New Year, New Features

Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to you all. We’ve been super busy working on a wide range of things over the last few months. As always we welcome your feedback and suggestions so do contact us.

Mail Updates

Some of our Enterprise Hosting customers have had these features for a while now, but they filtering back across all packages now.

MailBox Quotes

We’ve worked with a number of customers to figure out how certain mailboxes were going over their assigned quotes and updated the system. The improvements mean that webmail, desktop and even your phone should be able to see the correct quota when set.

MailBox Search

All mailboxes now have search indexing enabled and available using full IMAP search. Roundcube, our preferred webmail client, supports the interaction with the server-side search indexes, as does Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. We’ve already heard back on improvements from Apple users too.

Your very first search on a large mailbox may be a little slow as the system doesn’t enable the index until at least one search takes place. After that, results should be incredibly quick to return.

Spam Filtering

As with some of our previous mail upgrades, we’ve worked hard to clamp down some of the rules. This new update has worked well with some of our larger mail customers and is now being rolled out to all other accounts.

That said, we’ve much more coming. We hope to be able to port back features like our auto-whitelisting and per-mailbox auto levelling in the next couple of months too. Both of these combined have proved very effective in reducing false-positives and false-negatives.

Server Upgrades

Beyond what we’ve listed below, a number of other improvements have been rolled out to reduce disk latency, increase CPU response times and all together make your site that little bit more responsive. While subtle enough that you may not notice, we’ve seen measured improvements on site response times for some of the more complex installs.

MySQL Server

There has been quite a bit of work going on to improve the speed of MySQL. One such improvement was to ensure even more of your data sits natively in memory so there isn’t any disk lag.

We also have some upgrades to the control panel coming to help developers with MySQL over the next few months but if there is anything in particular you are looking for, please do let us know.

MySQL Backups

We’ve upgraded the scripts we use to do our MySQL backups and they’ve been running across all servers for over a month now. The benefits are that your database spends less time locked when we are doing a full backup run. Our largest database lock time has dropped by almost 90%.

In case you are wondering, why do we lock the database? This will ensure we get consistent backups. If it ever comes to recovery, we can be sure that it will restore correctly too. Things are also tested quite often so you can have piece of mind. More information on the backup system is on our blog.

New Control Panel

Okay, so not really new, but it looks so great we are calling it new. The whole look and feel has been re-vamped and things generally made easier. Log on today and let us know what you think or if there is anything in particular you’d like improved.

One major new feature we have for our resellers is the ability to brand the control panel. Yup, you read that right, a fully brand-able control panel, and no, we don’t just mean changing the logo.

Wrap-Up

We have more to come so stay tuned. For existing customers, check inside your control panel for some special…

PHP 5.3 Update Information

Over the coming days, our servers will be getting their default PHP version switched onto the PHP 5.3 stream for all our web hosting packages. For the most part, no one should notice anything different.

Edit: You can replicate the old behaviour simply by renaming your php.ini file to .user.ini. We are automatically doing this on we upgrade each server to the new version.

Date/Time settings Error

Our testing has however shown up this error affecting some sites.

Warning: date() [function.date]: It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings.
You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set()
function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning,
you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier.

For those of you that are familiar with php.ini files will know that you can set this variable there. And we have. There is just a small bug in PHP which unsets this settings if you use a local php.ini file to over-ride settings. Unfortunately this means that users with these files end up with no date.timezone value, and the error above.

You can fix it by adding the following value to your php.ini file or contacting our support team who will be happy to help.

date.timezone = 'Europe/Dublin'

Additional PHP Errors

Because of the same inheritance issue listed about, some sites may see additional PHP generated error messages. The easy way around this is to add the following to your folder specific php.ini file for the affected application.

error_reporting = E_ALL & ~ E_DEPRECATED

We are working to find a fix that doesn’t require user intervention and hopefully it will be in place before your server goes live with this change. As always, we will be pro-actively monitoring and updating users of any issues we notice.

Benefits of Linux Hosting

Linux is everywhere these days. You interact with it many times without knowing it. For instance, this website is hosted on Linux. Gone are the days when Linux was only used geeks in the basement.

Should you care?

In most cases, knowing the operating system your website runs on isn’t going to help with much of the day to day decisions. If you are uploading standard HTML pages, then any system will do. Even when you start programming, the differences do not start showing until you begin to use some of the advanced features.

So why is Linux everywhere in the web hosting world? Simple answer, the software cost is free. A Linux webserver can be setup without having to pay for licences. But since the software costs do not make up a huge part of the costs the web hosting companies feel, there has to be more right? Giant companies such as Facebook, Google or Yahoo do not choose Linux hosting based on the software cost.

Security

In today’s world, the number of hacking attempts is truly astronomical. The majority of them are automated scanners that search the internet looking for vulnerable websites. While simply running on a Linux web server will now protect everything, it definitely does help if and when a website is breached. Because Linux is Open Source Software, meaning anyone can work on the code, updates, patched, and security fixes can come from anywhere. This means a rapid fix for problems once they are discovered.

Reliability

The same fact that helps with security also helps with reliability. The open source nature of Linux means operating system patches come quicker and get reviewed by more people. The biggest benefits is the lack of reboots required. This means security patches can be updated without downtime. No downtime means your site is not offline.

Here at Vade, having your site online and accessible is our number one goal. We’ve talked previously about uptime and how our guarantee is different. Experience it for yourself with our Primus Irish Web Hosting package.

 

Multiple Domains

A domain name may just be the most important aspect of your website. It is your websites name as seen by the public. In most cases, what they will type so they can find you.

Lets step back a bit.

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name quite simply is the bit between the dots up in the address bar. So for our website, normally you would see www.vade.ie meaning our domain is vade, on the Irish registry, or .ie. For www.coca-cola.com, the domain would be coca-cola.

You probably already know that the domain usually follows the company name, or a well known word for them, or just a persons name. This is the format we recommend too.

Why Multiple Domain Names?

Have you ever typed a website name in and ended up on the wrong site? I know I have. And this does happen quite a lot across the internet. Spelling mistakes are another big one, so if you have a name that can be misspelled, this is something to look out for.

The other reason is because end users can forget which extension you are on. In most cases this simply means getting some other domain extensions for your domain. If you are starting out and they are available, grabbing as much of the top level domains like .com, .org, .net etc is a good idea. Our sales team can help you with the list of domains to get should you need any help.

Redirecting Domain Names

Since you have multiple domains, now what do you do with them? For most people, the simple answer is to pick a primary domain, then redirect the other sites to it. It’ll help with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and is easily achieved using our web alias feature under account utilities in the control panel.

Ordering

You can get your domain names over on our mail website. Alternatively, contact us if you need any assistance.

Basics of Starting a Blog – WordPress

Today blogging is everywhere. Everyone and their dog seems to have one and the reason is simple, they are super easy to setup. You really can be up and running in a matter of minutes using software such as WordPress. Click and install using our oneClick installer, login and start writing. With our quick order form for webhosting, you could be up an running in minutes!

Customisation

One of the best features of WordPress is its extensibility. There are hundreds of useful plugins and thousands of themes freely available, all installable by a few mouse clicks in the Admin Suite. Some themes will layout your blog in a default post by post basis, quite similar to our blog, others can change the whole look into something you would barely recognise. From custom post names, to static pages, to full galleries, it is all possible. If you are ever stuck, our friendly support team are here to help.

Plugins

WordPress doesn’t try to be all things to all people. That is actually a good thing. You really don’t want to be overwhelmed by buttons or options when you start. However the plugins allow you the freedom to expand out to achieve just about anything you want.

Some plugins you may find helpful are listed below in no particular order:

  • Google Analytics – For tracking visits to your site. This allows you to use the Google service.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin automatically builds a sitemap of your blog, a very useful feature so search engines (not just Google) can find you.
  • Feedburner Plugin – Blogs are built around RSS and feedburner is a popular service for hosting your blog feeds. It’ll also give you a nice reader count and help build statistics.
  • All in One SEO Pack – Search Engine Optimisation is the art of “helping” search engines understand your web pages. While search engines do love WordPress, this plugin surely helps you climb up the rankings.
  • WP Captcha Free – The downside to WordPress lies in its popularity. Automated spam bots will try to post comments quite often which can ruin the experience, however plugins like this one make it much more manageable. Akismet also provide another spam solution for blogs.
  • Lightbox 2 – Lightbox, those clickable popup images, may be one of most seen features on the internet and this is how you make it part of your blog.

Expandability

While this may not be on your mind now, your blog may one day receive a huge amount of web traffic. Generally if you stick with it and write a lot of quality content on a regular basis, your readership will grow. The last thing you want is to have to migrate your blog to another platform or system when that happens. Luckily WordPress is able to grow with you due to its plugin system. The same plugins will help it handle correctly under high traffic and keep it responding quickly. Our team can offer any advice when you need it to help your site to grow with you.

Additional Services

After you have ordered your web hosting, if you want help, just ask. Our team can even install the blog for you. We also understand that sometimes you just want to write, and not have to worry about the management of the blog. There is the ability to leave all that to us, let us handle the upgrade, the plugins, the spam comments etc. Contact our sales team to discuss your unique needs.

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