This month PHP, the widely used website scripting language, released its first major update in the past ten years – PHP 7.
HostAway can now offer PHP 7 for customers wanting to take advantage of the long list of new features, the most notable of which are improved performance and reduced memory use. Below is a graph of the requests per second that each version of PHP is able to handle for a WordPress installation.
Please note that PHP 7 will not be compatible with many older sites due to some features being deprecated, so please review the migration guides and feel free to call us to discuss whether the move is right for you.
HostAway has become aware of a widespread email blast that has recently occurred. Scammers have sent bulk emails to domain name owners trying to lure them into clicking on a link or responding with information. An example below:
The following domain names have been suspended for violation of the TUCOWS, INC. [or other registrar’s] Abuse Policy:
Domain Name: [redacted]
Registrar: TUCOWS, INC. [or other]
Registrant Name: [name taken from WHOIS records]
Multiple warnings were sent by TUCOWS, INC. [or other] Spam and Abuse Department to give you an opportunity to address the complaints we have received.
We did not receive a reply from you to these email warnings so we then attempted to contact you via telephone.
We had no choice but to suspend your domain name when you did not respond to our attempts to contact you.
Click here [link removed] and download a copy of complaints we have received.
Please contact us for additional information regarding this notification.
TUCOWS, INC. [or other]
Spam and Abuse Department
Abuse Department Hotline: 480-158-7073
If someone were to click on the link it would download a file and the phone number is obviously not a local one nor is it valid.
This serves as a reminder to remain vigilant against phishing attempts and if you have any doubts as to the validity of an email you receive from HostAway – just call us!
The primary reason for this change is that our Classic Webmail software is quite limited in functionality and becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and keep secure. HostAway will be copying address books and calendar information over to the Advanced Webmail software however if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. Please note that although we call it “Advanced” it is actually very simple to use!
We would like to thank Classic Webmail for its many years of service and wish it all the very best in retirement.
An SSL certificate encrypts information sent between a server and the users who connect to it. All websites that collect customer information are recommended to have an SSL certificate installed, and it is an absolute requirement for any site that takes credit card payments. Without an SSL it is possible for a third party to intercept and read your data (sometimes known as a man-in-the-middle attack) whereas an SSL certificate will make any interceptions unreadable.
There are many different trusted SSL providers (called Certificate Authorities) such as GeoTrust, Verisign and Thawte. There are also various types of SSL certificates, including standard, wildcard and Extended Validation (EV) certificates. These certificates will appear subtly different depending on the browser used, but will include some variation on a padlock symbol. Below is an example of a standard SSL certificate (well, it’s actually a wildcard but you can’t tell the difference):
An Extended Validation certificate means the website has undergone more rigorous testing (and paid a lot more) for their certificate, and allows more information to be included, such as a company name. The images below are from the same website, Paypal.com, displayed in different browsers.
The higher the validation (more identity checks) the more trusted the SSL certificate. A standard SSL certificate can be issued in a few hours whereas an EV SSL certificate may take days or weeks to pass all the authentication checks. Most websites don’t need anything more than a standard SSL certificate, well written and maintained code (important!) and a great website host (aww shucks, nice of you to say) to protect their customers from hackers and identity thieves.
HostAway can provide SSL certificates from multiple trusted vendors so if you have a preference please contact us and we can provide a quote.
We have reviewed our hosting costs for additional mailbox and website space and reduced prices by up to 50% !
Customers don’t need to do anything to receive these new prices – they will be reflected on your next invoice. The new prices are:
We are also able to create custom sizes so please contact us for pricing if you require more space.
You may notice a discrepancy in pricing between email and website hosting and this is due to the different backup, virus scanning and replication procedures involved with email data versus website data.
By now you’ve probably heard of ‘The Cloud’ or the term ‘cloud computing’ bandied about and you may have wondered “does my business need to be in the cloud?”. We understand The Cloud is often used as a generic buzzword to cover a range of hosted solutions which confuses a relatively simple concept. Hopefully this article will clear up any misconceptions you may have:
Cloud computing refers to remote computers running software and storing data which you access over the Internet.
One of the earliest widespread cloud services was Hotmail – an email service where your data was stored online and not on your local computer. Over the past ten years there has been a rapid growth in the number and quality of services being offered through the cloud, i.e. over the Internet which you may access via a web browser, mobile app or a very basic computer.
Cloud computing allows your business to benefit from technologies without needing to have the expertise to manage them, and focus on what you’re good at. Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are some of the big players in the cloud, offering applications, storage and computing power with their varied services. Services such as Facebook, Twitter and Instragram are also examples of cloud services, as are smaller players such as Xero (accounting), Salesforce (CRM) and Dropbox (storage/file sharing). To get a little more technical, cloud computing is often broken down into these 3 broad categories:
Software as a Service (SaaS) – The most common model, on demand software often paid for by a monthly access fee. This replaces the need to purchase software to install on a single computer with users instead leasing software to access from whichever device they choose. HostAway’s webmail software and mailout portal are examples of SaaS.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) – This model refers to computer environments that allow application developers to build and deliver their own software and services. An example is HostAway’s shared web hosting and database platform which allows website developers to focus on their code and not have to worry about the maintenance of the underlying operating system or hardware.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – As the name suggests, this model provides users with access to virtualised infrastructure or hardware. Customers can lease computing power, storage, IP addresses and scale up or down depending on their requirements, without having to purchase any physical machines. HostAway has been offering Virtual Private Servers since 2008 allowing users to maintain their own operating systems and software.
There are a number of compelling reasons to move your IT resources into the cloud.
- Scalability. If you need more, you pay for more.
- Flexibility. Access your data from anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Capex vs Opex. No more hardware costs, you lease services instead of buying assets.
- Physical security of data centres. Your data is safer on a server inside a data center/s than on a hard drive in your office.
- Potentially lower costs. Not only do you not pay for hardware, depending on your model you don’t need to maintain or patch software either.
Cloud computing is dependent on your Internet connection. If your connection goes down, so does your productivity. The delays in the NBN rollout and the necessary improvements in Internet connectivity in Australia has meant some companies don’t have reliable or fast enough connections to make use of cloud services.
There are also security considerations when using cloud services, as you are no longer in complete control of your data. How is your service isolated from other users? Do you communicate with your cloud provider over an encrypted connection? Where is your data stored and what government’s laws do you fall under if your data is hosted overseas? We don’t mean to frighten you away from using the cloud but these are questions you should be asking – please don’t hesitate to contact HostAway if you have any questions about our hosted solutions.
You are probably already using cloud services (remember Facebook?), but for your business you may consider the three major deployment models: private, public and hybrid.
A private cloud involves managing your own services either in house or in a data center and accessed via a secure connection. This option is more expensive as you still have to purchase and manage your hardware, but offers more security, privacy and control. An example would be storing a file server in HostAway’s data centre using our Colocation service, and accessing the data via a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A public cloud is the more well known model where services are provided to multiple users over shared infrastructure which is publicly accessible via the Internet.
A hybrid cloud uses a combination of the two, where a company will store non-critical data in a public cloud to take advantage of the lower costs and greater flexibility, but store their financial information in a private cloud.
The cloud is not a mysterious floating solution for all your IT issues, it is a business tool and as such you have to analyse its strengths and weaknesses to determine where you store your information, and who you choose to store it with.
Every industry has unique technical terms and IT is well known for it’s jargon and TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms). Whilst HostAway are happy to determine your needs and recommend a solution, we know that as a decision maker you might want to understand a little more about what we do. To help, we have come up with (or borrowed) the following analogies. PLEASE NOTE: As with all analogies, they aren’t perfect and so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Your domain name (example.com) is like the street address for your business. Without a domain name no-one will be able to find you. The website hosting is the foundations and structure of your office building – you may need a small office or maybe a warehouse, an office block where you share resources (shared hosting plan) or perhaps dedicated space (virtual server). If your website needs a shopping cart you will need a database to store information much like a warehouse needs a shelving system to store products.
You then to have your designer (web developer) build you an office that will attract customers, paint it, create signage and fill it with furniture (content). The next step is to attract customers to your store, so you need to advertise your location which you can do online with banner ads or paid search results, or you can advertise on standard media (TV, radio, newspapers etc). You might also hire a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialist, who will make your office building appear brighter and help it to get noticed by people looking for your products. Of course, you can’t just leave the same products on the shelves and let your office appear run down. Every now and then you will need to update your content and give your office a new coat of paint, or a complete re-design.
A key part of your hosting plan is DNS (Domain Name System) which can be likened to a phone book; it translates names into numbers. When you type www.hostaway.net.au into your web brower it checks with the “phone book” which provides the number (IP Address) where the website is stored, in this case 18.104.22.168. Your web browser then contacts that address and requests the web page.
A server is a powerful computer that serves a specific purpose (e.g. email, website, file sharing, etc). If you liken a server to one really big house, and had a single bachelor living in it he would have lots of room and could do what he likes. If you put a lot of bachelors inside the house, they will get in each others way and any mess made by one affects the rest. A virtual server would be more similar to an apartment building, the space is divided into compartments and the bachelors can only make a mess in their own space which doesn’t affect any of the other bachelors.
The Internet is often compared to plumbing as it is made of a series of interconnecting pipes of various sizes. The larger the pipe (more bandwidth) the more water (data) can flow through it. Network issues can occur if the pipes are cut or become blocked, which is why the HostAway network uses multiple large pipes (uplinks) to ensure we are always connected.
If we were to use the analogy that a web server is like a pub, serving drinks (websites) to patrons, then a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) is like a thousand people entering the pub in front of you and ordering a glass of water each. The pub is unable to serve you as so many different users are flooding it and taking all the attention of the bartenders. Fortunately, HostAway has bouncers on the door and a cluster of pubs to keep the drinks flowing!
Bonus analogy (unrelated to hosting, we just liked it): If you copy an icon from your desktop to another computer why doesn’t the program work? The icon is most likely a shortcut, which only knows the location of the program, but does not contain the program itself. This would be like putting a post-it note on your office drawer saying “stationery” then taking the post-it home, sticking it to your kitchen drawer and expecting the contents of your office drawer to appear inside!
When you download or upload files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) you are accessing your files on the HostAway web server. If you remove a file on the server it will remove it from your website, so please take care. If your website is built on a Content Management System such as WordPress then you won’t need to worry about FTP as you’re able to edit the site via an administration section in a web page. If your website is plain HTML however, you may want to occasionally make minor changes such as updating a phone number. This isn’t difficult to do, if you follow the steps below.
Firstly you need to make sure you are on a secure computer (eg. with anti-virus protection, not in an internet cafe or on a free wi-fi connection).
You then need to download an FTP program. HostAway recommends FileZilla, which you can download for free at http://filezilla-project.org/. You can also download a tutorial on how to use FileZilla from our FTP support page.
Open Filezilla and you will notice the window is vertically broken in two, with your local files on the left and the remote (or website) files on the right. The right side should be empty because you have not yet entered your login details.
You can now enter your login details at the top of the screen:
Password: contact us if you don’t know this
Port: *Leave this blank*
Press ‘Quickconnect’. You will notice a folder appears on the right side of the screen called ‘htdocs’. Double click on the folder to open it, and the folders and files that now appear are what make up your website.
IMPORTANT: Take a backup of your files before editing them. Keep these in a separate directory in case you make a mistake when editing the files. Although HostAway keeps a rolling 7 day backup of your web files it is always recommended that you take a local backup. To do this select the folder you would like to backup the files to on the left side of the screen. Then on the right side click on one of the folders or files to make it active, then type Control + A to select all files. Right click on the highlighted files and select ‘Download’.
You can edit a file live on the website (right-click the file and choose edit), however we recommend downloading the file (to a separate location than your backups), editing the file, and then uploading it. To edit your homepage you would click on the file index.html (or perhaps index.htm or default.html), and download it. You can then open this on your computer – when your computer asks what program to open this with just choose Notepad. If you are not familiar with HTML the contents of the file will look like gibberish.
Not to worry – you can search for the specific text you want to change, e.g. type Control + F to bring up the Find dialog box, then type in the text you’re looking to edit, e.g. ‘Contact Details’. This will take you to where the actual text is stored. So long as you do not change anything outside of the > < tags then you should not break any code. Obviously without knowing any HTML you will only be able to edit the text, not change images nor the appearance of the website. When you've made your changes you can upload the edited file using FileZilla (select the file you want to upload, right-click and choose 'Upload') and overwrite the one on the web server. Refresh your webpage and your changes should appear! If the website goes wonky then upload the backup file you took, to repair this. Then go back and look at the file to make sure you didn't remove any tags like for example.
If your mailbox is full then new emails will be rejected by the server – oh no! Never fear, this is a simple problem to overcome, you can either delete some emails to make room or increase the size of your mailbox.
When your mailbox is over 90% full the email server will automatically send you a message to warn you that you are running out of space. The simplest step is to log into the HostAway Members Panel and click on Email Quota Manager. This will display a list of mailboxes in your account and the amount of space allotted to each. Simply click on the plus or minus buttons to add more space to the particular account and choose ‘submit’. Problem solved!
Run out of space? If you’ve allocated all of your mailbox space then contact us to add more space to your account.
If you would prefer to delete emails to make room then please ensure you are running IMAP. If you are running POP (see this article for an explanation of the difference) then deleting emails from your computer won’t necessarily free up any space. If in doubt, log into Webmail and if you delete emails from there you can be certain you are removing emails directly from the server. If you are running POP you may need to lower an Advanced option in your mailbox settings to only keep emails for a certain number of days (e.g. reduce this from 30 to 14). This will clear out emails older than x amount of days.
TIP: Use your email program to rank your emails by size and save any large attachments, then remove them from the email. Alternatively, if using Outlook you can create a second .pst file to use as an archive, by following this tutorial: http://www.howtogeek.com/198907/how-to-archive-email-messages-in-outlook-2013/
Your website is the online reflection of your business, so of course you would like it to be attractive and convey all the relevant details in an appealing manner. Whether you built the ideal website or you are still looking for the right web developer one thing you need to consider is ongoing maintenance. Who is responsible for updates and security patches? Who uploads new content or makes edits? These are questions you need to ask your web developer before signing any contracts, in addition to how much these changes will cost.
Software (your website is software!) needs to be maintained and patched to allow for the latest features and to ensure it does not contain security loopholes that a hacker can take advantage of. The most popular Content Management Systems are constantly releasing updates which need to be applied to avoid your website being hacked. Our website hosting platform includes a notification system to prompt customers who don’t apply updates to these popular website platforms.
There are potential performance advantages to upgrading and while you’re updating the software you might want to update your content too – this is believed to be good for SEO. When updating your platform (i.e. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc) don’t forget to update your plugins, modules and themes!