Windows Firewall Basics

A firewall is a program installed on your computer or a piece of hardware that uses a rule set to block or allow access to a computer, server or network. It separates your internal network from the external network (the Internet).

Firewalls can permit traffic to be routed through a specific port to a program or destination while blocking other malicious traffic. A firewall can be a hardware, software, or a blending of both.

Continue reading “Windows Firewall Basics”

Plesk to Plesk Migration

Migrating from one Plesk installation to another is easy with the Plesk Migrator Tool! The Plesk team has done a great job creating an easy to use interface for migrating entire installations of Plesk to a new server.

If you need to move files, users, subscriptions, FTP accounts, mail and DNS servers setup through Plesk, this guide will help you successfully navigate the process and come out victorious!

We will be splitting this tutorial into three sections:

Continue reading “Plesk to Plesk Migration”

Create a Cron Task in Ubuntu 16.04

Cron jobs are an incredibly useful Linux tool aimed at saving you time by scheduling tasks within your server. A programmed cron task will execute commands within a script by the minute, day, week or month. They can be scheduled to do many tasks including backing up your server’s files nightly, updating inventory orders in a database or even compressing files for migrating. Repetitive tasks become a cinch when incorporating a cron job. While there are numerous ways to run a cron task, we will be using the crontab option that is inherent within Ubuntu to set up a nightly backup of our website. Continue reading “Create a Cron Task in Ubuntu 16.04”

A Beginner’s Guide to Managed WordPress

Thank you for choosing Managed WordPress at Liquid Web! We hope this guide will help you get started in making the most of your experience with the Managed WordPress Portal. There are some great features in the portal, and we’ve worked hard to make sure site maintenance is a cinch.

 

Quickly Jump To A Subject By Clicking its Link:

Login to MWP Portal and the WordPress Backend
Forgotten Password
Add a User to the MWP Portal
Granting SFTP Access
Migrate a Site
Create a New Site
Taking a Site Live
Managing DNS
Backups

 

Login to MWP Portal and the WordPress Backend

The fastest and easiest way to log into the Managed WordPress Portal is to first log in to your Liquid Web account at https://manage.liquidweb.com.

Once logged in you will see that you are on the Overview page. Here you will see your Managed WordPress server. Just click the plus sign next to that server to reveal the LOGIN button and click it.

Hint:
The Managed WordPress Portal uses the same credentials as your Liquid Web account so once logged into Liquid Web click the login button.

Liquid Web's WordPress control panel reveals how to login.

Once logged into the Managed WordPress Portal you will see the Welcome Screen which will ask you for a nickname and an email address to create your first site. Just be sure to follow the guidelines on what characters you can or cannot use in a nickname.

When the site is finished deploying, the portal will now show one default WordPress installation that you can work with pictured below. This WordPress instllation is called MyNewSite.You can simply click on the WP-Admin button, and that will take you directly to the WordPress login page for the new default site.Alternatively, click the blue link and append the default site URL with /wp-login.php.  In the above example this would be: https://mynewsite.m9n7y4ka-liquidwebsites.com/wp-login.php

When you create a new site in Managed WordPress Portal, you will be emailed an administrative user and password so you can access the site right away. It is recommended that you login and change the password immediately for security reasons.

 

Forgotten Password

If you forget your password, you can always access the login page and click on the “Lost Your Password” link under the login area. Clicking that link will send an email used to create the new default site, allowing you to change your password.

Click on the "Lost Password?" link to retreive WordPress Credentials.

As a best practice, you will always want to make sure you never use default usernames like “admin” or “user” or simple passwords (like English words) as they can be easily guessed using brute force methods. We have created some best practice for securing WordPress to help you add some extra security to your site.

 

Add a User to the MWP Portal

Since you will be working with different areas that can be confusing we’ll be using the following terminology to differentiate between them.

  1. Managed WordPress Portal – the custom control panel for your WordPress sites in Managed WordPress. The Portal is where you will add sites, work with those sites, access and adjust the setting for your websites. It’s also where you can find your backups!  The Portal will have a URL that begins with the word “app,” uses a custom string, and ends in “liquidwebsites.com” Example = https://app.m9n7y4ka-liquidwebsites.com/
  2. WordPress Dashboard – the traditional term for the back end of all WordPress sites. When you login into a specific WordPress site to perform maintenance on pages or plugins, you are accessing the WordPress Dashboard for that site.
  3. Liquid Web Account Management – this is the primary account area at Liquid Web where you log in to view all your products and services at Liquid Web, such as your invoices, your credit card payment, DNS zones, and other settings or tools that we provide for you.

You can add users to Managed WordPress Portal by logging into the Portal and then clicking on Users in the left menu. On that page, you will find a default “liquidweb_staff” user, used by our support staff, but feel free to add on any co-workers who need access to all the sites.

To add a new user click the blue Create User button to the far right.

Managed WordPress lets you add users to access sites.

Hint:
Any user you add to the Managed WordPress Portal area will be able to work with and make changes to ALL THE SITES including the ability to deleting sites from the portal.

If you want to restrict site access for a single team member, it’s best to create a WordPress Dashboard user (a WordPress user) allowing access only to that specific WordPress site.

Granting SFTP Access

If you wish only to give SFTP access to a team member (and not portal access or WordPress Dashboard access) you can provide the SFTP credentials to that team member.

  1. You can find those SFTP credentials by logging in to the portal and clicking on the blue Manage Site button for the specific site.Retrieve SFTP credentials in the Manage Site section.
  2. You will now find many portal tools and settings for that specific site. Scroll down the page until you come to the SFTP/SSH Credentials area. This area will initially provide the user, IP, and port information for accessing the site over SFTP.
  3. Click on the blue Generate New Password button.  When the popup window appears and asks, “Are you sure?” click the OK button.
  4. The page will refresh, revisit the SFTP/SSH Credentials area to find a new password was generated for that specific site.SFTP credentials are regenerated within the Manage Site section.

 

For your convenience, sse the blue COPY links to copy the information. When you are ready to revoke SFTP access for a team member access the SFTP/SSH Credentials area again and click the blue Generate New Password button to reset the password to something new.  Here are some things to know regarding SFTP.

  1. Passwords can be changed at any time.
  2. Each site in Managed WordPress portal only comes with one SFTP user and that username cannot be changed.

 

Migrate a Site

We have a custom plugin that will allow you to migrate any live, public-resolving site into Managed WordPress Portal.  You can find the plugin in the WordPress repository or even search it from a WordPress Dashboard on the Plugins page. The plugin is called Migrate to Liquid Web. This plugin was built with ease-of-use in mind and works great for anyone who wishes to migrate their own site.

Instructions for downloading and using the plugin are here:  https://www.liquidweb.com/kb/migrating-to-liquid-web-with-managed-wordpress-portal/

Some things to know about using this plugin are:

  1. Implement the migration plugin on the source, live site. It uses a push method, and thus, the source site must be publicly reachable by DNS. The plugin will not work on a local WordPress copy that is not openingly accessible through a URL.
  2. It can only push a copy of a site into our Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce product at Liquid Web. It is not compatible with migrating into other products at Liquid Web.
  3. It is not compatible with WordPress Multi-site (WordPress Multi-site is not compatible with our Managed WordPress solution). We can, however, break up a multi-site installation into individual sites and our team can then migrate each source site into their own, individual destination site on Managed WordPress Portal.

We are happy to perform a migration for you as well, even for multiple sites.  Here is how you can submit a request for a migration to have our team migrate a live site for you into Managed WordPress Portal:  https://www.liquidweb.com/kb/free-website-migration-service/

 

Create a New Site

To create a new site in Managed WordPress Portal simply log in to the portal and then click the Create New Site button in the upper right of the portal.

The portal will then ask you for a nickname for the site along with an email address.  Fill out both fields and then click the Create Site button.Create a WordPress site through a nickname.

It’ll take a minute or two to see the new site in the portal.  An email will shortly arrive with a username and password to access the WordPress Dashboard (also known as the WordPress backend) of the new site. Each WordPress site created in the portal installs with the default TwentySeventeen theme and comes fully prepared with its own SFTP/SSH credentials.

The email address used to install a new site is the same one used for important future updates to our portal, reports and other administrative WordPress tasks for that specific site.

With a new site deploys you’ll be provided a temporary URL to access the site.  The URL will include both the nickname of the site and the default temporary URL that is a part of your specific Managed WordPress Portal.

 

Taking a Site Live

When a site is migrated into Managed WordPress Portal it is copied to a temporary URL that is publicly resolvable over DNS. The temporary URL provides a means to test the functionality and before taking it live. This testing time provides an opportunity to get the site ready with all changes before it needs to be taken live with the real URL.

Two essential and sequential steps are necessary before publishing a site to the Internet.

  1. Change the  A record for the domain to the IP address within your Managed WordPress Portal. DNS does have to be taken care of first for the second step to work.
  2. Change the name in the Primary Domain field in the portal (under Site Details) from the temporary URL to the actual domain name.  That can be done by logging into the portal, clicking on Manage Site, and then find the Primary Domain field. Just replace the temporary URL with the straight domain name and click UPDATE.Taking a WordPress site live entails renaming the primary domain.

The portal will put the site into maintenance mode as it runs the update and gets the site ready to be live with the real domain name.The Managed WordPress Maintenance Page lets us know that updating is in progress.

Here are some things to note about the renaming process.

  1. DNS does have to resolve to the IP address of the server to deploy our automatic SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) application. Our SSL implementation runs a public DNS lookup to retrieve the IP address.
  2. The renaming process will automatically replace the temporary URLs in the database to ensure menus and image links will work with the real domain.
  3. If you wish for the site to resolve to the www version of the domain you will need to include that in the Primary Domain field in the portal.  In that case, you would set the primary domain field to www.domain.com instead of domain.com
  4. The site will be issued an automatic SSL during this process that will programmatically stay up to date!
  5. Once the renaming process has finished the portal will leave maintenance mode, and you will see the portal tools and features again for the site. At this point, the site will now be live on Managed WordPress Portal.

You can find more information documented on this here:  https://www.liquidweb.com/kb/going-live-site-managed-wordpress-portal/

 

Managing DNS

Many times customers wish to have Liquid Web host all their DNS records for a domain. You can do this by using Liquid Web’s name servers.You can use the following process to migrate all DNS records to Liquid Web:  https://www.liquidweb.com/kb/migrating-your-dns-to-liquid-web/

 

Backups

We know that backups are critical, so we provide those for you in Managed WordPress.Just click on Manage Site for the site you wish to work with and then click on Backups in the left menu.Backups are included in each Managed WordPress Product.

Here are a few apsects to note on our backups.

  1. Backups run nightly and are secured off-site location, so they don’t take up any space on the server where you sites live, meaning better performance for your websites.
  2. We keep 30 days of nightly backups, and while they are remote, you do have access to them on the Backups page.
  3. On the Backups page, you can manually create a new backup, download a backup from a specific date, or restore a backup from a particular time.
  4. If you choose to restore a backup from a specific date, it will restore right on top of the live site and revert the site to how it looked and operated on that date and time.

 

Managed Dedicated Server Overview

Are you looking for hosting? You may be asking yourself what is the best solution for your website or online application. One that will provide the uptime and reliability you need with the best support in the industry?  Let’s go through a breakdown of our traditional Dedicated Server options to get a full scope on the aspects of these types of servers.

A traditional Dedicated Server means pure hardware. It’s customized and built to the specifications you select on our website. All resources (CPU, RAM, Disk) are “dedicated” to only you and no other customer.

What does it mean to be Fully Managed customer?

Tired of struggling with server configuration and maintenance? That is where our Fully Managed Heroic Support applies to you. Full Management is going to offer a variety of support options for your server. Those options are below:

  1. Fully Managed (CentOS – WHM/cPanel and/or Windows – Plesk)
  2. Heroic Support Accessible 24/7/365
  3. Fully Managed Network Infrastructure
  4. Fully Managed Hardware
  5. Server housed in our completely owned Liquid Web Data Centers
  6. Level 3 Technicians On-Site 24/7/365
  7. System Level Monitoring Alerts & Notifications
  8. System Level Health Monitoring and Graphing
  9. 100% Uptime SLA on These Items
  10. Installation and Full Support of Core Software Package
  11. Core Operating System Updates & Patches
  12. Security Enhancements
  13. Virus and Spam Protection
  14. Full Control Panel Support
  15. Control Panel Updates and Patches
    To see a full support comparison, see the Support Comparison Chart.



Experiencing performance issues? Large growth? These are early signs that you may need a Dedicated Server to handle processes? Let’s talk on the key components that call for a Dedicated Server.

Performance Issues
Have an e-commerce site and experiencing slow load times when your site is active? Consider upgrading to a Dedicated Server to really kick your website into high gear. An influx of traffic coming to your site demands more from server’s resources.

Each time a user submits an order via your e-commerce site, a read/write request to the MySQL database is performed. Multiply this process by 1,500+ users performing the same action causing your hard disk read/write to spike. For regular VPS servers, this spike may leave your VPS struggling to serve visitors. With Dedicates Server using Solid State Drives (SSD) they can serve out faster read/write speeds.

 

Increased Traffic
Having a popular site is a great problem to have! Traffic spikes can happen due to various reasons. A Dedicated or Cloud Dedicated Server is going to be your first step on ensuring you are ready for increased traffic. If you require scalability, our Cloud products give you the flexibility of resizing and upgrading or downgrading your server with a simple click of a button. We don’t stop there, you may be in a position to explore our Enterprise options to handle high demand traffic!

Server Errors
Pulling up your website only to see a “500 Internal Server Error” can be disastrous for your online business. Most common errors come from a lack of resources to keep your website online and stable. To avoid this type of error, placing yourself on Dedicated hardware is the first step. This goes hand in hand with increased Traffic. A larger flow of traffic can also cause issues due to lack of Dedicated hardware.

Server Specifications
Considering a Dedicated Server can be quite the task if you are not familiar. Let’s break down each server component and talk on how it can benefit you and your application or website.

Server Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Cores
On our Dedicated Servers page, you’ll see that our initial offering is a Single CPU, Quad Core (Intel E3-1230 v5). This means you have a Single CPU Socket on the motherboard with 4 Cores at 3.4Ghz. Each Server CPU will provide a different CPU Clock speed which is important for performance. Higher the clock speed, the more efficient the CPU can process data from your website.

Server Memory (RAM)
LiquidWeb provides you with 16GB DDR4 Memory for Traditional Dedicated Servers. The majority of large websites that are built around a Content Management System use Apache, PHP, and a MySQL Database. Ensuring your server has enough RAM is crucial to maintaining performance as all of these software components will require RAM usage.

For example, a small WordPress site with less than 1,000 visitors per day would be fine to start off with 16GB of RAM. Yet a large e-commerce site with 5,000+ users per day will need extra RAM to handle simultaneous requests.

Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives
Configuring a Dedicated Server on our website? You’ll notice that we provide Solid State Drives for your Primary Hard Disk.  We also provide you with a free backup drive of 1TB (SATA 7,200 RPM)! You’ll be placing your Linux/Apache/PHP/MySQL onto SSD drives for quicker response times. By utilizing SSD drives, your CPU and RAM will not have to rely on each other due to the high performing speeds on the SSD. If a SATA drive was being utilized to run your LAMP stack, the performance would decrease as there’s now a physical moving disk at 7,200 revolutions per minute (RPM). When comparing SSD vs SATA, the performance of our SSD is 10x faster than what our SATA drives can deliver. SATA drives are ideal for massive amounts of storage/backups. Files that will not need a lot of access or reading/writing to.

RAID
A Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) is an easy method to combine several disks into a big array. There are different levels of RAID. Each that offers their own fault-tolerance, performance, and capacity. There are also different storage techniques such as striping, mirroring, and parity. If your server already has Solid State Drives, adding a RAID array is beneficial to further increase performance and redundancy.

For example, having 2x 250GB SSD drives in RAID1 is a great start. Unless there is a high demand from your users, this can call for a RAID10 array that will add 4x 250GB SSD drives. This will increase storage size and performance for your server, with more drives mirroring and working together on-top of adding redundancy.

Bandwidth
One of the largest benefits of having a Liquid Web Dedicated Server power of 5 Terabytes of bandwidth. This is no added cost and only outgoing bandwidth counts against you! There are two types of bandwidth transfer, incoming and outgoing. When you are uploading files via FTP to your server its considered inbound bandwidth.When a user goes to your website or application, they are sending a request to your server, known as outbound data. We have higher bandwidth packages to offer along with unlimited options if required.

What Kind Of Dedicated Server Is Right For Me?
The big question, how do I know what I need? There are a few recommendations to help yourself get an idea of your needs. If your website is with another hosting provider, contacting that hosting provider and requesting your current servers specifications is recommended. Not all companies will give you the details you need but this could be very helpful in comparing apple to apple services across hosts.
If you are about to start a new online project or want to switch to a Dedicated Server, it’s recommended you chat or speak to one of our Hosting Advisors. They can assist you with a fitted package recommendation or answer any technical questions. Check out our Dedicated or Cloud Dedicated solutions to order yours today!

 

How to Use IPMI

IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) is a great way to manage your server remotely. Having IPMI combined with a Liquid Web VPN is similar to having a remote Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) attached to your server. You’ll be able to perform actions remotely which traditionally accomplished when physically present at the machine. This process includes viewing the startup process, changing BIOS settings, installing the OS, and even power cycling your server. This guide is intended to walk you through the IPMI web interface, and explain the various pages. If you need help accessing IPMI, try this Knowledge Base article instead!

Note:
Some functionality of the IPMI portal has been locked down by Liquid Web. As a customer, you have “Operator” level permissions. Only IPMI “Administrators” can perform specific actions in the web portal. This article covers what is primarily available to IPMI Operators!

This view is the first page displayed when you log into the IPMI web portal. There are a few important pieces of information on this page, including your IPMI IP address, the firmware revision of the IPMI BMC, and your system’s MAC addresses. The “Remote Console Preview” page gives you a small thumbnail display of what the video display would look like if directly connected to your server. Also note that you can perform some power cycling actions from this page, including “Power On,” “Power Down,” and “Reset.”

System Info within IPMI

 

While there is not much to look at on this page, it is one of the most important pages on the web portal! Clicking the “Launch Console” button will allow you to remotely connect to your server as if you had a KVM installed. When you click the button, your browser will prompt you to download a new file called “launch.jnlp.”

Note:
You will need Java installed to run this application.

Console Redirection page shows the "Launch Console" button

 

The “Event Log” page displays some fundamental logging information from the IPMI console. This page will keep a record of IPMI logins, and some other information on who accessed the system.

Note:
IPMI Operators will only be able to view these logs. Only IPMI Administrators maintain the ability to clear the logs.

Event Log shows who has accessed the server.

 

On this page, you can mount a CD-ROM ISO stored remotely on a Window share which can be useful if you would like to install a custom operating system remotely.

Note:
Installing a custom operating system may hamper Liquid Web’s ability to assist you! We have many officially supported operating systems available, ask your sales representative for more info.

IPMI gives you the ability to add your own OS.

 

The Virtual Media page allows you to upload a small binary image, (1.44MB max size,) directly to the IPMI controller in your server, allowing you to boot from legacy “floppy disk” images. While mostly un-necessary in today’s tech landscape, this option can still be helpful to some users.IPMI gives you the ability to add binary through floppy disk.

 

The Server Health page displays a small amount of information mostly permitting you to see some version information on the IPMI product.

Note:
Under normal circumstances, many of these fields will be blank, and there is limited information available on this page.

Check the version of your IPMI instance.

 

This page displays information gathered by sensors on the motherboard. You can see information on many physical aspects of your server here. For example, some data here includes fan speed, component temperatures, voltage readings on the CPU and RAM, and more.

Sensor Readings show fan speed, temps, CPU and RAM.

 

The “SOL” Console (Serial Over LAN Console) is a serial console connection to your server. With particular use cases, it is only useful for redirecting serial input/output over LAN.

The serial console connection, useful for redirecting serial input/output over LAN.

 

So covers the functionality available to IPMI Operators. When appropriately used, IPMI can be a valuable tool in maintaining your server. It provides similar level access as if you were physically present in front of your server. It used to be that this capability was only possible when purchasing additional expensive KVM hardware. Liquid Web Dedicated Servers have this functionality as a standard at no extra cost! Give us a call if you have any questions, or would like to discuss getting an IPMI capable server.

 

SSL vs TLS

You may have first heard about TLS because your Apache service needed to be secured using TLS for a PCI scan (Payment Card Industry: PCI scans are a standard to ensure server security for credit card transactions). Or maybe you noticed that your SSL also mentions TLS when you are ordering the certificate. Beyond where you heard the names, the question is, what is this mysterious TLS in relation to SSL and which of the two should you be using? Continue reading “SSL vs TLS”

Getting Started with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

A few configuration changes are needed as part of the basic setup with a new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server. This article will provide a comprehensive list of those basic configurations and help to improve the security and usability of your server while creating a solid foundation to build on. Continue reading “Getting Started with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”