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Archive for the ‘Feature of the Week’ category


Setting up a domain pointer

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A domain pointer is an additional domain name that points to the root of your site.

So, for example, if you own domain.net and want it to point to your domain.com site, you can add domain.net as a domain pointer and anyone entering domain.net in a browser will see the domain.com website.

It’s easy to set up a domain pointer, just go to the Site Tools section of Control Panel and click on the “Domain Pointer” icon or link:

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On the Domain Pointer page, click the “Add” button:

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Enter the domain you want to add as a pointer in the “Domain Pointer” field.

Domain pointers do not get full email service, but you can set up aliases (forwarding addresses) for the domain pointer. To set up forwarding addresses, just check the “Enable Email Alias” box.

Click the “Create” button:

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That’s all there is to it, the domain pointer is now set up.

About domain pointer name server records: The name servers for the new domain pointer have to be set to use the Winhost name servers:

ns1.winhost.com
ns2.winhost.com
ns3.winhost.com

How you make that change varies depending on where your domain is registered, so check with your domain registrar for details.

If your domain was registered through Winhost, your name servers should already be set and the domain pointer should start to work in a few minutes. If you have to change the name servers for the domain pointer, DNS propagation may take several hours.

About domain pointer email aliases: When domain pointer Email Alias service is activated, an MX (mail) record is added to the pointer domain’s DNS record. If the domain has a preexisting MX record, it will not be removed when you activate Domain Pointer Email Aliases.

So you must ensure that you remove any preexisting MX records through the Control Panel DNS Manager (or wherever you manage the DNS for the domain) to avoid possible conflicts with the Domain Pointer Email Alias service.

How domain pointer email aliases work: Domain pointer email aliases are forwarded to the corresponding email address of your primary email account. So if you set up the email address info@domain.com, that mailbox will also accept mail for info@domain.net.

If the same message is sent to info@domain.com and info@domain.net you will receive two copies of the message in the info@domain.com mailbox.

 

You can disable domain pointer email aliasing in Control Panel. Go to Site Manager > Domain Pointer and click the “On [Turn Off]” link. You can activate domain pointer email aliasing the same way when it is disabled. On this page you can also delete the domain pointer completely:

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How to switch the primary domain for your account

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There may come a time when you want to change the domain name for your Winhost site. If you ever find yourself in that position, you’re in luck, because we made sure that change is easy, quick and painless.

In the Site Tools section of Control Panel, click on the “Change Domain” icon or link.

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Enter the domain into the “New Domain Name” field on the next page. Do not enter “www” into that field! If you do, your DNS will be set up incorrectly and the new domain won’t work.

Hit the green “Change” button to finish.

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That was easy, right?

But as all the text on that page suggests, there are some things to watch out for when you change the domain.

The number one thing to be aware of is if you are switching the primary domain to a domain that is currently being used as a domain pointer, you have to delete the domain pointer before making the domain name change. If you don’t delete the pointer, the name change will fail.

Also something that’s essential but easy to forget – the name servers for the new domain have to be set to use the Winhost name servers:

ns1.winhost.com
ns2.winhost.com
ns3.winhost.com

How you make that change varies depending on where your domain is registered, so check with your domain registrar for details (if your new primary domain was previously a domain pointer, or was registered through Winhost, your name servers should already point to Winhost).



Enabling raw logs for your site

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Every Winhost account includes traditional website statistics, but there are occasions where you may need to see the raw server logs for your site. Luckily it’s easy to get your logs, here’s how to do it.

In the Site Tools section of Control Panel, click on the Raw Logs icon.

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In the dropdown, select “Enabled,” and click the “Update” button.

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Your raw log files won’t appear immediately, but they will be available within 24 hours and updated nightly thereafter. The log files are compressed into a .zip archive. To download the logs, log in via FTP and go to the /httplog directory.

Note that the log file directory is a hidden directory so it will not be visible when you log in via FTP. After logging into your root directory you have to use the change directory function in your FTP client to change to the log file directory. You have to use your default FTP username to access the /httplog folder. You will not be able to access the hidden /httplog directory using an additional FTP user that you’ve created.

Log files more than 30 days old will be automatically deleted.



Disabling php for your site

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php is such a popular and widely used scripting language that sometimes it seems as if it’s always been part of website development. It hasn’t, of course, but it’s wide use in many popular third party “canned apps,” and the fact that a lot of people continue to use very old versions, makes it a prime target for hackers.

So if you don’t use php in your site, or an application that is php based, you may want to disable php as a preventative security measure. The bad guys can’t exploit something that’s not there, right?

The good news is disabling php is easy and you can do it in about 30 seconds. Here’s how:

In the Site Tools section of Control Panel, click on PHP Version.

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In the dropdown, select “None,” and click the “Update” button.

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And that’s all there is to it.

See, maybe even less than 30 seconds. 😉

For what it’s worth, php isn’t inherently less secure than any other web technology. It’s popularity is what makes it a frequent target. But it’s certainly possible to safely run any php application, even those third part applications that are the favorite targets of hackers. We’ll be posting more security-related articles in the future.

If you want to take a look at other security measures that are available right now, check the website.

Finally, if you run a WordPress blog – one of the hackers favorite targets – and are concerned about security but don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to tackle all the details, we offer a WordPress Hardening Service that buttons up your WP installation and lets you carry on with your life worry-free. Well, at least you won’t have to worry about WordPress. Log in to the Support Portal and open up a tech support ticket, they can give you all the details.



CDN in a nutshell, or: how a Content Delivery Network helps you (in more ways than you think!)

If you’ve never heard of a CDN or you’re not sure exactly what it is, CDN is an acronym for Content Delivery Network. What a Content Delivery Network does, in very basic terms, is serve your site files from multiple data centers all over the world so that your visitors download files from a server near them and experience faster page loads. As a bonus, you get to experience reduced bandwidth use due to your content being cached at the various locations on the network.

How does it work? You change your domain’s name servers to point to the CDN, which then handles the requests for your site. When a request comes in to the CDN, here’s what it does:

  1. Determines the location of the visitor and the data center location nearest to that location.
  2. Pulls the requested files from your central repository (which in this case would be your Winhost server) to that data center near your visitor and serves the files to the visitor from that local server.
  3. Requested files are cached on the local servers for a period of time, so that the next time they are requested from that location they will load from the local server for visitors in that region.
  4. Visitor interacts with the local server until a new file is requested, at which point the CDN goes back to step 2 and repeats.

That makes for a better visitor experience, since visitors are getting files from a local server. And it saves bandwidth on your Winhost account, since the files don’t have to come from the Winhost servers every time they are requested.

There are a lot of CDNs these days, and their setups vary in levels of difficulty. We’re offering a CDN that’s really easy to set up, and if you already have a SiteLock security plan for your site (and you really should, but that’s a separate article), you can add the basic CDN for free.

If you’re thinking that sounds great, but your site doesn’t contain much static content, SiteLock TrueShield CDN can also serve dynamic content from more than 25 data centers around the world via its Dynamic Content Caching system. It’s all completely automatic, but you have control over the cache and can purge files any time you need to, for instance when you update or change content on your site.

On average, sites using the SiteLock TrueShield CDN load 50% faster and use 40-70% less bandwidth.

The TrueShield CDN can also handle end to end encypted SSL (https) requests, and perfoms advanced CDN optimizing techniques, including content minification, image compression, session reuse optimization, “on the fly” file compression, TCP optimization & connection pre-pooling and progressive image rendering.

Not only speed, but protection from the bad guys too

The TrueShield CDN isn’t only about speed, it also offers a layer of protection for your web applications. Does your site use WordPress? If so, you probably know that WordPress is a common target for exploits, and if someone gets into your WordPress installation, the cleanup can be a nightmare, not to mention the probable damage to your site and your reputation.

The SiteLock TrueShield CDN protects you against many web-based exploits with a Web Application Firewall, which blocks malicious bots from accessing your site, and depending on the plan you use, can protect your site against many SQL injections and cross site scripting. Whether your site uses a third party application that runs on a database or works with a database you designed and built, the Web Application Firewall can help keep you safe.

I know this sounds like a commercial for SiteLock, but we’re big fans of their service, and we’re able to offer you some really cool and useful tools through them. We see the damaging effects of website exploits every day, and as I mentioned, cleaning up after them is no fun. It’s either going to cost you time or money – sometimes both. So prevention, as they say, is the best medicine.



How to use SmarterMail to migrate your email messages to your new Winhost account

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In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to migrate your email messages to Winhost using the SmarterMail’s Mailbox Migration tool.

Prerequisites

Let’s Start

Log in to your SmarterMail interface via Control Panel.

You will need to use our mail server’s URL to access the email system since your domain name isn’t pointing to us yet.

How do I get my email system’s URL?

First log in to the Control Panel on Winhost.

Next you will see a link on the Email Manager page called SmarterMail Manager. Click on it and it will automatically log you into the SmarterMail interface. This step helps you complete two things:

After you’re done creating the email users using the postmaster email account, log out at the upper right hand corner and log back in with one of the email users you just created, one of the addresses whose mail you want to migrate.

Once logged in on SmarterMail with the new email user

SmarterMail_Mailbox_Migration

This will pop up a new window for the Mailbox Migration.

As you can see you have different options to choose from but in this tutorial we’re going to use the option Other.

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Remember that you will need to log out of SmarterMail and log back in with each user you wish to migrate. It would be very unfortunate to migrate all the email messages from all the email users on a single email account on SmarterMail. So please be careful when migrating and make sure you migrate the correct email messages to the correct user.



How to Check Email Disk Usage Per User in SmarterMail

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The first step is to log in to SmarterMail with your Postmaster email account.

Log in to the Winhost Control Panel.

Click the Sites tab at the top.

Now click on Manage next to the site you wish to check the email disk space usage.

Click the Email icon in the Site Tools section.

On the next page click the SmarterMail Manager link.

This will automatically log you in to the SmarterMail Email system using the Postmaster account.

Click on the “Reports” Icon.

Now Expand the Domain Summary Reports folder. Then Expand the Traffic Reports folder. Click Disk Usage.

The page will now display how much disk space each email account is using.



How to Create an Email User in SmarterMail

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You will need to log in to the SmarterMail system with the postmaster email account first in order to create an email user. To do this please log in to Control Panel on Winhost.

Once you have logged in to Control Panel, click the Sites tab at the top.

Then click on “Manage” next to the site you wish to manage.

Click on the Email box under site tools.

Then click the “SmarterMail Manager” link.

The link will automatically log you into the SmarterMail email system using the Postmaster account.

Once you are in the SmarterMail, click the “Settings” button.

Then expand the “Domain Settings” folder if it is not already expanded. Then Click on “Users”

Then you may start adding your email users by clicking on the “New”.