web hosting and cloud hosting – read latest technical articles, how to’s and promotional blogs

Windows Web Hosting – Plesk Obsidian on Windows Server 2019

Here at Cirrus Hosting, we are pleased to offer our latest Windows Web Hosting solution. Our new plan is running on the latest Windows Server version and the latest control panel (Plesk Obsidian). If you are looking for the most stable and up-to-date .net, MS SQL, PHP and MariaDB hosting then we got you covered.

Our new Windows web hosting plan supports the latest applications you need to lunch your website, like:  

ASP.NET 4.7.2

ASP.NET Core

.NET Core 3.1

MSSQL 2019

PHP 7.4

MariaDB 10.3

The all-new and improved Plesk Obsidian not only offers the new look and feel but also offers enchased security and monitoring tools and optimized web stacks and improved user. Some other cool features of Plesk obsidian are:

– Composer v2: Composer is a dependency management tool in PHP. It is not only installed and updates the dependencies but also reviews and highlights the potential challenges with updating the particular PHP version.

– Advanced Monitoring: new Grafana charts give you visibility and insight into your server health. You also can configure email notification to be sent to the admin or push notification to Plesk mobile app.

– Mango DB Support: Wait no more with Plesk Obsidian you can install and manage Mongo DB databases and users.

At Cirrus Hosting we are always trying to improve our services and provide the most reliable hosting solution to our clients. When you subscribe to our Windows web hosting solution you can take advantages of the following features as well:

Managing Spam Filter: Cirrus hosting is one of the first Canadian web hosting providers who have integrated the SpamExperts on our web Hosting plans, FREE of charge. Using advanced spam-pattern detection and machine learning algorithms, SpamExperts state of the art incoming email filtering separates valid email from dangerous & unsolicited email before it even reaches your mailbox. You can access to SpamExpert management console through your control Panel to whitelist or release emails from quarantine.

Installing SSL certificate: In a nutshell, SSL certificate enables secure communication over the internet by encrypting the data such as your password or credit card information which is being transmitted between your computers and the server. You can either install the Free SSL certificate issued by Let’s Encrypt – click here for instruction on how to enable in on your hosting plan –you also have the option to order a commercial SSL certificate. You can read more about the SSL certificate here.

Lunching website / e-commerce: if you are new to website design and hosting not to worry, Sitebuilder provides you with all the tools you need to create your website it is easy and intuitive. For information about how to use the site builder please visit here. If you have already designed your website you can simply transfer your website content to the server via FTP.  

Installing applications: though Application vaults you have access to most popular apps like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc…. the cool features of application vault is that you can add, update, and remove apps by a push of a button.

Reviewing website stat: once your site is up and running you would be able to evaluate your site efficiency by reviewing the visit statistics, you can find your website statistics in your control panel

Are you looking to host your website on Windows Server 2019? What are you waiting for; subscribe to our windows web hosting plan and take advantage of the enhanced security, all new apps, and many other cool features.

Call us at 1.877.624.7787 (1.905.881.3485 if you’re in the Toronto area) or email us at sales@cirrushosting.com for more information about these features in this list or if you have any questions in getting your new server. We will be happy to assist you.

  •  Click HERE to find out more about our Windows web hosting plans.

4 Tips To Speed Up Your WordPress Website

There is no secret that WordPress is one of the most popular CMS/Web design tools available in the market and according to some estimated almost one-third of all the websites on the internet is powered by WordPress. The most common question we get from WordPress users is “how to make my site load faster?”  Unfortunately, there is no magic fix; but you can take a series of steps to boost WordPress speed and performance. In this blog I am going to cover the 4 essential steps to speed up your site:

1.    Keep your WordPress, PHP and Plugins updated

The biggest advantage of updating WordPress and plugins is that it improves the site security and also offers new features. Postponing the updates might leave a portion of your site to malfunction, vulnerable to attacks, unreliable and slow. According to W3Techs.com more than 40% of the WordPress sites are running on WordPress version 4 or older. Users typically overlook the importance of updating their PHP version as well according to wordpress.org “Your website will be faster as the latest version of PHP is more efficient. Updating to the latest supported version (currently 7.3) can deliver a huge performance increase; up to 3 or 4x faster for older versions. “

Before you go about updating your site, please take the following steps to minimize the risk of losing data / breaking your site.

a)    Make a backup of your website and store it on your local computer or cloud

b)    Upgrade your WordPress and plugins (there is a chance that you might run into compatibility issue or your site might not load correctly)

c)    Make sure you satisfied all the PHP upgrade dependencies

d)    After the PHP upgrade make sure your site is loading as there is a chance you need to get your developers involved to fix compatibility issues.

2.    Choose a lightweight theme

Choosing the right theme is very important, you should strike a balance between the design, features, price and response/load time.  I know it is not an easy task to choose from more than 11 thousand available themes but a lightweight well-designed theme and plugins will save you money and time.

3.    Take advantage of Caching

In sample terms, Caching is a process of storing the static website data on your visitor’s computer so that future requests can be served faster. Caching not only helps your site to load faster but also reduces the load on your server. There are many caching plugins available in the market; I am not going to recommend any plugin here but whatever plugin you decide to go with please make sure they are constantly being updated.

4.    CDN, accelerator and Compression

Content Delivery Network (CDN) basically distributes your static web content to different geographically dispersed point of presence (POPs) as a result your server load will be reduced; you will enjoy a lower network latency and higher security. If you have subscribed to Cirrus Hosting’s cloud VPS/VM v2.1 you can take advantage of the Accelerator option, Cloud Accelerator automatically optimizes web applications and content running on the virtual private server (VPS) and automatically publishing them to our global CDN.

Remember compression is your friend, in order to enhance your website load speed, you should consider reducing your total page size, the easiest way to accomplish that is to utilize compression tools like GZIP and WordPress Image compression plugins.

A Quick Guide to Windows Website Hosting Best Backup Practices

WannaCry ransomware has wreaked havoc on windows computer systems since its first major attack on May 2017. Hosting companies were not immune from these attacks; some of the windows webs hosting providers were hit hard, mainly those who were slow to upgrade their infrastructure and were running Windows 2003 and Windows 2008. These attacks resulted in the loss of data and weeks of an outage. Website owners/admins neglect the fact that they are responsible for all data backups although hosting companies have disaster recovery plans in place but it might take a long time to recover data or some cases recovered data might be a few weeks old. Since most of the windows web hosting plans are using Plesk control panel I will be going over different backup option offered through Plesk.

Manual Local backup: you can easily initiate a backup through Plesk by going to “Websites & Domains > Backup Manager > Back up “. Now you can select which content you would like to backup “domain configuration, mail configuration and content, user file and databases” for detail information please visit our KB. By default, backups are stored on the Plesk server, in an event of server failure, you can lose both your website and backups, after backup completion you should download the backup to your computer and delete the old backup from the Plesk server. To download your latest backup go to “Websites & Domains > Backup Manager “and choose the backup you would like to download and click on “download”. I suggest that you keep multiple copies of your backup in different storage media like on-premise backup storage, USB drive or burn it on CD.

Remote storage backup: if you are technically savvy I suggest that you take advantage of remote storage backup option in Plesk. You are required to create an FTP server, either on your local computer or local storage, go to “Websites & Domains > Backup Manager > Remote Storage Settings > FTP” select the use of “FTP storage” and enter your FTP server information. Now your backup will be automatically stored in your remote storage you also have the option of creating a scheduled backup, for detail information please visit our KB.

Cloud Backup: Backup to cloud pro is a paid add-on option offered by Plesk. You can schedule an automatic backup of your website to be stored in most popular Cloud Storages like DropBox, One Drive, and Google drive. 

How to secure your contact form, CAPTCHA vs reCAPTCHA

Spammers are using every tool at their disposal to send unsolicited emails, in part thanks to advancements in AI and internet bots, these days spammers target contact forms more than ever. Almost every website uses the contact form to engage with customers and unfortunately, there are still many website owners out there that have not taken adequate steps to secure their contact form. To eliminate the automated spam submissions you should make it impossible for a bot to fill in and successfully submit the form, CAPTCHA is the easiest and most used tool to secure the contact form.

 CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart), the main objective of CAPTCHA is to distinguish human from bot input. It requires the user to enter the letters of the disordered words. Advancement in machine learning and In particular deep learning resulted in development of advanced CAPTCHA solving algorithms with high success rate to crack conventional CAPTCHA puzzles. In 2009 Google acquired a CAPTCHA like system called reCAPTCHA, it is not only tries to establish the computer user is human but also assists in the digitization of books. As per Google’s introduction of the system “reCAPTCHA makes positive use of this human effort by channelling the time spent solving CAPTCHAs into digitizing text, annotating images, building machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems.)”, reCAPTA is a free services and uses advanced risk analysis techniques to protect your contact forms.

To add reCAPTCHA to your form, first you should login to Google reCAPTCHA admin console and register your site. Then you should add the code snippets to your webpage something like (As per Google’s instruction here)

  <script src=”https://www.google.com/recaptcha/api.js?render=reCAPTCHA_site_key“></script>
  <script>
  grecaptcha.ready(function() {
      grecaptcha.execute(‘reCAPTCHA_site_key‘, {action: ‘homepage‘}).then(function(token) {
         
      });
  });
  </script>

If you are using WordPress you should be able to use WP-reCAPTCHA plugin, simply find the WP-reCAPTCHA under “Plugin“, “Add new” and install the plugin. Enter the “site key” and “secret key” provided by Google and you are set.

What is the difference between Windows web hosting and Linux web hosting? What are the common features of website hosting?

Choosing the right solution to host your website might seem like a daunting task; as you might be bombarded by jargons, different features, add-on options, and different pricing model. One of the first decisions you have to make is to choose between Windows or Linux web hosting, I have been asked this questions so many times “so….. since I have MS Windows installed on my personal computer should I subscribe to a Windows web hosting plan?” my short answer is NO. Your decision should be based on how you are going to build your site and what applications are you going to use for instance if you are planning to build your site using Microsoft products like MS SQL or ASP.Net then you should definitely subscribe to a windows web hosting solutions. On the other hand, if you are intending to PHP, MySQL, Python or use WordPress to post your blogs then you should perhaps consider Linux Web hosting option.

Generally due to licensing costs Windows web hosting is more expensive than Linux web hosting – Linux is free and open source OS, if your budget is tight, then you should consider Linux web hosting and avoid using any MS Windows specific application.

Aside from the MS Windows specific applications and pricing there is not whole lot of difference between Windows and Linux web hosting, below are some the features available in either of them:

Lunching website / e-commerce: if you are new to website design and hosting not too worry, Sitebuilder provides you with all the tools you need to create your website it is easy and intuitive. For information about how to use the site builder please visit here. If you have already designed your website you can simply transfer your website content to the server via FTP.    

Installing applications: though Application vaults you have access to most of popular apps like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and etc…. the cool features of application vault is that you can add, update and remove apps by a push of button.

Creating email accounts:  after you lunched your website it is time to create your email accounts, as part of your Linux/Windows web hosting plan you will have the option to create multiple email accounts. It is a simple and straight forward task, look for mail section in your control panel and click on “create email addresses” and follow the instructions, if you need step by step assistance on how to setup your email accounts in Plesk please click here. There are two ways to access your mailbox; you can either login via webmail trough your browser or by setting up email client like outlook or email app on your PC, Laptop or smart phone. You can read more about creating POP3/IMAP in outlook with cirrus hosting settings here.   

Managing Spam Filter: Cirrus hosting is one of the first Canadian web hosting providers who has integrated the SpamExperts on our web Hosting plans, FREE of charge. Using advance spam-pattern detection and machine learning algorithms, SpamExperts state of the art incoming email filtering separates valid email from dangerous & unsolicited email before it even reaches your mailbox. You can access to SpamExpert management console through your control Panel to whitelist or release emails from quarantine.

Installing SSL certificate: In a nutshell SSL certificate enables secure communication over internet by encrypting the data such as your password or credit card information which is being transmitted between your computers and the server. You can either install the Free SSL certificate issed by Let’s Encrypt – click here for instruction on how to enable in on your hosting plan – or you can order a commercial SSL certificate. You can read more about the SSL certificate here.

Setting up FTP accounts: File Transfer Protocol (FTP) if a networking protocol that enables users to transfer files between a client and server. It is the most common and convenient way of transferring your website / data to the server. You have the option to create, edit and remove FTP accounts from you control panel. You can set different permissions such as specified path, hard disk quota, read and write permissions. For step by step instruction on how to setup FTP account on cirrus web hosting account please click here.

Creating website backup and restore: Although storage technology has improved significantly but we strongly suggest that you take a regular backup of your website. If you delete your data accidentally or your website is hacked or files are corrupted you can restore your original files from a backup. You can initiate the back up your website content and databases through the backup manager. We strongly suggest that you keep a copy of your data on your local computer.

Reviewing website stat: once your site is up and running you would be able to evaluate your site efficiency by reviewing the visit statistics, you can find your website statistics in your control panel

About Cirrus Tech Ltd

Cirrus Tech Ltd. has been actively promoting its services to the hosting industry since 1999. The company has focused on 24/7 tech support, value-added services and a cooperative attitude towards all its clients. Cirrus is now one of Canada’s largest Web / cloud Hosting companies in Canada.

Advantages of Dedicated Website Hosting

As a small business owner you typically can choose between shared website hosting and virtual private server/ cloud virtual machine to host your website. Shared website hosting is the cheapest option, easy to manage and configure but it has its own limitations such as hard limits on server resource utilization and email delivery challenges. Hosting a website on VPS or VM is more expensive and also more complicated to manage and maintains; but on the other hand you will enjoy a faster load time and better overall performance compare to shared website hosting. Here at Cirrus Hosting we are pleased to introduce a new hosting solution – dedicated website hosting – which offers the best of the both worlds; ease of use of shared website hosting and reliability of VPS/VM without the complexity of managing the serve and at an affordable price. This article breaks down the advantages of dedicated website hosting solution:

Secure: you can take advantages of free SSL certificate or we can install a commercial SSL certificate so that sensitive information can be transmitted securely. You also have an access to the firewall at the hypervisor level so you can block IPs (accept or drop traffic from a specific IP address) and secure your server without adding extra load on your server.

Reliable email: all your emails will be sent out from your very own dedicated IP address. It will significantly reduce the chance of IP blacklisting. It also includes a professional email solution (SpamExperts) with almost 100% filtering accuracy. It filters out unwanted and harmful emails before it gets to your inbox.

Dedicated Resources: Dedicated website hosting performs and executes exactly like a stand-alone server, you will get your own isolated virtual server and all the resources – memory, SSD and IP – are physically dedicated to you; which means other client’s activities are not going to affect your websites performance.

Supports more applications and offers more freedom: your hands are open to install different PHP versions, install multiple DBs and configure them as you like. You are no longer limited to the applications preconfigured on the website hosting platforms.  

High Performance: your server is running on enterprise Dell hardware and your data is stored on supper fast SSD drives. Fully redundant network design ensures high availability demands of today’s business. Cirrus Tech is also connected to Toronto Internet Exchange (TorIX) to improve performance and to keep local data traffic local.

Fully managed: No need to hire a server administrator; our qualified and highly trained technicians will manage you server and underlying infrastructure. They will apply the security patches and keep your control panel up-to-date so you can focus on your business.

Fully Scalable: Seamless resource upgrade eliminates the need to migrate your data to a more powerful server. You can simply order more memory, SSD and vCPU to fine tune your server and more websites and contents. You save time and money associated with migrating your website and eliminates the negative impact of taking your website.

Reliable Backup solutions: you can take a backup through your control panel and store it on the server itself or back it up to your local computer. You also have an option to take an image of your entire server and store it on your infrastructure and also you have an option to order an automatic remote backup solution.

Click here for more information about Cirrus Tech’s Dedicated Website Hosting solution.

About Cirrus Tech Ltd

Cirrus Tech Ltd. has been actively promoting its services to the hosting industry since 1999. The company has focused on 24/7 tech support, value-added services and a cooperative attitude towards all its clients. Cirrus is now one of Canada’s largest Web / cloud Hosting companies in Canada.

What is Virtual Appliance?

Virtual Appliance (VA) is defined as a pre-configured image – combining operating system, application and configuration into a single image – designed and optimized to run on a specific hypervisor (KVM, XEN, or VMware). You can further optimize the operating system to only include the packages you need to create a secure and efficient image. By excluding the unnecessary components you effectively reduced your security risk.

Virtual Appliance simplifies the application deployment process; it is particularly a useful tool for software vendors as it will shorten the sales cycle, extends the application deployment to the cloud and reduces the support load significantly as it eliminates the pre-configuration and installation challenges.

A virtual appliance is also a very useful solution for enterprise system administrators as it simplifies application packaging and deployment; it eliminates the pre-installation process (choosing hardware, operating system version, patches, and applications). It also increases the efficiency during post-installation process, since they do not have to fine tune, update and optimize every single virtual machine.

Updates are made easy and automatic, when you deploy your virtual appliance out on the field all the machines are running the same image, therefore you can create a single patch/application update and push those to your entire virtual appliances at the same time, as a result, you will save time and money.

 

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Call us at 1.877.624.7787 or email us at sales@cirrushosting.com for more information about our Cloud Hosting. We will be happy to assist you.

Click HERE to find out more about Cirrus Hosting’s Cloud hosting plans.

How To Choose The Best Data Storage For Your Hosted Server

What type of data storage solution suits my business needs? Should I go with Solid State Drives (SSD) when looking for a dedicated server, cloud virtual machine or should I choose good old H.D.D or maybe I should utilize NVMe. In this blog, I briefly go over some of the data storage available in the market.

 

Hard Disk Drive (HDD): for a long time – since the 1980s – HDD dominated the computer market. HDD uses rotating magnetic disk to store data and these days Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) interface is used for transferring data to and from the HDD. Some the advantages of choosing HDD is, It is cheap, has high data storage capacity (several terabytes) and longer life spam in respect to the number of reads and writes cycles. HDD drives are ideal for data storage.

 

Solid State Drive (SSD): it is much faster than HDD because unlike HHD it has no moving mechanical parts and it utilizes flash memory for storage. SSD drives connect to a server using SATA cable and use the same controller as HDD. Theoretically, you can get a data transfer rate of 600 MB/s more than 10 times faster than average HDD.

 

M2. SSD Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe): SSD drives are capable of offering blistering Input/output Operation per Second (IOPS) for some time but due to inherent limitations of SATA and AHCI the maximum data transfer speed was capped at 600 MB/s. in order to overcome the data transfer bottleneck, engineers designed a new protocol specifically for SSD drives called Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe). M2. SSD drives use flash memory for storage, it uses PCI Express (much faster interconnect than SATA) and takes advantage of NVMe technology; as a result, you can hit the data transfer rate of 3 GB/s. this storage solution is ideal for Big Data projects or projects that require a very high IOPS however for an average user you will not notice much difference between SSD and M2.SSA NVMe.

 

What is a Virtual Machine (VM)

A Virtual Machine (VM) is a program that emulates a computer system and offers the same functionality as a physical server. VM performs and executes tasks exactly like an isolated stand-alone server, it can be rebooted independently and have its own root/admin access, users, IP address, Memory process, etc. multiple VMs can run on the same server and in order to create VMs businesses utilize a program/software called hypervisor. A hypervisor runs on top of the hardware and facilitates the creation, deployment and management of VMs. Some of the popular hypervisor solutions are KVM, Hyper-V, VMware, and Oracle VM.

Today’s technology consumption and utility have increased leaps and bounds due to low-cost computers and storage devices, high- capacity networks as well as a widespread adaptation of service-oriented culture and hardware virtualization. Some businesses, however, are still resisting to transition from dedicated server to VM. There are many advantages in migrating to VM, to name a few:

 

  • You can save money by Utilizing hardware resources more efficiently, reducing the number of physical servers and as a result lowering the hardware maintenance cost.
  • You can clone your VM and move them easily between your physical servers.
  • You can use VM to try the new operating system, test your application, keep the legacy system, and lunch your website and browse the internet.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint as you will use less power, less cooling, rack space, etc.

 

You can view the Cloud VM solutions we offer here on Cirrus’s website: Cirrus Cloud Hosting

To find out more about Cirrus’ Cloud VMs, visit us at www.cirrushosting.com or call 1.877.624.7787

 

 

All You Need to Know About Changes to Domain Privacy

Whois System and Why You Still Need Get Whois Privacy

When you register a domain name you are required to provide personal information such as name, address, email, and phone number. Your personal information plus your domain creation/expiry/update dates and registrar name are stored in an online directory called WHOIS and it is available to the public. Most registrars offer an add-on service called Whois privacy to mask your personal information.

Introduction of new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) changed the public Whois system as we know it. Registrars like many other IT service providers had to adapt and revise the way they collect and hand personal information in order to be in compliance with Article 5 EU-GDPR, “Principles relating to the processing of personal data”. As a result, ICANN proposed a new interim model called “gated access system or gated Whois system” under this model the domain registrant personal information is no longer published and replaced by “REDACTED FOR PRIVACY“. In this model, third parties with legitimate reasons like intellectual property lawyers, law enforcement, and cyber security professionals can still access your personal information.

 

You might ask do I still need to enable Whois privacy. My answer is yes, although your personal information is not available to the general public there are still many third-party organizations with an access to the gated Whois system that can access your full name, address, phone number, and email.