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  • MX01 SmarterMail Upcoming Scheduled Maintenance

    No comments March 31st, 2016

    We will be updating our MX01 server to the latest build of SmarterMail on Saturday April 2nd at 10PM MST. We expect the upgrade to take about 20 – 30 minutes. This is a new major version, SmarterMail v15 that introduces new features and many improvements!

    • Support for IMAP Quota extension, allows your email client to know your current usage and alert you when you are close to disk space limit or over it
    • Web interface now has a disk space indicator bar that gives you a quick glance of your disk space usage
    • Improvements to ActiveSync
    • Major improvements to handling contacts
    • Major improvements to Exchange Web Services
    • Numerous other improvements

    Along with many other improvements and fixes. For full changelog and release notes, please visit the SmarterTools site at https://www.smartertools.com/smartermail/release-notes

    Scheduled Date: 04-03-2016
    Scheduled Time:
    4:00 AM – 4:30 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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  • Optimizing Images for Websites

    No comments March 30th, 2016

    Images are an essential element when it comes to grabbing readers’ attention and breaking up long paragraphs of text. Images educate, emphasize, and elaborate. The more images used, however, can gradually slow your browser’s speed, increase the size of your pages, use up storage on your server, and ultimately increase the page load time for your visitors.

    The answer is optimization.

    The first thing to pay attention to is the image format. Most images will allow you to save them in various file picturesformats. Typically JPEG or PNG are used for the web. JPEGs are prime for photographs as they compress the colors well and don’t lose quality. PNG works better with screenshots or graphic images. Because of PNG’s higher compression quality, however, those files will be larger. Sometimes this payoff is worth it for the clear quality. Even though GIFs are usually used for animated files, the format also can be used for low-quality pictures with few colors or smaller files. Avoid putting larger pictures in GIF format, as this usually significantly reduces the quality.

    Another aspect to note is which category the image compression is: lossy or lossless. A lossy compression loses quality while taking up a small amount of space. Lossless gives you the exact quality of the original image but uses a greater amount of memory.

    JPEG = Lossy

    PNG = Lossless

    GIF = Lossless

    Most graphic editing applications allow you to save your image for the internet, usually labeled something like “save for web & devices.” You want to select the lowest size possible without losing image quality. Try to keep your images under 70kb.

    Decorative images such as buttons, banners, and borders can take up more space than you can afford. Avoid this by putting simple patterns in GIF or PNG-8 format to reduce the overall size. Look for areas where you can replace pictures (such as colored sections or backdrops) with CSS styling. Are you using a wallpaper background image? Try playing around with the size. There is usually a bit of wiggle room between how much you can decrease the size before it starts visibly decreasing the quality as well. A neat trick is to crop the center of the background image out or replace it with a filled color. This will reduce the size considerably and, as long as the content covers the center, your viewers will not notice a difference!

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  • New Features of Windows Server 2016

    1 comment March 27th, 2016

    With the release of the 2016 Windows Server rapidly approaching, you may be wondering what to look forward to, the changes that will be implemented, and how that will affect you. Here are some of the most exciting and revolutionary improvements to anticipate.

    windowsThe new Nano Server offers a 93% smaller VHD, 80% fewer required reboots, and 92& fewer critical bulletins. It is designed to run Hyper-V, Hyper-V cluster, Scale-Out File Servers, and cloud service applications.

    The new system offers support for containers, which enable isolation of applications from the underlying OS. This will improve the reliability and organization of the applications, including Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers.

    Docker support is also newly available. The open-source engine Docker is used for building, running, and maintaining containers such as were just mentioned (Windows Server and Hyper-V).

    Hyper-V also is getting upgrades, which will allow the addition of a new Window Server 2016 node to a cluster, so that the cluster can run at the update’s speed before all of the nodes have been upgraded.

    Storage replication of virtual hard disks is now a possibility at the block level, with the options of synchronous and asynchronous replication. Particularly in disaster situations, this replication can be a life-saving recovery method.

    Another handy upgrade is the option to add and remove virtual memory and virtual network adapters without having to shut down the virtual machine. This greatly streamlines the process and expands mobility.

    Overall you can expect lower attack rates, faster restarts, and the capability for running more VMs on the same hardware. The central goal in all these improvements is to make windows a “cloud OS.” There will be greater isolation and security for Hyper-V containers, but slightly less efficiency. On the plus side, a smaller amount of features provides for fewer patches and forced reboots.

    This, of course, is a limited list of some of the most exciting updates. To view a more complete list or try out a preview, visit Microsoft’s website. Let us know in the comment section which improvements are the most exciting to you!

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  • A Comparison of CMS Platforms

    No comments March 24th, 2016

    When it comes to CMS platforms, there are three that stand out as the most popular of the field: WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. All of the systems boast fast and intuitive services as well as being open sourced. As much of a benefit as this is, it does make the decision making process more difficult. The initial choice is very important, as most people do not switch between platforms and tend to stay with their first choice. To make your decision easier, we have compiled an overview of each platform.

    WordPress is one of the best options for newcomers to the field, made obvious in the fact that it is far and away the most popular, with over 140 million downloads. It excels in sites and blogs that range from small to medium sized. Manual installation time runs about 5 minutes and the entire time it takes to set up a blog or website can be under an hour. WordPress offers over 2,000 free themes and 27,000 free plugins, allowing a large array of professional-looking options. Another advantage is the extensive community support that springs from the millions of users.

    Cons: WordPress is designed more to support small and medium sized sites, so the larger your site gets, the more server resources are required. Also the framework can difficult to manipulate.

    Overall: If you are a newcomer with limited technical knowledge, this platform will be ideal for your needs.

    Joomla requires slightly more technical knowledge particularly in coding, but is excellent for e-commerce or social networking websites. It offers excellent native support for online stores and is relatively simple to set up. It is a nice middle ground between the more basic WordPress and more technically complex Drupal. Manual installation takes around 10 minutes to complete. With about 30 million downloads, it also offers 900 free themes and 7,000 free plugins.

    Cons: Joomla is free, but does not offer a free hosting server such as with WordPress.

    Overall: If WordPress is too basic for you, but you are not ready to tackle Drupal yet, Joomla will be your top option.

    Drupal may be the most complicated to work with, but also the most flexible, with even the root files editable. It boasts the most powerful CMS. It does stand at the lowest downloads with just over 15 million, which may simply be a reflection of the technical knowledge of the typical users, as the platform is the most technically advanced. Performance is topnotch with swift response and page loading time. Naturally this may vary as plugins are added. Manual installation takes around 10 minutes to complete. It offers over 1,800 free themes and 24,000 free plugins.

    Cons: While the software is free, Drupal does not offer hosting on their servers, requiring you to purchase your own web hosting and domain name. Finding support also can be difficult, as the system requires some in-depth knowledge.

    Overall: If you have a basic knowledge of coding/programing languages and are looking for ultimate flexibility, this platform will be a perfect fit.

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  • WordPress Plugin CCTM Compromised

    1 comment March 17th, 2016

    A WordPress plugin called Custom Content Type Manager has been revealed to contain a backdoor which its owner was using to access core files and steal user credentials. The plugin has been installed on over 10,000 sites in the three years it has been available, offering services for creating custom post types.

    However, in the past month the plugin abruptly changed owner and released a new version, after having had no updates for the previous ten months. This new version was riddled with problematic changes, including the auto-update.php file which could download files from the server on the infiltrated website and CCTM_Communicator.php file which alerted the owner’s server when a new site became compromised.

    The plugin gathered information on the infected site, recorded encrypted usernames and passwords, and sent the data to the core server, giving the owner full access as administrator to any of the infiltrated websites.

    Those who have downloaded this plugin are advised to remove it immediately, downgrade core files to the standard version, and either get rid of the CCTM plugin or use the last confirmed stable version (0.9.8.6). Even if you have installed the plugin at some point but never updated it, you may have been automatically updated to this malicious version.

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  • DDoS Attacks and How to Prevent Them

    No comments March 17th, 2016

    DDoS attacks (distributed denial of service) occur when a targeted system’s resources or bandwidth is flooded with such a multiplicity of traffic that the system is unable to handle it and shuts down. Most of the time these attacks are a calculated effort to overwhelm the system with multiple compromised systems.

    Is this something you need to worry about? Here are some stats: one third of all downtimes can be traced to a DDoS attack, a week-long DDoS attack can cost less than $200 on the black market, and every day more than two thousand attacks take place.

    These attacks work through a series of compromised computers in which the user does not even know that their computer is being controlled remotely. This network of computers (called botnets) can be made up of thousands to millions of machines. Once directed at a single target, huge flood of traffic is generated to overwhelm and incapacitate a system.

    It is important to realize that every site is at risk and is vulnerable. The attacks can be random and it is far better to be well prepared than caught off-guard. Make sure your applications, supporting services, and DNS are all current and up-to-date. The common weak spots in corporate networks are the server, the internet pipe, and the firewall. It is helpful to already have an existing communication with your internet service provider so that in case of an emergency contacting them is one less thing to worry about.

    It can take some time to realize that your system is under attack and not just experiencing a failing server or application. Knowing what your query load is will help alert you to the presence of an attack. BIND’s built-in statistics support, for example, keeps record of stats for later observation. Getting an idea of what is normal is important.

    One of the most basic ways to prevent attacks is by overprovisioning your bandwidth. This is fairly inexpensive and helps you to accommodate sudden surges in traffic. This will not completely prevent DDoS attacks, but will give you a few extra minutes.

    From there, rate limit your router, which will stop your web server from being overwhelmed. Use filters so that your router knows to drop packets from obvious attack sources. Set your timeouts to shut down half-open connections at a more aggressive pace. All these things will gain you time while you contact your internet provider. Their strategy usually involves black holing you for a bit, so that the DDoS does not consume bandwidth and affect other customers on the server. Then the provider is able to stop the attacking traffic from reaching the network, divert the traffic elsewhere so that your site can get back online, and then identify malicious packets for a mitigation specialist to take care of.

    It is best to have a plan already set before the action is needed. Talk to your provider about their strategies and ask for their advice for your particular site.

     

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  • What backup locations are supported by Database Vault?

    No comments March 15th, 2016

    Database Vault supports storing of server backups on different storage mediums, such as local (internal / external drive), FTP location and more!

    Currently, the following storage methods are available and support all Database Vault features…

    • Local Drive (USB attached, network attached etc.)
    • FTP Server (Standard and secured connections)

    Database Vault is constantly being updated to support additional storage methods.

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  • How are database backups for MySQL created?

    No comments March 15th, 2016

    Database Vault uses the official mysqldump command line utility to create database backups. Database Vault requires the full path to the mysqldump utility location (Usually located in the bin directory where MySQL Server is installed to) in order to create backups.

    Database Vault has the ability to create backups of remote MySQL Servers through the mysqldump utility. Even if you do not have MySQL installed on the same server as Database Vault, as long as you have the mysqldump utility on your computer, we can create database backups.

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  • How are database backups for SQL Server created?

    No comments March 15th, 2016

    Database Vault uses Microsoft’s SMO libraries to handle creating database backups. This means that you cannot use Database Vault to create backups of a remote SQL Server, you must run Database Vault on the local machine with SQL Server.

    At this time, you can create FULL and INCREMENTAL database backups with Database Vault.

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  • What servers are supported by Database Vault?

    No comments March 15th, 2016

    Database vault currently supports Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle’s MySQL. The following versions of each server have been validated to work with Database Vault…

    • SQL Server 2014
    • SQL Server 2012
    • SQL Server 2008 R2
    • MySQL 5.6.x
    • MySQL 5.7.x

    Other versions may work, but have not been validated, support is not provided for versions of servers not shown above.

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