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Archive for the ‘Feature of the Week’ category


Adding and changing account security questions

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If you’ve been a Winhost customer for more than a year, you may not know that we added the option to enter a second account security question.

You may be thinking, “I created one security question when I opened the account, why should I add a second?” The reason we recommend adding a second question/answer is because we run into a lot of instances where a user will forget their account password and also the answer to the primary security question. Having the second question/answer available could save you a lot of trouble if you ever find yourself locked out of your account.

Go to the Account & Billing section of Control Panel and click the “Security Question” icon. One of the cool features of the additional security question is the ability to add your own question, rather than choosing from one of the standard selections. From the “New Question #2” dropdown, choose “Other: Type in your own security question below.” That will open up a text entry box for your own question.

When you’re finished just hit the “Update” button and that’s it.

Security can be inconvenient, but we really recommend that you change your account password and security questions at least once a year. We’re on your side, but we have very stringent security policies, so if someone gets into your account, it can be difficult for you to regain control. Rotating your passwords and security questions regularly can prevent unfortunate problems down the road.



Point additional domain names to your site

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If you want more than one domain name to bring up your site, Winhost provides an easy to use Domain Pointer service.

By default, the domain pointers point to the root of your primary hosted domain. They are primarily used to direct multiple domains to the same site. You can direct domain pointers to subdirectories, but that requires a bit of redirect coding. This article doesn’t address that, but we do have Knowledge Base articles to help you down that path.

So if you want to add a domain pointer, here’s all you have to do. Log in to Site Manager in Control Panel. In the Site Tools section, click the Domain Pointers icon.

Once you’re in the Domain Pointer section, click the Add button.

Now enter the domain name that you wish to point to the existing site and click the Create button. It’s important to note that the domain pointer order is not a domain registration system. If you need to register the Domain Pointer, click the Domains tab in Control Panel. Once the new name is registered, come back to this process.

You probably noticed the big red question mark in the image above. Do you want to be able to use email on the Domain Ponter? If so, make sure you check Enable Email Alias. That will activate an alias-based email service for the Domain Pointer. What that means is any email address on your primary domain will also accept messages sent to the same address on the new pointer domain.

For example, let’s say your primary domain is primary.com, and you use pointer.com as a domain pointer. If you set up the email address info@primary.com, that mailbox will also accept mail for info@pointer.com. Any pointer.com addresses have to point to an email address on the primary domain name. sales@pointer.com will not work unless sales@primary.com exists.

For more information on Domain Pointer Email Aliases, see this Knowledge Base article.

The last thing you have to do is make sure that the name server records for the domain name you just added point to Winhost:

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

 

If the name servers already point to Winhost, the Domain Pointer should work right away. If not, allow 24 to 48 hours after changing the name servers for the Domain Pointer to start to resolve to your main site.

Need help changing name servers for your domain? Here are instructions for updating name servers for some popular registrars.



Master of Your Domain – Part 1 – Where should I register?

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masterdomain

It’s a common question, and one that can have serious ramifications if you don’t consider it:

Where should I register my domain name?

Domain registrars can come in many different forms. The difference between web site host and registrar is often blurred these days. Network Solutions, Register.com, Go Daddy, Namecheap, etc., were originally established to register domain names. Over the years they began to offer additional services such as email and web site hosting. There are also companies that started their lives as web site hosts, then later became domain registrars as well. Then, just to make it confusing, there are resellers—companies (like Winhost) who can offer domain registration services, but are not registrars themselves.

Technically, as far as your web site and users are concerned, where your domain is registered is irrelevant. A site hosted at any host can use a domain registered with any registrar. The DNS system will route your traffic like the post office routes your letters. Well, hopefully better than the post office routes your letters.

For the sake of convenience, many people choose to use their host as their registrar, so that everything can be managed from one location. Whether you do that or use a registrar that is unrelated to your host is a matter of preference.

fulldomaincontrolHere at Winhost your user account contains your domain registrations, so they are separate from your hosting accounts. That’s an ideal set up for anyone who wants to maintain that separation and flexibility without managing payments in multiple locations. The independence and control that you have can save you headaches in the long run.

If price is a concern, then you’ll want to go with a registrar who can offer the lowest price on the kinds of domains that you need. These days there are very few truly “budget” registrars left. The market has leveled out and you will not typically find a difference of more than a dollar or two between registrars. But for those who are strapped for cash, there is the lure of the free domain name. But be aware of the pitfalls that may come along with “free.”

Are “free” domains really free?

You may have heard horror stories of domains being held hostage, or made unavailable through the neglect or – in some cases – vindictiveness of the host. A common tool that many hosts use to get your business is the offer of a “free” domain name. While that may be a tempting offer, you should get some details about that free domain. Before you pour your time and effort into creating a site around it, ask the host following questions:

Who owns the domain?
Typically the host will make themselves the administrative contact for any domain names they provide for free as part of a hosting package. The administrative contact controls the domain, so you always want your contact information to be the admin contact information. At the very least, you want your email address to be listed in the admin section.

Can I keep the name if I change hosts?
Some hosts may allow for this, but only after you pay them a fee. Sometimes that fee is retroactive, meaning you’ll wind up paying for the domain from the day they registered it. Back when it was supposed to be “free.”

Can I keep my hosting but transfer the domain to a registrar of my choice if I opt to pay for it myself?
If you spend six months creating a site and building an audience you may want to take further control of your domain by moving it away from the host and paying for renewals yourself. Make sure the host will allow you to do that. If you are the admin contact, you can usually move the domain, but if the host is listed as billing contact, they can make the move difficult if they want to.

If you use a domain that you don’t own or you can’t move, you may be in for trouble down the road. We have seen many new customers having difficulty gaining control of what they thought was their domain name. But if you are aware of the “gotchas” surrounding domain name ownership, you can avoid those kinds of problems.

Here at Winhost you always have full control of domains that are registered through us. You are the administrative contact, you can cancel your site or move it to another host, switch the domain on your hosting account—whatever you do you’ll always have access to your domains.



php? Yes, we have it!

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phpIt’s not surprising that most of our customers use Winhost for .NET or asp applications. We run Windows servers exclusively after all. But don’t forget that we also offer php!

If you used php on a Windows server 5 or 6 years ago you might be thinking, “Why would I want to put myself through that torture again?” But the Windows php implementation has improved significantly in the past few years, and performance is equal to what you would see on any Linux server. Seriously.

Evidence of that improved performance is the growing number of Winhost users installing WordPress, phpBB and other php/MySQL applications. And why not? Especially since the App Installer in Control Panel makes installing many php/MySQL applications quick and easy.

You don’t have to do anything to use php with your Winhost site. It’s there waiting for you, right now. And frankly, it’s a little sad that you’ve been neglecting it.

By the way, if you have an account at an old fashioned Linux host because you thought you needed it to run your php app – free yourself! Move the site over to your truly flexible Winhost account.

Because at Winhost you can have it both ways.



How to add a subdomain to your site

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A subdomain is an extension of your domain name; a prefix that allows you to use URLs such as blog.HostingAccountDomain.com, forum.HostingAccountDomain.com, etc. A subdomain typically routes traffic to a specific subdirectory within your account.

To create a subdomain, log in to Control Panel, click the “Sites” tab and click the “Manage” link for the domain you wish to work with.

In the Site Tools section, click the “Subdomain Manager” icon or link.

Next, click the “Add” button.

Enter the subdomain and click the “Create” button.

Finally you’ll see confirmation that your subdirectory has been created.

For tips on redirecting subdomain traffic to a subdirectory, see this Knowledge Base article, or our forum.



Related Knowledge Base articles

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Did you know that on just about every page of Control Panel there is a list of related Knowledge Base articles?

There are a lot of articles in our Knowledge Base (318 and counting!), and we understand that sometimes it can be difficult to quickly find exactly what you are looking for. That’s why we have included a “Related KB Articles” list in many sections of Control Panel.

When you are in the Email section, for example, you have direct access to the most relevant and popular Knowledge Base articles about email.

Also, if you feel that there is a Knowledge Base article that is missing, or that needs updating or clarification, please let us know. We work hard to maintain the best Knowledge Base in the industry, and your help is one of our most valuable tools!



How to transfer your domain name to Winhost

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If you have domain names registered elsewhere but use them on a Winhost site, you may want to consider moving your domains to your Winhost account so you have all of your web site properties under one (virtual) roof. Here’s how you do that.

The first thing to do is to take note of a few things that will make your transfers smooth and trouble-free:

We have some videos that cover the domain preparation process for the most popular registrars. You can see them here.

To get started, log in to Control Panel and click the Domains tab.

Click the Transfer Domain Name button.

Enter the domain name you wish to transfer, select the extension and click the Continue button.

At this point our system performs a check to make sure your domain is eligible for transfer. If you have missed a step in preparing your domain name for transfer, or it is ineligible for any other reason, you will see the following error:

Domain status [status] does not allow for transfer

Go back and check the pre-transfer steps and make sure you haven’t missed anything. If the transfer initiation still fails and you are unsure why your domain is not eligible for transfer, please contact the current registrar.

If your domain is eligible for transfer, you will be taken to the next step which includes:

WHOIS Privacy – choose whether your whois contact information will be visible to the public. There is a $5 annual fee to activate whois privacy. Whois privacy is not transferable from your previous registrar.

Next you will want to complete the contact information in the following fields (we will pre-populate the Registrant fields with information from your Winhost account):

The next section is where you choose to keep the Name servers for the domain the same as they currently are, or change them to point to Winhost. If your name servers do not point to Winhost and you intend to use the domain on a site in your Winhost account, chose “Change to Winhost’s name servers.”

The next step is to double check the contact information, name servers and “Transfer Request Approver” email. You must have access to the Transfer Request Approver email address in order to complete the transfer process.

You can edit any information that needs to be changed on this page.

If everything looks good, click the “Transfer Domain Name” button.

If you need to set up a new site for the domain name, you can click the Order New Site for this Domain button on the final page.

Once you have approved the transfer to us, the actual transfer between the two registrars can take a day or two. Depending on who the old registrar is, you may be able to speed up the process by also approving the transfer from their control panel. Though this is not always applicable, many of the larger registrars, such as GoDaddy, do allow for transfer approval.

While the transfer is in progress your domain will continue to function as normal (there is no “downtime” in a registrar transfer) and the domain’s status will be “Pending Transfer” in the Winhost Control Panel. When the transfer is complete the domain status changes to “Active.”

If you run into any problems, we have a Knowledge Base article that provides a step by step explanation of the domain transfer process.



Upgrade Plans Easily

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We’ve made changing plans really easy so you can upgrade plans any time you need to – with a click of a button.

To upgrade plans, visit the Control Panel Site Manager of your site – just hit the Sites tab.

Site Manager Winhost Control PanelIf you are hosting several Basic/Max/Ultimate Sites with us, then you’ll get a list of your Sites. Click on the “Manage” link for the Site you want to make an update, otherwise you will be taken to your Site dashboard.

At the bottom of the left panel section you see an “change plan” button. Click that button and follow the instructions.

change plan winhost control panealOf course, an upgrade will have some costs involved so we’ve put together this knowledge base post to explain what happens when you upgrade plans: How will I be charged for an plan upgrade.