Categories
General

Choosing the right backup software

There’s no beating around the bush – backups are important! Some individuals and businesses go as far as taking backups of their backups. However, what makes good backup software? There’s loads of choices on the market, including in the web hosting industry. Acronis, R1Soft, CPRemote – the list goes on.

After trialling many different options over the years, we’ve very much come to like JetBackup. In this article, we’re going to take some time to look at some of favourite features that make it the ideal option for web hosts and customers like!

One-click account restoration:

Let’s set the scene – a catastrophic error was made to your website files and database, and you want to roll your account back to how it was the previous day when everything worked fine. Recovering from a situation like this with JetBackup is very quick and easy.
jetbackup account restorationIt’s as easy as picking a date and hitting the “RESTORE” button, and the server will do the rest. The process takes just a few minutes to complete.

Your backups belong to you:

It is, unfortunately very common nowadays that web hosting providers implement restrictions which mean that users cannot download their backups locally. This is to help save on resources (i.e. CPU power, disk space, etc).

With JetBackup, it’s easy to download backups straight to your local machine, meaning your data is stored in yet another place to help improve its availability.

Another benefit of this is freedom to migrate to other web hosting providers with ease.

Individual item restoration:

Another benefit of JetBackup is the ability to browse the file example, for example, as it was at previous dates in the past:jetbackup file restorationNeed to restore your index.php file from a few days ago? Don’t panic – that is quick and easy!

Keen to try JetBackup for yourself? All of our Web Hosting plans include it as standard!

Categories
Our Company

Maintaining a clean & secure network

It has never been quicker or easier to deploy a server. Providers such as us allow customers to deploy a flavour of Linux (CentOS, Ubuntu, or Debian) in less than 60 seconds! This is fantastic, as it allows everyone from beginner server administrators to professionals to quickly utilize the many capabilities that Linux has to offer.

However, as with any operating system (i.e. Windows, Linux), it is vital that steps are taken to protect your server from attackers (this could be humans, or automated bots), as the consequences can be costly — consuming both time and money.

What can happen if a server isn’t properly secured?

Some of the most common consequences of a hacked/compromised server are that the server will be maliciously used for one or more of the following:

  • Spam: This one is pretty simple to grasp the concept of. Attackers may use your server to send out unsolicited mail. This could be anything from promoting their own websites, to financial investment emails where large sums of cash are offered.

  • Phishing: This is a practice in which a web page or email is maliciously crafted in order to trick readers into entering credit card details, login details, and so on into a bogus/fake form. Quite often, PayPal and Google are targetted.

  • Hacking: Your server may be used to attack other servers or internet devices. For example, it may be used to “bruteforce” login forms or protocols such as SSH, RDP, WordPress, etc. This can involve trying lots of username and password combinations.
How does Ethernet Servers combat this problem?

We proactively monitor all of our IP addresses against all of the leading blacklists, including Spamhaus, Spamcop, blocklist.de, and many others. By doing so, we become aware of any outbreaks of spam, compromised servers, etc. very quickly.

The information we get is then forwarded to the respective customer for review. Our team has a great deal of experience combatting many types of security issues, and are on hand 24/7 to provide assistance. Our efforts help to ensure that our customer servers and websites are safe, and that our IP addresses are clean.

How can I check my server IP for blacklists?

Don’t panic! We do that for you, and will contact you in the event a blacklist appears. The method in which we monitor our IP addresses is courtesy of a free and open-source project on GitHub. If you wish to monitor your IP address(es) yourself, there are some free options that we can recommend, such as:

https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
https://hetrixtools.com/blacklist-check

We hope this article has been of help, and please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns!

Categories
Our Company

Becoming the best we can be, and how we do it!

Ethernet Servers was founded back in 2013, and one of our core principles has always been to do things properly. It sounds straight-forward, and potentially, not very ambitious, but we believe it’s critically important. In this article, we’ll be looking at what makes our web hosting truly special!

First of all, let’s ask a question: how does a company normally improve?

There are many possible answers to this question, such as: introducing more products, or adding more features to an existing product. These approaches work well when it comes to increasing sales and brand awareness, but do they improve the actual customer experience? That depends, but the chances are the answer is: they don’t.

We’ll now take a closer look at how we, Ethernet Servers, improve the experience that we provide to all of our customers, and, it’s all about support tickets! If someone sends a ticket in, there’s usually one of two reasons as to why:

  • Something isn’t working properly
  • Something needs installing, or tweaking

For every ticket that we process, it gets looked at again later (sometimes the same day, or the next day) – even if everything has been sorted out, and no further action is required. Once that has happened, it gets assigned a “Reviewed” status.

What is the “Reviewed” status?

It’s our way of saying that a ticket has been looked at in its entirety – from start to finish. We look at two factors:

– What was the ticket about?
– How can we improve?

By doing this, we make our service better! We try to ensure that everything works flawlessly out-of-the-box, saving you time, and hassle.

In other words: to us, solving that particular ticket isn’t good enough. We have to ensure it’s permanently resolved, for new and existing customers.

Can I have some examples?

Certainly! We’ll use some real examples from recent tickets:

  • A customer opened a ticket to state they had reached the operating system reinstall limit of 30, as pre-defined by SolusVM (our control panel vendor). We removed the limit for this customer, as well as all other existing customers, and new orders.

  • A customer tried to set a Reverse DNS (PTR) record, but our control panel refused, insisting that no matching A-Record had been set. This was caused by slow DNS propagation. We switched to Cloudflare’s DNS resolvers (1.1.1.1, 1.0.0.1) to combat this, who offer near-instant propagation!

  • A customer contacted us to state that they were unable to install Docker, and they needed the “FULL” netfilter enabled on their VPS. We granted the permission to their VPS, and also to all of our other customers (new & existing orders).

    For more examples, check out our Changelog. Most entries are as a result of improvements we’ve made from customer support tickets.

How does this benefit me?

It means that everything “just works”, exactly as it should do. We take the hassle out of hosting, making it quick and easy for everyone – from the casual WordPress blogger to the seasoned Linux systems administrator.

You shouldn’t have to open a ticket to request a certain feature is installed or enabled, and similarly you shouldn’t have to report something that doesn’t work. We provide a service that we’re proud of, and would happily use ourselves if we were customers!

Conclusion

We hope that this article has been helpful, and given you an insight into how much we work day in, day out, to make our hosting as good as it possibly can be!

Our continuous work in this area enables us to give maximum effort in each and every ticket that we receive, ensuring that you get fast and high-quality support.

Feedback is always welcomed — please get in touch to let us know how we can offer you a better service!

Categories
General

Quick ways to secure your website for free

This is an important subject, and one that we should all pay attention to. Security issues can lead, to amongst other things, loss of income and damaged reputation. It’s for that reason it’s vitally important that steps are taken to keep your website secure. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you may think!

1) Update! This is one of the main reasons that websites are compromised, or, “hacked”, especially when there are updates available which specifically address security issues. To combat this, you’ll want to first make a full backup of your website, and then install any available updates. If things go wrong, you have the option to change things back to the way they were before.

2) Use strong AND unique passwords! You can have all the latest updates installed, and follow many best-practices, but weak passwords are essentially an open invitation for hackers to walk in and do some serious damage. As such, make sure you use strong and unique passwords all-round. This includes FTP accounts, database users, and any administrative login areas. If you’re looking for a quick way to manage your passwords, consider installing KeePass.

3) Restrict permissions. It’s entirely possible to have tens of administrators and moderators on your forum or blog, however just because it’s possible doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. Instead, only grant special permissions to people that actually need them. Let’s say you’re running a forum: your web designer probably doesn’t need access to modify users or delete forums.

These simple tips may seem obvious, however it’s easy to slip up (we all do it!), so double checking you’re following at least a few best practices is always advisable, and could save a great deal of work down the line.

Ethernet Servers can provide a free security audit for all customers upon request. Simply open a support ticket and we’d be glad to help out!

Categories
Performance

Simple tips to speed up your WordPress blog

WordPress is everywhere – it powers over 30% of all websites! And for good reason – it’s pretty good. It’s free and most importantly, easy to customize. In 2019, it’s far more than blog software. Instead, think of it as a solution that can single handedly power a website. In this article, we’ll look at some quick ways to give your site a boost, helping you gain more visitors, who are happier (no one likes a slow website).
  1. If you’re using PHP 5, first of all, you shouldn’t be, as it’s End of Life and no longer receives security updates. And second of all, it’s considerably slower than PHP 7. Why not make today the day that you make the move? We recommend version 7.3, but 7.1 and 7.2 would also be suitable; they still receive security updates.

  2. Remove any plugins that you’re not using, or don’t need. Not only can plugins reduce your WordPress site’s security (i.e. if they’re badly written), but they can also add overhead, slowing the time taken for your pages to load.

  3. Use caching. There are various ways to do this, but we recommend using the LiteSpeed Cache plugin if possible. The only downside is, it’s only available for servers that use LiteSpeed as their web server (our shared hosting plans do, if you’re interested!), so you may have to look around a bit for other caching solutions.

  4. Benchmark your site using tools like GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights. These will often provide helpful tips specific to your website, as well as allow you to see how your site is performing in comparison with other websites.

Feel free to contact our support team for any questions related to the contents of this post, or for assistance in getting the very best out of your existing website!

Categories
General

Saving money on Web Hosting

With so many types of web hosting accounts available, with all kinds of different resource limits, it can be hard to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. In this article, we’ll look at some of the things you can do to save both money and resources with your web hosting accounts!

Make sure that your websites are online. This might sound odd, why would my website not be online? We’ve found that many accounts get clogged up with addon domains that have expired (i.e. a domain that was never renewed), or broken (i.e. a website that experienced a malfunction at some point in time, but was never repaired). Don’t be that person! Audit your account frequently, making sure to remove domains that you don’t need, or don’t use.

Keep an eye out for large files, what are they? Do you need them? Make sure to keep an eye out for large error log files, fixing any problems that they report, and then removing them. In addition, store backups on your local computer, or sign up for free space from companies like Dropbox or Google.

By following the tips above, you’ll save resources, and therefore be able to manage with smaller (cheaper) web hosting accounts. Let’s assume you’re already doing these things, what else can be done?

Start small, and go big. Many people purchase accounts with an assumption of their usage in future. Don’t do this! By purchasing only what you need at the time, you save money. Make sure you can upgrade in future with no hassle, though!

Always look for discounts! Most companies love a sale, why not join them and use a coupon code? If you don’t see any coupons on a provider’s website, head to Google, and search “<company name> coupon”.

Categories
General

What makes a great Fully Managed VPS?

The short answer: many things! In this article, we’ll cover this important subject in detail, helping you to make the right decision.

  • Support. A good fully managed provider will not require lots of back and forth with technical support, as they’ll know what the majority of customers need, and make sure it’s all available out-of-the-box, and perhaps documented in an article or resource. For example, there’s a handful of common PHP modules many scripts require – so they should be loaded as standard, preventing the need to ask for them.
  • Reliability. No one likes getting woken up during the early hours to reports that their website is offline, and that’s without mentioning the thought of actually fixing, and getting it back online. A good Fully Managed VPS will include 24/7 monitoring and restoration of the server’s vital services (i.e. the web and database server). The end result means more sleep for you, and more traffic for your websites.
  • Security. Many Managed VPS providers will include cPanel out-of-the-box, the world’s most popular Linux website control panel. It’s secured to a certain degree, but a good provider will take that process much further. Have a look at this checklist for the steps we take to keep each and every server as secure as possible.
  • Affordable. Fully Managed VPS’ come in all shapes and sizes. There’s many different aspects that impact pricing, such as: the included features and server location (some countries are more expensive due to higher costs). Always look around! If you see someone charging $99/mo for a service that looks identical to one that’s $29/mo, dig down and find out why they might be.

This concludes our short, but hopefully, helpful guide into the world of a Virtual Private Server (VPS!). If you’ve any questions, feel free to contact us! Alternatively, why not explore our packages?

Categories
Performance

3 ways to boost performance for your cPanel websites

If you’re anything like us, you’ll love optimizing servers to get the best possible performance. A 5% boost here, a 3% boost – it all adds up to make a difference that’s visible to the eye eventually!

In this tutorial, we’ll be walking through a few quick changes you can make on your cPanel server to make your visitors happier, courtesy of faster load times.

  1. Enable PHP compression. PHP powers most websites. For example, WordPress, used by 32% of the web. We can compress our PHP content using Zlib, which is transparent to both you and your users, and shouldn’t cause any problems. To enable it, login to WHM as the root user, and navigate to “Software » MultiPHP INI Editor”. Under “Configure basic settings of a PHP version”, select the PHP version you would like to enable it for (if not all versions) and tick the “zlib.output_compression” box, as shown below:
  2. Enable Apache compression. Through Apache mod_deflate you can compress your website’s content before it is served to the visitor, resulting in faster page load times! To do so, simply login to cPanel and click on “Optimize Website”. You’ll then want to Compress All Content. Please note that in order for this option to appear in cPanel, you must first have mod_deflate enabled as one of your Apache modules. If you do not have it enabled, you can do so via EasyApache in WHM.
  3. Migrate to PHP 7.x. The initial release, 7.0, is considerably faster than 5.6, and the latest (as of this blog post) is 7.2, which is even faster yet again compared to 7.0! We have customers running PHP 7.2 in production, and also use it for our own website, with nothing but good things to say! If the speed gains do not convince you, this might: security updates for PHP 5.6 end on the 31st December 2018. It’s fully supported by most major software, including WordPress, who recommend using PHP 7.2. cPanel makes switching PHP version very easy. Simply login to cPanel, click on “MultiPHP Manager” and assign the desired version to your domain.
Categories
General

Taking cPanel 76 for a test drive!

OK, version 75.9999.199 to be precise, but it’ll eventually become known as cPanel 76! We were keen to try out cPanel 76 and see what it’s all about, and how it can benefit us [as a web hosting provider] and our customers.

To begin with, we spun up a VPS with 2 GB RAM and created the file /etc/cpupdate.conf with the contents CPANEL=edge, as laid out here. This allowed us to install a fresh copy of the upcoming cPanel release without needing to first install version 74, and then upgrade to 76 manually.

As noted in the Release Notes, we quickly found the new installation process to be much more simple, eliminating a series of steps for just two (a license agreement, and space to enter a contact email address, and name servers), as shown below:

Going through the Release Notes in more detail, we found that cPanel 76 automatically enables PHP-FPM out-of-the-box. In our testing, this worked as expected – excellent! This is a huge leap-forward for both server administrators and webmasters like, given the performance boost that PHP-FPM has to offer, and, there’s no denying we all love websites which load quickly.

One of the things that caught our eye most, and is likely to be one of the favourites amongst end-users is the new Domains interface. This feature has a lot of potential, and greatly simplifies how customers manage their sub, addon and alias domains. We love the idea behind this!

This version of cPanel also updates SpamAssassin from version 3.4.1, to 3.4.2, as well as cPanel’s internal PHP version from 5.6 to 7.2 (which should give a nice performance boost when using the cPanel interfaces!).

Whilst software developers often add features and functionality, there also comes a time to wave goodbye, too. In version 76, the PHP open_basedir option inside of WHM has been removed for servers running EasyApache 4 (most of them, I’d hope, at this point!). It also waves goodbye to SquirrelMail for all new installations, as well as the ability to share SSL certificates and the Zendguard Optimizer option that you’d normally find inside of WHM’s Tweak Settings.

All-in-all, this is shaping up to be an excellent release with many helpful improvements, and we say well done to the team at cPanel!

To learn more, visit the 76 Release Notes page, as well as the Changelog.

Categories
General

Quickly and easily improving email delivery rates

There’s no denying it – ensuring that your emails get from your Sent folder to your Recipient’s Inbox folder is important.

You may find yourself losing sales worth hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if your client doesn’t see your reply to their email. You may find yourself missing out on an event or party. No matter if you run a business, or just send the occasional personal email, you need to ensure that people are getting it! In this blog post, we’re going to introduce you to a very helpful tool (that we take no credit for, other than finding it!) which allows you to quickly and easily pinpoint problems with your mail server or local email account properties.

It can be found at https://www.mail-tester.com/ 

Some of the checks that mail-tester covers are as follows:

  • DKIM (AKA “DomainKeys Identified Mail”)
  • SPF (AKA “Sender Policy Framework”)
  • DMARC (AKA “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance”)
  • rDNS (AKA “Reverse DNS”)
  • Blacklists (i.e. listed on Spamhaus, Barracuda, etc)
  • Content analysis (i.e. dangerous elements)

Using it is very simple! You need to visit the website link (as shown above) and send an email from the address that you want to analyze, to the email address provided on the website (below “First, send your email to:”). It will take about 15 seconds to complete the test, and provide you with the results.

Your score will range from 0/10 (awful – your emails most likely will not get delivered) to 10/10 (good – your emails will likely reach the recipient’s inbox*).

* We say “likely” as, ultimately, your content needs to be “good”. Email providers such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo scan a message’s content as part of their process in identifying whether to send the email to the spam folder, or the inbox. Even if your email server is well-configured, a poorly written email may be penalized.

There’s an article that we strongly suggest reading if you continue to have email delivery problems after using mail-tester. You can view it here.

Still facing email delivery issues? Feel free to contact us – we’ll be happy to help!