Category: Web Maintenance

Great Hosting experience

June 12th, 2014 — 1:06pm

I recently had to move a client site to a new provider.  I recommended LiquidWeb, because I’ve had great experience with them in the past.

For various reasons, the initial account I set up would not run the client’s code (he needed a specific older version of php, which not all their servers still supported).  I opened a ticket with LiquidWeb, and in short order, they migrated the site to a different server, and account type.  They even included the billing dept. in the loop, so that was taken care of as well (the new plan was cheaper, so it was actually a loss for them).

All told, I opened 4 tickets with them in a 24 hour period, and each time I got super fast responses.  All this on an account which costs $25 / month.

In my business I come in contact with a lot of different hosting support departments.  Often times I avoid dealing with support, because I know they won’t be much help.  With LiquidWeb, it’s the opposite.  I know they will always have quick answers and solutions to any problem that crops up.

Kudos, Liquid Web – another stellar experience!

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Only the IRS can do this…

May 2nd, 2013 — 8:56pm

In the early days of the web, scheduled maintenance could be done from time to time, and servers just taken offline for several hours.  However, those days are long gone – at least I thought so, until I came across this from the IRS tonight (8pm EST):

Unfortunately, I can’t pay my taxes to anyone else.  So let’s see, I can post a cat video on Facebook 24x7x365, but pay my taxes…ehh..

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Intrusion detection and resolution

January 9th, 2013 — 2:50pm

A few weeks ago I had a client email me with this message:

Just got this. I haven't made any changes on the site recently, have you?
> Subject: File alarm for My website
> The following files generated alarms:
> ALARM: /home/abc/public_html/404.php was modified: 01/02/2013 01:29:42
> If you did not modify these files - please check for possible hackers on your site.

This alarm came from a script I’d installed on his site a few months ago, which checks for new / modified scripts on the server. After getting his email, I checked out the file, and determined it was indeed a “suspicious” file, and that a hacker had indeed breeched the site.

After removing the file for safety, I contacted the hosting company, who confirmed that the file had been uploaded via ftp. Someone had leaked the ftp password, so we changed it immediately. In all likelihood the password had been given out at some point to a designer / programmer to upload something, and never changed.

So two lessons here:

1. Change your passwords regularly – and especially after you have changed programmers or developers. Also track when you give out passwords and to whom.

2. Monitor your site regularly for suspicious activity – hackers can get in from multiple avenues, sometimes not requiring passwords at all. So check and investigate any changes to your code, and try to determine how it happened.

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Sunshop 4.3.5 upgrades and php version change

December 4th, 2012 — 11:05am

I recently upgraded 2 clients to 4.3.5 – both went pretty well, with minor glitches to work out. The 4.3.5 version may be the final release before the big upgrade to 5.0, which is a complete rewrite. I expect that transition to be a challenging one for most stores, so they may hang out on 4.x for a while.

Many hosting providers are starting to push users to php 5.4, as support for 5.2 and earlier is dropped. 1&1, for instance, is giving customers until April to switch (they are forced to switch in April). For many applications, 5.4 will not be a big issue, but some functions are removed in 5.4, so you should test your applications in advance, if you can.

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Website owner checklist

March 8th, 2012 — 1:57pm

In this post I want to point out some critical information that each website owner needs to have handy.  I work with a lot of websites, and often times I get a frantic email, or call from someone saying “my website is down – what do I do?”.  Now I’m happy to help out in those situations, but the fact their their first email/call was to me, is troubling.


For one, I’m not the hosting company – so all I can really do is contact them.  Second, I’m not checking my email / voicemail 24/7, so your message may sit for hours – meanwhile, nobody is working to fix your site.

So the correct course of action is – contact your hosting company.  BUT – then I get the question – who’s my hosting company?  And that is the real point to this post.

Here’s a list of information you need to have at your disposal when you own a website:

  1. Domain Registrar – where is your domain registered  For example, is a huge registrar.  Many times your hosting provider is your registrar.  Make sure you have these items:

    -Website URL
    -Access information – username, password

  2. Hosting Provider – where is your website hosted?  How do you access your accounts?  Make sure you have these items:

    -Control Panel URL – with login and password
    -FTP information (server, login, password)
    -Support phone number, email, ticketing system, etc.  Understand how it works!

  3. Other account info – google login, facebook, etc.  Any logins that are essential for your business should be recorded somewhere together.  In the event that someone else needs to lookup this information, or in case you forget it.
  4. Backups – make sure you backup your website on a regular basis – depending how often your site updates.  E-commerce and heavily updated sites should be backed up weekly, other sites maybe once a month.  What’s that you say?  Oh, your hosting provider includes backups with your plan?  Really?  Well, that may be so, and they may actually have backups, but are you willing to risk your business on that?  In the event of a worst case scenario, you want to have a way to recover your site.  Most user control panels have a way to backup your site and databases (cpanel and plesk).
  5. Disaster recover plan – this goes hand in hand with the backups.  If your hosting provider shut down unexpectedly, what would you do?  Could you quickly get your site up and running somewhere else?  Having a plan and testing it is great for your peace of mind.  If you ever need to implement it, the time spent will be priceless.

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