VPS Server Space/Disk Quota

The term “server space” refers to the amount of disk space that is available on your server’s hard disk drive. This space varies according to server type, hosting plan and possibly by additional services that are set up and available on your Liquid Web account.

Some of the largest hard disk drives on the market now can hold up to 100TB of data. To better visualize this, 100 terabytes of data is approximately equivalent to:

  • 42,000,000,000 trillion single-spaced typewritten pages
  • 8,000,000 phone books
  • 160,000 regular compact discs
  • 20,000 DVDs
  • 200 average-sized hard disks (500GB)
  • 80 human brains (the capacity of a human being’s functional memory is estimated to be 1.25 terabytes by futurist Raymond Kurzweil in The Singularity Is Near)

Your disk space can hold many types of data including file types like HTML, TXT, CSS, PHP, PDF, JPG, MP3, MP4, compressed (tar.gz) backups, SQL databases and more. These files are in specific folders which are defined by the applications configuration files or locations you determine.

How do I locate the folders containing a particular set of data?

The location of a file depends primarily on the type of file. On a Linux server, your typical cPanel account is set up under the /home/username folder, and your cPanel account username specifies the username folder. This folder is sometimes called the top-level or root folder of your cPanel account. This root folder is not publicly accessible on the web but, contains folders which are accessible via a web browser. The root folder holds other cPanel specific system folders that use a variety of functions.

As you can see, when uploading files to your account, you’ll likely want them to be in public_html to be accessible on the web. Uploading an image.jpg file to the public_html folder makes it available at domain.com/image.jpg. Additionally, if you create a folder inside of the public_html directory and add the same image there, it would be accessible at yourdomain.com/foldername/image.jpg.

To see the location of a file, you have several options;

  1. Log into your cPanel and open the File Manager under the Files section
    cPanel >> Home >> Files >> File Manager’ here you can view all of the files and folders in your account’s root directory.cPanel File Manager
  2. When a cPanel account is initially set up, it also creates the main FTP user. You can use the servers FTP functionality to access folders from a remote location to view the file listings. Several software titles like Filezilla, Cyberduck, and WinSCP are available for this type of connection.
  3. Lastly, you can connect to the server via SSH and get access to folders/files on the server.

How do I see how much space I’m using?

Disk Usage Graph

Let’s start by reviewing a few command line examples; mainly the “du” and “df” commands.

Note
The ‘du’ command sums up the total space of files that exist on the filesystem, while the ‘df’ command shows blocks available in the file system.

The ‘df’ command (abbreviation for disk free) simply lists the space used per partition:

df Command Output

The ‘du’ command (abbreviation for disk usage) reports the sizes of directories including all of their contents and the sizes of individual files:

du Command Output

Note
There are times when the ‘du’ and ‘df’ commands show different usage amounts. Previously removed files can cause this discrepancy from a running process holding open that file. Open processes cause the ‘df’ command to report that space as still being used. The solution to this is to restart the service to close any open process.

You can also use cPanel to determine the amount of space used and where its located. If you log in to cPanel, you would need to go to cPanel >> Home >> Files >> Disk Usage to get graphical of your disk usage.

cPanel Disk Usage

Lastly, to view your server’s disk usage in your Manage account server resource graph

  1. Log into your Manage portal.
  2. Navigate to the Servers section and then click on the Plus sign (+) next to the server of focus.
  3. Click on the Dashboard button and click the link next to the Disk Usage text as seen below

graphical statistics

This view provides a graphical representation of your disk space and the used amount.

How do I prevent disk space overages?

Disk space overages can result in lost emails, backups or even websites or the server going down! Just like your car, your server requires regular server maintenance. Attention to server maintenance reduces lost data. One way to prevent disk space overages is to use cPanel’s built-in tools.

cPanel possess the ability to send “Disk Quota Warning”  emails that denote when your server is using too much space. They contain specific locations to check, and the space used. The settings for these emails notifications are in WHM (Web Hosting Manager) under the Home »Server Configuration »Tweak Settings .

Email Notifications AreaOther areas of server maintenance to check on regularly include:

  • Pruning backups
  • Logs are rotating correctly (including Domlogs, Apache2, MySql, and Chkservd)
  • Regularly archiving email
  • Using the /home directory for large user accounts

What are the dangers of being too close to Disk Quota?

When a server gets close to or is at its max disk space capacity, strange errors and problems can manifest themselves in many ways including:

  • Services (like MySQL or Apache) can error out or stop
  • Websites can become very sluggish
  • The servers overall responsiveness can become slower
  • The server may exhibit a high load
  • You may see degraded disk performance
  • The server may display an increase in I/O wait
  • The server may demonstrate an increase in CPU usage
  • The file system can go into “read-only” mode
  • The server can run out of inodes
  • Files can become corrupted
  • Decreased swap space may occur causing issues

So what do I do if I’m running out of space?

As Benjamin Franklin stated, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” In light of this knowledge, taking steps in advance to prevent these issues is always the best course of action. Directly monitoring your server disk space on a weekly or monthly basis prevents most space issues from turning into actual problems.

If you have already reached the point where immediate action needs to be taken to bring a server back in line with normal space expectations, you have several options. Using the “du” and “df” commands are your primary weapons in tracking down used server space.

The primary steps needed are:

    1. Log into your server
    2. Run a df -h command to locate which partitions are using the most spacedf Command Output
    3. Change directories into the affected folders using the most space.
    4. Run the following command:

du-sk Command Output(This is an advanced du command that sorts the contents of a directory by size. Use this to drill down into a folder to see used space.)

  1. Move files (to a backup drive or folder) or, remove the files that are no longer needed using the ‘rm’ command.
  2. Repeat steps 2 through 6 as needed until reaching desired space level.

Final Thoughts

Over time, any operating system can become overcrowded with addition and removal of programs or accounts. Actively monitoring your servers disk space is the most effective method to prevent server space issues. If you do run into issues, using the du, df command line tools or, using the graphical interface in your account allows you to view files as needed. As always, if you have further thoughts or questions about this topic, please contact our Linux Support department for more information.

 

Upgrade PHP 5.6 to 7


PHP is a programming language that can run with Apache or Microsoft IIS and works with your server to execute the requests that make up your website. 88% of online sites run on, soon to be vulnerable PHP 5.X technology. At the close of this year, scheduled by Dec 31, 2018 security support will end for our dear old friend PHP 5.6, meaning bugs and security fixes will not be tended to and could lead to security vulnerabilities. 
Each PHP version gets supported actively for two years while the third year only get critical security updates. Luckily, the PHP gods had smiled upon us and extended the life for just a year longer than the typical PHP version before giving us the new year deadline. For all of you developers out there wanting to know exactly what is changing, here’s a helpful migration guide from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.X.

While the last of PHP 5 closes out with PHP 5.6, this will inevitably leave websites utilizing PHP 5 vulnerable to attacks as well as poor performance. It has substantially reached its infamous End of Life (EOL) title. Switching to the newer PHP 7 versions is not only good for the security, but updating can ultimately save you money. Reducing the cost of doing business by avoiding software incompatibility and compliance issues. If an emotional headache isn’t enough to persuade developers to switch, the benefits will. Benchmarks show PHP 7.x has been tested to run three times faster than PHP5.6!

Let’s see:

  • Faster performance resulting in less memory usage
  • Three times faster page loads*
  • Better for heavy traffic sites
*Performance increase as benchmarked in a testing environment. Other developer’s website performance changes between PHP 5 and PHP 7 may vary.

If you are in a shared environment that manages the OS and framework, then your hosting provider should be sending out notifications of the upcoming change, their plan of action, and cut off dates. Our managed hosting products, such as Storm VPS, Cloud Sites or Managed WordPress, have support teams that can help you switch from PHP 5.X to PHP 7.X easily. Our Managed WordPress product has a compatibility checker built in & one click button to upgrade, yet another reason to love it!


While using WordPress to power your site you can check some vital aspects by going to the
WordPress plugin page and searching for the plugins that you use. Once you find the plugin or themes that you utilize, their spec pages will usually say what PHP version they employ. Also, check out the review tab for comments from users as this section gives useful information. This review tab is helpful for seeing if others have had issues with the plugin or theme and newer PHP versions. It is good practice to look up reviews and see what people have been saying about said plugin. If you don’t see any responses or it hasn’t rated well, then you will want to stray away from it. If you use custom plugins, check with your developer to see how they operate in new PHP versions. The WordPress Compatibility Plugin check will give you a list of plugins and themes that may not mesh well with PHP 7.X.

If you run a mission-critical site its best to do a compatibility checker because blindly upgrading could result in some parts of your page to not function. Checking PHP compatibility, as you would imagine, is a little more in depth but from research online, there is a compatibility checker for VPS servers that you can utilize by downloading the repo from GitHub.

It is worthwhile to note that some plugins may need a PHP module to be installed for the plugin to work. When upgrading the PHP version, you may also need to re-install the PHP module. Fortunately, our support team can assist with installing any PHP module you may need or give the best course of action if the PHP module is not available for your PHP version.

If you are using a Linux VPS the easiest way to check is to ssh into your server and run the following command via your terminal:

php --versionOutput: PHP 7.0.30 (cli) (built: Jun 26 2018 20:34:16)

cPanel:

Note
It’s important to make a backup of your site before migrating to PHP 7.X

Search php, select Multi PHP Manager, will show this screen to show which php version you are using. While on the PHP Version screen you can update the PHP version here by clicking on the check mark next to the domain and selecting the desired PHP version on the right drop down and click Apply.

Search For PHP and Click MulitPHP Manager Icon

Redirect to Https

Google just announced that starting July 2018 Chrome, their very popular web browser, will start alerting for all websites which are not using Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL encryption. This is huge. The ramifications of such an alert could be quite impactful to traffic, to websites, and especially for the average user. So, what does that mean for you? More importantly, what can you do about it? No worries! Liquid Web has you covered.

In today’s post, we’ll be detailing some of the finer points of SSL encryption including what it is, what it means, and how to employ it. Let’s get started!

What is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)?

Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, is a means to encrypt traffic. That’s it! They’re no mystery, and there’s no reason to feel daunted by the technical term. The best part is that you’ve probably been making use of SSL encrypted traffic forever and haven’t even noticed it. If you’ve ever browsed to a website and noticed the prefix https:// or a little padlock in the browser bar, you’re using Secure Sockets Layer encryption.

Unencrypted: non-SSL

Insecure Site
Encrypted: Secure SSL
Secure Site

At a very high level, it’s referred to as a key-cert pair, and it’s super easy. The key file and certificate files are installed on your web server. Once installed your visitors browse to the https:// prefix and that’s it! Their traffic is encrypted end to end. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re currently using an SSL, there are some handy tools like  Why No Padock that can help identify your usage.

How does SSL work?

The more technical portions revolve around an encryption algorithm and are a little specific for the average user. At its base, an encryption key and certificate are installed on your web server, as we mentioned earlier. This key is comprised of details about the website. Nothing scary, though! It’s just enough to ensure the site is who it claims to be. Details such as the domain name, the company’s name, the company’s business address; that kind of thing. You know, aspects you’d like to know about a legitimate company with whom you’re choosing to do business and, as a business owner, are proud to announce to the public.

Finally, that information is submitted to a known certificate authority who’ll encrypt the data into the key-cert pair we talked about already. You’ll install the key-cert pair on your server. Then, whenever someone tries to access https on your site, their browser will receive that public cert and compare it to public records for your domain. The browser will verify that your business is legitimate, –because it is!– and will use that certificate to encrypt all the data that’s passed between them and your web server.

This means, whenever there is data moving between them and you, if any bad guys try to inspect or steal it, all they’ll get is a bunch of garbled junk. Your data and your clients’ data are both safe and secure!

Liquid Web has a detailed step by step instruction on server setup at our Knowledge BaseOnce you have an SSL installed on your site, your clients still have two means by which to connect to your site. The HTTP method, which is unencrypted, and the HTTPS method, which is encrypted by your new SSL. The choice is usually denoted by how your clients or your referral traffic structures their link.

Redirecting to Https

Note
This process assumes you’ve already installed an SSL on your site.

The process is referred to as “Forcing SSL Redirection.” Ultimately, you’ll use code to make sure, whenever someone goes to HTTP, their traffic is directed over to HTTPS. Click on the tabs below to learn how the different ways to implement SSL onto your site.

cPanelWordpress.htaccessPlesk
If you’re using cPanel, you’ll need to access your cPanel account and navigate to the “Redirects” menu from the “Domains” group.

You’ll notice the Wild Card Redirect check box. This is a unique function that forces all links to HTTPS, not just the primary domain. I’m very much a fan of this option as it ensures all links will be directed to the SSL secured version which has you covered if someone links to a specific page of your site and not the home page.

Click “ADD” and you’re done!

No need to use cPanel, Plesk or the command line with the very popular Content Management Software, WordPress! Editing can be done straight from the WordPress Admin interface. Log into your WordPress Admin interface navigate to the Settings menu. From there you can simply set your WordPress and Site Address to use the https:// prefix, like so:

Wordpress Admin Section in Settings

Easy Peasy! One last test to make sure you’re using your SSL will show that you are! You could use an SSL checker like SSLShopper, or clear your cache on your browser and reload! See our article on how to clear your browser cache if you are having trouble.

You should be able to see the little green padlock in the browser bar that gives your clients that warm, fuzzy feeling. Even better, the upcoming alert from Google Chrome about unencrypted traffic is no longer a worry.

More advanced users who aren’t using a control panel can use some simple rules in their .htaccess file.

From the command line, navigate to the document root of your domain and use your favorite editor to open or create your .htaccess file. Then add the following lines:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%(REQUEST_URI) [L,R=301]

Here’s an output of mine:

Example of Redirection Code

The method is very similar for Plesk: Log into your Plesk interface and navigate to the “Hosting Settings” for your domain:

Locating Hosting Settings in Plesk

From the Security subheading of the Hosting Settings, check the SSL/TLS support and Permanent 301 redirect checkboxes. Also, make sure you select the correct certificate. Lastly, click the “Apply” button and you’re done!

Redirection Settings Within Plesk

Mixed Content (Insecure Content)

There is one last part. SSLs are installed on your server. So they can only encrypt and protect objects that are on your server. This means, if you happen to be linking to off-server content, like Facebook posts, YouTube links, or images or other content from some else’s sites, you have to make sure they’re using an SSL too. If they’re not, you’re technically hosting insecure content on that page and Chrome will alert your clients as such (characterized by having https but not the green lock). If you’re unsure about the content on your site, you can use a site like Why No Padlock to check. It’ll give you a nice readout and will list any issues with unencrypted content under the “Mixed Content” heading in the report.

Luckily, big names like YouTube and Facebook are already on board and use SSLs. But there are still a lot of sites on the internet who do not. It’s up to you to help the internet’s security and be diligent in our pursuit to be good net-citizens together.

You’re now familiar with SSLs, Forced SSL Redirection and the upcoming Google Chrome alert. As always, if ever you need help or have issues, our Knowledge Base is here for you to peruse and our Helpful Support Humans are happy to help.

 

Using Object Storage for cPanel Backups

Object Storage is simply the easiest, most cost effective and secure backup solution for your data!

What are backups?

A backup is simply the procedure of making extra copies of your data in case the original data is lost or damaged. Liquid Web understands that your data is invaluable and so, we have provided a stable, secure and cost effective product called Object Storage which makes managing your cPanel backups much easier.

Continue reading “Using Object Storage for cPanel Backups”

The 8 Step Checklist to a better migration

8 Tips to a Smooth Migration

A recent Liquid Web survey revealed that businesses are often held back from choosing a better hosting partner by the “what-if” situation when a migration presents. Nearly a quarter of consumers who decide not to switch to a new provider cited fear of the migration as the biggest reason for maintaining the status quo. Even if they believe that the new hosting provider would be better. Continue reading “The 8 Step Checklist to a better migration”

How To Set up Email in Outlook 2016

Pre-Flight Check

 

Step #1: Add or Edit the Email Account

Continue reading “How To Set up Email in Outlook 2016”