Site hosting news, tutorials, tips, How Tos and more

Archive for the ‘Technical’ category


PHP 7.3 / PHP 7.4 with WordPress: Any speed improvements?

If you haven’t noticed we updated PHP version 7.3 with the latest minor update 7.3.17 and we also installed PHP 7.4.

Back in October I wrote about speed improvements that came with PHP 7.3. Now with the PHP 7.4 the internet world is claiming that this new version also has speed improvements compared to previous PHP versions.

Okay, but how much faster?!

Curious, I installed WordPress using the Winhost Max plan. This was a base WordPress installation using the default template and I evaluated the speed with Google Chrome’s Developer Tools and Google’s Page Insights.

The following are the results I got. Please note that your results will vary depending on plugins, themes, and PHP versions that you are using.

Google Chrome Developer Tools using PHP 7.2 – PHP 7.4

Using PHP 7.2 – 2.36 seconds
Using PHP 7.3 – 1.80 seconds
Using PHP 7.4 – 814 ms

Google’s PageSpeed Insights using PHP 7.2 – PHP 7.4

Using PHP 7.2
Using PHP 7.3
Using PHP 7.4

Just based on these test results, it appears that PHP 7.4 has improved its speed over the latest version PHP 7.3.

So how do you get started with PHP 7.4 and should you really use it?

Both PHP versions 7.3 and 7.4 require your site to be on our Windows Server 2012 / IIS 8 or 2016 / IIS 10 servers.

If your WordPress site is on an Windows 2012 /IIS 8 or Window 2016 / IIS 10 server, then you can go ahead and change the PHP version within the Winhost control panel.

Here is how to change the PHP version within the Winhost control panel.

If your WordPress site is on a Windows 2008 server and your site is using an older PHP 5.3 – 5.6 version and you want to use the higher PHP versions., then you will need to first update your WordPress site to the latest version. Then your site will need to be migrated to our Windows 2012 or Windows 2016 servers. Note that using newer versions of WordPress will result in an error/warning if you’re using an older version of PHP. And remember, before doing any updating on your WordPress site, please be sure to back up the web site files and MySQL Database. That way if something goes wrong, you can always revert back to the old version of your site.

If your WordPress site needs to be migrated to our IIS 8 or IIS 10 servers, then just contact our support team and ask them to migrate your site to an IIS 8 or IIS 10 server. We’ll do the migration at no cost to you. Migration typically takes about one hour but really depends on how large your site is. We won’t have to migrate your database or email server as these are already on separate servers.

I also wanted to mention that even though we have PHP 7.4 installed on our servers, since it is new, there are still a limited amount of components/modules available. And although we tested PHP 7.4 with WordPress and everything appears to be working fine, at this time we are still not recommending using it in your production site – until the components/modules catch up. For now we have the latest 7.3 minor update installed and PHP 7.3 will work with the latest version of WordPress and provide you with adequate speed for your site.

It should also be mentioned that it is always important to backup your site before doing any work on your production WordPress site and that we do offer a great SiteBackup service that can automatically backup your site files and MySQL database on a nightly basis. Earlier this year, I wrote about why having backups are important. Please check out that blog post. If you need help setting up the SiteBackup service, please feel free to contact our support department for assistance. We will help you set it up free of charge.

That’s it for now. Have fun with PHP!

Visit Winhost to learn more about our WordPress Hosting solution



How to patch DotNetNuke’s Telerik.Web.UI.dll

Lately, we have been seeing a higher number of DotNetNuke (DNN) sites getting hacked via a known Telerik.Web.UI.dll vulnerability that’s been around for years. DNN released a patch a few years back. However, we have been seeing in influx of compromised DNN sites caused by this easy-to-fix vulnerability.

If you’re using DNN Versions 5.6.3 through 9.0.1 you must apply this patch to avoid disruptions to your site. More importantly, prevent it from getting hacked.

If you are running a DNN site and need help or want us to patch DNN for you, stop reading and contact our support department. We can help you apply this patch to your site at no cost. Please note that if your DotNetNuke site requires upgrading, then we can help you with that but we do charge for upgrading services.

Let’s Get Started:

Step 1:

First thing you need to do is download the patch directly from the DNN Site here: Critical Security Update September 2017

Once you have zip file from the DNN Site, you need to install it as you would an Extension within DNN.

Step 2:

Log into your DNN site as the SuperUser default login.

Step 3:

Navigate to: [HostingAccountDomain.com]/Admin/Extensions

Or look for the Extensions link within your DNN Site.

Different DotnetNuke versions may look different

Step 4:

Click on the Install Extension Wizard button

Step 5a:

Select Choose File button and select the zip file you just downloaded from DNN in Step 1 and click Next

Step 5b:

If you receive a random 500 or 404 error within your DNN site after clicking Next from Step 5. Please note the following, otherwise move on to Step 6 below.

You most likely received this error because you need to increase your maxRequestLength setting within your web.config file. You can access this file via FTP.

Look for the setting: maxRequestLength=”12288″

And change it to: maxRequestLength=”28000″

The above increases the limit to 28 MB.

Save your changes and upload the updated web.config file into the same directory overwriting the old web.config file.

Then try Step 5a again.

Step 6:

You will see the Package Information about the HotFix. Go ahead and click on Next.

Step 7:

Click Next on the Release Notes window

Step 8:

Read and place a check next to Accept License

Click Next.

You will then see the Package Installation Report. Click on the upper right X to exit out of the window.

Once your extension page is reloaded. You will see the newly installed Patch for your site.

If you are using DNN, make sure to look into this. There are hackers out there that are targeting DNN and we don’t want you to be a victim of their malicious activities.

If you have any questions or concerns, just contact us.



“We don’t have backups” – The last thing you want to hear from your host

When you are in a bind to find missing website files, the last thing you want to hear from your hosting provider is “Sorry, we don’t have backups of XYZ.”

At Winhost, we do have a backup system in place to backup our customer’s website files and databases nightly. However, this backup system is intended for disaster recovery. We can pull files out of the backup system but this should not be your only backup source.

There have been times when I’ve had customers ask for certain files from our backups, and for one reason or another we didn’t have them because…

  1. The files requested were from too long ago.
  2. The files being sought were mistakenly thought to exist in the website and were not there.
  3. The customer didn’t touch their website for a while and during that time the site got compromised due to a vulnerability and the files requested were no longer there or had been overwritten/altered.
  4. On rare occasions, we have experienced backup system failures which made retrieving the files impossible.

In short, there are many different reasons a hosting provider may not have specific backups.

Be Prepared!

First off, if you haven’t already, download your website to your own computer. If you have any questions about downloading your website files or databases, let us know and we can help. You may want to get on a schedule to download your site every so often. For extra safety, you can copy the files to an external harddrive.

When you are making changes to your site, it’s always best to make the changes on your own computer and then upload the modified files to the webserver. This way you should have the latest copy. Keep in mind that making changes directly on the server may be convenient, but your local copy will be out of sync.

For those that prefer an automated solution for backups over manual methods, we launched our SiteBackup Service.

SiteBackup Service

If you want to make sure your website files and databases are being backed up – nightly, weekly or what ever your heart desires – then our SiteBackup service is a great way of automatically backing up your website and databases. And to protect you further, the backups are not located in the Winhost data center – they are on the Amazon cloud.

In addition, you get a separate control panel for your backups and the backup control panel is located outside of Winhost data center as well.

We have instructions in our knowledge base on how to configure SiteBackup. But if you want our support department to help you set up the SiteBackup service, just let us know after you order. We’ll help you set it up for you.

What type of options does SiteBackup have?

Below is a screenshot of the SiteBackup configuration options.

Some of the things you can configure are:

You can backup your MS SQL databases and MySQL database too.

How do I restore my site from my backups?

For your site files there is an option to simply restore within the SiteBackup service.

As well as an option to download the site files in zip format.

So the SiteBackup solution is a convenient way to take charge of your site backups. You can sign up for the SiteBackup service through your control panel. If you need help setting it up, just contact our support department. We can help set it up for you.

Visit Winhost to learn more about our SiteBackup solution



Don’t Fall for “I hacked your computer” Scam Emails

First of all, I want you to understand this email message you received is nothing but a scam and you weren’t really hacked. I’ll explain in more details as you read on.

This is by far one of the best spam email messages I’ve seen since I started working here at Winhost. Not only is it creative but some people are really paying bitcoins to not get “exposed.” That’s why this scam is popular.

Why are people falling for this scam?

This scam is often effective because the email message may contain your real password that you are using. Or, it may contain part of a password that you used in the past.

Or

The email states that the email message was sent from your email account to make you believe that your email was hacked. They may use the following text in their email message to you:

“I’m a programmer who cracked your email account and device about half year ago.
You entered a password on one of the insecure site you visited, and I catched it.”


“I have very bad news for you.
17/07/2019 – on this day I hacked your OS and got full access to your account YourEmailAddress@Yourdomain.com.
You can check it – I sent this message from your account.”

The hacker goes on to claim that they installed a Rat program on your computer and no matter what you do, you won’t be able to stop them unless you pay up. Don’t pay them anything. I’ll tell you why…

You might be asking…well… How did they get my password?

Well you probably heard of all of those nasty data breaches that have been reported on the news and all over the internet? If you were not aware or if you have no idea how anyone might have gotten your account information, there is a website that you can use to check your email address – or any known passwords you like to use and see if it’s part of a data breach. The website is called, “have i been pawned?“. This website’s main purpose is for ordinary people to visit and check if their information was part of any data breach. More about the creator can be found here.

Should I really use this website?

Well, the email message you received already contains your single plain text password. Your password has obviously been compromised before and checking how the hacker may have gotten it can’t hurt you at this point. The hackers also have the same tool to check your password. Hopefully, you are not using that password no more. If you are, change your password.

In the website, you enter the password that you received in the spam email. Their search will bring up what company or list contained that same password.

If your password was compromised, you will get the following message.

If your password has been discovered. It will also contain the number of times it’s been seen in breaches

“But, they sent me an email from my own email address. So how did they do that?”

Glad you asked. We need to check the email headers and check to see exactly where the email message come from. To get your email header we have the following knowledge base article that shows you how to retrieve this information. An email header may look ugly to a lot of people, but the coolest part is that it tells the story of how you received that email message. Email headers tell a story of the path the email took to get to your inbox.

The email header can be a little tricky to read but you can use some tools to decipher the email header.

The What’s my IP website has the ability to tell you the origin of the email message. Simply copy and paste the email header into the empty field.

Once you paste in the email header, click on the blue Analyze button. You will get the results of the originating IP number. This is the IP number of the mail server that sent out an email message.

You can check if the IP of the mail server is the same IP number or company that you’re using for your email service. If the IPs don’t match, then the email message has been spoofed – meaning someone just used an email system and changed the “From address” to use your email address. Email addresses are easily spoofed. Just YouTube “how to spoof an email address” if you are interested to learn more.

How do I prevent this from happening again? I hate seeing these damn emails!?

If the email messages you’re receiving are in fact being spoofed, then you have to set up an SPF record and DKIM for your domain name. If you’re using our email services we have the following knowledge base article that provides you with the correct SPF record you should use with our email service.

Is there anything else I can do to stop this email scam?

Yes, we also offer a spam filtering service that stops the bad email messages from ever touching our email systems. The spam filtering service starts to work at the MX level of the email service. This occurs when you change the MX record for your domain name to use the spam filtering service’s MX Records instead. The email messages that are sent to your domain users get routed to the spam filtering service first. Within their system the email messages get scrubbed and filtered and only the legitmate emails get sent to your inbox. Also, a nice feature that comes with our Spam Filtering service – if for some reason our mail server has an issue and can’t receive email messages for any reason – the Spam Filtering service holds on to the incoming email messages and sends it to the main mail server once the issue has resolved. Out of all of the services we offer, the Spam Filtering service is by far one of my favorite ones we provide to our customers.

If you have any questions or concerns about any email spam/scams, feel free to reach out to our technical support team.

Visit Winhost to learn more about our Windows hosting solution



Programming 101 Tips: 2 Ways to Add a Loading Icon “Spinner” to Your Website

For budding new web developers, here are two ways to add a “spinner” icon to indicate that your website is busy loading data. The first method uses jQuery’s .ajax method and the second method uses Javascript’s new Fetch API. For the spinner icon, we will use an icon from Font Awesome. I prefer this method because it reduces load time. A well crafted css-styled .png/.gif icon would work as well.

First, install Font Awesome by downloading it (you can get the Free for Web version) and then follow the various instructions on their site to add it to your project (look on the right for Using Font Awesome With). Since I am developing with Visual Studio, I just use NuGet’s Package Manager to install it for me. To add it to your web page, add a stylesheet reference in the <head> element. Since I’m using Visual Studio, my reference looks like this:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/Content/font-awesome.min.css" />


Next, you will also need to install jQuery and add a reference for it as well:

<script src="/Scripts/jquery-3.4.1.min.js"></script>


jQuery can also be installed via NuGet’s Package Manager in Visual Studio.

Now, add the spinner by adding this line to your page in the <body> element:

<div id="Spinner"><i class="fa fa-spinner fa-3x fa-spin"></i></div>


It can be placed anywhere in the <body> element, but I prefer to place it at the top for organization reasons (i.e. easy reference). The <i> element is used to create the font-awesome icon and the “Spinner” id will be used for further styling. Here is the markup for the “Spinner” css:

#Spinner {
    color: blue;
    left: 47%;
    position: fixed;
    top: 47%;
    visibility: hidden;
    z-index: 1;
}


This should place the spinner in the middle of the page and hides it initially until you activate it (i.e. make it visible) via jQuery. The z-index is used to overlay it over a page.

Now, when making your .ajax call, use the following format:

        $.ajax({
            type: "GET", // GET, POST, DELETE, etc.
            url: "https://www.mysite.com/api/dosomething", // some url
            beforeSend: function () {
                $("#Spinner").css("visibility", "visible");
            },
            complete: function () {
                $("#Spinner").css("visibility", "hidden");
            },
            success: function (response) {
                // do something with response data
            }
        });


By changing the value of css property “visibility” using jQuery, you’re turning the spinner on before the ajax call is made and off after it finishes which gives it the illusion that the site is processing data.

If you plan to use Javascript’s new Fetch API, here is the sample markup:

    $("#Spinner").css("visibility", "visible");
    fetch("https://www.mysite.com/api/dosomething") // some url
        .then(response => response.json())
        .then(function (response) {
            // do something with response data
            $("#Spinner").css("visibility", "hidden");            
        })
        .catch(err => {
           // handle error
           $("#Spinner").css("visibility", "hidden");
        });


The spinner is turned on right before the fetch call is made and then off when it completes. I also added it to the catch clause because the spinner would still remain active when it errors out since the code to deactivate it never executes.

Hope these tips help those young and upcoming rock-star developers. 🙂

Visit Winhost to learn more about our ASP.NET hosting solution



PHP 7.3 Running Faster on Windows Server

PHP 7.3 that’s been recently installed on all of our IIS 8 and IIS 10 servers. One major difference is the speed of PHP sites running on PHP 7.3. Reading the buzz around the internet you’ll see claims that PHP 7.3 being 31% faster than PHP 7.0 and 3 times faster than PHP5.

Curious about this myself, I decided to check to see how much better the speed was for a based WordPress site running on our Windows 2012 IIS 8 Servers.

Users can easily change the PHP version of their site account within the Winhost control panel.

Sites > Site Account > PHP Version

I used Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to test a website. And sure enough, I got a lot better results while using 7.3. While just using a base WordPress install with the canned plugins it comes shipped with, 7.3 did in fact preform better than PHP 5.6.

Speed Score after using PHP 5.6
Speed Score after using PHP 7.3

Please note that your results will vary depending on how large your site is and what plugins and themes you are using.

If you’re using an older version of WordPress. Please be sure to update to the latest version before changing your PHP version within the control panel. You should also upgrade all plugins and themes your site is using as well. Otherwise, your WordPress site could break until you switch it back to the old PHP version you were using before. Contact our technical support team if you run into any issues.

If you’re still currently on our Windows 2008 IIS 7 servers. You can contact our support department and asked to be migrated to the newer servers.

Visit Winhost to learn more about our Windows hosting plans supporting PHP 7.3.



Why is my email so slow? Check the email header.

Having an email message to take forever to arrive can be very annoying and sometimes it leaves people wondering why is this even happening. In this article I’ll show you how to analyze email headers of an email message.

What is an email header?

An email header is a timeline of where the email message went through to get to you and the different email systems it touched during the delivery process. It’s sort of like looking at the tracking information of your UPS delivery. The only way to find out where the slowness is happening is to review the email header of that sluggish email message.

Where can I find the email header?

First, the email message must arrive at the destination before you can review the headers. We have instructions on how to view email headers in our knowledge base. There are multiple ways of viewing the headers. Here is another list that can help you find your email headers.

How to analyze the email header

Email headers can look ugly and hard to understand. Luckily there is a email header analyzing tool provided by MxToolBox.com that can help with that.

Copy and paste that ugly looking email header into the empty field and click on Analyze Header.

In the results, the email server with the longest bar graph is going to be the email server that is causing the most delay.

Why is this occurring?

There are many different reasons why an email message could be slow. One common reason is that the email server that caused the most delay had a large amount of email messages to process. If you see that the latency is happening in one of our email servers, we will gladly check our system for you and the logs to see what might be happening. Please contact our support department via our support portal for assistance.

For the most part most email servers are temporarily handling large volume of emails and will go back to normal performance on their own. However, if you’re seeing this issue keeps happening at a particular email server, you can contact the email administrator of that email system and provide them with the email header as proof.

Visit Winhost to learn more about our Windows hosting solution



How to add reCAPTCHA to your WordPress Site

One of the most popular ways attackers are able to compromise WordPress sites is through a brute force attack. Through this method, they can try large number of passwords in a very short time. If your password can be easily guessed, there is a higher chance of an attacker gaining access.

In this post we will be covering how to add reCAPTCHA to your WordPress site. This can effectively shut down bots that are trying to abuse your pages, especially your login page.

To begin, you will need to log in to your admin section of your WordPress site. Go to Plugins > Add New, on this screen search for “captcha”. The plugin I have used and have not had any problems with is the “Advanced noCaptcha & invisible Captcha” plugin. Click “Install Now” , “Activate”, and then click settings.

For this next step a Google account is required. Go to this link:
https://www.google.com/recaptcha/intro/v3.html# and click Admin console on the top right. Fill in the label field with your domain name, be sure to choose reCAPTCHA v2, enter your domain, and accept the Terms of Service.

Click submit to be given your “Site Key” and “Secret Key”, go back to the settings page for the plug in and paste the keys in there. Fill in the rest of the fields as needed. **I would highly recommend testing it on only the Comment Form first and not the Login as it can lock you out if done incorrectly. ** You can also set how many attempts are allowed before a user is prompted, the default is set to always ask.

Click “Save Changes”, then visit a comment section on your site. The result should be the newly added reCAPTCHA prompting you to verify you are not a robot.

Congratulations! You can now go back to the settings page and enable it on the log in page, as well as any other pages you would like to protect from bots. Should you encounter any problems during the process please open a support ticket.

Visit Winhost to learn more about our WordPress hosting solution