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That @#$%&* adaptive spam!

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All of us have experienced spam. Spam is unsolicited and unwanted email that arrives in our inboxes. It can range from a minor annoyance to complete disruption of email accounts, or worse yet, can harbor malware, trojans, and viruses.

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Some of us go through a period of time where we do not get spam in our inbox, then are suddenly bombarded with it. Some of us even incorporate spam/content filters, often decreasing unwanted and unsolicited email, only to have a renewed surge of spam activity within a year or so.

While our first instinct may be to contact our email administrators to inform them of increased activity and find out if any email server settings have been modified, let’s not forget our own responsibilities to help prevent, diminish, and combat spam from infiltrating our email accounts.

I want to bring up four points that we all need to think about when we want to protect ourselves from these disruptive and intrusive emails.

First, whenever possible, try to avoid using your primary email address when filling out forms. We see it all the time, at the mall or shopping center a booth is offering a free entry to win a prize. We eagerly fill out all the information to win that car or vacation to the Bahamas, and one of the pieces of information they ask for is our email address.

For things like these, try to use an email address that is not your primary email address. Set up a Yahoo or Gmail account that is used solely for these events, and it will help to greatly reduce the amount of spam that arrives in your inbox.

You might think that creating an alternative email address on your primary email domain will solve the problem. For example, your primary email account is postmaster@domain.com, and you create junk@domain.com. The problem with this method is that you are disclosing your email domain, and spammers can now bombard @domain.com with “guessed” addresses (such as info@, webmaster@, or even entire dictionaries of usernames) which can eventually spill over to your primary email address.

Second, look at this one as a duty or responsibility: never respond to spam! Delete it, and whenever possible, mark it as spam in your email system so that you build a reputation for what is and isn’t spam. The next time you get a similar spam message it will automatically drop it in your “Trash” or “Junk” folder.

In SmarterMail, if you see an email in your inbox that is spam you can go to Actions/Mark/spam. The more you use this, the more you build up your definition of potential spam.

The third good practice is setting up account level spam and content filtering rules. Many email systems have this feature. In SmarterMail you can go to Settings/Filtering. There you can define your own content filtering and spam filtering rules.

Don’t forget Greylisting! When an email network “greylists” messages, they do not accept the initial incoming message, but rather instruct the sending mail server to try to delivery again later (which most servers will do every few minutes). The assumption being that spam servers will not attempt to send the message again, but legitimate servers will. Greylisting will delay legitimate emails though, so it’s up to you to decide to enable or disable this feature. For the most part, Greylisting is a valuable tool in helping keep your email account clean of unsolicited emails.

Finally, if at all possible, try to avoid “catch-all” email accounts. Catch-all accounts will allow any email address to come through. For example, if you have Catch-all enabled, email addresses that do not exist (email1@domain.com, email2@domain.com) will make it into your inbox. There may be a business need to have this activated, but this will greatly increase the likelihood of receiving spam, even with a strong spam filtering system.

The last thing that I would like to mention is the necessity of remaining diligent.

Many of us successfully implement the above practices, reducing or even eliminating spam from getting into our inboxes, only to relax our guard, even temporarily, exposing us to a new series of attacks on our email.

Keep in mind that spam is an ongoing threat, and that spam is adaptive and always evolving. Spammers know that they have to constantly update their procedures and techniques to get through to the greatest number of people.

One of the biggest mistakes that we can make is believing that once we have effective anti-spam measures in place, that we do not have to revisit and update those measures. If that were true, spam would have been eliminated a long time ago.

As spammers find new and more sophisticated ways to infiltrate your inbox, you have to remain vigilant and active in combating spam.



Set Up Gmail for Your Winhost-Hosted Domain in 10 Minutes Flat

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I know you absolutely love the SmarterMail webmail that we provide with your account. What’s not to love? It’s old fashioned, clunky, confusing – perfect!

But you don’t have to be stuck with it. You can “pop” your email boxes using Gmail. “Pop” is just nerd slang for “check.” What we’re talking about here is reading and replying to mail that comes in to the addresses that you’ve set up on your domain name, but doing it all through the Gmail interface, and that’s pretty cool.

This is not a tutorial for using Google Apps mail with your domain. We already have one of those in our forum.  This tutorial will show you how to keep your mail service here at Winhost, but use Gmail as your email program.

You have a Gmail account, right? If not, go set one up, then we can get started.

Log in to Gmail and click the Settings gear and select Settings.

Click Accounts and Import.

Click Add a POP3 mail account you own. In the lovely orange popup window that opens, enter the email address that you want to check using Gmail. Click Next Step.

Next you’ll be on the mail settings page of the popup window. There are a lot of variables here (it’s Google, after all), but we’ll concentrate on the simplest, quickest setup.

Username is your complete email address, not just the part before @.
Password is the POP account password that you entered into Control Panel when you set up the email address.
POP Server should be pre-populated with mail.yourhosteddomainname.com.

Everything else can be left in its default state. If you do not intend to use Gmail exclusively, check the box for “Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server,” that will allow you to pull your mail down from another source in addition to Gmail.

But beware, if you use that option and your Winhost email boxes get full, your mail will bounce. To prevent that ever happening, do not check “Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server.”

Click Add Account.

The next window will verify that your account has been added.

It will also ask if you want to be able to send mail “as” the new address. If you intend to use Gmail as your only email client, or if you ever want to respond to the incoming mail for your newly set up account, select Yes, I want to be able to send mail as…

Click Next Step.

If you selected “No” in the previous window, you’re finished.

The end.

But you didn’t select “No,” did you? Good! You’re going to want to be able to send mail from Gmail “as” yourself.

So in the next window simply enter your name. This is the name you want to appear as the sender. Leave Treat as an alias checked.

Click Next Step.

Next the cheerful Google robots are going to ask if you want to send mail through their SMTP server or if you want to send through your domain. It’s much easier to leave the default Send through Gmail checked. And since this is the easy setup guide, that’s just what we’ll do.

Click Next Step.

Before Gmail will let you send mail as yourself they want to make sure that you are who you say you are. Otherwise you could send mail as me — or someone important like Scott Guthrie or Larry the Cable Guy. To get the verification ball rolling, just click Send Verification.

Now you could log in to your POP account with your desktop email client, or use SmarterMail webmail to pick up the Google verification email. But since you’re already checking mail for your address using Gmail, you should be able to click Inbox on the upper left side of the Gmail window and – through the miracle of modern technology – pick up the verification email right there.

Try it. I’ll wait here.

Once you’ve copied the verification code from the email, just enter it into the box in the popup window and click Verify.

The popup window will disappear and nothing else will happen.

Which is good, because nothing else needs to happen. You’re all set!


Speaking of Google, why not join our circles on Google+? We’re waiting for you.



Windows 2012, IIS 8, and CMS Woes

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Our team has discovered that since the launch of Windows 2012 and IIS 8 there have been some issues with installing and running some of the more popular Content Management Systems such as DotNetNuke and Orchard.

The problem can be resolved by setting the Trust Level to Full in the web.config file.  To do this:

  1. Download the web.config file using an FTP client.
  2. Open the downloaded web.config file with Notepad or any text editor.
  3. Search for “trust level” and change it from “Medium” to “Full”.  You can refer to this Knowledge Base article to help you find the appropriate section.  Note that you will need to also remove any comment tags: <– –>
  4. Re-upload the web.config file.

If you find that you’re having difficulties with other Content Management Systems, you might want to try setting the Trust Level to Full as well to see if that will correct the problem.



Installing a simple file manager; GleamTech File Vista

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In some situations, you may not be able to use FTP or Microsoft Web Deploy to upload your applications (workplace FTP restrictions, etc.). To help solve that problem we’ll show you how to install a simple .NET file manager, FileVista, on your site.  You can use this tool to upload and download files to your site.

1.  Download FileVista from Gleamtech.  The single user license is free.
2.  On the download page, make sure you select the “Web Deploy Package.”
3.  Once you download the zip file, extract it to a temporary location on your computer.
4.  Within the extracted directory, you should see a directory named FileVista.
5.  Upload the contents to a subdirectory of your site.
6.  Once the upload process is completed, log in to the the Site Tools section of Control Panel and click the Application Starting Point icon.
7.  In the App Starting Point tool, click Create.

8. Enter the name of the folder to which you uploaded FileVista, and click Create.

9. Now, on your site, navigate to the location where you installed FileVista, in this case, HostingAccountDomain.com/FileVista.  You should see the welcome wizard:

10.  Click Next.  On the next screen, you can choose whether you want to use a file based database or SQL server.  We recommend using the file based database unless you intended to have many users.

11. Click Next.  You should see a Pop up displaying the preinstallation test result.  Click OK.
12. On the next page, you’ll configure the following:

a. Set the administrator username and password.
b. Set the default language.
c. Set the Root Folder.  The root folder is where the file manager will point when you log in.  If you intend to use this tool to manage your entire site, set the root folder to: /

13. Click Next and you’re finished.  You’ll be taken to the login screen.
14. Log in with the username/password you specified during installation.
15. You should now see a pop-up asking if you want to use the free version or a commercial version.  Select the free license mode unless you have purchased the product.



Keeping it simple, Syncing Outlook with SmarterMail

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If you are especially organized there has probably been a time when you wanted to sync your contact information, calendars, tasks, and notes between the online SmarterMail interface that we provide and your own personal Outlook client.

Personally I don’t have a lot of contacts, and I’m still using an old fashioned paper calendar, but I understand that if you are running your own business or are an especially networked individual, manually transferring your information to and from Outlook and SmarterMail can become a chore pretty quickly.

Luckily there is a handy 3rd party plugin for Outlook and SmarterMail that makes synchronizing your information a breeze.

Let me introduce the Funambol Outlook Sync Client!

Once you get this bad lad configured properly, keeping your information between SmarterMail and Outlook homogeneous is as easy as a single click. The rest of this article will walk you through the necessary steps to download, install, and configure the Outlook Sync Client.

First you will need to make sure you have your Outlook configured correctly, being able to send and receive emails is good indicator of this.

Now that we have verified that our Outlook client is in working order we will need to download the Funambol SyncML tool.

Funambol must have been busy; there are a lot of versions to choose from so make sure you download the correct version for you. In this tutorial I’m using the Outlook sync client, version 9.0.1.

After the download is complete, find the executable and run it to start the installation.

You may get a Windows Security Warning, go ahead and select Run anyway.

During the installation process you will need to choose an installation location. Choose whatever you like, it does not have to be the same directory or disk as your instillation of Outlook.

After the installation is complete, make sure the box next to “Run Funambol Outlook Sync Client 9.0.1” is checked and select Finish.

Now the fun part, actually configuring the Sync client itself.

Select Tools and then Options.

Assuming that your domain name is pointing to our name servers, and you are using the standard DNS record configuration that we provided you with at account creation, you will want to use the following format for your Server Location:

http://mail.HostingAccountDomain.com/sync/default.aspx

Make sure that you replace “HostingAccountDomain.com” with your domain’s actual name, but keep the mail. Subdomain and the /sync/default.aspx file path.

For username and password you will want to enter the full email address of the account you are setting up the sync client for, as well as the password associated with this email address.

Here is an example of what the completed fields look like.

Select OK.

Congratulations, your sync client is now configured. You can go ahead and use the “Sync All” button to sync everything, or select one of the other buttons to just sync your Contacts, Calendar, etc.



Exporting SQL Server Data with SQL Server Management Studio Import and Export Wizard

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Did you know that SQL Server Management Studio has an excellent tool to help you export the data contained in your tables to other useful formats?  Here’s a guide on how to use the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard.

First, connect to your Winhost database using SQL Server Management Studio.  For this tutorial, I am using the sample AdventureWorks database provided by Microsoft.  Once you have logged into your database, right click on it and select Tasks -> Export Data…

This will launch the SQL Server Import and Export Wizard.

Click on Next to continue.  Now, you will need to choose a Data Source.  You can leave the Data source as SQL Server Native Client 10.0.  Enter the Server name.  Check SQL Server Authentication and enter the User Name and Password for your database.  For the Database dropdown menu, select the name of your database.

Click on Next to continue.  In the Choose a Destination window, you can select a variety of formats to export to including Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, and another Microsoft SQL Server database.  For this tutorial, I will be showing you how to export your data to a flat file (i.e. .txt and .csv).
Compare Winhost plansIn the Destination dropdown menu, select Flat File Destination.  For the File name, click on the Browse button, select Desktop and give the file a name.  You can choose either .txt or .csv format by clicking on the dropdown menu next to the file name.

You can leave the Locale as English (United States) and Code page as 1252 (ANSI – Latin I).  The Format will be Delimited and check Column names in the first data row.  You can set a Text qualifier if you’d like, but I’m not going to.

Click on Next to continue.  In the Specify Table Copy or Query window, check Copy data from one or more tables or views.  If you check the other option, you can write your own SQL query (SELECT statement) to extract the data you want from two or more tables.

Click on Next to continue.  In the Configure Flat File Destination window, I will be drawing data from the Employees table.  In Source table or view, select [HumanResources].[Employee].  You can leave the Row delimiter as {CR}{LF} and the Column delimiter as Comma {,}

You may also want to spend some time looking at Edit Mappings.  For a flat file, you can choose not to include certain columns to be exported by selecting the Destination column name and choosing <ignore> as shown below.

This tool is actually more powerful when you are exporting to an existing file that already has column names in place as you can map a column name from the Source file to a different column name in the Destination file.

For example, you have an Excel file with a column named BEID.  You can map BusinessEntityID to BEID.  The data will be populated in the BEID field in Excel.  Click on Next to continue.  This will bring up the Run Package page.

Click on Next to continue.  The Wizard is complete and you can click on Finish.

The Wizard will now run through a series of checks prior to exporting the data.  If everything goes smoothly, you should get the screen below.

If you run into any errors, there will be a link in red which you can click and review the problem the wizard is having.  You can use the Back button to correct the problem and go through the steps again until you are able to successfully export the data.



Missing a Verb?

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You may have noticed that not all HTTP Verbs are enabled by default.  This is a short tutorial on how to enable them if your application requires it or restrict them for security purposes.

First, you’ll want to connect to your site with IIS7 Manager.

Double click the Handler Mappings module as shown above.  This will bring up the Handler Mappings window.

Next, double click the ISAPI extension you want the verb enabled for.  This will bring up the Edit Script Map window.

Click on the Request Restrictions… button to bring up the Request Restrictions window and select the Verbs tab.

In this window, you will be able to define which HTTP Verbs you want to allow or restrict.  Click OK, and you’re finished!



Bin-Deploy to the Rescue

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Have you been deploying (pun intended) your application unsuccessfully and running into an error regarding a missing assembly such as this one?

This is because we don’t include many of the assemblies in the Global Assembly Cache due to versioning conflicts.  You can resolve the problem by making sure the missing assemblies are included in the /bin directory on your local machine prior to uploading your files to your site account.  For MVC3 and Razor applications, you can follow these instructions to copy the missing .dll files to your local /bin folder.

For this tutorial, I created a sample MVC3 application in Visual Studio.

Next, you’ll want to expand the Project Menu and select Add Deployable Dependencies… as shown here.

A pop-up window should appear with 3 check box options.  Check the appropriate boxes and click on OK.

Then go to Build -> Build Solution (or hit Ctrl+Shift+B), and the missing assemblies will be added to the /bin folder.

An alternative method of adding the missing .dll file(s) is to set the Copy Local Property value to True.  In the Solution Explorer window, expand the References folder.  If the assembly is missing from the list, right click on References and select Add Reference…

This will open the Add Reference window.  Change the tab to .NET, find the missing assembly, and add it to the list by double-clicking on it.

Now, select/highlight the missing assembly.

In the Properties window, change the Copy Local value from False to True.  Note that you’ll have to set this for each missing assembly.  Remember to go to Build -> Build Solution (or hit Ctrl+Shift+B) to recompile your application.  The missing assemblies will then be added to the /bin folder on your local machine.  You can use the Copy Local solution when deploying other types of applications and are missing assemblies.