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Deploying an ASP.NET Core 2.0 (Orchard Core) Site on Winhost

The great thing about ASP.NET Core is that it’s portable, allowing you to run your Core application on any OWIN-compatible server. So, even if a particular version of .NET Core is not installed on the server, you can still deploy your Core app in “self-contained” mode.

In this example, we’re going to use the Orchard Core application. Orchard Core is a re-write of the original Orchard application (the thing that runs all the MSDN blogs) in ASP.NET Core. As of the time of this writing, Orchard Core is using ASP.NET Core 2.0. And, at the time of this writing, we have not yet updated our servers with the newest .NET Core to support ASP.NET Core 2.0 natively, but, to repeat: you can still deploy your Core app in “self-contained” mode.

First, some house-keeping. Make sure you have the .NET Core 2.0 SDK installed and Visual Studio is updated.

Orchard Core supports different databases, SQL, SQLite, MySQL and Postgres. I’m going to use SQL, which is included with all Winhost plans. This is a good time to create the SQL database in your Winhost control panel.

Onto the instructions:

  1. Download the Master Branch of Orchard Core from GitHub.
  2. Unzip the file and open the OrchardCore.sln solution file in Visual Studio 2017.
  3. Wait for Visual Studio to restore all the Nuget packages.
  4. Set OrchardCore.Cms.Web as the startup project (right-click OrchardCore.Cms.Web and select “Set as Startup Project”)

  1. Open the OrchardCore.Cms.Web.csproj project file (right-click OrchardCore.Cms.Web and select “Edit OrcOrchardCore.Cms.Web.csproj”)

By default, Orchard Core is Framework-dependent. We have to change that to make it self-contained. We have to specify the target platform (tell the application what kind of server it’s going to be running on). In my case, my Winhost site is running on Windows 2012/IIS 8. You can find this information in your Winhost control panel, under the Site Info section. The Runtime Identifier for Windows 2012/IIS 8 is: win8-x64.  If you’re site is running on a different server, you can check out the full catalog of Runtime Identifiers here.

  1. In the PropertyGroup section, add:
    <RuntimeIdentifier>win8-x64</RuntimeIdentifier>

  1. Save your changes.

Now we’re just about ready to publish.  This would be a good time to remove the parts of Orchard Core that you’re not going to use. (For this example site, I didn’t remove anything.)

Before, pre-2.0, we would have run the dotnet restore and dotnet build commands at this point. But now, those are implicit commands with publish. So you can just run the publish command (right-click OrchardCore.Cms.Web and select “Publish…”). I used FTP to publish the project directly onto the Winhost servers. Instructions for different deployment methods are available here.

Wait for the project to publish, then navigate to your site and you should see the Orchard Core setup page:

I picked the Agency Recipe. Fill out all the fields, click the Finish Setup button and you should see your new site:



Fall App Installer Updates

The latest version of these apps are now available:



Special year-end discount on new sites for current Winhost customers

From now through the end of the year, you will receive a 25% discount on all new sites ordered through Control Panel. The discount applies to whichever plan term you select, so the longer the term, the more you’ll save.

To get started, go to the “Sites” section of Control Panel and click the “Order New Site” button. Your discount will be automatically applied.

If you’ve been putting off purchasing a new site for that special project, now is a great time to get started. This discount is for current Winhost customers only. It’s our way of saying thank you for being a loyal customer. We appreciate your continued support!

The discount applies to hosting fees only for the first payment term. Subsequent terms will renew at the regular price. Domain registration and other third party services are not included.



Getting Started with SpamExperts

SpamExperts is a great anti-spam service. It’s easy to use, and relatively inexpensive because you just need one service to cover your entire domain. (Most other spam services require you to buy one service for each of your email addresses.) Our SmarterMail email service (included with all of our plans) comes with some spam-fighting features that allow you to set your own weights and filters. But a lot of our customers were not comfortable with tweaking those weights and filters on their own and risk losing important emails.

SpamExperts is highly effective out-of-the-box. Simply set-it-and-forget-it. In fact, we found it so effective that we switched over to using it for our own corporate emails.

This articles explains how to set up your SpamExperts service.

  1. Login to the control panel at: https://cp.winhost.com/
  2. Click on the SpamExperts button

 

 

  1. Click the green Order New SpamExperts button

 

 

  1. Select the domain name you want to buy the service for and the billing period you want, then click Continue

 

 

On the next page, you can set where SpamExperts will send your email after filtering. Our system will look up the current email servers for your domain. This will be the correct setting for most users.

 

 

  1. Click Continue
  2. Click Submit My Order

The service will only take a few seconds to set up. Now you have to set up your domain mail records (MX Records) to point to the SpamExperts service.

  1. Click the SpamExperts button
  2. Click the Manage link

 

 

On the next page, you’ll see the SpamExperts MX Records to use. If you are using our nameservers, our system will automatically set up the MX Records for you.

  1. Click the Yes, update my DNS records link

 

 

  1. Click OK on the notification to confirm

And you’re all set! Again, SpamExperts works great out of the box. If you’re so inclined, you can click the green SpamExpert Portal button to get the SpamExperts interface to make changes to the service settings.

A note about Greylisting: Greylisting is an effective anti-spam function that we enable in SmarterMail by default. Greylisting can delay when you receive new emails. Disabling Greylisting gets rid of the delay, but likely results in much getting more spam. With SpamExperts filtering out spam, you can disable Greylisting in SmarterMail. No spam, no delay. Yay!



Getting Started with SiteBackup

SiteBackup is a set-it-and-forget-it backup service that will automatically backup your website and database. Backups are stored in a remote location and previous versions can be restored to the web server with just a click. Here are instructions on how to order and set up SiteBackup.

You can order SiteBackup through your Winhost Control Panel. We offer three plans, each with different storage amounts. You only need one SiteBackup plan to back up all of your sites, so just pick the plan with enough storage to cover your sites. Click the orange button to select the plan you want, then click the Submit My Order button on the next page.

It takes a few minutes for our system to provision the service. You can click the Back button or the SiteBackup tab, and if the service is ready, you’ll see this page, where you can add a site:

Click the Add Site button and on the next page you can select the sites you want to back up.

Select which site(s) you want to back up, click the Submit button, and our system will automatically pass along the required info. On the next page, you can click the SiteBackup Management Tool link to get to the SiteBackup Dashboard interface.

On the SiteBackup Dashboard, you can configure your backup schedule. By default, there will be a daily backup scheduled. You can keep that, change the backup time, change the backup frequency, and run an immediate backup.

You can also back up your databases (the example in that Knowledge Base article is an MS SQL database, but SiteBackup can also back up your MySQL databases).

The system will email you if a backup fails (like when you change the FTP password). So just keep an eye out for those emails. But other than that, it’s set and you can forget it.



Summer App Installer Updates

We apologize for a lack of updates.  It’s just been busy here at Winhost.  Here’s a list of what was updated:



The Winhost Affiliate Program and Why You Should Be Using It

How many sites do you manage? Guessing it might be a few, but let me ask you this: how many of those sites did you get paid for signing up at Winhost? Not quite as many, I’m guessing. So maybe it’s time to take a look at the Winhost Affiliate Program.

The Winhost affiliate program isn’t anything new, but I understand if it isn’t the first thing you think about when you come to Winhost. I mean you have to think about your current sites, databases and domains you may have with us. An affiliate program is probably the last thing on your mind. But let me tell you why you might want to move it up on your list, at least when setting up that new site with us in the future.

With the Winhost affiliate program, we will pay you a commission of 60% of the hosting fees paid at the time of purchase. I know, giving you just a percentage probably isn’t helpful so let me break it down for you. Say you sign up a new Max plan hosting account on the 1 year billing plan. The hosting fees paid at the time of purchase would be $119.40. As an affiliate you would receive a commission back to you of $71.64 (60% of the fees paid).

That commission can then be paid back out to you, or put towards your hosting account as credit, it’s up to you. We also offer special incentives for those who sign up 15 or more sites a month using the affiliate program, including higher commission rates and flat rate commissions.

You can get started with the Winhost Affiliate Program here. When you scroll down to the bottom of the page we have a quick form to fill out where we ask for the standard information (name, contact info) and have you create your affiliate ID and password. All affiliate payments are paid either via PayPal or as hosting credit, so we also require a PayPal address when signing up.

After you sign up you will have access to our Affiliate Control Panel where you can view reports on sales made with your affiliate ID as well as request payments and view marketing creative that you can use on your site if you wish to.

If you have questions about our affiliate program, we are always happy to answer them. Just drop us a line at affiliate@winhost.com.



Who needs a website?

It may be an odd thing for a website host to ask, but “Who needs a website?” is a valid question. Many of us here at Winhost have been in the hosting business since it started, more than 20 years ago. The business – and maybe more importantly, what you expect from it – has changed more than a few times over the past two decades.

In the early days you built your own website. Period. So you needed a website host. There weren’t any other options, and there certainly weren’t any social networking or social media sites where you could establish an online presence without a website.

The first generation of point-and-click website builders sprouted up in the 1990s, but for the most part they were clunky sledgehammer approaches to site building, so they never really caught on with most website owners.
In the early 2000s social networking sites came in to our lives, starting with Friendster, which was quickly eclipsed by MySpace, the dominant platform for a few years. That is until Facebook came along to make all of the other social networking sites obsolete. I’m not sure that world domination was Facebook’s plan, initially, but that’s how things played out.

But regardless of which platform you used, suddenly if you couldn’t build a website, or had no interest in building a website, you could establish an online presence. And when that particular revolution happened, the perceived necessity of a traditional, build-it-yourself website (and someone like us to host it) briefly waned. But only briefly.

Rapid advances in web technology and the increasing spread of broadband Internet connections paved the way for a new generation of website building platforms like SquareSpace and Wix. With the new platforms you could build a site without bothering with any of the behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts. A lot of small businesses flocked to the new site building and hosting platforms, and away from traditional website hosting. But over time the drawbacks of those systems became apparent.

Now we’re seeing an increasing number of people moving away from social networking sites as their primary business presence, as well as making the sometimes tough decision to leave the point-and-click site builders/hosts. They’re moving back to traditional hosting because they are realizing that those point-and-click platforms lack some fundamental and essential ingredients for a successful business site (or any site, really), mainly: flexibility, SEO (visibility), and portability.
A business site needs flexibility. The ability to scale out with different kinds of pages or applications that a platform like SquareSpace or Wix don’t necessarily offer or support, the ability to choose or change how you accept payments, and the ability to change the look and feel of the site. On some of the site building platforms you are stuck with the style or template that you chose when setting up the site. In order to change the appearance of the site you have to re-build it from scratch. Ouch. And while e-commerce is baked in to most of the platforms, you’re limited to the methods and providers that they offer. Social networking sites are even more inflexible and limited.

Every website owner eventually becomes concerned with search engine optimization, or SEO. You may not give it a lot of thought when you are building or launching your site, but when you want to expand your audience or customer base, you will have to dive in to the deep, murky waters of SEO. Much of what’s necessary to maximize a site’s SEO is done on a page level or a configuration level, and if your site lives on one of the walled-in platforms, you simply won’t have the access necessary to make many beneficial changes. So you’re limited in what you can do to make your site grow.

As far as portability is concerned, they’ve made it purposely difficult (and in some cases, impossible) to move a site from a platform like SquareSpace or Wix to another platform or to a traditional host like Winhost. Understandably, I suppose, as it’s in their interest to keep you inside their walls so you will continue to pay them every month. Making it easy to move a site would mean making it easy for their customers to leave, so they have every incentive to make it as painful as possible. And of course you can’t take your Facebook page away from Facebook.

For those and other reasons, we’re seeing a move back to traditional custom-built websites hosted on open platforms where you decide how things are going to work, rather than being at the mercy of a large company’s development and support teams. Building and maintaining your own site comes along with its own costs, of course, both in development and maintenance. But the freedom and ability to steer your own ship that are gained by creating your own site will outweigh those costs for most of us.

And if you don’t want to start from scratch, there are now a lot of platforms and frameworks that you can install in your own hosting space to give you a head start. The most popular of those, WordPress, is running on more than 26% of the world’s active websites (that’s more than 77 million WordPress sites if you’re doing the math). In fact, in 2016 Microsoft moved thousands (yes, thousands) of its sites and blogs off of their own proprietary platform and over to open source platforms like WordPress, and you can be pretty sure that wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.

The bottom line is it’s easier than it’s ever been to build a flexible and portable site that you can easily change and update to suit your needs.

So the answer to the question, “Who needs a website?” is: you do. Whether you build your own site from the ground up or base it on a solid foundation like WordPress, what it all comes down to in the end is control, control, control. Take it! Keep it! It’s your website, you should be the one who decides how it works, what it looks like and where it lives.

Of course, if you want it to live here at Winhost (and really, why wouldn’t you?), I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a fully managed WordPress service that removes a lot of the maintenance and security concerns from your plate, freeing you up to focus on the most important thing in all of this: making your site the best it can be. You’re still in control, we’re just at your service. It doesn’t get any better than that!