Archive

An Apple or Andriod Smartphone?

Today, we are talking topic not so related to hosting. This came to me, asking myself why am I buying an Android smartphone and some like my daughter would insist for an apple smartphone. I think its a difficult question but I realized it has to do with the user’s experience.

User’s experience is not limited to a smartphone. It applies to all services and products. It will only make a difference if oneself is biased towards something. I reckon the user’s experience is relatively important.  Like myself, I will not buy an Apple smartphone, in my past experience I will miss my notification on an Apple smartphone but selected Andriod smartphone will not have such an issue. Yup, selected Andriod phones, most Android phones have another layer of their own OS. And their OS might stop you from getting notification of the power saving feature. Some smartphones allow the users to tweak to their preferences but some don’t.

For my daughter has a different reason. Basically, it is the trust and getting used to the way of getting things done. End of the day, this tells us there are reasons hoe a consumer choose their hosting provider. The price might not the crucial factor. The past experience, the brand and habitat are the primary factors.

Do you really need a NAS?

The last few days, I’m debating on do I really need a NAS? I have asked myself many questions, and until now it hasn’t come to a conclusion. Basically, I have a few SATA hard drives lying around and as a gadget guy, I’m thinking what can I do with those drives? The idea of NAS strikes. But the question is do I really need one?

Here’s my analysis. A NAS can be something off the shelf or you can build one. The primary purpose is to upload, download and share files within your LAN network with many devices. A NAS is installed 2 drives minimum for redundancy. In case, one drive has failed, your data is safe. When you have 2 drives 2Tb or slightly lesser. Here comes the question? What do you store in a NAS for 2TB space? Isn’t it is cheaper to buy an external USB hard drive?

Actually, a USB 3,0 external hard drive writes and read faster than a NAS. An external hard drive is attached to your computer. For sharing, you need to physically transport the drive to someone. During the transport, if the drive is damaged, you can lose everything has stored. For NAS, you do not need to transport them when you are sharing data. They can be either shared on a LAN or WAN. The answer may not apply to some. If your network router has a USB port for file sharing, it is still possible to share data using an external hard drive.

The shortcoming for an external hard drive is 5Tb for 2,5 or you can maximum 8Tb for 3.5″. If you need a larger capacity device, you still need a NAS and USB drives do not have redundancy. So your current cut off point is 8Tb.

Today, NAS is more than a NAS. A NAS is like a mini server. There are a lot of applications the manufacturers package them into their NAS software. If you got enough RAM, you can use the NAS as your web server, a database server, a mail server etc. Manufacturers are smart, consumers can find many reasons to buy themselves a NAS device. Again, what you are doing probably there is another option. You can use the Google drive to store and share files. NAS will work in the LAN if there is no internet.

I personally think it boiled down what exactly need. If you do not need the large disk space, NAS is not your choice because of the upfront cost will cost more per Gb ratio.

Protect your WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento… admin Logins

I have seen many websites are built using open source CMS like WordPress, Joomla etc. The most common mistake they have made was leaving their admin unrestricted. The worst is default username and simple password is used. Until the website was uploaded with unwanted software to send spam, unknown redirection, undesired content etc. I have updated my website and plugins regularly, why my website is hacked?

This is a common mistake made by a lot of users. Yes, the path to the admin login URL. Please remember you are using an opensource CMS, anyone can download and install. Basically, the login URL is made known to everyone as well as the default username, and sometimes even the password. Since the admin login URL is the same, I just need an application to guess the username and password. Leaving the username as default like admin or administrator will make the guess easier.

This type of attack is very common, and we called it ‘brute-force’ attacks. If you are one of them mentioned above. It is about time to consider to restrict your admin login. Apert of the admin login, the open source plugins and components may be turned vulnerable too. This open source plugins and components require updates from the authors to reduce the risks of being hacked. There is numerous way to restrict login but to protect your website at the same time, it would be Sucuri Firewall Pro.

Sucuri Firewall Pro protects your login page with several methods. You can allow access to certain IP, a captcha allows only human key in the username and password, another layer of password or a two-factor authentication. Not in time to update? Sucuri Firewall Pro virtually patch your website to keep the attacks away.

Not only these, but it also scans your website in 6 hours interval, makes sure your website does not contain suspicious files and malware. Not forgetting the CDN that speed up your website, keep your website closer to the audiences. Use Sucuri Firewall Pro today.

File or block-level backup?

Most will recommend a block-level backup. Theoretically, bl0ck-level backup is utilising less bandwidth and storage. Block-backup can only backup block that part of the file is modified, thus it is using less space. If you are using block-level backup and VSS is enabled to backup a Microsoft Windows Server, you can backup an open file. The file-level backup will fail in this situation. If you have a lot of small files, file-level will take a very long time to backup them. Block-level is especially suitable for this type of situation.

However, file-level is not useless. Actually, the backup allows you doing both. The file-level backup is flexible. You can choose the files and folders to backup. Especially, those don’t need to backup frequently, this can be a faster restoration option.

Either a block or file-level backup, backup is a must in case you need to roll back or restore.

How to backup your WordPress website

There are a few ways to backup a WordPress website. Easy, complicated, paid and free version. But you will not store the backup at the same place unless you are using it as temporary rollback. Storing backups on the same server will not serve its purpose.

Who’s do that? It is a common mistake many made. The backups were stored on the same server. Ask you a straightforward question? If the server has stopped working, how do you retrieve the backups for restoration? Now, you noticed what was done in the past isn’t correct. Like our VPS you can take snapshot daily in rotate basis. They are stored in a remote storage. You can use it to restore the entire machine even you need to build a new server. If you do not use our VPS, there are methods to back up your WordPress website.

Firstly, we need to identify on where do you want to store your backups? If you have another server elsewhere, and traffic is not a major issue to you, the other server can be your backup repo. If you do not have a backups repo, there are other options. Let us see the available options. If you are Sucuri Firewall Pro users, you can subscribe to their backup service. Uo to 100Gb that you can subscribe from USD 5 a month. It actually backup the entire websites, not solely for WordPress.  You can consider VaultPress in JetPack if you are a premium user. It backups your WordPress website regularly. You will be informed if there is error backing up your WordPress site. By the way, you will find many plugins offer a similar backup solution. You can use the search plugin function in your WordPress.

There are a few scenarios to use your own repo if you have a control panel like Plesk or cPanel. You can setup backup repo on another server using FTP, and upload the compressed backup files. If you have access to WHM, you can even set up a secondary location on S3 block storage example. Some hosting providers offer NAS storage. You can subscribe to NAS storage and mount them as a drive, and do the backup.

Using, backup agent is common practice by your hosting providers, however, they are optional. Whether they are CDP, black or files backup. Remember WordPress is a database driven CMS. Backing up your files in web root is not enough. The most important is the database and we use MySQL most times. So make sure you make a database dump regularly so the backup agent picks up these files. It is almost impossible to restore a database using their files, especially for InnoDB storage engine database. Alternatively, some backup agents backup database instance, just enter the administrative or a credential with sufficient rights to backup databases.

Whichever which backup method you are using, it’s always a good idea to have a copy of backup of your website. Things can go wrong. If you have the latest backup copy, your website downtime is minimised.

 

If you are given root or administrator access

If you are given root or administrator access, you likely have a dedicated hosting like our VPS and dedicated server. This is an important credential.  Anyone with the credential can access the server to update, delete or append without restriction.

It is important to restrict the access to these users. But how? Basically, there are ways to protect these accounts from unauthorized usages.

  • If you have a Linux server you can use TCP wrapper. The TCP wrapper can restrict access using IP addresses for certain service. For example, SSH is sshd. But in order to do this. The IP must have belonged to you permanently.  Most do not have static IP internet access. An alternative, you can use a VPN with dedicated IP.
  • On a Linux server, you can also use the iptables. But this is less friendly to an end user. I recommend the option above.  The firewall method can use on a Windows Server, just add the permitted remote IP in the scope to allow access for remote desktop.
  • For Windows or Linux server, you can also use 3rd party 2FA. 2FA stands for two factors authentication. A program installed on your smartphone provides you with a secret code randomly to access your server.

If you are control panels like Plesk onyx or WHM/cPanel. We recommend they should be protected too. In tools and settings in Plesk, you can restrict Plesk admin access. For WHM/ cPanel, you can usee the host access to restrict access, The hot access in the WHM is TCP wrapper in GUI.

I want to say, the extra layer of protection will bring you inconveniences. Think this way, the added security made intrusion difficult especially good to against the cybercrime today.

Do you need web hosting?

Very often when you pick up a phone? You will hear this from the other party. My company needs some email accounts blah blah blah… Yes, it is obvious that web hosting space to create email accounts. Generally, they create these email accounts to communicate with their clients using their domain name. Yes, they are your clients already or probably your clients in near future.

But this isn’t enough for a business. For a business to continue, we create opportunities. How? One of the cost-effective and fastest methods is to showcase your service and products. Through what? The Internet is the cheapest and fastest way to do this. Singapore has close to 5 million online users. A website will reach out to this group of users 24/7 via your website.  To publish a website, you need web Hosting. If you are looking for something affordable but offer you collaboration and good webmail to communicate with your customers, try our Shared Hosting Plus today.

Dedicated Server? The common mistakes

If you put a website on a dedicated server, mainly there are 2 reasons. Either the website has a lot of users or visitors that you require resources or physical security is your concern. But there are many dedicated servers out there. How do you choose a server for your website? Price? Specification? or Brand?

Today, we gonna share the common mistakes we have seen to help you to make a better choice.

  • We have seen servers used less than 10% resources in our datacentre. Always do homework, if a server is required? There are alternative like VPS, VM, EC2 computing etc. They perform like a server with less expensive are they suffice for your need? Yes, if they are. They can be a much cheaper option.
  • 2. The more the merrier? The bigger is better?  Actually, this might not be the case. You are paying for more or bigger resources, however, your application might not utilize them optimally.  Example, if you are given 32Gb of RAM, 10 users will consume about 14Gb. In other words, you need 16Gb the most but you are paying 32Gb. Unless the price difference is small, otherwise it might be a good idea to stick to 16GB, Another example, you are given a 4Tb storage. Compare to 10 years ago, 4Tb is huge. What does 4Tb mean to you? More storage? or more websites? More storage means you need more storage to backup. As far as I’m aware, most hosting companies charge the storage space used. Using more storage on a server, you might be paying on a higher backup storage bills. I can add more websites. Yes, you can. Provided your CPU and RAM can cope with. Simple mathematics, let say the same CPU can host 20 websites. For 20 websites you are using 32GB of RAM and 2Tb of storage. Now, with 4Tb I get more spaces to host 40 websites haha I can make more money. Eventually, you will get more complaints and all the websites are affected, and they are slower than before. It is good to have more spaces. The additional storage space gives you an allowance. You can either allocate more spaces to a website or use it for backup to roll back. The less important task can be useful sometimes.
  • Prepare to pay more. When you own a dedicated server. Most things are physical. Example, firewall, backup, RAM etc. These items cost more usually. Basically, this can be your hidden costs and not likely there is a cheaper option.
  • Load balancing & High availability – They are more complicated and expensive to implement. Like I have mentioned, they are physical appliances, you need physical works unlike the virtual machine takes maybe only a couple of days and the costs are significantly lower.

How to avoid not reading important emails

In many occasions, you did not receive an important email from someone. Yes, they did not end up in your inbox but junk or spam box? Because the email was either marked as spam or the spam score is high. In this situation. you have little control. Worst, your email client application is set up as POP3. Your local folders do not synchronise with the email server.

Today, we share tips on how you can minimize or avoid not reading important emails.

  1. Set up your mailbox as IMAP4 then POP3. With IMAP4 you can subscribe to all folders including the preassigned junk folder.
  2. Always read the junk folder’s emails before empty them. You might find important emails ended in the junk box.
  3.  Whitelisted or place them in your trusted sender list your important senders,  so their emails never go to the junk box.

With these measures, I’m sure you will never miss the important emails again.

 

Is DKIM a must?

Like what is explained in DKIM.org, DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) enables an organization to take responsibility for an email sent.  The organization is a handler of the message, either as its originator or as an intermediary. Their reputation is the basis for evaluating whether to trust the message for further handlings, such as delivery. Technically DKIM provides a method for validating a domain name identity that is associated with a message through cryptographic authentication.

DKIM works only from the originator email server. Most modern email servers allow you to enable and sign each outgoing email. The administrator is responsible to add the DKIM key as a text file into the domain DNS record. If the DKIM keys match, the email is genuinely sent from the originator’s email server. This helps to fight spam emails and enhanced email delivery. But wait a minute…

Provided the recipients’ email servers are checking on DKIM. Yes, google email gateways do but I have seen many others don’t. So, my question is if you do not enable DKIM, does it mean you cannot send outgoing emails. The answer is ‘NO’. Apparently, even you do not have DKIM you can still send to Gmail users or any recipients email servers checking n DKIM. So, the purpose of DKIM only enhances its delivery if your recipient email servers are checking on DKIM. But this is how I look at, DKIM is good to enable if users are told to send their emails via a designated email server but definitely not a must at least for now.