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Cirrus Hosting’s 2019 Year in Review

Happy New Year from everyone at Cirrus Hosting, we wish you joy, happiness and peace for 2020.

Let’s review some of the highlights of 2019.

Revamped Dedicated Web Hosting Plan

In the first quarter of 2019, we revamped our Dedicated Web Hosting plans. Dedicated website hosting offers the best of both worlds; ease of use of shared website hosting and reliability of VPS/VM without the complexity of managing the server at an affordable price. New plans are running on pure SSD, fully managed and all the resources are dedicated to you. In this article , we highlighted all the features and advantages of hosting your website on a Dedicated Web Hosting platform.

Cloud Accelerator, Enhanced performance & load time

We have integrated the next generation of CDN into our cloud platform. Cloud Accelerator automatically optimizes web applications and content running on the virtual private server (VPS) and automatically publishing them to our global CDN. Cloud accelerator is a geographically distributed network of servers that host files, images, video and other internet content and deliver them to an end-user from the location nearest to them. It improves the performance, security and reliability of your website.

cdn and accelerator provided by cirrus cloud hosting and dedicated server hosting

Focus on Performance and security

As part of our ongoing effort to improve our network security and In order to increase our resilience against DDoS attacks, we have significantly improved our capacity and peak throughput by upgrading our core routers and networking gears. We also increased our pipeline by almost tenfold. We recommend our web hosting clients to scan their website, application, and plugins and eliminate any vulnerability from their website; keep their PHP, WordPress, and plugins up-to-date.

In 2019 Security researches found major vulnerabilities like Zombieload Attack and Exim mail server. Our technical team secured our infrastructure as soon as the security patches were released. Rest assured we got your back!!

What we talked about in our blogs

In 2019 our aim was to share with you all the new ideas and developments in the web hosting industry; we also talked about infrastructure, security and best practices – server management.

Some of the most popular blogs were:

Backup, Backup, Backup, Reliable Backup Solution for your VPS Cloud VM

In today’s digital economy a reliable Backup and Recovery strategy should be part of your business continuity plan. There are many reasons why you need a backup solution, to name a few server failures, deleting files by mistake, Hard Disk Drive (HDD) corruption and Virus / Malware / Ransomware attack. As we highlighted in our earlier blog, WannaCry ransomware has wreaked havoc on windows computer systems since its first major attack on May 2017. Small businesses were not immune to these attacks; ransomware attacks resulted in the loss of data and weeks of outages. Some website owners/admins neglect the fact that data backup is their responsibility.

At Cirrus Hosting we offer two backup solutions, remote backup and VM backup (Snapshot):

Remote backup plan: Our remote backup plans provide clients with a more value-added service than a traditional backup solution. We provide managed and near-continuous backup by taking periodical snapshots of a client’s storage and storing each snapshot as a separate restore point. The frequency of restore point creation is determined by each client’s data protection needs. Each plan has a specific amount of backup space and the maximum number of restore points. Having multiple restore points enables you to choose which restore point you would like to use in the case you need to restore your data. Cirrus Tech’s remote backup plans are designed to be easily scalable. All restore points (backups) created are stored on Cirrus Tech’s backup servers running R1Soft. In addition, clients can easily manage their backups through an initiative easy to use web interface.

For more details on our remote backup plans, click HERE.

VM backup: Clients can initiate a manual VM backup or schedule an automatic snapshot to be taken of their VM(s), only a single image can be taken and stored at any given time. VM backup is included in most of our cloud VM Plans free of charge. The advantage of VM backup is that you can convert the backup to an image and built a new server or rebuild your existing one.  Unlike Remote backup plan the VM backups are unmanaged and we do NOT monitor the state of VM backups, there is a chance that a VM backup failure can go unnoticed.

We recommend our clients to take advantage of both remote backup and VM backup solutions at the same time as remote backups are managed and monitored by our technicians, you can have a peace of mind that backups are being taken regularly, you have multiple restore points and your backups are stored on a different hardware than your VM. The VM snapshot is a good solution to easily duplicate your VM or recreate your VM. 

What Can You Do With Windows Virtual Machine 2019 – 2020

A Windows Virtual Machine (VM) or Windows Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a program that emulates a computer system and offers the same functionality as a physical Windows server. VM performs and executes tasks exactly like an isolated standalone server, it can be rebooted independently and have its own administrator access, users, IP address, Memory process, etc. The cool thing about Windows VPS is that you can use it for whatever you like exactly like your computer at home. Let’s explore some of the great uses of Windows VM/VPS:

  • Virtual Desktop: Like your desktop environment you can install your applications and configure the server, for instance, you can install accounting software or CRM and access them from anywhere in the world. You no longer have to be in the office to generate an invoice or run a report. You have the option to create different accounts with different access levels so your team members or end users can access the server and start using the software. Or you can simply use the virtual desktop to browse the internet, play games, FOREX trading or post on local e-commerce platforms.
  • Website Hosting: Windows server can be configured as a web server and it enables you to utilize a full range of Microsoft products such as MS SQL, .net, .ASP and many more to run your websites more efficiently. Depending on your level of expertise you can either use IIS to lunch your website or install a Plesk control panel to assist you with launching and managing your website.
  • Mail Server: It is the most common use of a Windows server. Historically businesses preferred to host their mail servers on a Windows Server, Windows server provides greater security and better control over the environment. There are various mail server applications in the market like MailEnable or you can utilize the latest Plesk panel (Plesk Obsidian).
  • Sandbox: Windows VPS server is the best and chipset testing environment; you can try the untested code or application on the isolated environment or you can install the latest Windows Version and test the software for compatibilities, identify bugs or test application patches. You can reformat, reinstall and recreate the server by push of a button.

At Cirrus Hosting we are proud to offer Canada’s fastest Windows VPS / Cloud VM. We utilize pure SSD drives and allocate dedicated resources to every VM. Full administrator access with console access and also access to the firewall to allow or block traffic before it gets to your server. Our solution is designed for mission-critical and/or highly secure environments. Our downtown Toronto Datacenter has the following attestation reports: SOC1, SOC2, HIPPA and is PCI compliant.

You can view the new Cloud VM plans here. To find out more about Cirrus’ Cloud VMs, visit us at www.cirrushosting.com or call 1.877.624.7787

About Cirrus Hosting

Cirrus Tech Ltd. has been a leader in providing affordable, dependable cloud hosting as well as website hosting services in Canada since 1999. They have hosted and supported hundreds of thousands of websites and applications for Canadian businesses and clients around the world. As a BBB member with an A+ rating, Cirrus Hosting is a top-notch Canadian web hosting company with professional support, rigorous reliability and easily upgradable VPS solutions that grow right alongside your business. Their Canadian data center is at 151 Front Street in Toronto.

Cirrus Hosting VS Azure VS AWS: Which One Is More Affordable?

If you are a small business owner and thinking about using VPS or cloud services, confused about the AWS and Azure pricing model and wondering how Cirrus hosting’s cloud services fares against them… this post is for you.

There are many reasons to order a cloud server from Cirrus Hosting rather than Azure or AWS – for instance, we offer Better support, greater ease of use, better IOPS, enterprise hardware, flat monthly rate and no hidden fees.

I plan to compare Cirrus Hosting could VM plan IV against comparable tier, similar hardware, hosted in Canada and monthly billing plan (pay as you go) without a long-term contract.  For Azure, I am taking General purpose D series, Canada Central datacenter and pay as you go. For AWS instance I have chosen m5d.large, 100% utilization/m, Canada Central datacenter and NVMe SSD.  

The following table shows the resource and price comparison between Cirrus Hosting Cloud VM, Azure VM and AWS instance.

TierRegionStorageMemoryvCPUOSPrice
Cirrus HostingCloud VMToronto80 GB SSD8 GB4CentOS$80.00
Microsoft AzureD- SeriesCanada Central64 GB SSD7 GB2CentOS$149.66*
Amazon AWSEC2 – m5d.largeCanada Central75 GB NVMe SSD8 GB2CentOS$131.50*

Cirrus Cloud VM 2.1 is running on enterprise Dell servers, Pure SSD, redundant network, scalable resources and our main data-center is located in down town Toronto (in compliance with Tier 3 dc requirements).

Click here for more information about Cirrus Tech’s cloud VM 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.

*AWS and Azure prices were collected on 07/17/2019, exchange rate 1.3. Following price calculators were used:

Azure: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-ca/pricing/calculator

AWS: https://calculator.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html

How To Protect Your Apache Against DDoS With mod_evasive

In 2019 we have seen a surge in number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, according to the Kaspersky researchers number of DDoS attacks have gone up by 84% this year and the prediction is these types of attacks will get more sophisticated and more common. As a web admin you should explore different options to harden your server and increase your resilience against DoS, DDoS or Brute-Force attacks. You can take some basic steps to protect your website, for instance if you are using Apache HTTP server you can enable mod_evasive module to have a layer protection against DDoS and Brute-Force attacks. In an event of HTTP DDoS attack mod_evasive provides evasive action, It works by recording the incoming traffic (IP and URLs) to Apache and it blocks the IP if it exceed the threshold like:

  • Multiple request per seconds
  • Makes multiple concurrent connection

Mod_evasive emails the abuse reports to web admin and it can be configured to talk to your firewall.

Following are the step by step instruction on how to install mod_evasive:

  • If you have cPanel/WHM you can install mod_evasive from the interface via (WHM -> Home -> Software -> EasyApache 4) and run the following command : yum install ea-apache24-mod_evasive 
    • and to configure mod_evasive you should edit the .conf file  /etc/apache2/conf.d/300-mod_evasive.conf
  • For instruction on how to install mod_evasive on CentOS please refer to our KB here
  • For instruction on how to install mod_evasive on Ubuntu please refer to our KB here
  • mod_evasive configuration parameters are

DOSHashTableSize 3097  //number of top-level nodes that each child’s hash table contains.

DOSPageCount 2  //maximum number of requests per interval for a single page before it blocks the IP address

DOSSiteCount 50  //maximum number of requests for any object per IP on the same listener per site before it blocks the IP address

DOSPageInterval 1  //time interval per sec. for the page count

DOSSiteInterval 1  //time interval per sec. for the site count

DOSBlockingPeriod 60  //time interval per sec. to block a site’s IP address

DOSEmailNotify <YOU@YOURMAIL.COM>   //to set the admin email to receive the IP blacklist report

Plesk Obsidian Features and Release Date

Plesk has recently announced the major release “Plesk Obsidian” and published a release cycle calendar. Although “Plesk Obsidian Release candidate 1” was released on June 4, but General availability of stable version will only be released on October 2019. This major release intends to move Plesk closer to achieving their goal of becoming a “complete website and server management tool”.  Let’s take a look at some of the new cool features of Plesk Obsidian:

-SNI for Mail Server: You can enable SSL/TLS for individual domain to secure the connection. This feature supports both Postfix and MailEnable.

-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 admin or push notification to the plesk mobile app.

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

-Improved Plesk Backup in cloud storage: Taking or restoring backups in Google Drive, Amazon, S3 requires less free space on your server.

To read more about the new the Plesk Obsidian release please click here.

DNA Data Storage is Going Mainstream!!

What is a big deal about DNA data storage? Some might say they have ample space in the cloud to store all their photos, music’s and data but thanks to the emergence of big data we are generating and storing loads of data every second. According to IDC’s 2018 white paper, the amount of data created, captured, and replicated will grow from 33 Zettabytes in 2018 to 175 Zettabytes by 2025 and guess what, we do not have enough storage space to store all that information. Although data storage technology has come a long way since IBM introduced “305 RAMAC” in 1956, which offered 5 megabytes of storage, all these media’s eventually wear out or become obsolete. If someone handed you a cassette tape or 8-inch floppy disk to listen to music or access an old photo you have no way of retrieving the data.

What makes DNA so great is that DNA can store Gigabytes of data in a minuscular space. DNA is very stable over time and does not even require electricity to store information. Unlike the older storage solution like an 8-inch floppy disk or different/older data format type, there is less likely that we lose the ability to read DNA. As long as the humans are alive we will care about reading our own DNA. The other great advantages of DNA storage is you can make millions of copies of data fairly easily and almost for free.

The biggest challenges of DNA storage at the moment are slow read-write process and high price tag. To write the data onto a DNA first you should map 0s and 1s into DNA’s 4 types of nitrogen base A, T, C and G pairs. A synthesis company will write the converted data into DNA and you should expect to pay around $1000 per MB. To recover the data you need to sequence it and that process could take hours or days to complete.

Companies like Microsoft and Intel are investing heavily in DNA storage R&D. Microsoft in collaboration with the university of Washington demonstrated the first fully automated DNA data storage in March 2019. They proved it is possible to automate the read-write process to convert bits to molecules and back to bits again. Scientist and storage experts are confident DNA storage will become widely available at a reasonable price in the next decade.

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

 

 

Are You Looking For Reliable Enterprise Backup Solution? We Got You Covered!

The web/cloud hosting industry is an extremely competitive market; Hosting companies invest heavily in enhancing their infrastructure to provide reliable services and assist customers with implementing their business continuity plans. Studies show implementing a robust backup and restore solution -on dedicated and virtual machines – is the most pressing tasks of IT departments. At Cirrus Tech we partnered with R1Soft to provide reliable backup solutions to small business and corporate customers.

We interviewed Ali Mirdamadi, CEO of Cirrus Tech Ltd. to find out more about Cirrus Hosting Backup solution.

Q: Why taking the backup is important?

Ali: In IT world, data protection is basically the most important task that a customer faces.  I’ll give you an example If the server breaks like CPU failure or faulty memory you can always change those parts, However if you have a bad drive then you are mostly in the situation where your data is impacted somehow, It’s either lost or corrupted which is why data protection and backup is extremely important and for that, backup solutions are needed so that you be sure you have something to go back to.

Backups are not just for disasters recovery but they are also important when you face with other challenges like a fallen victim to cyber-attacks specifically where your data/website is encrypted or defaced by a hacker, or maybe your server is infected with a virus and you want to go back to your original data. Even human errors can cause data loss; people accidentally delete files or folders.

Q: Why we choose R1Soft?

Ali: We used to provide an in-house backup solution but we felt that the R1soft solution offers additional features that may appeal to most of our customers. In developing our corporate services, we always partner with leaders in the respective fields to offer more value-added services to our customers. We also wanted to choose the product that offers support for protecting various lines of business applications like Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange Server.

first and foremost R1Soft is a very robust solution that actually WORKS all the times, we do not have to worry about backup failing on us, if you can’t use the backup to restore your data then what is the point of having a backup in the first place! Based on our own experience, R1Soft came to our rescue in a few occasions.

Q: What are the R1Soft features?

Ali: R1Soft has unique features that make it ideal and extremely suitable for our business and our customers.

  • Continues Data Protection – R1Soft reads the data directly from the disk or volume and uses block-level backup which drastically reduces the disk and network I/O.
  • Control Panel Interface – R1Soft has a web interface which allows our customer to manage their backup and restore.
  • Quick Restore – R1Soft also allows the customer to restore individual files. Or restore the entire server from scratch meaning your operating system, configuration, an application and data. So in one shot you basically restore the entire server.
  • Multi-Platform Support: R1Soft supports a variety of operating systems. We are not worried about OS compatibility.
  • Data Retention Policies – R1soft give you the option to specify the frequency of “recovery points” (backups) and customers are able to create as many recovery points as they choose. You can take backups that are 15 minutes apart or weeks apart. And since it is taking incremental backups it always backups the changes.
  • DB Backup- R1Soft supports taking backups directly from databases, which give customers a peace of mind that all backups are consistent. In another word, if you have a database open and you take a backup at the same time, that backup may not have all the information in the database. R1Soft allows you to actually get a direct backup from MySQL databases that are another important point that R1Soft offers. (this is an add-on service)

As a hosting provider, we offer flexible pricing to our customers and our customers have the option to choose onsite or offsite backup regardless where their actual server or virtual machine resides. For detail information about our backup plans please click here.

Is the Cloud Application Hosting right for you?

I am sure all of you are familiar with the term cloud hosting and cloud computing by now as it is a term being widely used and adopted in our daily business communications. Cloud hosting/computing can be classified into three main categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Over the past 20 years, Cirrus Tech invested heavily in Virtualization technologies and Cloud infrastructure to provide reliable IaaS solution to our clients in Canada and across the world. IT managers and professionals in particular, enjoy the wide range of features and services available in our IaaS platform such you agility, resource monitoring, security, redundancy, backup and image cloning. We have also been offering PaaS services to a selective group of business, a complete suite of development and deployment platform, so they can concentrate on developing their app and launching their products. Today we are happy to announce the launch of our new SaaS – Application Hosting platform which is designed to help businesses who are only interested in running their business and prefer not to get involved with server management and software updates. Cloud Application hosting solutions is mostly suited for customer retention management (CRM), human resources, procurement, and accounting applications.

 

Benefits and features of our Application Hosting platform:

You should not install your applications manually or spend time keeping them up to date. Our new Cloud Application hosting platform supports a huge range of application stacks based on Perl, PHP, Python, Java and JS. Cloud Application hosting is very similar to our Cloud Virtual Machines plus the added functionality to install, configure and manage one or more applications on top. Once your server is provisioned you can choose which applications to be installed from the large selection of popular applications such as Drupal, WordPress, Magento, SugerCRM, Moodle, LimeSurvay and many more. You also get to enjoy the following features:

 

  • One click install – you simply choose which application to be installed through your our intuitive control panel.
  • Easy to manage – you have access to view, create, and delete applications; you can create and restore backups as we as create and view FTP users through your dashboard.
  • Easy to access – since your applications are hosted on the cloud you can access them through your web browser from multiple locations.
  • Automatic Update: Application Servers have their own CentOS template; updates to your OS and Applications will be applied automatically as soon they become available.
  • Super fast servers – our new Cloud infrastructure is running on the latest Dell hardware and SSD drive, which ensures fast and reliable services.
  • Flexible platform – looking for more resources and processing power? No problem, you have the flexibility to select the right tools and upgrade your resources as you go.
  • Cost Effective – you no longer need to invest heavily in on-premise servers, storage or hire an IT specialist

 

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 Application Hosting. We will be happy to assist you.

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