Blog — Services

An update on the recent Heartbleed bug

It recently came to light that there was a serious programming error within OPENSSL, endangering encryption keys and data of SSL connections on the Internet. This allows anyone to read out the memory of vulnerable servers. Specifically, this means an attacker can read keys, passwords and other private information. There is more information about the bug at http://heartbleed.com.

All VARiHOST infrastructure and shared web hosting servers were patched on Tuesday morning as soon as the vulnerability was announced. We have also reissued our own SSL certificates to secure our customers’ data on www.varihost.net

It is important you take action to ensure you remain secure.

Shared Hosting – (Basic, Plus, Extra and Managed WordPress accounts) need not take any action apart from updating any passwords.

VPS, Hybrid & Dedicated Server Customers

If you have your server managed by us, we have taken action for you.

Windows servers Review any applications that have been installed as they may be bundled with OPENSSL libraries. (Our standard build has no vulnerable applications installed).

Linux servers Inspect the installed OPENSSL library. The OPENSSL version can be viewed via the command line with the following command: openssl version

You will have to double check the installed package via other means if a vulnerable version 1.0.1a-1.0.1f is displayed.

Vulnerable systems if unpatched: CentOS-6, Debian-7, Fedora, Ubuntu, FreeBSD
Not vulnerable systems: CentOS-5, Debian-6, Suse-11, Windows Server

We recommend that you patch your servers and restart any services utilising OPENSSL libraries. If in doubt perform a server restart after patching.

For most distributions of Linux security updates are already available:

  • Debian / Ubuntu: apt-get update; apt-get -y install openssl libssl1.0.0
  • Fedora / CentOS: yum -y update openssl

If you’re unsure or have any further questions, please submit a support ticket

Hosting your WordPress site

When deciding to work with WordPress as a framework for your web site or blog, you have two options.

  1. The first option is that you can use the hosting provided by WordPress.com, and choose to either use a subdomain or your own domain.
  2. The second option you’re presented with is self-hosting your WordPress site.

Unfortunately, many consumers and businesses are unable to distinguish between the differences these two options present. Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the advantages of self hosting your own WordPress site, as opposed to hosting it through using the service at WordPress.com.

The first benefit of self hosting your WordPress site is that you’ll be able to take complete advantage of the plugin functionality that WordPress presents. Unfortunately, when you use WordPress’ hosting solution, you are unable to install any and all plugins into your installation. Only those plugins WordPress.com let you.  As such, you aren’t able to take full advantage of the software. WordPress is powerful because of the third-party plugins that have been built. Not to mention, you’ll be able to take complete control of the themes which you use and the reliability of your businesses website.

Here is a simple infographic kindly provided by WPMU.org to further explain the difference between the two options.

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

In short, when you choose to use the standard, WordPress.com hosting provided by WordPress themselves, you cannot take full control of your own website. You’re limited by their own restrictions. As such, self-hosting your WordPress site is always preferred in all cases, as you’ll be able to completely optimize your site for you and your visitors/customers.

Lastly, hosting your WordPress site with an experienced, friendly web host ensures you get the support you need, wehn you need it.  As always, you get what you pay for and free hosting services won;t provide the dedicated support a serious web site owner demands or expects.

Host your WordPress site with a host that can do all of this and more.

Extending your domains expiry – maybe improve SEO?

Google keeps the exact search results algorithm rather secret. Many try to guess and claim to know how to work Google and guarantee web site owners top ranking for the search words of their choice.

The truth is no-one can guarantee this. With an ever changing list of do’s and don’ts and potentially thousands of other like-minded business owners vying for the same Google top 10 in search results, it’s a tough challenge.

One area of contention is the expiry date of your sites domain name. It’s been thought for some time that Google (and other relevant search engines) place ‘some’ weight on how long the sites domain name is registered. This is based on the simple premise that if the domain is registered for 3/4+ years, then the site owner is serious about their business and likely to be more committed to the site – giving more relevance to it. Domains registered for a year at a time present a less committed presence. This makes sense.

Although Google denies the use of the domains expiry date in the search results algorithm, it has in fact filed a patent (in 2003) for the use of a domains expiry for this purpose!

Make your own conclusions from this. But one thing we can tell you is if you’re a serious online business and plan to be around for years to come, it makes sense to register your domain for an extended period of time. It might just contribute to your SEO, which is always a welcome benefit!

Aside from search engines, savvy potential clients who use due diligence might pick up on this and it could contribute to clinching your next contract. It doesn’t hurt to have that covered. After all, who would you choose between a temporary looking market stall and an established high street store? I know my answer.

How to easily extend your domains expiry date

Extending your domains expiry date

If you want to extend your domains expiry date, (and your domain doesn’t need to be due for renewal now, expiry can be exended anytime) you can do this easily in your Customer Control Panel:

  • Login here: https://www.varihost.net/CustomerControlLogin/
  • Once logged in, near the bottom of the left menu, click ‘Manage Domain Names’
  • Now you’ll see a list of your registered domains with the current expiry date and a ‘Renew’ link next to each.
  • To extend a domains expiry, click ‘Renew’ next to the domain.  In the box that appears, select how many years to extend the expiry date from the drop down and click the ‘Renew’ button.
  • You’ll then be taken to checkout to make payment.

Any questions or problems with extending your domains expiry, please contact support for friendly help.

Managed WordPress Hosting – What is it?

For some time now, we’ve provided WordPress Management services to many customers.  Over the years we’ve tailored the service to suite the needs of those wanting a ‘hands-off’ approach to running their WordPress site.

We thought it would be a good idea to go over the details of what our Managed WordPress Hosting service actually provides, in a little more detail and in plain English.
Managed WordPress Hosting

Backups

We take a daily backups of both site files and database.  Which is an essential part of every websites scheduled maintenance. This allows us to easily roll-back a site to a previous version, should you (or we) require this.
In addition to a daily backup we also carry out a full backup prior to any WordPress core, plugin or theme updates that we carry out. This is good practice whenever an update is made, however trivial. This is also part of the Managed WordPress service.

Updates

Keeping WordPress core, plugin and themes up to date (within 24 hrs of release) is a key aspect of your sites security. One which is often overlooked. Hackers will run searches for specific WordPress versions they know to carry known vulnerabilities. They then attempt to exploit these, whether it’s WordPress itself or via a plugin or theme used on the site.

Security & Performance Best Practices

Over the years we’ve developed our own Best Practice procedures for securing and optimising the performance of WordPress. This comes from in-depth research, testing and real world experience.  It does include a number of proven plugins, however – fully comprehensive enhancements can’t all be found in a plugin. So we apply a variety of tweaks and settings of the installation and server environment settings.  This hardens the site, making it as robust as possible.  At the same time we improve the performance using compression, minification and a number of other methods.

All in all, the result of applying our Security & Performance best practices, is a secure, fast site.  Which is resilient to all the threats a web site faces and is fast and responsive to visitors and search engines. Both very important factors of a successful web site, whatever you’re site is working to achieve.

Conclusion

WordPress is a fantastic platform for building your web site.  The tens of millions of web site (large and small) owners using it, are testimony to that.  But some find themselves spending more and more time taking care of WordPress, than actually selling their service/product. Or worse still, not taking care of WordPress…until it’s too late.

So, if you either don’t have the know-how or time to keep on top of your WordPress site, this could be the service for you. Check out our Managed WordPress plan and start focusing on what’s important…your business.

We really value your thoughts and feedback, please leave a comment below.

Why you need to host your web site in the UK

If you’re currently a small or medium sized business operating solely in the United Kingdom, then you should be hosting your online website in the United Kingdom too. While this may seem rather straight forward, the true reality is that a lot of businesses simply sign up to ‘shared hosting’ and don’t know which country their websites are currently hosted in. The majority of web servers are currently located in the United States, because the largest data centers currently operate there. When you sign up to shared hosting, you can almost guarantee that your website will be hosted in the US.

When search engines look at your website, they are looking for specific telltale signs, in order to rank you relevantly in the results. They are looking for information which is going to tell them who your clients are, who your potential customers are and who should see your website. If your business is located in the UK, and you only ship/service within the UK, then visitors from the United States are not going to benefit you at all. You need to specifically cater for the UK market. One of the best ways of telling the search engines which country you’re targeting is to purchase hosting in this region. Once your site is hosted in UK data centers, you will begin ranking higher in google.co.uk – which specifically targets the UK audience – helping you to get more visitors, more sales and more profits.

Additionally, servers hosted in the UK boast high performance speeds which is going to have your website loading faster. Because your web site is available that much closer, you can rest assured that your website is going to load quickly every single time. Once again, Google uses website speed as a determining factor in ranking websites.

All in all, hosting your website in UK data centres is one of the most important things for any business within the UK.

All of our servers are located in the UK. Find your perfect hosting plan here: http://www.varihost.net/web-hosting/

Page 1 of 41234