Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Nowadays, anyone can get an online store up and running in a matter of hours. That’s all well and good, unless, in your hurry, you pick the wrong type of platform and are forced to either start from scratch or live with a store that is less than perfect.

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

There is a multitude of e-commerce platforms available nowadays, each with its own unique features. The first step you need to take is to choose one to serve as the backbone of your e-commerce empire. And it all begins with a simple decision: hosted or self-hosted?

Hosted and self-hosted platforms each come with their own set of pros and cons, let’s find out what they are and why you should care.

Self-Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

When we say self-hosted e-commerce platforms, we’re referring to a variety of open source applications that require web hosting to function. Think of purchasing a hosting package and installing WordPress. Self-hosted e-commerce is pretty much the same thing. Only, rather than setting up a blog, you’ll be installing a platform for an e-commerce website.

Pick an open source e-commerce platform and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. The most popular platforms are well-documented and you (or your developer) can make any changes you require. This gives you a degree of control over your online store that hosted platforms simply cannot match. If you need additional features, you can either find plugins and extensions to enable them, create them yourself, or hire someone to build them for you.

Since self-hosted platforms can be set up anywhere, you’re free to choose your preferred hosting service. Not being tied to a centralized service means you can move your store if you outgrow your provider or find a better deal elsewhere. It may sound complicated, but these days most hosts, including us, will help you set things up.

Self-hosted platforms sound pretty great, right? However, you shouldn’t make up your mind just yet. Let’s move on to discussing their shortcomings before jumping to any conclusions.

The Cons of Self-Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

They are usually harder to set up than their hosted counterparts. At the very least, you will need to find a hosting provider, choose your e-commerce platform, and go through an installation and setup process.
In most cases, there is no centralized support system you can contact if you need help or run into an error. So you will need to become adept at looking through the documentation and searching community resources to troubleshoot problems for yourself, or hire a qualified developer to help you.
Depending on your hosting provider, costs can pile up once your store begins to grow.

Now that we’ve detailed both sides of the coin let’s take a look at two examples of self-hosted e-commerce platforms.

WooCommerce

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Technically, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, but that doesn’t make it any less potent. This platform powers 30% of all online stores and is part of the Automattic family of WordPress products.

What’s more, the WooCommerce team will happily answer support questions through their help desk. This platform is a great fit for users that are comfortable using WordPress and can be used to power stores of all sizes.

Magento

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Magento is a leading e-commerce platform which powers over $50 billion in transactions per year. It’s not as easy to pick up as WooCommerce, but most people would agree that it’s a more robust platform.

That being said, we would recommend Magento only to users with at least some basic level of web development experience. Despite its thorough documentation, the platform can be a bit much for first-time e-commerce users. It’s overkill for small operations, but a perfect solution for professional businesses.

PrestaShop

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

PrestaShop may not be as popular as the previous two entries on this list, but this scrappy open source e-commerce solution shouldn’t be discounted. The platform has grown tremendously over the past few years and is now used to power over 250,000 storefronts.

PrestaShop is remarkably simple to use. It’s a perfect fit for users looking for a free and open-source platform with a friendly interface and powerful shop-building capabilities. In addition, PrestaShop maintains a roster of partner agencies that will happily set up shop for new users who don’t want to do it themselves.

OpenCart

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Despite its somewhat-outdated website, OpenCart remains a strong contender among self-hosted e-commerce platforms. Its setup process is as simple as any of the other three we’ve mentioned so far – anyone who knows their way around a web host should be just fine.

As far as features go, OpenCart integrates 20 payment gateways right out of the box, supports multiple currencies, and enables you to sell digital products. These features make it a solid pick for users that wish to support sales across the globe instead of focusing exclusively on local markets.

Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

Hosted e-commerce platforms are another option worth considering. These platforms provide an all-in-one e-commerce solution that includes hosting, a shopping cart function, and technical support. In most cases, you pay a monthly fee that varies depending on the size of your store, and most hosted e-commerce platforms offer reasonable prices and discounts if you pay for several months in advance.

Moreover, hosted services have a clear advantage over their self-hosted counterparts: they are far simpler to manage. In exchange for a fixed rate, you get hosting and access to a support team that takes care of any issues for you. You will, of course, still have to add items and customize your store yourself, but everything else is taken care of.

To put it simply, hosted platforms lower the technical barriers to entry, and offer premium support and customization capabilities (usually in the form of themes and plugins). That’s a pretty sweet deal. So you must be asking yourself, what’s the downside?

The Cons of Hosted E-Commerce Platforms

Hosted e-commerce platforms generally cost more than their self-hosted counterparts.
Your monthly or annual fees will grow as your store attracts more traffic and requires more powerful features.
Customization possibilities, while available, will be limited. You will only be able to use pre-approved themes and plugins. This protects you from a security standpoint but can be stifling in terms of creativity and limit the store features you can implement.
Switching platforms is costly and time-consuming, if not impossible, depending on the scope of your store.


With those caveats in mind, lets check out two popular hosted e-commerce platforms.

Shopify
 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms around these days. It powers more than 300,000 stores which, together, have made approximately $20 billion in sales. On top of powering complete online stores, Shopify also provides basic shopping cart functionality for websites built using other platforms such as WordPress.

BigCommerce

 Self-Hosted vs Hosted E-Commerce Platforms: Which Is Right for You?

BigCommerce is an ambitious platform that markets itself to both small businesses and enterprises. Some well-known brands, such as Toyota and Martha Stewart, have built their online businesses on the BigCommerce platform. Despite being a hosted solution, it offers in-depth customization and a robust set of features.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Owning a website can be like owning a car. You detail it, put fresh oil in it, and treat it like a young child. You’re proud of it, and you want it to be the best it can be. Unfortunately, you may not know how the engine works, which may make it difficult to keep your new acquisition running on all cylinders. But never fear, site owner. When opening the hood, here are five things to keep in mind that will ensure your website runs like a dream while making you a better mechanic in the process.

WEBSITES FOR BEGINNERS: 5 TRICKS TO HELP YOU SUCCEED

KEEP IT SIMPLE

In your web travels you’ve probably stumbled upon a number of sites with brilliant functionality and cool features. As a fledgling website owner you’re probably eager to put these sorts of toys and tricks into practice. The problem is, the average person has little concept of how challenging and delicate these cool features are.

Advanced web design is a fickle animal. Code is as tempestuous as it is complicated. Even features that, in practice, seem simple enough, may involve complex constructions with hundreds of lines of code. In addition, small errors in code can lead to breakdowns in site structure that are as difficult to fix as they are to comprehend.

This should in no way stymie your creativity, but for the sake of operational integrity, your early efforts at web development should be simple and manageable. Beginners may enjoy changing font families or div colors but if your knowledge is limited to that, consider doing some reading and independent practicing before making your dreams a reality. Doing so will keep the site going strong and teach you in the process.

FOCUS ON CONTENT

When you visit a website, you may first notice the layout. Your eyes will wander across the carefully crafted pieces, adorned with attractive colors, large-scale photographs, and beautiful fonts. At no point may you consider that these accouterments are simply window dressing for plain lines of text.

HTML, the language of web pages, is a markup language. What this means is that it is designed to adjust the way that text is displayed. But at its core, the focus remains on text. This should be an indicator to you.

You can make your site as attractive as ever, but your content will drive the design home. Beautiful pages of gibberish will please you for a time, until you realize that there’s nothing to see. Create information that is well written and engaging and the combination of text and design will carry your message home.

CONSIDER A THEME

Of course, you want your website to look nice. But, as mentioned, custom web design is a little out of reach for the average beginner. Fortunately, others with an understanding of the need for attractive aesthetics and the prevalent lack of requisite knowledge have recognized your plight and come up with a solution.

Depending on your platform, custom themes exist that will fit both your budget and your needs. These well-crafted templates offer a professional look without the often-daunting cost of professional work. In addition, the themes are built for versatility, incorporating layouts and design considerations for multiple types of content. When selecting yours, be sure to look for one that is mobile ready. This will encourage readers by accommodating the unique needs of cell phone browsers.

LEARN THE BASICS

As mentioned, the more sophisticated techniques of site design may be out of reach for the time being, but learning is a powerful tool. In addition to basic HTML and CSS courses online, a number of premium resources exist that can improve your coding knowledge. Because of the popularity of this information, these courses can range from basics to advanced techniques, giving you a pathway for growth.

Furthermore, the nature of coding behooves you to become privy to this knowledge. A great deal of the code on the Internet is built on the same basic building blocks. This means that understanding even the rudimentary construction of either can greatly clarify your website and enable the ability to manipulate its appearance. Demystifying the process will not only grow your website, it may grow your readership in the process.

LISTEN TO FEEDBACK

Ultimately, your content exists in an echo chamber if no one sees it. For this reason, special consideration should be made to take care of your readers. If you receive comments that your layout is hard to navigate, consider redesigning. At the same time, know that all feedback comes from its own place. Base your decisions on sound design and usability logic and incorporate feedback where beneficial.

The web will seem like a complicated place at first, but that won’t last. Staying true to the basics and keeping your efforts simple will help the integrity of your code and teach you valuable and important information quickly. Take a couple coding courses in order unlock the power of your site’s pages and lean on the design experience of others by choosing a theme until your masterpiece is ready. In web design, a little goes a long way, so do what little you can, and be amazed at how far you can go.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A2 Hosting has revamped their Reseller Hosting packages. The competitively priced plans now offer up to 200 GB of storage, up to 2000 GB of transfer and now include a free WHMCS license. WHMCS is an industry leading billing and automation tool to help businesses handle everything from their client hosting setup to termination. Offering technical support and billing services on a Reseller Hosting account is especially easy with WHMCS. While A2 Hosting has been a Reseller Hosting expert for years, these new plans mark the first time that they have included WHMCS for free.


A2 Hosting’s Reseller Hosting packages are the perfect option for those who want a quick start and easy solution for hosting their own customers or users, but do not want to manage their own hardware and network. Each of A2 Hosting’s new Reseller packages provide a specified amount of disk space and bandwidth that can easily be divided into a number of smaller, sub hosting accounts with the included WebHostManager (WHM) control panel. Each sub account, complete with the award winning cPanel control panel, can then be sold to a customer base.

A key focus for A2 Hosting is offering their customers high speed solutions. A2 Hosting understands that page load speeds impact everything from bounce rates to conversion rates to SEO rankings. That’s why each of their Reseller accounts are fine tuned and hosted on their SwiftServer platform. Their SwiftServer platform includes free performance boosting solid state drives (SSDs), choice of global data center locations for reduced latency, a free CDN and more. Reseller customers are also given the option to host their customers on A2 Hosting’s Turbo Servers. Their Turbo Servers offer up to 20X faster page loads compared to competing Reseller Hosting options.

Each sub account created with an A2 Hosting Reseller package includes Softaculous, making it as easy as possible for users to add today’s most popular software to their account. Users can add WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, OpenCart and 100’s of more solutions with just 1-click on their account with Softaculous.

A2 Hosting takes great care in making sure their customers get dependable solutions. That’s why each account is backed by their 99.9% Uptime Guarantee. Customers also have around the clock access to A2 Hosting’s Guru Crew Support team. Their friendly and knowledgeable support staff is available via live chat, email and phone to answer any of their customers’ questions.

“You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better Reseller Hosting solution,” commented A2 Hosting’s Marketing Manager Brad Litwin. “Our combination of speed, support, reliability and resources are going to be hard to beat. The fact that our Reseller Hosting packages now offer WHMCS for free is just another reason to get started.”

Users wanting to try A2 Hosting’s Reseller Hosting packages can do so completely risk free with their Anytime Money Back Guarantee.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Many people think securing a website with SSL (SSL encryption) is necessary only if they’re selling products or services via their website and collecting credit card or payment information. What many website owners do not realize is that SSL encryption has other very important benefits for small business owners.

To understand the benefits of having an SSL certificate installed for your website, it helps to understand what SSL is and actually does.

What exactly is SSL encryption?


SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, is an encryption technology that creates a secure connection between your website’s server and your website visitor’s web browser. This allows for information to be protected during transmission between the two.

Without SSL encryption any computer could intercept the transmission from your browser to the server.
This includes the transmission of credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other sensitive information.

Do you need SSL encryption if you don’t sell anything on your website?

When your site is secured you’ll see that little green lock in the left corner of your browser’s location bar, followed by the website URL beginning with HTTPS. Data that is sent using HTTPS provides three key layers of protection:

Authentication: Confirms visitors are on the right website, yours, and builds trust.

Data integrity: Customer data cannot be corrupted or modified.

Encryption: Visitor activity cannot be intercepted while browsing your website.

Certificate Authorities, Standard & Wildcard SSLs

SSLs are issued by Certificate Authorities (CA). CAs are responsible for following predefined procedures for the issuance of SSL certificates. They are audited regularly and are responsible for keeping detailed records about the certificates that are issued.

A standard SSL certificate will secure only one primary domain (known as the common name) For example, you could use a standard SSL to secure www.yourwebsite.com.

If you want to secure one primary domain and all its subdomains — such as forums.yourwebsite.com, store.yourwebsite.com and members.yourwebsite.com — you will need what is called a Wildcard SSL.

Now that we have all that techno-mumbo-jumbo out of the way, it’s easy to see why you would want SSL encryption if you have an eCommerce website to protect your customer’s sensitive data. That just makes sense.

But what if you are not doing any eCommerce on your website?

SSL benefit for your website visitors


“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest."
Do you need SSL encryption if you don’t sell anything on your website?

Onliners are more sophisticated than they used to be — and more informed. They now know to look for the telltale signs that a website is secured. SSL encryption does just that.

Having an SSL certificate installed on your website not only encrypts your customer’s data transmission on your site, your SSL certificate also confirms you are the legitimate and verified owner of your website.

Your SSL certificate is a confirmed credential that you are who you say you are. That builds trust!
 To obtain an SSL you will have to verify your identity, business and website ownership (depending on the validation level of your SSL):

1. You must show that you own the domain name you want to secure. Make sure your domain records are up-to-date and that they match the visible information on your website.
2. Documentation (bank statement, sales & use tax permit or utility bill, for example) is required that shows your company name and physical address.(For Extended Validation SSLs).
3. Items No. 1 and No. 2 should be an exact match.

SSL benefit to search rankings


We all know want to achieve strong rankings in the SERPS (search engine results pages) — but it isn’t easy. With literally hundreds of different and evolving criteria used in Google’s algorithm, you want to use every available tool to your advantage.

SSL encryption can help your website rank higher in search results.
It’s true. In August 2014 Google confirmed that it would start to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. That first article noted that “for now it’s only a very lightweight signal,” but over time Google “may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

Do you need SSL encryption if you don’t sell anything on your website?“Beginning in January 2017 (Chrome 56), we’ll mark HTTP sites that transmit passwords or credit cards as non-secure, as part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure.”


When Google says jump …

SSL benefit to membership sites 


Do you need SSL encryption if you don’t sell anything on your website?
Encrypting your members’ data will enhance the trustworthiness of your website. Adding SSL encryption will encourage members to join, share and participate more because they will feel safer doing so. And it’s not just about protecting their login credentials — securing your membership site with an SSL certificate will protect the personal data that they may add to their membership profiles.

You may not “do eCom,” but think about the sensitive information you might request from site members. Medical history? Specific personal contact or geographically precise information?

With identity fraud now a realistic concern, installing an SSL certificate reflects that protecting your site visitors’ and customers’ data transfer is important to you.


SSL benefit to encourage contact


As with membership sites, having an SSL certificate in place to ensure that your contact form transmission is encrypted will encourage site visitors to reach out. This is especially true if you are asking for more detailed, personally identifiable information.

Seeing that HTTPS and green padlock will add to the trust perception and let potential contacts know their submission is protected and that you are not a fly-by-night operation. Certificate Authorities also offer Trust Seals that you can display on your site. In addition to the padlock and HTTPS in your browser location bar, these graphics give website visitors an additional visual indication that you have SSL encryption in place.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

We’re excited to announce the launch of Anycast DNS Hosting! It is automatically configured on our Shared and Reseller servers. For those of you who are already familiar with Anycast DNS, you know the speed and reliability benefits that it offers. For those of you how aren’t familiar with Anycast DNS, you’ll find a complete explanation of IP addresses, DNS and the benefits of Anycast DNS below.
Launch Of Anycast DNS Adds To High Speed Hosting Features

Understanding IP Addresses

The first thing to understand is that computers communicate and identify each other through the use of IP addresses. We use words to communicate. Computers and networks use numbers. In fact your site requires an IP address in order to be visited because that’s how your site is identified on a server. In short, anyone who wants to visit your site must have this IP address.

Have you ever typed an IP address into your browser to visit a site. I would venture that you haven’t. You type in a domain name. This is where DNS comes into play.

What Is DNS?

DNS is essentially the phone book of IP addresses. Don’t know what a phone book is (OK I use my phone book as a door stop as well)? Simply put, DNS is a database of IP addresses and network names. It’s the Domain Name System.

When you type a domain name into your browser, DNS springs into action to translate the domain you typed into the IP address associated with the website. Once the IP address is found, your computer can connect with the web host and the page is displayed on your browser.

How Traditional DNS Works?

With traditional DNS, your site’s DNS record is stored on a DNS server in a single location. Imagine that your DNS record for your site is stored in the US and your visitor is located in the Amsterdam. It can take awhile for the DNS server and your visitors’ computer to communicate. This can ultimately slow down the performance of your website. We don’t deal with “slow” at A2 Hosting.

How Does Anycast DNS Improve Performance?

A2 Hosting has data centers with servers located all over the globe. Instead of a DNS record stored in a single location, Anycast duplicates your DNS record across our globally located network of servers. This brings your DNS record much closer to your visitors who are located around the world. Anycast in turn automatically directs your visitors to the DNS server located closest to your visitor ultimately fulfilling their request much quicker than traditional DNS.

If your visitor is located in Amsterdam, instead of requesting the DNS record stored in the US, your visitor can grab the one in Amsterdam where they’re located. The bottom line is Anycast helps your site load faster.

Additional Anycast Benefits

With both traditional DNS and Anycast DNS, a DNS server can become unavailable. That’s just reality. However if you’re using traditional DNS, your DNS record isn’t duplicated on any other server locations. This means there’s no guarantee that your visitors will be able access your site because the domain name to IP address conversion may not be able to occur. Obviously that’s not a great situation.

On the other hand, remember that the DNS records with Anycast DNS are duplicated across multiple locations. If one DNS server with your record goes down, the request will be routed to the next nearest server where your DNS record is located. Anycast DNS offers ultimate redundancy. While that may not be the server located closest to your visitor, the domain name to IP address conversion can take place and your site will remain accessible by your visitors.

Monday, 17 October 2016

There’s a strange little bug that’s becoming more frequent within cPanel that I think is worth addressing. The bug, in this case, is the usage bar for Virtual Memory Usage showing as full, even though the actual usage isn’t anywhere near full. You’ll notice this bug pretty much right away when you login to your cPanel. You’ll be greeted by a red bar under your Stats section similar to what’s shown in the screenshot below.

cPanel Virtual Memory Usage error

As you can see, this can be a bit startling when you first log in to see a full usage bar. What you’ll notice, though, is the number above the bar shows barely any usage at all (0.3mb out of 1024mb). That is the actual usage. What we’ve been told from cPanel is that they are aware of this bug but aren’t planning on fixing it because they are doing away with the x3 theme.

There is, however, a fix to this bug, and that fix is to switch from the outgoing x3 theme to the new cPanel Paper Lantern theme. How to accomplish this is fairly straightforward. After logging in to your cPanel you’ll see a dropdown menu at the top that says “Switch Theme” with x3 currently selected. What you’ll want to do is click on the dropdown menu and switch from x3 to Paper Lantern.

cPanel Virtual Memory Usage error

Fair warning: The Paper Lantern version of cPanel is vastly different than x3. It may come as a bit of a shock to you when you switch over because it looks completely different than the outgoing version. When you make the change you’re going to see something similar to the screenshot below.

cPanel Virtual Memory Usage error

As you can plainly see, this is a complete change from what the old x3 used to look like. In fact, cPanel has gone so far as to change the names of certain icons/areas (from parked domains to Aliases, for example). The paper lantern theme has come under quite a bit of scrutiny becasue of how different it looks, which is why we’ve been hesitant to force a change across all accounts. The reality is that eventually we are going to have to do this because x3 is going to be gone and there’s nothing we can do about that.

The good news is that if you don’t much care for this new Paper Lantern theme, you’re not alone. There’s been so much complaint about it that cPanel has gone so far as to make a new style for Paper Lantern that mimics the look of x3. This allows you to use the new cPanel theme with a style you’re comfortable with. In order to change the style, simply click on your username in the upper right hand corner and choose “Change Style” from the dropdown menu. In the new window you’ll see an option for a “Retro” style which you can select to take you back to the old x3 style layout. In doing so your cPanel will look like the screenshot below.

cPanel Virtual Memory Usage error

As you can see, the issue with the memory usage bar is gone and the cPanel looks like the old version. Keep in mind that the icons will still have their new names, so places like the old domain redirect area will now be called “Aliases.” Everything else, for the most part, will function just like your old cPanel interface, just quicker and more efficiently.

As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else let us know, we’d be happy to help you out!

Friday, 7 October 2016

In rare situations, the DNS zones located in /var/named might disappear. We’ve heard of this happening after certain bind package updates, or simply due to administrator error. In either case, it may be possible to restore or at least recreate the missing zones.  Even if the server in question does not act as a nameserver, certain functions within cPanel require the zones to exist locally.  These instructions are geared toward a hosting server (not solely a nameserver) that may or may not be clustered with a cPanel DNSONLY server.

Restoring from the DNS cluster 


Firstly, if your server is clustered with another cPanel server, your job is going to be easy. All you have to do is have cPanel sync the zones from one of the other clustered server(s).  Here’s a very simple Python script that will pull out a list of main, addon, and parked domains from the cPanel data and sync them back to the server.  For this to work, you’ll need to make sure your remote DNS cluster is set to “synchronize” status.  To do this, you can either:

1) Log into WHM -> Configure Cluster and set the cluster’s role to “Synchronize changes”  OR

2) Run the following command, replacing $ip with the IP address of your DNS cluster (noting also that ‘root’ implies that this is the cluster config for the server itself. If you’re a reseller, replace “root” with your reseller username)

echo -n “sync” > /var/cpanel/cluster/root/config/$ip-dnsrole

Now create a file on your server called, for example, synczones.py and chmod it to 755.  Paste in the following contents:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
import subprocess
import yaml
data_dir = '/var/cpanel/userdata'
user_list = os.listdir('/var/cpanel/users')
for user in user_list:
    data_file = '%s/%s/main' % (data_dir, user)
    data_map = None
    try:
        f = open(data_file, 'r')
        data_map = yaml.load(f)
        f.close()
    except:
        pass
    if data_map is not None:
        domains = []
        domains.append(data_map['main_domain'])
        domains.extend(data_map['parked_domains'])
        for addon in data_map['addon_domains']:
            domains.append(addon)
        for domain in domains:
            subprocess.call(['/scripts/dnscluster', 'synczone', domain])

Now, simply run the script and your zones will be copied from the remote cluster to the local server. If this server is standalone and/or is a nameserver that does not have another clustered server attached to it, you basically only have the choice of either restoring from a backup or recreating the zones.

Restoring from Backups


Assuming you use the cPanel backup feature and have the system files backed up, you can find them in your cPanel backup directory.  If you’re not sure where they are being stored, look in cPanel -> Configure Backup where the “Backup Destination” value is set. Or simply:

grep BACKUPDIR /etc/cpbackup.conf

Assuming the backup location is /backup, you will find the files in /backup/cpbackup/weekly/dirs (for a weekly backup – it could also be named ‘daily’ or ‘monthly’).

To restore, go to the dirs folder mentioned above and run:

tar -C / -xvf _var_named.tar.gz

Recreating Zones


If you don’t have backups, your only choice may be to recreate the zones.  To do this, you can use the adddns script provided by cPanel:

/scripts/adddns $domain [$Ip]

If the $ip parameter is not passed, the main shared IP will be used instead.  Keep in mind that if you recreate the zone using this method, a default zone using cPanel’s zone template will be used – so any DNS modifications that were previously made to the zones will be lost.  You can use a similar script to the one above to do all domains on your server:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
import subprocess
import yaml
data_dir = '/var/cpanel/userdata'
user_list = os.listdir('/var/cpanel/users')
for user in user_list:
    data_file = '%s/%s/main' % (data_dir, user)
    f = open(data_file, 'r')
    data_map = yaml.load(f)
    f.close()
    domains = []
    domains.append(data_map['main_domain'])
    domains.extend(data_map['parked_domains'])
    for addon in data_map['addon_domains']:
        domains.append(addon)
    for domain in domains:
        subprocess.call(['/scripts/adddns', domain])

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Choosing the right web host is a big decision. Without a host your website won’t work, period. There won’t be a place to store all of the necessary files need to display your website.


You’ll have a few options at your disposal when choosing a web host. Some of the most common are very basic shared hosting plans, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting.

Below we compare VPS and dedicated hosting, so you can decide which one of these hosting options is the best for your needs. Let’s get to it!


What is VPS Hosting?


With a VPS the resources of the server will be split between different websites or hosting accounts. Think of it as a home computer that has many different users, all of who use the machine in different ways.

Virtual Private Servers have both high end and low end options available. However, the cost usually ranges from $20/month all the way up to $100+/month. VPS servers usually have one or two hosting environments you can choose from, so they lack the absolute customization of dedicated hosts. But, this does mean easier setup for those who have more basic websites.

This style of hosting will be enough for sites that are simpler and don’t receive massive amounts of traffic. Overall, you can think of VPS hosting as a perfect solution for those who require root access on a server, but don’t want the expense of a full dedicated server.

If basic shared hosting doesn’t quite offer what you need and you need a little more control over your host, then VPS hosting could be the right fit for you. If you need a more advanced host with extensive customization options, then check out dedicated hosting below.


What is Dedicated Hosting?


A dedicated server is a server that’s literally dedicated to your own personal use. You’ll have rights to all of the resources of the machine, and you’ll be able to configure the hosting environment however you wish.

Dedicated hosts are usually only worthwhile if you’re receiving over 500,000 visitors per month and have the necessary technical staff to maintain and optimize your server.

There is no right and wrong when it comes to hosting. Instead, it simply depends upon what’s the best choice for your website. We all have different needs. So make sure you take stock of what kind of hosting support you’ll need before you choose a web host.

However, since dedicated servers are almost always more expensive it’s generally a good idea to start with a VPS until your company is generating enough revenue to support the cost of a dedicated server.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Internet is a warehouse of information on any subject you can imagine. Even you.

The more time you spend online, the more you put yourselves at risk for having your private information or communications intercepted, read, and possibly even used for illegal purposes. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available - many of them free - that can help keep your private information from falling into the wrong hands.

49 Tools to Secure Your Privacy

Here are some of our favorites.


Private Browsers


Whenever you’re online, someone is collecting information about the sites you visit, the products you look at, the web searches you conduct. Try one of these alternative web browsers, and keep your Internet history to yourself.

1. Tor: this is the definitive private browser. It provides an encrypted, private browsing experience via a distributed network.
2. InBrowser: this browser for Android and iOS erases everything you do within the browser (cookies, history, sessions, etc).
3. Private Browser: this streamlined browser doesn’t even have an option for bookmarks or history. In fact, it has no settings at all. It’s just browses the Web.
4. Stash Browser: this iOS app is a private browser, media manager, and download manager all in one.
5. Firefox: most of the leading browsers now offer a privacy or incognito mode, but Firefox also supports efforts to improve overall privacy on the Web.

VPN Servers


Surfing the Web over public WiFi is like watching a movie on your big screen TV with all the curtains open. Anyone can be looking over your shoulder. The next time you’re using public WiFi, try one of these VPN (Virtual Private Network) services, and surf just as securely as you do at home.

6. PrivateTunnel: developed by the OpenVPN team, this desktop and mobile app provides secure connect to the Internet from anywhere.
7. Hotspot Shield: this app provides both a secure connection, anonymous browsing, and the ability to get around blocked sites.
8. TunnelBear: similar to Hotspot Shield, this provides secure, encrypted browsing, and can be used on up to 5 devices at a time.
9. Private Internet Access: this is a paid service, but with thousands of servers around the world and plenty of features, it’s a great solution if you regularly surf over unsecured networks.
10. VyprVPN: this subscription service has an app for just about any device — even some TVs and routers.
11. FlashVPN: this Android app offers a simple interface and a completely free VPN solution.
12. Build Your Own: many home routers can be used to create your own VPN server.

Secure Email


Most email servers don’t use encryption. Even if they do, it may not be strong enough to keep the criminals out of your personal business. When you need to send a truly private communication, try these secure email tools.

13. Mailvelope: this browser extension works with most major mail providers, including Gmail and Outolook.
14. MyMail: this subscription, online email service allows you to securely send, receive, and store your email messages as encrypted files.
15. GPG Suite: this security suite includes an Apple Mail plugin for OS X.
16. iPGMail: this app lets you send encrypted messages using your iOS Mail app.
17. CipherMail: this Android app allows you to send and received digitally signed and encrypted email messages from your phone.
18. Thunderbird: the go-to open-source email program won’t secure your email out of the box, but you can easily add encryption with plugins such as Enigmail.

Secure Chat


Most business communications occur online, and a good percentage of that happens over some sort of chat. These tools will keep your critical conversations private.

19. ChatSecure: this mobile app works with many popular networks, including Facebook and Google Talk.
20. CryptoCat: available for iOS, OSX, Chrome, and Firefox, this app lets you send encrypted text, files, and photos.
21. Bleep: this free messaging app from BitTorrent provides encrypted, decentralized chat and voice calls.
22. Pidgin: this desktop-based messaging client works with most popular messaging networks and offers a variety of plugins to secure and encrypt your communications.
23. Jisti: this open source desktop app provides encrypted chat, calls, and video conferencing.

Encrypted Cloud Storage


Your pictures auto-backup to the cloud. Your office documents are stored there for easy collaboration. Even your computer syncs most of your files to an online server. These cloud services encrypt your data to make sure no one can see it but you.

24. Tresorit: this cloud service encrypts all of your files on your machine before syncing them to the cloud, so nothing is vulnerable during transit.
25. Personal: this collaboration and personal privacy tool provides a range of features from secure file sharing, chat, and data storage. It can even encrypt data for an existing Dropbox account.
26. SpiderOak: this provides local encryption and a “Zero Knowledge” policy, meaning their employees don’t have the ability to access your stored data.
27. Box: designed for collaboration, this cloud provider encrypts your files in transit and can be integrated with a variety of business services.
28. Boxcryptor: this app allows you to secure your files, regardless of which cloud service you’re using..

System Encryption


Admit it, you have far more personal information on your laptop than you should. Personal photos, business documents, tax returns, saved passwords, you name it. It’s a data breach waiting to happen. Try one of these programs to keep it secure.

29. BitLocker: if you’re running the latest version of Windows, you already have this tool installed. Now you need to learn to use it.
30. DiskCryptor: this open-source, Windows disk encryption tool uses 256-bit encryption to secure your entire hard disk.
31. VeraCrypt: this free software available for Windows, Mac, and Linux provides full-disk and partition encryption.
32. Android Encryption: if you’re using Android, there’s good news. You already have a built-in encryption system. It may slow your system down a bit, but the added security will be worth it.
33. iOS: Apple also offers built-in data protection, but you need to set it up.

Antivirus Protection


All the security in the world won’t do you any good if your device gets infected by a virus, so make sure you have a strong, up-to-date antivirus system running at all times.

34. AVG: when it comes to free virus protection, AVG is the biggest name in the industry.
35. Ad-Aware: one of the original and best anti-malware platforms, Ad-Aware now offers free antivirus protection as well.
36. Avast: this free, lightweight solution is ideal for older PCs and mobile devices, where resources are limited.
37. Panda: the free version provides lightweight virus protection, while their paid versions offers a complete privacy solution.
38. Bitdefender: another free, lightweight solution for your desktop or phone.
39. Webroot: this is a paid program, but it offers some of the strongest protection available.

Password Protection


Trying to remember all those passwords is a pain, which is why most people reuse passwords and forget to change them. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available for managing your online credentials.

40. LastPass: this tool stores all of your passwords using 256-bit encryption. You remember your one master password, and it handles the rest.
41. KeePass: this free desktop tool keeps track of your online passwords as well as computer and program logins.
42. Master Password: instead of storing your passwords, this app uses an algorithm to make them available on any device.
43. Dashlane: this app stores all of your password and automatically logs you in to most sites.
44. Keeper: this provides multi-factor authentication to secure your passwords across all your devices.
45. 1Password: this password manager provides secure access to your passwords from any device and can auto-generate highly secure passwords for you.
46. PasswordWallet: while built for iOS only, this app allows you to access your encrypted passwords from any device.

Securing Your Online Information


Your information is all over the Internet. Some of it you share willingly on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some of it is collected and made available for a cost on sites like People Finder and Spokeo. The following tools can wipe the web clean of your personal information.

47. Safe Shepherd: this subscription-based service automatically removes your personal information from public and marketing databases.
48. DeleteMe: this service removes your personal information from public data sites, as well as locating and removing publicly-available photos of you or your family.
49. DIY PrivacyFix: you can do most of the work of securing your online information yourself. This article explains all you need to know to reproduce the now defunct PrivacyFix youself.

Stay on Top of Your Privacy


The internet is always in flux. Right now, there are people looking for ways infringe your privacy — sometimes in relatively benign ways like trying to better sell you stuff — but other times in nefarious ways. Luckily, there are also people committed to helping you secure your privacy. If you care about privacy, you have to stay informed on the threats and your options to combat them.

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