  • When asked if you want to save your changes, answer Y for yes.

If you have any questions fell free to email us at support@lunarpages.com

 

 

WordPress Design Trends

WordPress Design Trends For 2017

WordPress is an incredible Content Management System for website content creation and design, cornering over 59% of the market share. WordPress-based websites are more dynamic with built-in blogging features, news feeds, sliders, ability to re-design ‘on the fly’ and easy interactive social media integration. Design choices are a vital part of every web development project and your layout is just as important as elegant code, so be sure to have an outstanding WordPress web design expert to maximize returns on your investments. In 2016, new web trends such as hamburger menus and one-page themes relegated old styles such as sidebars and sliders to obscurity. While some of the most popular WordPress design trends of last year will still influence web fashion in 2017—including mobile-friendly designs, vertical split screen, custom illustrations, extraordinary navigation, bold typography and more—it is time to embrace the latest design trends too. WordPress is only getting better with fantastic new features and improvements. Following some simple design rules can turbo-charge the overall design sensibility of your WordPress website in 2017 to make your website discernible from the competition.

Get To Know Current Design Trends

Research and analyze major design trends to stay current and create visual engagement. There is the effective motion design technique of parallax scrolling for added depth and infinite scrolling which have become popular because of the scroll-heavy design trend in favor at the moment. Instead of flipping from page to page, readers can scroll through the site, reducing the number of clicks needed for the user to get the information they need. Parallax creates visual interest in the page design. Another trend that is gaining popularity is material design, which is an effort by Google focused on a mobile-first approach. The idea is to provide a seamless design experience across platforms, products and services. Then there is the card-based design which emphasizes the eye-catching visual display of condensed information to draw in readers.

Importance Of Stylized Fonts

The days of limited fonts are thankfully gone and improved browser support for web fonts means that the focus is firmly on fonts, font sizes and font styles. The ideal stylized fonts and font sizes should draw attention to the content itself and it should suit the overall design of your site. No more safe and boring Comic Sans, Times New Roman and Georgia. Designers are flexing those design muscles to find the perfect font that will make the text in your site more interesting. The way we view text on the web is changing with easily accessible web fonts from Google Fonts, FontArk or Typekit. The coming year will be about making a strong statement with dramatic fonts such as Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers.

Mobile Usability

Mobile is the future, with more people already using mobile devices to browse the web than desktop devices makes mobile optimization no longer optional, but rather required. Even Google just announced testing of mobile-first websites in November 2016. Google algorithms will soon be indexing content primarily using the mobile version of a site to rank pages. So having a responsive site design is of utmost importance. Check to see if your WordPress site passes the test using Google’s mobile-friendly tool. Mobile-first WordPress themes that are fully responsive and optimized for all mobile devices will be popular in 2017.

Vibrant Hand-drawn Iconography and Illustrations

Icon trends this year will directly impact web design especially WordPress design trends. So, put your sketching skills to use in website design framework—from the site’s background to hand-drawn icons or other web design elements. Vibrant and bold illustrations can be really effective as contrast against clean and simple typography. How about adding a touch of whimsy to your otherwise formal site with illustrated outline icons? Designers also prefer using hand-drawn illustration for Call to Action pointers such as ‘Contact Us’ as a contrasting visual lead-on to increase conversions. This style works seamlessly with almost any design.

Video Headers

WordPress recently introduced Twenty Seventeen in 4.7 or “Vaughan,” as the first default theme for business websites. This new theme has four customizable panels on the front page for displaying content, custom logo upload and extends the Custom Header feature to introduce core support for video headers. Video headers are decorative header images with motion. They play automatically and loop by default. Video headers and video backgrounds have been around in the web design industry but it was rarely seen on WordPress themes. But WordPress developers are now looking to adopt this new WordPress design trends to attract the attention of visitors. Locally hosted mp4 and mov files, as well as YouTube videos, can be used for video headers by default, but it is possible to create custom video handlers for additional sources as well. 2017 will see more WordPress themes with video headers for an enhanced visual experience.

Multipurpose WordPress Themes

Multipurpose themes are going to get even more popular among WordPress users and developers in 2017. Multipurpose themes are extremely customizable and offer more freedom for users to build a more personalized theme for their websites no matter what type of brand, company, organization or cause it may be. WordPress theme frameworks, such as Genesis are set to become trendy. Check out some of the most popular multipurpose WordPress themes including Uncode, Impreze, Brooklyn, Kallyas or Kalium for unparalleled ease of use, flexibility and robust creative power.

What Else?

Designers continue to develop visually captivating and bold styles to convey the brand message, while improving ease of use for the visitor. These are just a few of the WordPress design trends that can help you build a modern and trendy personal or business website also there are may web builders available as plugins for WordPress such as Beaver Builder and Page Builder by SiteOrigin. If you think that there are other WordPress design trends or web design techniques that should have been mentioned in this post, please Tweet your reflections with us using @Lunarpages

Start Your Dream Blog In 5 Easy Steps

Blogging is a hugely popular means of communicating and disseminating information and news nowadays. There are millions of blogs online as more people are taking to it to express their ideas and creativity. Your blog can be exactly what you want it to be from a simple web log, or a public journal to even a collaborative space for people with similar interests. The only roadblock in the way of aspiring bloggers is not having adequate knowledge about the technical basics of how to go about getting their first blog up and running. We have put together a simple Blogging 101 guide to help you get started right away.

Guide To Create a Dream Blog

Here’s a quick look at the few simple steps you will need to run through in order to start your dream blog:

  • Choose your blogging platform
  • Get a domain name and set up your own webhosting
  • Configure and design your blog
  • Start producing content for your readers
  • Marketing your blog

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each step in the guide to help you start your first dream blog.

Step 1- Choose Your Blogging Platform
You first need to select a blogging platform so that you can get your content up onto the web. There are many open source platforms around for building your blog and they are supported by most web hosting companies. The main blogging platforms you can choose from are:

WordPress – is a massively popular blogging platform with countless plugins/add-ons and customizable content management system (CMS) offering superior features built for bloggers so that they have complete control over how their blog looks

Ghost – is the new kid on the blogging block and it has created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere

Drupal – is a popular blogging platform but it is difficult for novices

Joomla – has a great CMS but there is a steep learning curve involved
For those who want to avoid paying for a blogging platform – however small the cost—you can grab one for free from Blogger, WordPress.com or Tumblr. But before you take a decision, know that free blogs have downsides too, including:

  • You won’t be able to get a custom domain name with many of the free blogging platforms, which can seem unprofessional to potential subscribers and customers.
  • There are many limits to free blogs such as level of customization or available bandwidth for uploads. Moreover you will not be able to fully monetize your blog.
  • With Blogger or Tumblr or the free version of WordPress you don’t actually own your blog and they can shut you down anytime without any prior warning. All your site content can be deleted with no way to recover it for even minor indiscretions such as using copyrighted images by mistake.

Step 2- Get a domain name and Set up Webhosting
Next you will need a domain name, which is the URL or the site address for your blog online. Every blog should have its own domain but it can be hard to find a domain name that isn’t taken! For your blog, choose a short name that can be easily remembered. Also consider its uniqueness and what the domain says about your brand. Do remember to take into consideration copyright and trademark factors when selecting your domain name.  Once you have a domain for your blog, you need to think of where your blog will be stored online. Selecting a reliable webhost is essential because this company will be responsible for putting your website up on the internet so that anyone online can see it. All the content for your blog will be saved on there. Investing a little money on domain registration and a good webhost will ensure that your site gets backed up regularly and you can recover your website for any reason. It is wise to get your domain registered from the same place that you get your blog hosted to save you from future headaches.

You can get your dream blog up and running with the Starter Blog Hosting package from Lunarpages at a super affordable rate of $3.95/mo. Lunarpages offers fast and easy setup for WordPress installation, intuitive control panel for easy website file management and 24/7 technical support.  If you already have a domain registered, Lunarpages will provide you with the necessary information to easily transfer your domain. You can install WordPress on your blog in just a few clicks through Lunarpages and then make changes from the WordPress administrator area.

Step 3- Configure and Design Your Blog
Take your time to configure WordPress themes as it controls the look and feel of your blog. You do not need coding expertise or design knowledge to design your dream blog. WordPress theme is a pre-designed template for you to customize your blog exactly how you want it to look. There are two aspects to every theme: the framework and the design element. To make your blog standout in the crowded blogosphere, first impressions with an impressive design theme count for a lot. You may select from thousands of free themes available online, but investing in a premium theme can help improve your brand image. Additionally, they are secure, fast, easy to navigate, and responsive designed for both mobile and desktop. You will find that they are also easy to customize and install. You can find themes for your blog at Themeforest, StudioPress or the WordPress Library.

Installing your theme is even easier as it comes in a .zip file format and you can upload it direct to your WordPress Dashboard by logging into your WordPress blog. If it is a free theme, you can click Install on the preview screen of your WordPress dashboard. WordPress also allows you to switch themes or go back to your old theme with just a few clicks and without fear of losing any precious content or images.

WordPress allows you to install and use plugins through its dashboard to make your blog feature rich and more functional. Do keep your added plugins to a minimum and install just the best ones you need.

Step 4- Start Producing Content For Your Readers
The soul of a successful blog is in its writing. If no one wants to read your content then your blog will not get too many subscribers. The two main types of content that you can create for your blog in WordPress are ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’. Pages are static pages that will not see much change and it helps link to and from your navigation area/menus on your blog, such as the ‘About Page.’ Regular posts are what appear on the front page of your blog, with comments and the date of publishing.

The aim of a blog is to ultimately provide valuable content that people actually want to read and share with their friends. To create great content, you need to put thought into more than just words. Blogs should not be huge block of text without any visual breaks (such as bulleted lists). Posts should include images or videos and you can use stylized fonts and colors to make your content stand apart from the rest.

Step 5- Marketing Your Blog
You may have setup your blog properly and published great content but this is no guarantee of anyone ever discovering it online. For your blog to grab more eyeballs, you need to promote your blog correctly. There are several methods you can utilize to properly market your blog including:

  • Social networks– When you publish your blog post do make sure to post a link on your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account. Promoting your post on social media platforms improves your chances of getting more shares and you may also see an increase in traffic to your blog.
  • Commenting on other blogs– You can access people with similar interest areas by leaving a comment on other related blogs with a link back to your own blog. Make sure not to abuse this method and only submit a useful comment to get people interested in wanting to learn more from your blog.
  • Guest posting– You can also get readers of other blogs to hear about your blog by writing guest posts. Get in touch with other blog owners and offer to write a post for their site with a link to your blog.
  • Online forums– Make sure you join popular online forums related to your topic to make helpful posts on the site. Most forums do allow you to post a link to your site in the signature at the bottom of every post you write. If your forum posts are high quality and informative, people will surely want to click on your blog to read more.

Now that you know the technical side of setting up your blog, let the fun times roll. There will be a lot of learning along the way but don’t let that overwhelm you. Welcome to the blogosphere and enjoy expressing yourself in your new blog.

How to Effectively Manage Your Website

When investing in a new website, many people mistakenly believe that designing and launching a site is all the work that is needed to maintain a presence on the Internet. Unfortunately a website is never a finished product because it needs to be constantly evolving in order to keep up with advances in the fast-paced digital world. Visitors will click out of your website disgruntled, if there are broken links, pages load slowly, or content on it is not updated regularly. The lack of proper web management also gives the impression of a business not paying attention to its customer experience. On a security point, hackers too are regularly trying to exploit sites by stealing data.  The fallout from a website hack can be huge.  The costs of a hacked or broken website far outweigh the investment on regular site management to stay secure within its operating environment. Therefore, websites cannot work flawlessly without regular maintenance to keep everything up-to-date and secure.

Whether you do the tasks yourself or hire out the work for website maintenance, it still needs to get done. To effectively manage your site, you need to consider five key areas:

  • Content
  • Code
  • Performance
  • Backups
  • Security

1. Managing Your Site Content

It is so important to keep creating fresh and relevant content for your site—which can include text, product information, images, videos, free giveaways and more—to draw in new visitors and engage existing customers to read, share and comment. It will benefit you to publish regularly, support content sharing, and manage comments on your site to encourage people to check back often because it will give you a boost in your search engine rankings. To stay on track, decide on a publishing schedule and the types of content to publish. Consider the following types of content for your site-

  • Product updates– Announcements for launch or discontinuation of products and price changes. You will need to update navigation and create a new page for the product or remove the pages of discontinued offerings.
  • Company News – Update all information about your company and employees, whether it is media mentions, news articles related to your site or products, new staff announcements, etc as social proof to build trust among visitors.
  • Feature Addition– Go over your site and make improvements to features as and when necessary, such as adding a blog or buttons/links to social profiles, FAQ section, etc.
  • Giveaways – Consider including free downloads, giveaways or running a contest periodically to create buzz around your site.

To get your content noticed by visitors and search engines, you need to get the word out using available tools discussed below.

  • Subscription – You can lure subscribers to your site with free offers of downloadable e-book or whitepapers.
  • RSS Feeds – Create an RSS feed for your regular readers and use a widget to make subscribing easy.
  • Social media – Identify the right social media platforms for your target audience and build your presence on these networks by scheduling regular posts.  Use available social media plugins like WP to Twitter, Postcron and Share This to post new content and prompt readers to share it through their own social media accounts.

If you are running a blog or a community site then it is absolutely essential to enable comments so your readers feel more engaged with your content. Even though you want your readers to voice their opinions, you still have to moderate comments before they are published and decide on how to respond to them.

2. Managing Your Site’s Code

None of the content will be displayed in browsers without some code to power your site. All websites, particularly those with databases and built on Content Management Systems, depend on complicated lines of code and specific software on your web host. Third party software, like WordPress and Joomla are always updating their software for bug fixes, security patches or feature enhancements. Your website may quickly become outdated if the code, database tables, or software is not upgraded regularly with the latest patches and security releases. The plugins, extensions and themes on your site should also have code that is efficient, reliable, and compatible.

3. Managing Your Site Performance

For a high-performing site, you have to identify areas of improvement in your website ranging from design, user interface, and content. You have to constantly manage the performance of your site against its specific goals—such as generating more traffic, increasing conversions, etc.—to encourage visitors to return. To maximize your website performance, you also need to manage the following tasks:

  • Search Engine Optimization to help your site appear on the first page of the search results for the keywords/phrase your target audience may be using to look for content.
  • Conversion optimization to encourage visitors to take action such as consuming your content, joining your community, making a purchase, subscribing, or calling your business.
  • Gain a better understanding of your site, stats and conversions, and how people behave on it using plugins such as Google Analytics.
  • Track in-site activity like bounce rates, referring sites, geo-location of visitors to your site, etc. through your web hosting account.

Optimize your site through responsive design for all platforms your visitors may use, including mobile and touch devices as well as desktop PCs. Not only should the site’s layout automatically resize on smaller screens, navigation should be easy too. Alternatively use an adaptive theme to ensure responsiveness for layout across platforms, through the use of CSS and also server side techniques with the use of PHP.  You also have to ensure fast page load times by testing site speed regularly so that it does not impact traffic adversely.

4. Managing Your Site Back-Up

You can avoid potential headaches by backing up your website regularly. Even if your web host provides backup services for your site on their servers, it is wise to take a few minutes to create and store back-ups as soon as you make changes or edits to your site. Do not rely on doing this job manually.  If you do, Murphy’s Law says that you will forget to back-up your site the day before it goes down or is hacked. Rather install and configure a plugin to take regular automatic back-ups of your site and store them securely. Consider the times and days when you do most of the work on your site, and schedule backups accordingly.

5. Managing Your Site Security

People with malicious intent often trawl sites to discover vulnerabilities in code and backdoors to gain access to your site.  Therefore, it is vital to manage the security of your server and website software by implementing the latest patches and new security releases. It would be wise to take some additional steps to guard against hackers and spammers on your site, as outlined below:

  • Have secure site administration
  • Ensure correct configurations for added security
  • Use SFTP instead of FTP when editing or loading site files
  • Use strong passwords for access to admin directory
  • Only use plugins and themes from trusted sources.
  • Lock down parts of your site or restrict access by including Restrict access by IP address

If you’re running an e-commerce site or multisite installation, use SSL for added protection to encrypt data between the browser and the server.

Be sure to monitor your site for attacks so you can take action as quickly as possible. Once an exploit has taken place, hackers often leave depository code to continue manipulating your system for their benefits, so you also need to address the source of the hack and fix any damage it has caused, and then upgrade the website code.

Website Management Made Easy

For a high-performing and secure site that engages successfully with its audience, you will have to actively manage the following major tasks on an ongoing basis:

  • Creating content to engage with readers
  • Keeping your code and software up to date
  • Monitoring your site’s performance to improve reliability and page speed
  • Improving search engine optimization and conversion optimization to make your site valuable to visitors
  • Setting up regular automated back-ups so that you can restore your site anytime and anywhere
  • Enhancing your site’s security to protect from hackers and spammers

Your web designer should provide you with a bug & glitch-free, professional website and your web host should ensure a secure and reliable hosting environment with updated software, security patches, and backups of your website. But ultimately it is your responsibility as the site owner to ensure regular attention and maintenance for your website.

website hosting service, web host service, web hosting service

End Of The Road For Google Drive Website Hosting Service

The death knell has been sounded for Google Drive web hosting. It is not alone in facing such an untimely end as other applications, such as Google Answers, iGoogle, Picnik, or Google Reader have all been killed off early by the search giant. Google first allowed users and developers to use their Google Drive account as a web hosting service in 2013; however, that service will officially be discontinued on August 31st 2016. Google Drive will still be running as usual.  It is the Google Drive based web hosting feature that will not be operational as of the end of next month. It’s not hard to understand why Google is pulling the plug on this offering.

Whether it is a sole proprietorship, small business or a large enterprise, everyone needs a website to maintain their digital presence. Many businesses with just static pages, listing their hours and location, took a shine to Google drive web hosting due to the cost savings. Google Drive also made it possible to publish a directory as a website. Even many Google Apps Script developers and users have been using Google Drive feature to host CSS files, images, JavaScript libraries for use in code because deploying it is as simple as copying files into the specific folder and changing the sharing options. But the cessation of web hosting service from Google is currently forcing these business users to find a new provider to host their websites, images and files.

File Storage or Web Hosting?

Many companies are left asking, Now what?  The first thing to do would be to ask yourself, do you need web hosting or just file storage?  To determine your need consider what you are using Google Drive web hosting for.  Do you house your website on the platform or just files and images?   If you are primarily looking to store and share files & other content, you can continue to use Google Drive, or turn to Google Cloud Platform, Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Web Hosting

If you were truly using the Google Drive web hosting platform as a web hosting provider, it’s time to start shopping for a new solution.  You can find a reputable and functional web hosting company, like Lunarpages, to get your site online without doing much damage to your wallet.  Start by considering whether you need a shared or dedicated server.  A shared website hosting solution means that your website is sharing a server with other websites where as a dedicated hosting approach puts your website on its own server.

Once that decision is made, move on to consider hosted vs. managed services.  Hosted service providers simply provide space on a server for your website to sit.  If you choose the web hosting route, you will only be provided with the necessary hardware, software, and communications to run your site—nothing more.  If you need more than just a place for your site to reside, consider managed services.  When you partner with a managed hosting company they provide proactive support, monitoring, and remediating intervention when things go wrong. 

Move On

August 31 will be here before you know it.  If you don’t have a plan in place you better start thinking about it today.  If you are going to move your site to a new web hosting provider make sure you take the necessary steps to make sure it is a smooth transition.  Downtime can cost you customers, which translates into lost revenue.

4 Steps For A Painless Website Hosting Migration

There may come a time when your site has outgrown its current hosting plan, or things are not working out with your current web hosting company. It may be that you are disappointed with the support of your web host or you may have shopped around and found a better set of features. Whatever is the reason for switching, now you have to face the tedious task of packing up your files and moving your site. There is more to a web hosting transfer than simply copying files over to the new server. You can avoid many headaches associated with the server switch, if you know what the process entails and methods to adopt for a seamless transition.

To successfully move your website to another web host without a hitch you have to properly manage your domain name, email, and the site itself. You must first find and join a new web hosting company for your website with fast servers, minimum downtime, robust security, and good customer support. Find out if the new web host can offer assistance with the transfer process as it will make the move much easier. Do not cancel with your old hosting provider before you have moved your files to their new location. Canceling prematurely may prompt your old host to throttle bandwidth or cause downtime by prematurely terminating your site.

Step 1: Copy Files To The New Host

If you maintain only one copy of your website, make sure you backup your existing website content on your local hard drive. Download all the files on your current host’s server and save them on your computer in a single folder through the “File Manager” option in your control panel, or your favorite FTP client. Once the new hosting contract is in place and you have your login information, start by moving your files from your current host to the new host with a simple FTP transfer, or using your preferred file manager in your control panel. Using the FTP client, open two windows for both servers and copy everything.

HTML Pages

If your site was built in Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage, you can upload your HTML pages from the program in its entirety, for your site to appear as it did in the old host. With FrontPage, the new host’s web server needs to have the same version of FrontPage extensions installed for it to work without any issues. Alternatively, visit your live website and right click on the page you want to save. Go through the menu and select the “View Source” option to save the HTML code. You have to copy, paste, and save the code for all the pages you want to transfer to the new server.

Database

When working with databases within your site, be sure you export them from any site that uses a MySQL database so that you can import it to the new site. Your new website host and platform provider will have support documents to help you do all this. You must also backup any databases on the old host in order to upload the files to the new host via FTP, and then restore the database via SSH or cPanel’s phpMyAdmin. For any site based on database driven components or with a complex content management system (CMS) there is a chance that pages may not display exactly as they did on the old host server. If the problem persists with the code, you can contact your new web hosting provider for support, or, if your provider doesn’t offer support, get help from an expert web developer.

Email

If your email is managed by your domain host, you will have to follow instructions from your domain host to change some DNS settings when the new site is up. If your email is managed by your hosting company, you may have to move your email account too. To do this, find the email client settings for your new host and set up a new account with your preferred settings. You will be able to connect to this account only after you switch the DNS. Delete the old account only when you’re sure that your new email account is the one getting all new messages.

Step 2:Test Your Site On The New Server

The next vital step for a problem-free web host transfer is testing your site to make sure all your files and pages have been moved to the new server successfully. You must check your links, images, and services to ensure everything is working. Links may have to be reactivated if there are hardcoded URLs leading to the old address. This may not be an issue if you have your own domain because your web address will not change. Otherwise make all your internal links relative links for a smooth relocation. Images may have to be resized too. If everything checks out to be functioning well once you upload and test your pages, using a temporary IP address provided by your new host, you can then move ahead and repoint your domain name to the new server.

Step 3: Switch Your DNS

If your content displays well in your new host, it is time to cut the cord on your old server and transfer your domain name to the new server. This is the trickiest part of the entire switching process since DNS records the links between a domain name and its numerical IP address. Log into the account you have with your current domain name registrar to swap the old server information with the new server information. If you did not have a domain name before, simply point the new domain name to the new host. It can take between 24 to 48 hours for DNS changes to get propagated to all the name servers around the world. Preferably do not make any changes to your site during this period. When all of the servers show your new IP address, you can safely begin to update your site on the new server.

While your IP address is switching do not delete the old site. Have two copies of your site to avoid losing visitors in the interim period. Hold off on informing your old host about the switch until both sites run concurrently for at least a week. If you moved your own previous domain name with your site, you can now safely terminate your account with your old web host. If everything goes right, your visitors will probably not have noticed that you changed hosts and your search engine listings will not have been affected since they still point to the right domain. That said, if you were with a free web host previously, you may have to take further measures in order to reduce chances of losing search engine visibility.

Step 4: Take Measures To Keep Your Search Engine Rankings Intact

.htaccess File

The web hosting transfer process could potentially result in a few hours of downtime; however, if you do not want to see your search engine rankings go down you must set up 301 redirects when switching web hosts. The way to do this is by creating an .htaccess file in a word processor such as NotePad. Your new web host must provide access to the file so that you can make necessary changes before uploading it back to the server. For every page under the old URL, you must put a Redirect statement pointing to the new location so that the server can tell the visitor’s browser to load the file from your new site location. Visitors will consequently be redirected to the new host without having to click on a link. Search engines, such as Google, will also follow the link to index the new address as a substitute for your old one.

Update Referral Links

Check web logs in your server to track referral sites that send visitors to your website and visit those sites to see if they are still using your old URL. If they are, you may want to pass on your new address to the webmaster of that site. You may also want to submit your new URL to the search engines. You can even search for links that point to your old address by entering the old URL with a link prefix in Google or the name of your website into any search engine. Despite your best effort, you may still not be able to exhaustively remove all links pointing to your old URL.

Plan Ahead For A Successful Transfer

The web hosting transfer process can be virtually pain-free if you complete all the critical steps covered above. If you cannot complete all processes of the transfer at one time, you can carry it out in planned phases. Regardless of how you approach the transfer, always ensure that your business runs without any disruptions during the transfer phase. Your new hosting company should have the support system to help you with any hitches that do come up. If you have a managed hosting account, you can even coordinate the timing of the website transfer so that the support group at your new web hosting company is on standby to assist with the process.

domain names for email

Registering Domain Names for Email Solutions Personal and Business.

Every company needs a memorable domain name so that people can find their website easily. A domain name is what is typed into the address bar to locate your website, such as www.lunarpages.com and it is also used in company email addresses which is why domain names for email is so important, such as tom@domainname.com. Without a suitably professional domain name, it will be difficult to set up either a website or personalized email solution to reflect your business brand.

Types of Domain Names

Switching domain names later can get tricky as it is hard to reband and rename your domain names for email. Since you will be stuck with your online domain name for a long time, be wise in your choice. Your domain name will become part of your brand, as it will be important to users finding you online and it will be listed on all of your company stationary and literature.

Domain names are classified by extensions like .com, .net, .biz or .org. Some name extensions are linked to countries such as .uk for the United Kingdom or .de for Germany. There are no restrictions on who can buy specific domain names. The most popular and familiar domain names that lend credibility to websites are .com, .org, and .net. It is worthwhile for businesses to keep their domain name short & simple and – depending on the availability – find one of these extensions.

Choosing Your Domain Name

Your company’s domain name forms a crucial part of your online presence and branding. Domain names should ideally be easy to remember and intuitive, rather than being too creative or using tricky elements such as hyphens also domain names for email should be something easily remembered. If you want to be creative, select something broad to cover future expansion; otherwise, be specific to what you do if you don’t use your business name as your domain.

Keep in mind that the registration fee for a domain is a recurring cost, as you’re only buying the right to use it for a period of time. Do not fall for super cheap deals for the first year, followed by price increases for the years after. Find a provider who offers you freedom to use the domain name however you may choose to and does not charge you to transfer your domain elsewhere. This way you can buy the domain name from one company and set it up to work with your website and email system supported by another company. It is important to note that the domain name should always be registered in your company’s name, even if an outside IT supplier is registering it for you. You always want to retain ownership of your domain.

Get Email Solutions

Once you have wisely chosen a domain name, the next thing to consider is your email. The success of any business depends on a communication network. Unfortunately, businesses often make the mistake of using unreliable free online email services. These services may not work across all platforms and are likely to attract viruses & spam. When setting up a business email system, it is best to estimate how many email addresses you will need and how you want to access your email. For example, in addition to having your email on your computer, you may want to access it remotely or on a mobile device. Many email services also have a limit to the size of attachments and the number of messages you can store. These are all important things to consider when deciding on a system.

Business Email Options

  1. Use a free email service– examples include Hotmail or Gmail. These choices may limit options for businesses; however, they may be adequate for your needs. There are paid versions with some extra business features too. You will have to manage these options yourself in most cases, and the domain name will not reflect your business.
  2. Buy an email service package- use a web hosting firm who will set you up on a hosted email system that is both inexpensive and frees you from worry about the technical side of things. You may also purchase the premier hosted business option, Outlook Exchange, through a web host. This option does allow you to use your business domain and is probably the best option for most companies to choose domain names for email.
  3. Host it yourself- on a networked server. Get the flexibility of a company email system and create as many email addresses at no extra cost. However, you may need to outsource the job to an IT supplier. For many companies, this is not the best option, unless you have hundreds of email addresses, as it requires fairly constant management for security and uptime.

Once the email system is set up, users will need a way to access their email. This requires accessing email through webmail, or by installing email software on each computer or using an office suite. The most commonly used business email software is Microsoft Outlook.

Your email solutions may be customized with a built in range of services such as spam and virus filtering, hosting, groupware tools, archiving Outlook Web or mobile Access, and fax to email solutions that can be scaled up or down according to your needs.

Let’s Get Started

Registering a domain name and setting up an email solution for your business can be a tedious task for some people. Businesses need to concentrate on critical jobs at hand rather than technical chores. For the success of your business and to ensure your domain names for email system fits your needs, you may consider an external hosting provider that can get the job done for you. This will in turn give you peace of mind that the job is in the right hands and getting done correctly.

If you choose an external hosting provider to help you, your job is essentially limited to providing the email addresses you need to use, the access that is needed, and the features you want included. After that, all work is done for you, your email is set up, and you’ve put the management and security of your email in the hands of IT professionals. And you can get focused on growing your business.

Advantages of the Improved CentOS 7

If you are going to run Linux, take a moment to consider that Community ENTerprise Operating System (CentOS) has proven to be the most popular, superior, lightweight, fast and reliable operating system for your web server. CentOS is an enterprise grade, free open source project with the same functionality, performance and stability as the paid operating system Redhat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). CentOS shares nearly 95% of the features of the commercial RHEL with the major difference being the lack of IBM System z port and limited variants for virtualization. The other differentiator for most IT admins is that the Centos.org site lacks the polish of Red Hat and does not have as many supported applications, finished projects or management skills.  That said, there are many outstanding benefits to CentOS 7 discussed below.

Benefits of Adopting CentOS 7
CentOS 7 is compatible with the upstream vendor’s redistribution strategy and gains full industry support with security updates and training material. In fact, CentOS is the only OS compatible with the popular cPanel web hosting control panel.
When CentOS 7 is properly configured, and running on quality hardware, it is a very stable server operating system, with very few (if any) problems. There is reduced risk of crashes and errors, as it runs only stable versions of packaged software.

With CentOS Linux distribution you can get the advantage of open source server software such as Apache Web Server, Samba, Sendmail, CUPS, vsFTPd, MySQL, and BIND.

You may improve performance and load-balance resources by configuring computers to work collectively, with a group of servers sharing a common file system, and offering high-availability applications.

CentOS 7users have access to updated enterprise-level security features, including a powerful firewall and the SELinux policy mechanism. With a new CentOS install, users get long term support for six years, with security updates and critical patches maintained for a decade after the initial release.

CentOS 7 platform enjoys superior long-term stability with fewer bugs and security holes as compared to other distributions on the market, which is why it does not need new releases or hardware upgrades as frequently.

What’s New in CentOS 7 Build 1511?
The CentOS Project proudly announced its third major rolling release of the CentOS Linux 7 series, CentOS 7 (1511) for 64 bit x86 compatible machines, on December 14, 2015.  It is based on RHEL 7.2, with varied new features and software updates, such as the addition of a Kerberos HTTP proxy for identity management, ECC support for TLS connections in OpenJDK 7, and EC ciphers in pre-installed packages, as well as updates to the Atomic packages, NSS also now enables TLS1.1/1.2 by default

CentOS 7, just like the Linux based OS ,has moved to systems with 64-bit processing and memory addressing. That said, 32bit libraries will allow you to run 32bit applications if needed. This advanced stable build of the Linux distribution now fully supports the virt-v2v command-line tool, TLS connections in OpenJDK 7, TPM 2.0 driver, nanosecond timestamps support in tcpdump, the GNOME 3.14 and KDE 4.14 desktop environments, X.Org Server 1.17 display server, LibreOffice 4.3.7 office suite, and OpenLDAP 2.4.40.

Additional Important Changes
In addition to what has been mentioned above there are other important changes worth highlighting.

  • Bugs can be reported directly to bugs.centos.org in CentOS 7, since release 1503 (abrt>= 2.1.11-19.el7.centos.0.1)
  • Command checksums can be verified on sudo now
  • NSS no longer accepts DH key parameters < 768 nor RSA/DSA certificates with key sizes < 1024 bits,
  • Increase in the maximum number of SCSI LUNs
  • dd can now show transfer progress
  • Updates to the networking stack (i.e. VXLANs, Data Center TCP, TCP/IP Stack, IPSec)
  • Includes virtualization and hypervisor technology projects such as Xen, oVirt, Docker, for light-weight isolation with sandboxing features
  • Update to the libATA, FCoE and DCB storage drivers
  • Storafes such Gluster Project, Ceph, OpenAFS, SCST included in the main repos
  • Storage, network and graphics drivers have been updated
  • Anaconda now supports NFS when adding additional repos during install
  • You can update simply by running “yum update” command in a terminal emulator

With all these upgrades and changes, it is no wonder that CentOS remains one of the most popular Linux distributions for web servers, with its speed, stability and improved performance over its peers. When it comes to enterprise level operating systems, you could not ask for anything better.