Must have WordPress plugins for amazing website

Posted at October 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm by admin

pluginDid you know that dead-serious websites like The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and BBC America, the zombie apocalypse gritty drama show, The Walking Dead,bootyliciousBeyonce and drool-worthy Channing Tatum has something in common? Their websites are powered by WordPress.

 WordPress is an undisputed luminary of the blogosphere. One of the easiest and simplest content management systems, WordPress is perfect for running a blog or a website or a combination of the two. The best part about WordPress is it a doddle to create a website. WordPress hosts almost over 70 million websites and it is absolutely free so you don’t have to be a celebrity or a hot-shot to own a website.

Once you have got the WordPress website, you might be wondering what else can be done with it apart from publishing your content. Although WordPress offers a lot of flexibility in terms of themes, features and functionality, there are still a lot of functionality that the core software doesn’t provide. But does that mean that you will have to make do with whatever features that WordPress provides? You can fill in the missing pieces by getting plugins. In layman’s terms plugins, could be compared with the apps you download on your smartphone. Plugins offer a whole heap of features and functionality which could just be installed and used. However, there are over 40000 plugins available and it can be little overwhelming to sort the best ones you would need for your website. Check out the list of plugins below that can help make your website awesome.

Aksimet

One of the most annoying thing for any website is spam. Nefarious hackers and spammers tend to post links in comment section which can inject virus and ruin your website and affect the SEO ranking. The plugin Akisme is a cutting-edge hosted anti-spam service which helps you thwart the spam.

Yoast SEO plugin

Having a website and not showing on the first few pages of search engines is as good as not having a website. Yoast SEO is one of the best WordPress SEO plugin, integratingsnippet preview and page analysis functionalityfacilitatingto optimize your pages content, images titles, Meta descriptions, XML sitemaps, and loads of other stuff.

W3 total cache

W3 Total Cache helps in improving user experience of your website. It increases server performance, reduces the download times and provides transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

MailPoet newsletters

Increase your subscription and keep the communication channel open between you and your audience by creating newsletters, automated emails, post notifications and autoresponders with MailPoet newsletters. The signup widget of this plugin helps you convert your visitors into subscribers. Add your posts, images, social icons, change fonts and add colours in your newsletter without any difficulty.

EWWW image optimizer

This WordPress image optimizer plugin helps you optimize your images as you upload them to your website or blog. It helps optimize the already loaded images, converting your images to the best file format with smallest image sizes and apply lossy reductions for PNG and JPEG images for best user experience.

BackUpWordPress

As the name suggests, BackUpWordPressplugin helps you back up your entire site including all files and database so that you don’t lose your precious data. For this plugin, no set up is required and it works even in low memory “shared host” environments.

All in One WP Security & Firewall

Although WordPress is quite secure as it is, it is always good to have extra security and firewall and that’s what All in One WP security and firewall plugin provides. Enforcing good security practices, this plugin is easy to understand and employ. It helps to reduce vulnerability risks and implements the latest recommended WordPress security techniques. It also uses an excellent security points grading system to help you measure how well your website is protected.

Social media feather

Social media feature is a lightweight simple, performance oriented social media sharing and follow button, which can be easily added to all posts and pages with minimum load time without adding unnecessary burden time on your website.

Although search engines are littered with best WordPress posts, these plugins help you solve real problems and in a way that it is not damaging to your website. Even though, these plugins will help you run your website efficiently, one of the most critical element of website performance is Web Hosting. If you are on a lookout for a web hosting service, InterServer is a great option. Established as a premier web hosting provider located in Secaucus, New Jersey, InterServer provide unparalleled webhosting services at an affordable cost. Known for quality, reliability, with safe and secure facility, and 24/7 superior support, InterServerprovides a 30 day money back guarantee on shared hosting, along with 99.5% uptime and a 100% power guarantee. To know more about our WordPress hosting, please visit http://www.interserver.net/0click/wordpress-hosting.html

Tweaking the TTL to reduce downtime after a website migration

Posted at October 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm by admin

ttlWebsite migrations are succeeded by DNS changes. A well planned change minimizes downtime and DNS propagation delays that follows every migration. You don’t want to create a panic among your customers when their emails are lost during the switch or if their websites are inaccessible from their location.

It is always a best practice to maintain the copy of all migrated accounts at the old host for a few more days so that the websites remain online for customers whose web/mail requests are still served by the old server. Their ISP’s caching DNS servers/resolvers still serve cached DNS information to clients even after you have pointed the domain to a location.

The problem with DNS caching is that it is the primary cause for delay in propagation of the DNS changes (Address records, mail exchange records etc.) you made after the migration. This is due to the fact that most of the DNS traffic is eased with DNS caching where your resolver/caching DNS caches DNS information for a predefined time. The entity that determines this time is TTL( Time to live). By default the TTL values for most resource records are 86400 seconds (24 hours). Any resolver that queries for the A record of your domain will cache that info for 24 hours.

To solve this problem to an extent, you can lower the TTL values of the resource records (MX, A) before you change the IP address. We assume that you have root/sudo access to the authoritative nameserver.

Login to the DNS server and all you have to do is edit the zone file in the authoritative nameserver of the domain (You may use DNS zone editor in cPanel if the service is running on a cPanel server)

Lets open xyz.info’s zone file using vi editor

vi /var/named/xyz.info

These are the first few lines of the zone file, you can see the first line $TTL that defines the default TTL for all existing records to 86400 seconds.

———————————————–

$TTL 86400

xyz.info.       IN    SOA  ns1.example.info. admin.xyz.com. (

2012080907      ; Serial

10800           ; Refresh

3600            ; Retry

604800          ; Expire

300             ; Negative Response TTL

)

———————————————–

We’ll change this to 300 seconds (5 minutes)

$TTL 300

We’ll increment the serial number from 2012080907 to 2012080908 so that the DNS server can verify the contents of the zone file.

Now reload the DNS service
/etc/init.d/named reload

Reloading named:              [  OK  ]

After this we will wait for the last TTL amount of time (24 hours) to make sure that the caching nameservers all around the world that has previously queried and cached this domain’s DNS information has purged the information. Once that time has passed we’ll switch the A record to the new server’s IP. I wouldn’t say this is 100% foolproof as there are caching nameservers which enforces their own TTL values and web browsers too cache DNS info for a default amount of time.

Note:- Make sure you revert the TTL value change later , a low TTL value will lead to an increase in DNS traffic.

cPanel to cPanel account migration

Posted at October 30, 2015 at 1:38 pm by admin

cpanel-cpanelPromises are made to be broken…This may sound depressing but it is often true when it comes to dubious web hosting providers. If you are frustrated with the restrictions and limitation of your current hosting environment, you are not alone. If your customers are often greeted with the ‘Error: The page cannot be displayed’, and you are re-learning the laws of gravity of what goes up comes down with your website, you might be thinking about a switch. So should you keep shelling dough for your incompetent web hosting or should you make a switch? Although, the answer might be a resounding ‘yes’, the complexity which comes with the migration may keep you from switching your provider. Fret not, cPanel to cPanel migrations are actually not that difficult and in fact most of the migrations goes wrong because of poor planning and not taking into account factors like disk space availability, data transfer speed, domain/account conflicts during restoration etc.

With a proper plan, any one with basic cPanel and system administration skills can do transfers like a pro! Read on to know how you can migrate from one cPanel to another.

Steps:-

1. Make a list of accounts that needs to be transferred (Sometimes you intend to transfer all accounts)

2. Package those accounts in a cPanel compatible form (with or without home directory – this depends on the disk space available)

3. Transfer the packages from source to destination

4. Restore packages at destination. (resolve conflicts if accounts/domain already exist at destination)

5. If you have skipped home directory at the source server while packaging accounts, sync them to the destination’s home directory.

6. Verify the success of the transfer

7. After verification, lower the TTL values of all the domains & switch till the previously set TTL reaches expiration.

Note:- We will be using the term ‘source’ to denote the server which contains the accounts that needs to be transferred and ‘destination’ to denote our target system.

1. Make a list of accounts.

If you already have a list of accounts , copy them in a file (eg:- account-list)

Scenario -1 :- You want a list of accounts owned by a reseller.

A quick and easy way to find the usernames and store them in a file.

grepresellername /etc/trueuserowners | cut -d : -f 1 >userlist

(/etc/trueuserowner have 2 fields – account and its owner, if an account doesn’t belong to any reseller, the owner will be ‘root’ by default)

Scenario -2 :- You want a list of every account hosted in this server.

cat /etc/trueuserowners | cut -d: -f1 | grep -v userowners  >userlist

or

cat /etc/trueuserdomains | cut -d: -f2 | >userlist

2. Package accounts

/scripts/pkgacct is a script that packages a cpanel account

/scripts/pkgacct [arguments] username destination (destination and arguments are optional, by default the package will be stored in the home directory)

Scenario 1:- You have enough disk space available at the source. You have only a few accounts to transfer. You have plenty of time.

fori in `cat userlist` ; do /scripts/pkgacct $i  /backups

This for loop will run the pkgacct script repeatedly for every account in the userlist. The packages will be stored in /backups directory

Scenario 2:- You have very limited disk space to store all the packages. You have a long list of accounts. You don’t have a lot of time.

Home directory is the largest consumer of disk space in a cPanel account. You can skip it while packaging and transfer just the remaining components.

fori in `cat userlist` ; do /scripts/pkgacct –skiphomedir $i  /backups

3. Transfer accounts

Generating SSH keypairs for passwordless authentication can avoid frequent password     prompts

To generate key pair (The public key is usually stored at /home/localuser/.ssh/id_rsa.pub )

ssh-keygen

Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):

Enter same passphrase again:

Now, we’ll copy the rsa public key to the destination. You will be prompted for the password

ssh-copy-id -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub

rsync is the preferred tool used to transfer data because of its ability to resume data transfer in case of any network connectivity issues.

rsync -avzP  -e ssh  /backups root@xxx.xx.xx.xx:/root/

If a non standard SSH port (eg:- 2011) is used you can wrap double quotes around ssh -p 2011

rsync -avzP -e “ssh -p 2011” /backups root@xxx.xx.xx.xx:/root/

This will copy the directory /backups using rsync over ssh to the destination.

4. Restore Accounts

cd /root/backups

fori in *.gz ; do /scripts/restorepkg $i ; done

This will use a for loop iteration for restoring packages with file extension .gz, you may use the /scripts/restorepkg –force option if you have any account conflicts. Only use it if you intend to replace the existing account with the package you transferred.

5. Sync home directories

This step is for those who skipped home directory during the account packaging.

Now, I would prefer running this in the background, considering the volume of data that needs to be transferred, it may take a lot of time to sync and transfer data. There is a wonderful utility called ‘screen’ which

To start a new screen session, run screen with the following command:

$ screen -S session_name  

Then run the rsync command

rsync -avzP  -e ssh /home/  root@xxx.xx.xx.xx:/home/

(Please note the trailing slash given after /home/ , this copies all files/dirs under /home to the destination directory. If you omit ‘/’ , you will be copying /home recursively to the destination and you end up having a home directory inside a home directory   — /home/home   which is not what we intend to do)

Safely exit the screen session by using the key combination CTRL + a + d

You will see a message like this:-

[detached from 27724.session_name]

Now, you can log out from your current shell session and the rsync process will be still running in the background without any interruption. You can check the progress from any location. Just login to the server via SSH again.

To list the screens running,

screen -ls

There is a screen on:

27724.session_name      (10/19/2015 11:54:47 AM)    (Detached)

1 Socket in /var/run/screen/S-username.

To reattach the screen

screen -r session_name   (or screen -r 27724.session_name)

Check the progress, once you have confirmed that the copy process is completed, you can exit the screen session using the key combination CTRL +d

[screen is terminating]

6. Verify the integrity of the data and check the disk usage of accounts at both servers to make sure we didn’t leave anything.

7. Lowering the TTL value to beat DNS propagation delay.

Migrations are followed by DNS changes. If you have access to the authoritative nameservers of your hosted domains, you will be pointing the transferred domains to a new location. This involves changing the Address (A) record and the mail exchanger(MX) records. Lowering the TTL value and waiting for the old TTL period to make the switch minimizes the problems of DNS propagation delays to a great extent. We have described this in detail in another article

(Tweaking the TTL to reduce downtime after a website migration)

If you are on a lookout for a reliable web hosting service,InterServer is a great option. Established as a premier web hosting provider located in Secaucus, New Jersey, InterServer provide unparalleled webhosting services at an affordable cost. Known for quality, reliability, with safe and secure facility, and 24/7 superior support, InterServer provides a 30 day money back guarantee on shared hosting, along with 99.5% uptime and a 100% power guarantee.

Still think migration is complex and tiresome? Please feel free to contact our support team. We offer free migration. Click here to know more about how you get migration absolutely free

Tips for improving your eCommerce Store Experience

Posted at October 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm by admin

blog-feature-imagesConstant connectivity, rapidly evolving technologies, and fierce competition has changed the retail world entirely. With almost any product available with a click or swipe, online shopping has become a norm. Today’s consumers are spoilt for choices when it comes to e-commerce websites. With too many options and too little time, today’s consumers are impatient and have increasingly shorter attention span. In order to keep up and ensure that online shoppers buy from your website, you need to grab their attention and keep them engaged while making their shopping experience simple, easy and pleasant. Your visitors will create an impression about your product and services based on their experience with your e-store. Your e-commerce website is a manifestation of your online reputation and you can only influence your customers by ensuring a great experience for them.

Providing positive and memorable experience for your consumers is a sure-shot way to keep your customers coming back for more and to stand ahead from your competitors. Check out some tips on how you can improve your eCommerce store experience for your customers.

Focus on User Experience

Almost every other day, a new e-commerce website gets launched and users are spoilt for choices when it comes to online shopping. How do you ensure that customers come to your website and remain there? The answer to this is by creating ultimate user experience and building trust. A visit to your online store should not feel like a stroll in the marketplace with a lot of noise. But it should feel like a walk into a physical store with maximum visibility and minimum intrusion. Providing the right kind of user experience can be really tricky and you need to ensure that your e-commerce website is built on user experience principles and convey trust.

Improved Usability

A clean, clutter-free, easy on the eyes user interface explaining naturally about the page is what would attract your customers. Your website should have easily accessible menus and navigation bars with organized product pages with high quality photos, descriptions, and pricing. The web pages should be fast loading and the advertisements should be kept to the minimum with minimum popups.

Good Search-ability

The users need to be able to find what they want with few clicks. This can be done by ensuring your website performs well. You can make sure of your website’s performance by warranting that the pages load fast and the navigation bar is kept to the left as studies show that users’ eyes progress from left to right. Offsetting of the search bar in a distinguished colour is also a good idea to draw attention to the search bar. You can also put text inside the search box, such as ‘Search’ or ‘Enter keyword’ with intelligent auto-complete to make the experience even more pleasant for the users. Your search options should be obvious and well organized.

Live Chat

Good and accessible customer service is vital. When customers are on your website and wants to get in touch with you, one of the best ways is through live chat.

Update

Keep your website updated regularly with new and more products, blogs and images. Also, ensure that web content as well as designs are up to date.

Don’t Force Sign-Up

Let your users shop without forcing them to sign up. Many users may not be interested to sign up and some may see the form filling as time consuming and tiresome causing them to quit the website.

One Click Buy

Numerous studies show that most purchases for most e-commerce get aborted in the cart itself before going to the payment process. This can be avoided by adding a one-click buy and keeping the checkout process to a minimum click practise. Allow the purchase of a product without forcing the users to sign-up for your website. Allow multiple payment options with security gateways and offer free shipping on first or bulk purchases. Eliminate checkout distractions by minimizing ads, long forms or too many gateways. One of the best practices is to add a list of checkout steps for your consumer so s/he knows the number of steps required to complete the purchase.

Optimized Product Photos

Unlike brick and mortar shops where people can actually touch and see the product, this is not possible for online stores where the products cannot be observed, touched, seen or felt. To counter this incapability, you should always ensure that you have many high quality photos of your products displayed from various angles. Also, if you deal with stuffs where colours matter, provide options to see the product in different colours. In short, you need to ensure that the user experience is as close to the physical store as possible.

Responsive web design

Today’s customers log into a website through various mediums from laptop, desktop, tablets and smartphones and your website need to function seamlessly in all medium if you want your users to stick with you. A responsive web design is not only search engine friendly but also is easy to use on all platforms. You could even invest in a mobile app to make your website more user friendly.

 

Your e-commerce website is the interface between you and your customers. Improve their experience by incorporating these tips in your website.

InterServer Price Lock Guarantee

Posted at September 30, 2015 at 5:37 pm by Michael Lavrik

splash-image(1)

InterServer, the premier web hosting provider announced a ‘price lock guarantee’ program to further simply its product offering and distinguish itself from the competition.  Price lock guarantee is one of the major initiatives by InterServer as a part of overall value packaging designed to guard InterServer’s customers’  against cost-overruns and operational risks usually borne by them when it comes to hosting industry. The price a consumer signs up for with InterServer is their guaranteed lifetime locked in price, with no special conditions, exclusions and fine print whatsoever.

“With a slogan of “while times may change, our commitment to our customers never waivers!” at InterServer, we constantly refine, expand, upgrade and improve our services to ensure the very best experiences for our customers. The price lock guarantee is a step in the direction of rewarding our valuable customers”, quoted, Mike Lavrik, Director of Business Development, InterServer.

With over 16 years of experience in the hosting industry, InterServer is all about upping the game when it comes to web hosting and to take advantage of the guaranteed price lock, all a visitor need to do is visit ‘www.InterServer.net’ and choose any web hosting or VPS configuration as per the requirement and voila, the signed up price is the lifetime offered price.

For more information on InterServer’s price lock guarantee, visit www.InterServer.net