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  • Securing your WordPress site, Part 1

    No comments January 30th, 2016

    Blogs have been an increasingly popular way of distributing information since their inception in the 90’s. They provide many benefits for promoting information, updates, and multimedia sources. Naturally if you are looking to begin promoting your business, services, or your thoughts via a blog, you are going to want a secure, trusted method.

    WordPress has been growing rampantly over the last couple years as a blogging platform. According to Google Trends, interest in WordPress from 2011 to present has been consistently twice that of other blogging sites. Its layout is understandable and has many options for customizing and personalizing. Clearly it is a trusted and effective platform to blog from.

    While WordPress comes with security methods, there are steps you can take to improve the security of your blog and protect it from attacks. Most hackers are not willing to spend much time or effort in breaking into your site. They are looking to compromise your server and use it to email spam. An attack is most effectively deterred by making your site more than averagely inconvenient to the hacker.

    wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbFor starters, avoid using “admin” as a username or part of your username. Most attacks target the username admin with a combination of passwords. Eliminate the first part and you will be protected from the majority of attacks. If you already have that username in use, changing this is fast and easy. Simply create a new user and give it administrator rights. Then delete the old “admin” user and assign past content to this new user so that nothing will be lost in the transition.

    You have probably heard this hundreds of times, but it is worth hearing again: use a complex password. Consider this: the three most common passwords of 2015 are “123456,” “password,” and “12345.” Be ahead of the curve and pick a password that is not on SplashData’s annual list of stolen passwords!

    Change the table prefix from wp_ to something obscure like nho509b_ to make it less accessible to hackers and harder to guess. This might sound complicated to the less tech-savvy, but it can be as easy as a five minute fix. If you are just now setting up your blog, the customization option will be available during the set-up for database details. Simply change the default setting.

    Keep up with updates. WordPress is constantly striving to provide a better blogging platform for your needs. Each new version has updated security methods to address holes found in previous editions. Updated versions are released biannually, with more minor updates released following the two major versions.

    These steps are a good place to begin, but for the best security, you will want a quality hosting company. Nearly half of hacking attempts are due to faulty hosting platforms. If you are using a shared hosting platform, make sure it offers account isolation. This extra layer of protection prevents one account from overloading the server and affecting your website.

    We will soon be posting a more advanced article outlining addition steps you can take to secure your WordPress site, so stay tuned!

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  • SmarterMail and Outlook.com – Making the choice for your email hosting

    No comments January 29th, 2016

    Selecting an email host is a decision many people make without much research. How hard can it be, right? Try typing “email host” into your search engine and you will quickly find that your selection is not as clear cut as you might have thought. The variety of options might now look overwhelming. We are here to make your decision a little quicker, easier, and more informed.

    SmarterMail vs. Outlook.com

    Outlook.com is one of the popular options for email hosting. It is free and is a common selection for private users, carrying the benefits of familiarity. However, being that it is a free option, clearly Outlook.com is not able to offer the same features as an exchange-level mail server. With a modern set up and basic organization tools, Outlook.com is a good option for personal use and rarely produces cause for complaint.

    However when it comes to time-saving fea tures, efficiency, and a business-professional program, you are going to want to look a little further.

    64-largeOutlook.com may keep spam levels in your inbox around 3%, but the built-in anti-spam Message Sniffer offered in SmarterMail protects you from just over 99% of spam. Outlook.com might be free, but SmarterMail’s affordable price is more than worthwhile.

    The features offered in SmarterMail are designed to make your day-to-day business communication and organizations smooth and effortless.

    Planning an event with multiple people? SmarterMail can sync your calendar with calendars shared with you, offering easy coordination at a glance. Additionally, with a checkmark system, you can choose to view native and shared tasks, contacts, and notes simultaneously. Headaches over availability and planning are a thing of the past.

    Included in SmarterMail’s email server is our fully integrated instant message system. This allows you and your domain users instant communication. Quick and convenient, it keeps you up-to-date on co-worker availability and promotes speedy communication without the hassle of group emails or not knowing if your message has been received. Outlook.com offers a similar feature, but it only works if your contacts are synced with Skype. SmarterMail’s system is connected with the email host so that, regardless of other programs, all your users will have access to it.

    Another helpful feature SmarterMail offers is the disposable alias option for when you need to sign up briefly for a website or newsletter but don’t want to increase your spam. At the end of a time limit, the randomly assigned address expires and your inbox remains as spam-free as before!

    Still not convinced? SmarterMail offers all the features listed above and more! Try out a demo trial run to see if it fits for you. Some features have been disabled for security purposes, but you will still get an excellent idea of SmarterMail’s benefits!

    For a business, the ideal server is one with a more professional front without distracting ads, with quick communication, with excellent security protocol, and which connects calendars, contacts, tasks, and notes from any location. SmarterMail offers only the best.

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  • MX01 SmarterMail Upcoming Scheduled Maintenance

    No comments January 28th, 2016

    We will be updating our MX01 server to the latest build of SmarterMail on Saturday the 30th at 10PM MST. We expect the upgrade to take about 20 – 30 minutes. This update addresses and fixed several reported bugs including the following reported by our customers…

    • Apple Mail client saves duplicate emails into the Sent folder when using EWS
    • Certain types of events would not show in the Mac calendar app when syncing with CalDAV
    • A scenario in Exchange ActiveSync where a sync key mismatch could cause a null reference exception to occur which prevents a proper response to the client

    Along with many other improvements and fixes. These 3 issues have reported by our customers, and we are pleased that they have been addressed. For full changelog and release notes, please visit the SmarterTools site at https://www.smartertools.com/smartermail/release-notes

    Scheduled Date: 01-31-2016
    Scheduled Time:
    5:00 AM – 5:30 AM UTC
    Max Outage Duration: 30 Minutes

    If you have any questions or concerns please contact our support department.

    Thank you again for choosing ASPnix as your web hosting provider!

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  • Top 7 web design trends you must know for your website

    No comments January 27th, 2016

    The internet is an ever changing, ever developing platform in which creativity can soar with few boundaries or limitations. As such, web design is also a fluid stage for new ideas and vivid imagination. While this is an exciting concept, it can also be daunting. Where to begin? What is outdated and what is considered modern? Where is the line between eye-catching and obnoxious?

    The design for a webpage needs first and foremost to convey the intended information. If a font is perfect for your site’s playful attitude, but is difficult for the viewer to read, then it is not doing its job. If the colors grab the viewer’s information, but go against the mood you are trying to set, the design is going to be counterintuitive.

    Web design trends change quickly and can be difficult to keep up with. We’re here to help! Here are some of the most popular trends we are seeing in web design:

    Long scroll UI patterns provide a natural path for the eye to follow and allow the designer to decide the most beneficial order to convey information. It is an easy interface for the user to interact with and encourages viewers to look at the entirety of the website as the design naturally sparks curiosity.

    Creative animations for loading, hovering, hidden navigation screens, motion action, galleries etc. Animations draw the eyes and hold attention. They have the benefit of keeping a viewer interested while waiting for loading, encouraging the eye’s path along a page, and generally making formerly static images more interesting and engaging. Additionally they add personality and an opportunity for creativity.

    Micro-interactions engage the user and affirm their actions. It helps the users see the results of their actions, engages them in communication, and can provide tips for maneuvering. Ideally these interactions occur seamlessly and without distracting from the information provided. Simplicity is key.

    Card design is growing more popular as the use of Pinterest sky-rockets. The interface is familiar, easy to use, and an excellent way to display a large amount of information in an organized and aesthetically pleasing manner.

    Cinemagraphs are the classier version of GIFs, bringing static pictures to life with minimal motion. These pictures have fewer limitations than GIFs and are less distracting and more mature.

    Bold typography makes a quick and effective statement about your website’s mood and focus, while establishing your site as modern and unique. Even websites that are strictly focused on business benefit from eye-catching typography. With web fonts becoming more widely accessible, web designers are becoming bolder, making full use of the available tools.

    According to Forbes, Natural stock photography use in web design is on the rise. Pictures are a classic method of catching attention and creating a connection with the viewer. But typical stock photos are boring and easily dismissed. Eye-catching, awe-inspiring, and amazing is “in.”

    2015 was an exciting year for web development and creative new designs. It is thrilling to think of what 2016 will hold!

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  • An overview and comparison of Shared Hosting with Virtual and Dedicated Servers

    No comments January 25th, 2016

    With all the possibilities, different strengths and weaknesses, it can be confusing to select just the right server for you and your specific needs. Here are some of our options broken down to the basics.

    Do you run a high-traffic or mission critical website? Need support for self-hosted, high-performance databases? Want the most flexibility and control?

    Our premium dedicated servers have the benefits of freedom, flexibility, and security, especially in comparison to shared hosting. Dedicated servers allow a greater level of management and scalability for your site’s traffic. Virtual platforms such as Microsoft Hyper-V are supported. Notable features include:

    • 2-hour emergency response
    • Free internal traffic
    • Remote power control

    Are you a small business owner? Run a blog? Host personal sites for family/friends?

    Shared Windows Cloud Hosting is unique and economical, offering unlimited disk space and data transfer. This option promotes reliability, high network speed, and smooth performance. With instant setup, unlimited domains and sub-domains, and premium unlimited bandwidth, this server provides fast and reliable service. Other features include:

    • Custom Control Panel
    • Safe Harbor Certified
    • Unlimited MySQL

    Another popular option is the virtual server. This server is shared by multiple server owners, but still allows for each owner’s administration and complete control. It is stored on our virtual cloud, saving you space while still providing you with absolute access. Virtual servers have all the benefits of hosting yourself, while saving on space, money, and processing power.

    We offer two options:

    Windows Cloud Server running Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Server 2008 R2 or Server 2012 R2.

    Linux Cloud Server running a wide variety of Linux distributions. Both offer excellent features, including:

    • Virtual isolation
    • Customizable server software with administrator control
    • Hardware-based virtualization
    • Unlimited network transfer

    Browse our many options and be sure to contact us with any questions!

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  • MX01 SmarterMail Unscheduled Outage

    No comments January 25th, 2016

    Today around 10:40AM MST our primary SmarterMail service on MX01 went down. This was an unscheduled outage that was caused by a SmarterTools support employee who mistakenly restarted the service while investigating a bug that we had reported earlier last week. The service is now back online and running and we are working with SmarterTools to make sure this mistake does not happen in the future. The support technician was new and has since apologized for the action.

    We’d like to apologize to everyone who was affected by this mistake. We are making sure this does not happen again in the future.

    Thank you for choosing ASPnix!

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  • TeamSpeak 3 – Crystal clear VoIP communication with ASPnix

    No comments January 21st, 2016

    Keeping in touch with long-distance family, participating in business conferences, and interacting with other gamers is made easy through TeamSpeak, a server that allows VoIP communications all over the world. Where we once used roundabout methods of conference calls or chatrooms, TeamSpeak now provides a more efficient and effective service. TeamSpeak’s features are designed to make VoIP easy to use, enjoyable, and adaptable to the user’s needs. Notable features include:

    • Unmatched Voice Quality and Low Latency
    • Voice Data Encryption
    • Public-Private Key Authentication
    • Multi-Server Connectivity
    • Customizable Server & Client
    • Mobile-device support for Android and iOS

    teamspeak-logoUser customizations allow you to create server banners, avatars, and an interface to personalize your system and emphasize the fun-loving gamer community or the business-minded contacts of your next project.

    Whether your next project is co-writing a novel with distant friends, meeting with business associates, or joining friends in a game of Minecraft, TeamSpeak provides the tools needed to make long-distance contact assessable and smooth.

    Data-centers for TeamSpeak are situated across the U.S. and internationally, providing up-to-date and specialized service for every location. From Seattle to Washington D.C., from Dublin to Singapore, ASPnix’s TeamSpeak services are available and ready to help.

    Additionally, our completely custom-built control panel allows for more flexibility and options for customization. You can start, stop, and restart your instance, create new admin tokens, edit server details, view users and their geographical location, and manage other users among many other options.

    ASPnix offers a wide selection of affordable server hosting plans and packages adaptable to all needs and uses. Unlike most other hosts, our server allows for file transfers. There are no limitations on sound codecs or the number of channels and groups. We offer free custom hostnames, 1GB of monthly free download data transfer, and advanced network monitoring technologies.

    Check out more of our awesome features and be sure to contact us with any questions!

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  • Make the best out of your Minecraft multiplayer experience at ASPnix

    No comments January 18th, 2016

    minecraft-blockFor the creatively inclined, there are few games that’ll satisfy as much as Minecraft, a sandbox style video game where you get to create anything from simple structures to environments to castles. In either single or multiplayer, you play as a character in virtual world made of blocks where you collect resources and use them to build, survive, fight, and collaborate with other players. For you socially incline gamers, you can even host your own multiplayer experience by joining a game server or creating your own.

    Minecraft has a long history of development. It is the brainchild of video game developer, Markus Persson, has been acquired by Microsoft, and its current development is headed by designer, Jens Bergensten. The Minecraft you’ve come to know was in part influenced by Infiniminer, also a sandbox video game that pinned players against each other in competition.
    Markus saw the potential in the ability to manipulate the environment in a virtual block based video game so he developed is own and released Classic mode in 2009. Classic mode branches off into Creative and Survival. Creative allows you to use blocks of different compositions to build to your heart’s content: cities, palaces, environments, characters—if you’ve got the imagination for it, you can make it happen. In fact, it’s the freedom of Creative mode that draws many players to Minecraft in the first place, given that there are no objectives. In contrast, Survival mode is just that—survival. As the player, you need to fend off hunger, build structures for defense, forage for supplies, and battle enemies. After that, Minecraft went through more phases of development in order to become what it is today. Millions of players around the world share the experience, including and especially with each other on multiplayer servers.

    To add an extra dimension of fun, Minecraft multiplayer enables you to join another server or host your own. No doubt, some of you have already collaborated with other players in Creative feats or fended off Creeper attacks in Survival mode. Remember that a server allows you to connect to other people on Minecraft. The thing about joining another person’s server is that you never know what the rules are going to be, whether you’ll enjoy the in-game economy, or the other players are your kind of people. That’s why some of you have used or are thinking about using our Minecraft hosting platform. Renting your Minecraft server at ASPnix makes you the master of your own domain.

    Some of the benefits are:

    • Having control over who you interact with; invite friends and family to play in your world
    • Unlimited slots; some hosting companies will limit the number of players you can have in your server but with us, you can invite have unlimited players.
    • Controlling the rules; you decide how the in-game economy works, what the social rules are, who can go where and build what
    • Multicraft Control Panel – user friendly, comprehensive set of controls over your server
    • Installing your own mods and plugins; customize the gameplay experience and your control over it

    We offer a variety of affordable server hosting plans and packages to meet your needs. So feel free to browse around and see what works for you; we’re ready for any questions!

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  • What is the geo filtering module, how do I use it and what are the performance affects?

    No comments January 17th, 2016

    The Geo Filtering module is an IIS module that ASPnix has developed to allow website owners to filter incoming traffic from specified countries. When enabled, our module does geographical lookups on the visitor’s IP address, then does an internal check against countries the website owner has restricted. If the IP address belongs to a blocked Country, the visitor is given an IIS HTTP 403 Forbidden page. Allowed countries can browse your site like normal.

    The performance of your website will not be noticeably affected. In our tests, our module adds up to 50ms to the overall response of your site. We’ve done up to 1000 requests per second and saw no negative impacts on our test website.

    To activate it follow the steps:

    1. Login to our control panel system
    2. Select your website
    3. Select the Geo Restrictions tab
    4. Check the “Enabled” option
    5. Select the countries you’d like to block

    If you have any questions, please contact our Windows Cloud Hosting support department.

     

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  • IIS Geo Filtering – An additional way to increase your website security

    2 comments January 17th, 2016

    Malicious web traffic continues to run rampant across the web, filling website bandwidth with bot-clicks from China, Brazil, Russia, and other countries. Web-robots, software applications that execute tasks over the Internet, account for much of this traffic, making targeted sites vulnerable to hacking, fake accounts being made, click-frauds, and other security issues. As such, cyber security is becoming a rising concern for web-admins, whether you run a blog, small business site, or national enterprise; in fact, cyber security is a front every business owner should probably heed. That’s why geo-restrictions exist.

    Consider this, why would someone at Beijing want to create an account with your Denver-based catering business? Let’s say you own a small business which you operate from a website and company email within the United States, and you have no incentive to do business overseas, so there’s no reason why you’d need to have your website open to the whole world. Let’s suppose that malicious web traffic tends to originate from countries like India or China. Geographically speaking, these countries have been blacklisted by Internet security inquires as the sources for spam bots, hackers, denial of services attacks, and bot-created accounts. Not only do these pose a security risk for you and your site, but potentially for your clients. Malicious web traffic is a means to an end: the bad guys want to get money and/or data. Most web hosting companies don’t offer this feature as part of how you manage your site. Luckily, ASPnix is now offering geo-restrictions as a FREE module, found in your Windows Control Panel (this feature will not apply to Linux shared hosting).

    To activate it follow the steps:

    1. Login to our control panel system
    2. Select your website
    3. Select the Geo Restrictions tab
    4. Check the “Enabled” option
    5. Select the countries you’d like to block

    For more information about this module – Please review our knowledgebase article.

    By blocking the traffic coming from a country or set of countries, you can minimize security risks, thus the new module can act as an instant security feature.

    Not everybody in the world has to have access to your site or even know what your email is. If you’ve ever had your credit card number stolen, then you’ve probably been the victim of a cyber fraud, so you can imagine the consequences if your business’ web infrastructure is comprised, and your customers’ data stolen by hackers. So consider geo-restricting countries you’re unlikely to have any business with, now that ASPnix is now extending this new IIS module to its customers at no additional charge.

    If you have any questions, contact our Windows Cloud Hosting support department.

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