30Nov/170

Comparison of administration panels: cPanel vs. Plesk vs. Webmin

We are often asked which panel we would recommend. Since there is a variety of different panels with different functions and focus, we cannot easily answer this question. Currently we offer cPanel, Plesk, LAMP und Webmin, which we will introduce here.

cPanel/WHM

cPanel is a webhosting panel which allows to administrate a great number of users in an easy way and configure the installed services. In order to avoid security breaches many settings are pretty restrictive, which may cause issues due to the demands of your software. In addition, without plugins from external developers, it would not be possible to use nginx as an example. The software cPanel is divided into two parts, the interface for users is called cPanel, the administration interface WHM (WebHostMananger).

The developers provide a really detailed documentation which explains nearly all functions cPanel/WHM provides:

https://documentation.cpanel.net/

If errors occur or special questions appear which are not answered within the documentation, it is always a good possibility to ask for this within the official forum:

https://forums.cpanel.net/

And for those who do not know cPanel/WHM or want to check out what was changed before updating the own installation, a demo and the changelog are available:

https://cpanel.com/demo/
https://documentation.cpanel.net/display/CL/Change+Logs

If you are a new user, you may check out their YouTube channel, too:

https://www.youtube.com/user/cpaneltv

Plesk Onyx

Plesk understands itself as a platform for developers, thus it has a lot of software already installed and software like Docker, Ruby, etc. can be installed with a few clicks. In addition to this, a lot of features can be installed, using free or paid addons, which can be installed with a few clicks, too. Nevertheless, it is even an alternative to start a webhosting. At the moment, three different versions are offered, all details regarding the differences and the official addons can be found within the following document provided by Plesk:

https://www.plesk.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/plesk-onyx-licensing-guide.pdf

Plesk provides a detailed documentation, too:

https://docs.plesk.com/en-US/onyx/

In addition, a knowledge base with the most common problems and errors - and corresponding solutions - is provided:

https://support.plesk.com/hc/en-us

Moreover, the developers and community are active within the forum and provide assistance in case of problems:

https://talk.plesk.com/

Webmin

Webmin is no classic interface for webhosting, it is a server administration panel which provides a graphical interface to configure the installed services with the goal making server administration easier. An overview of the supported services can be found within the official documentation:

http://doxfer.webmin.com/Webmin/Webmin_Modules

In addition to the supported modules it is no problem to add additional software via SSH or develop more addons for Webmin to extend the list of services, this is possible due to the fact, that the source code is provided via GitHub:

https://github.com/webmin/webmin

As already mentioned, Webmin is by default no webhosting interface like cPanel or SSH but there was an additional software stack developed which provides the functionality required for webhosting:

https://www.virtualmin.com/

If you only want to use the server as a mail server, cPanel, Plesk and even Virtualmin may be a little bit to heavy, you can think about Webmin, too, since there is an additional addon which provides the basic mail server software:

http://www.usermin.com/usermin.html

LAMP

LAMP has already been offered since a few years and is not a panel like the other ones already mentioned, it is a software stack which contains (Linux,) Apache, MySQL and PHP; this is the basic software to start with your own web presentation. We already published a tutorial about this called "LAMP made easy".

Webmin + LAMP

After we had started offering LAMP, we were often asked why it is not possible to select both Webmin and LAMP. Since we always note down your feedback, we started offering both solutions as one package, so that you can start directly with your webpage after we have sent out the login details to you.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are different Panels on offer and the decision, which one to choose, also depends on the chosen operating system: cPanel can only be combined with CentOS, whereas Plesk can also be used with Windows Server. By the way: You can test Plesk one month for free (available for our VPS) and get used to the many functions this panel offers!

26Oct/170

How to manage your websites in Plesk: The WordPress Toolkit

In Plesk Onyx, which we offer for our VPS and dedicated servers, you can comfortably manage your WordPress sites with the extension "WordPress Toolkit". The software enables you to set up a new WordPress site by only a few clicks, it can find already existing WordPress installations on its own and it will show them all in a list. There you can do administrative tasks like updating, installing plugins and much more on all installed WordPress instances at once. Therefore, the extension is very interesting for resellers but also for end users. The WordPress Toolkit is available for all three Plesk Onyx versions at no additional charges, but the range of functions in the Web Admin Edition got reduced in some points. For more information about the differences between the full version and the special Web Admin edition, please take a look on this site: https://www.plesk.com/extensions/wordpress-toolkit.

You can easily check if the extension has already been installed in your Plesk by changing to the following oversight: Server Management > Tools & Settings > Updates and Upgrades > Add/Remove components > Plesk extensions. You should see a green tick next to the extension "WordPress Toolkit". If there is still a red X shown, please use the "Install" function in the drop-down menu. With continue, you will proceed with the installation. You will find the extension afterwards below the menu item "Server Management" in the main menu of Plesk. It is called "Wordpress" there. In case you can not find those menus, you can also use the Plesk search bar. Maybe you are not using the Service Provider view then.

Here you can see a screenshot of the available options. You can increase the size of every image in this tutorial by clicking on it.

You can use those options selectively or on all WordPress instances at once. We will now explain those options from the left to the right.

  • Scan
    There you can search for existing WordPress installations. They will be added to the list below automatically.
  • Check Security
    There you can check your WordPress instances for elementary security problems. You will get a list with points that got checked and possible automatic improvements you can confirm.
  • Plugins
    You will get a collection of the installed plugins and also an update check for those plugins will be performed. You can install and remove plugins for your sites there as well.
  • Themes
    There you can manage your themes and exchange them for multiple WordPress sites at once.
  • Update
    You can update your WordPress installations to the newest version here. Plugins are not touched.
  • Check for Updates
    Here you can check if there are WordPress updates for your sites.
  • Auto-Update
    There you can decide if your WordPress sites should get automatic updates in future.

Additionally to those features, you have the functions Clone and Sync available in every line with an existing WordPress installation.

With Clone you can save a lot of time, if you want to use a fully configured WordPress site as Template. You can also easily change the URL of a WordPress installation this way by deleting the original site afterwards. After clicking on this function, you can do the few required settings and create the target subdomain or select one of the existing domains.

With Sync, you can copy changes to other WordPress installations. This is useful, if you want to test for example new plug-ins on a subdomain before you use them in your public blog. You have the choice between the files, the database or both.

If you want to install a new WordPress for one of your domains, you have to change the menu. Please go to "Hosting Services" and there to "Domains". If it does not exist yet, please add your domain now and open it in the list with all the available domains by clicking on the name of the domain. Next to the usual options, you can see the new one called "Install WordPress", as shown in the image below:

After the installation, you can directly log into the WordPress administration panel from Plesk. If you need the login data or want to change them, you can find this and further options in a dedicated management menu. To open this menu, please click on the name of the WordPress instance left to the direct log in button. We marked this in the picture below:

Sounds great, doesn't it? Give Plesk Onyx a try at Contabo and benefit from our one month for free promotion:

Simply order one of our VPS in combination with Plesk and you will get the edition of your choice one month for free!

18Oct/170

E-mail server in Windows Server, part 2: Security

This is a follow-up to the tutorial How to install an e-mail server in Windows, directed to those who already have an hMailserver and want to increase the security.

Spam protection

To activate the spam protection, please go to Settings >> Anti-spam in the hMailserver Administrator.

In the tab "General" you can leave the settings the way they are, as shown in the image. Of course you can adjust them later according to your needs.

In the second tab "Spam tests" you should select all four spam detection parameters:

- Use SPF (3)
- Check host in the HELO command (2)
- Check that sender has DNS-MX records (2)
- Verify DKIM-Signature header (5)

Malware protection

As already mentioned in the previous tutorial, you have the possibility to use different anti malware software in hMailServer. The most easy solution is to use the free ClamWin anti virus scanner. You can download it there:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/clamwin/

Please follow the installation wizard. Installing the browser extension is not required for your e-mail server. Normally ClamWin will now appear in the Windows system tray and start to update its database once a day. It will also protect your system from malware. You are of course free to change those settings individually in the ClamWin menu. The integration in the hMailServer is easy. Please go to Settings >> Anti-Virus >> ClamWin. The button "autodetect" will find the correct path to your ClamWin anti virus installation and you can finish the setup with "Save".

TLS encryption

To enable your clients to start an encrypted connection to your server, so nobody can steal your data, you have to enable this in your settings first. You will need an SSL certificate to achieve this. If you do not have already one for the host name of your server, you can create a self signed one on your own. Self signed certificates are free. But you will have to add an exception manually each time you set up a new client for your server. Most clients like Thunderbird or Outlook will ask you for that after the credentials got entered and they start the first connection. You can use XCA to create such a certificate:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/xca/

After the software got installed and opened, you have to create a new database on the upper left side. You can choose any name, you do not even have to remember the password. We will need this tool only once to create the new certificate. You can remove it again afterwards.

After the new database got created you can choose the tab "Certificates". In the following menu please choose "New Certificate" on the right side. A new window will open. In this new window please choose the tab "Subject" and add your host name next to "commonName". In our example screenshot this is mail.yourdomain.com. Now please create a key for the certificate by pressing the button "Generate a new key". The options in the window normally will be  inserted correctly per default as shown in the image. You can finish the creation with "create".

The next step is to switch to the tab "Extensions". Enter a date until the certificate will be valid. You can be generous at this point. In our example we set a date in the year 2030 for "Validity not after". With the "OK" button in the bottom right corner you will finally create the certificate.

Now you have to export the certificate and the according key. Please choose in the tab "Certificates" the certificate and click on "Export" on the right side. You can let the path the way it is. In our case it is:

C:\Program Files (x86)\xca\mail.yourdomain.com.crt

In the tab "Private Keys" please do the same for the previously created key. The path should be:

C:\Program Files(x86)\xca\mail.yourdomain.com.pem

Please open the hMailServer Administrator and navigate to Settings >> Advanved >> SSL certificates and click on "Add". Now you have to add the previously exported certificate and key as shown in the image below and save the settings.

For the last step please go to Settings >> Advanced >> TCP/IP ports. There you have to modify the three entries below "0.0.0.0 / 25 / SMTP" as shown in the following images. At "SSL Certificate", please choose your recently created certificate. "0.0.0.0 / 25 / SMTP" has to stay in its original state as the only one. If you change it, your e-mail server will not work properly!

Now you have to open the new ports in your firewall. For that you can edit the rule from the previous tutorial. We called it "Ports for hMailServer" there. Please change the "local ports" from 25, 110, 143, 587 to 25, 465, 993, 995. (Windows Firewall with Advanced Security on Local computer >> Inbound Rules >> Ports for hMailServer >> Protocols and Ports)

The settings for your clients have changed too:

ingoing server:

protocol: IMAP; port: 143; security: SSL/TLS; server: the IP or hostname of your server

outgoing server:

protocol: SMTP; port: 587; security: SSL/TLS; server: the IP or hostname of your server

9Oct/176

How to install an e-mail server in Windows Server

You want to send and receive e-mails with your Windows server and connect to it by using your clients on PC, smartphone or tablet? In this tutorial we will explain how you can setup your own e-mail server on a Windows system with a static public IP. This tutorial will work for our VPS as well as for our dedicated servers. hMailServer is a free open source program, the setup is rather simple and can be done in just a few easy steps. Next to the default features like SMTP, POP3 and IMAP, the software is capable to detect spam and also a free virus protection like ClamWin can be added.

Installation

hMailServer needs NET Framework 3.5. to run correctly. Therefore you should add it to Windows before you install hMailServer. To do so, please open the Server Manager. The next steps will differ a little in the different versions of Windows Server. We will explain it by using the example of Windows Server 2012. Please click on "Manage" on the right upper side and choose "Add Features and Roles". In the window that opens you can click four times on "Next" and leave all the settings the way they are. Now you can choose the features you need to install. You just have to choose the NET Framework 3.5 like shown in the image. With "Next" again, you confirm this selection and "Install" will start the installation. As soon as the process is finished, you can close the window and proceed with the installation of your e-mail server.

Please download the latest version of the software from this site:

https://www.hmailserver.com/download

Please do not choose a version that is still in beta, since it might contain bugs and vulnerabilities. After you received the installation package, you can execute it and accept the terms of service.

You should leave the default installation directory as is and continue with "Next". Now you can choose the required products for installation. You will need the full installation, so please let "Server" and "Administrative Tools" checked and proceed with "Next". For an easy installation, we do recommend to choose "Use built-in database engine" in the next step. In the following window let the name be hMailServer and proceed. hMailServer will need a password for administrative tasks in the future. So please create a password you want to use to protect your service and write it down. The last step will be to start the installation. It should finish without error.

hMailServer Configuration

Please open the hMailServer Administrator. In the first window you have to activate "Automatically connect on Start-up" and click on "Connect".

In the next window, please go to "Domains", choose "Add..." and insert your domain you want to use for sending e-mails.

After the domain got saved, you can add new e-mail addresses in the menu "Accounts".

Now please go to Settings >> Protocols >> SMTP >> Delivery of e-mail. There, please add the local host name of your server that should be used for introducing your server to other e-mail servers. It has to be a valid domain and has to resolve to the IP of your server. So please add an A record to your DNS zone if necessary. You also should set an identical PTR for the IP address of your server. This can be done in the Contabo customer control panel. The host name should consist of three parts. That means it has to be an FQDN and it may not contain too many numbers, since it might seem to be generic. A good name for example might be: "mail.justanexample.com". When you are done, please save your new settings.

Firewall Configuration

The main configuration is done. But you still have to open all used e-mail ports in the firewall to make it work. Please open the Windows Firewall settings and choose "Inbound Rules". On the right side click on "New Rule". A window will open and you have to choose "Port" and click on "Next". In the next window please insert the ports 25, 110, 143 and 587, as shown in the image.

In the following window please choose "Allow The Connection" and after "Next", please check "Domain", "Private" and "Public".

In the last window you can enter a name for the new rule. For example "Ports for hMailServer". Please finish the setup and close the firewall settings.

Now you should add an SPF record to your DNS zone. Many e-mail servers will reject e-mails from your server if it does not exist. Therefore please add this TXT record to your zone:

justanexample.com 86400 in TXT "v=spf1 ip4:1.2.3.4 ~all"

"justanexample.com" has of course to be replaced with your domain and 1.2.3.4 with your IP.

You should also add an MX record to your DNS zone, if it does not exist already. The MX record should look like this:

justanexample.com 86400 in MX 10 "mail.justanexample.com"

The value "mail.justanexample.com" has to be replaced with the the host name you have chosen for your e-mail server.

The basic setup of your e-mail server is now complete. It should be able to send and receive e-mails as soon as the DNS changes are active and you can now connect with any e-mail client like Outlook, Thunderbird or Apple Mail.

Client Configuration

Please use the following settings for your e-mail client.

ingoing server:

protocol: IMAP; port: 143; security: none; server: the IP or host name of your server

outgoing server:

protocol: SMTP; port: 587; security: none; server: the IP or host name of your server

Security

If you want to do some optimizations to the server security like transport encryption, spam checks and malware protection, please take a look at our second tutorial: E-mail server in Windows Server, part 2: Security.

24Aug/170

No space left on your HDD/SSD? Find big files and remove them!

It does not matter if you do website hosting, provide a gameserver or use other services, if you have no space left on your HDD/SSD problems will occur. Your websites might not be reachable anymore, your players cannot connect to your gameserver or all other services will not start.

To avoid this it is necessary to find big files on your system and to get rid of them. Today we will show you how to do this.

Linux:

1. Connect to your server using SSH

2. Execute the following code:

# Change into root folder
cd /

# Find the top 10 files. This may take a while:
find -type f -exec du -Sh {} + | sort -rh | head -n 10

Once finished, a list of the ten largest files will be displayed. Normally these files might be old downloads or big log files. Files that are no longer used can be deleted, of course. Before deleting log files you should check them for errors you can solve so that the issue will be permanently fixed.

3. Using the command below you can remove files

rm <path_to_file>

Windows:

In Windows you might not find big log files but forgotten downloads. To find them the following freeware is perfect:

http://www.jam-software.de/treesize_free/?language=EN

Once you downloaded and executed the software you can start scanning a partition. A list of all files will be displayed. Please make sure not to delete Windows system files 😉 .

Posted by: Mike | Tagged as: , , , , No Comments
11Aug/172

Overview of available RAID levels

With this tutorial we will explain certain types of RAID levels to you.
Some of you might have already experienced a loss of data, no matter if it was an SD card holding some vacation photos or a hard disk holding important files. Losing data can be very costly if you try to restore them by some specialist. An expert is needed and the procedure takes a lot of time, the easiest way to avoid those costs is simply to avoid any data loss in the first place.

This overview is not relevant for any VPS, your VPS systems are already running safe on a RAID system monitored by experienced technicians.

Creating backups is still very important, a RAID does not replace any backup!

You can find further instructions within the following tutorial: Data loss and how to avoid it

There are some points which you should think about first, there are several results depending on your requirements.

  1. How important is the performance?
  2. How much data security should be provided by the RAID?
  3. Are system resources available to manage the RAID, such as CPU and RAM

Depending on the results of the above questions and your budget, there are several options available:
A hardware RAID is always more expensive but provides the best performance and security (if combined with a battery backup unit).
A software RAID is the easiest way to go for a RAID, it is able to handle almost any type of RAID and can be set up within a few minutes.

An overview of available RAID levels is shown below:


RAID 0

The RAID 0 provides increased write and read performance, the data will be distributed to at least two disks. Since there is no redundancy all data will be lost in case one disk fails.

  • At least two hard disks are needed
  • No disk redundancy at all
  • Maximum (complete) storage capacity available
  • Improved read and write performance


RAID 1

The RAID 1 provides increased read performance (depending on the software/hardware controller used), all data will be mirrored to a second disk. There is also a RAID 1E available - in that case all data will be mirrored to additional disks too.

  • At least two hard disks are needed
  • n-1 disks can fail
  • 1/n of storage available (n = number of disks, with two disks = > 1/2 of total storage)
  • Improved read performance


RAID 5

The RAID 5 provides increased write and read performance, the data is written to at least two disks, an additional disk is always used for storing parity data. The parity data has to be calculated for every write - so for very write intensive applications the RAID 5 requires a lot of performance due to the necessary calculations.

  • At least three hard disks are needed
  • One disk can fail
  • n-1/n of storage available (n = number of disks, with three disks = > 2/3 of total storage)
  • Improved read and write performance
  • Requires a lot of CPU time


RAID 6

The RAID 6 provides increased read performance, the data is written to at least two disks, two additional disks are always used for storing parity data. The parity data has to be calculated for every write - so for very write intensive applications the RAID 6 requires a lot of performance due to the necessary calculations. As there are two parity bits saved on the disks, the needed CPU time is very high.

  • At least four hard disks are needed
  • Two disks can fail simultaneously
  • n-2/n of storage available (n = number of disks, with two disks = > 2/4 (half) of total storage)
  • Improved read performance
  • Requires the most CPU time


RAID 01

A RAID 01 is a combination of two or more volume groups. Each volume group is configured to have a RAID 0, those volume groups are mirrored in a RAID 1. With a total number of four disks one entire volume group can fail with both disks and no data will be lost.

  • At least four hard disks are needed
  • Two disks can fail simultaneously if they belong to the same logical volume group
  • Half of total storage capacity is available
  • Improved read and write performance


RAID 10

A RAID 10 is a combination of two or more volume groups. Each volume group is configured to have a RAID 1, those volume groups are striped in a RAID 0. With a total number of four disks, two disks can fail simultaneously and no data will be lost - the failed disks must not belong to the same volume group.

  • At least four hard disks are needed
  • Two disks can fail simultaneously if they do not belong to the same logical volume group
  • Half of total storage capacity is available
  • Improved read and write performance


 

The difference between RAID 01 and RAID 10 is only visible with six or more disks, if you have six disks a RAID 10 will provide a higher calculated security rate. We do recommend using a RAID 10 instead of using a RAID 01 even if you do only have four disks. Some RAID controllers do not even support a RAID 01 anymore. RAID 5 and RAID 6 require the highest CPU time since a checksum has to be calculated on every writing process to the disk. Only a few enterprise RAID controllers do support RAID 5 and RAID 6, due to the need of calculating checksums the writing speed might suffer which might then cause problems when using write intensive applications.

For our dedicated servers it is always possible to order additional hard disks or RAID controllers, current prices can be found on our web site. If you need a special configuration, please contact our support team any day between 8 am and 11 pm (German timezone, UTC+2).

Posted by: Gianni-Donato | Tagged as: , , , , , 2 Comments
19Jul/170

Analysing log files in Windows and Linux

Everyone knows the scenario, you want to analyze an issue of your server or local computer but where to find all those log files?

In the following tutorial we are going to analyze specific log files in Linux and logs in the Windows Event Viewer. An additional chapter will go through the log analysis via Systemd.

Linux log files

Unfortunately, it is quite different from distribution to distribution, which information can be extracted from specific log files. In the following we will analyze the log file structure of Debian 8 and CentOS 7.2. The first location to look for log files should always be /var/log/. Depending on their configuration, Apache, Nginx or similar applications write log files to this folder too. System log specifications and locations can be found in the file /etc/rsyslog.conf.

Debian 8:

  • /var/log/auth.log

Logs of successful and failed authentications to your system can be found in this log file. It is also logged when a user invokes commands via sudo.

  • /var/log/messages

This file contains log entries of general system information, amongst others, you will also find the system upstart logs.

  • /var/log/dmesg or dmesg

The kernel ring buffer can be read with dmesg. You will find information about the system upstart, runtime kernel module messages and many further messages according to the hard and software of your system. By default, dmesg shows the full ring buffer. However, the output can be customized by adding specific parameters. A thorough documentation can be found on the manual page (man dmesg).

  • /var/log/syslog

This is one of the most important log files in general. Every Linux process is free to log to the syslog by implementing the syslog interface. It also logs the system upstart and executed cron-jobs.

CentOS 7.2:

As the log file structure is quite similar to the one of Debian 8, we will just mention the differences.

  • /var/log/secure

This log file is the equivalent to /var/log/auth.log in Debian systems. All kind of authentications are logged here.

  • /var/log/messages

There is no separation of /var/log/messages and /var/log/syslog in CentOS, all system logs of processes which implement the syslog interface can be found here.

  • /var/log/cron

Cron specific log files are not part of the syslog as in Debian. They can be found in the above mentioned file.

 

Log analysis via Systemd

Systemd is basically the standard Init system of nearly all major Linux distributions today. Since at least April 2015, when Debian and Ubuntu switched to Systemd, every Linux administrator or user has been in touch with Systemd. As Systemd is a complex system, we will only take a look into the log analysis functionality provided. Every process in Systemd is identified as a unit. All active units can be shown via the following command:

systemctl list-units

When appending the parameter --all, this command also shows all inactive units.

Logs being created by Systemd are managed in the so called Journal. These logs can be accessed via the journalctl binary. If journalctl is called without any parameter, it will print out the whole Journal. However, it is also possible to output the log entries of specific units only. In the following example, we are going to analyze the log files of the Apache web server.

journalctl -u httpd

It is also possible to restrict the output with the parameters --since and --until.

journalctl -u httpd --since "2016-11-01 20:00:00" --until "2016-11-03 20:00:00"

The above command will output the Apache log entries between 2016-11-01 20:00:00 and 2016-11-03 20:00:00. It is also possible to use keywords like "today" or "yesterday".

You can also output the log files of more than one unit at the same time. In the following example we will output all Apache and Nginx log entries which have been logged since yesterday.

journalctl -u httpd -u nginx --since yesterday

If the parameter -f is used, all desired log entries are shown in real time.

The above was only a slight view into the possibilities of journalctl, there are several other useful features which are described on the manual page (man journalctl).

 

Log analysis via Windows Event Viewer

Windows Event Viewer Overview

In the above picture in the left navigation you can see the entry "Windows Logs". The following entries are most important.

  • Application

This entry will show the events of locally installed applications.

  • Security

Here you can see successful and failed login attempts.

  • System

This entry logs operating system internal events and errors.

Via the entry "Custom Views" -> "Server Roles" -> "Remote Desktop Services" you can see RDP related events and errors.

Potential hardware issues can be identified via "Application and Service Logs" -> "Hardware Events".

Useful for error analysis can also be the overview which can be seen via "Overview and Summary" -> "Summary of Administrative Events", it provides a summarized overview of the system status in general.

29Jun/171

Plesk Onyx basics: The first steps

Plesk is a commercial web hosting platform developed by Parallels. It is available for Linux and Windows based operating systems and therefore for any operating systems offered by us.

Together with our partner Plesk, we are currently offering you Plesk Onyx one month for free. Simply select one of the below listed editions of Plesk Onyx and try it, before you buy and pay for it! Only available in combination with our VPS: Plesk Onyx now one month for free.

The current version of Plesk is version 17 (Onyx) which we offer in three different editions:

  • Web Admin Edition: This edition is targeted at users who only want to administrate their own websites. Unnecessary features such as customer/reseller management are not included in this edition.
  • Web Pro Edition: With this edition, you can host up to 30 different domains. Also, all features apart from the reseller management are available in this edition.
  • Web Host Edition: With this edition, you can host an unlimited amount of domains. There are no restrictions on behalf of Plesk. The Web Host Edition is the most extensive of all Plesk editions. It includes every feature - from reseller management over security core features until automatic outbound spam protection.

This tutorial, however, is restricted to the basics you need to know. We will show you how to add domains, FTP accounts, databases and e-mail accounts.

At first, we log in at our Plesk webinterface. In order to do so, we use the browser and type in our IP address and port 8443 (e.g. https://198.51.100.3:8443).

We login with the login credentials we received via e-mail...

... and land directly on the main page of the Plesk webinterface. In our case there is already a domain added, in your webinterface the main page might look a little different.

Add a domain:

We click on "Add domain" on the main page and land on the following page:

We fill in all the text boxes. In the box "Domain name", we fill in our domain (without "www"). Our example domain is "example.com". As location for our new website we choose "Create a new webspace".

When choosing IPv4/IPv6 addresses, we choose the IP addresses which we want to use for our newly created domain. Choosing the username and the password are, of course, completely up to you.

The first step is already done now. After clicking on "OK", the new domain is added on our server.

Now we can upload the data for our homepage to the server. Usually, this is done via FTP. Luckily, Plesk already created an FTP account for us when creating the new domain. So all we have to do is opening an FTP client of our choice (e.g. FileZilla) and connect with the login credentials we just set for our new domain.

What is missing now is a database for our website. By clicking on "Databases" and "Add database", we can create a new database:

Again, we fill in all text boxes. In order to connect to that database, we have to create a new database user. Please note down its username and password, you will need it for your website later! When asked about access control, we choose "Allow local connections only".

After we created the database, the following screen will pop up:

Here, we could also import a dump of an already existing database. However, this tutorial is limited to the basics only.

Create an e-mail account:

What we need now is an e-mail account for our domain we just added. Plesk offers a comfortable way to do so as well. We click on "Mail" on the left side of the main menu and then choose "Create Email address":

After we filled in all the text boxes we click on "OK" in order to create the new mail account. Please remember to note down the access data, you will need them later!
Once the mail account is created, we can login on our mail webinterface on "webmail.example.com" for sending and receiving e-mails.

Sounds good to you? Great 🙂

If you are ready to try Plesk Onyx now, we would like to mention our current campaign with Plesk Onyx one more time. Get Plesk Onyx one month for free, in combination with one of our VPS. Select the model of your choice in our VPS overview and opt for your preferred Plesk Onyx edition during the configuration process.

Posted by: Florian | Tagged as: , , , , 1 Comment
14Jun/174

The SSL certificate

Some of you might wonder in which situations an SSL certificate should be used. This tutorial will help you to find an answer whether or not you should upgrade your website or anything else by adding encryption.

The most important parts of a certificate are the public key and the private key.
The following image shows you what is happening when a client tries to establish an encrypted connection to some webserver.

 

ssl

First the client contacts the server and offers available encryption types, the server and the client come to an agreement on which type to use.
The web server sends the public key to the client so the client will be able to encrypt its requests. The webserver got his private key to decrypt all encrypted client requests. With the private key you are able to decrypt all client requests which were encrypted with the public key, that is why you should never hand out your private key to any third party.

To show you the advantage of using encryption, we created an HTML page containing a simple form which can be found on many websites. In the textfields we entered a username and password.

The username we chose: test@contabo.de

The password we entered: "unencryptedpassword"

To show the difference between encrypted messages and not encrypted messages, we captured some packets using a networking-tool.

Without any encryption we could easily extract the username and password used, we could also see which sites we visit.

pw_unencrypted

With encryption enabled we could not find neither username nor password.
It just shows a packet containing some encrypted data, without the private key we cannot determine which data was actually sent.
pw_encrypted

If you are running a website, an email server or just an FTP server, it is always up to you to offer encryption or not. Offering encryption to your customers is the best way to act professionally.

There are many types of encryption, this post just handles certificates. Usually encryption algorithms have not changed for years, if you are going to optimize your server you will of course have to think about encryption types, etc.

 


The real meaning of those connection warnings:

If you are running a web interface (cPanel, Plesk, Webmin etc.) you probably encountered a warning as follows:

ssl_err_en

"The connection is not private", usually you should rethink if you really want to proceed. There is the possibility that some server got hijacked and you are redirected to the wrong website. In this case the warning pops up because the certificate is not valid for the domain we entered. On a web interface you will get a similar warning when using a so called "self signed certificate". Your browser got a list of authorities which it will trust, signed certificates by one of those authorities will not show any warning.

It can be really unwanted if that warning is showing to all of your customers, sometimes this warning is misinterpreted and the website will be left.

There is only one way to remove this warning, you need to get a certificate signed by some official authority.

Some official authorities, such as "Lets Encrypt", will sign your certificate for free, this is a nice option but not really recommended on a production environment. Usually the domain validated certificate or wildcard  certificate is being used for production environment, those certificates usually are valid for 365 days (1 year).

There are some differences between single domain, multi domain and wildcard certificates. Usually you would want a certificate for "yourdomain.tld" or "www.yourdomain.tld". A single domain certificate will be valid only for one of those domains, a multi domain certificate alias UCC (Unified Communications Certificate) is valid for all domains included within that certificate. In case you want "www.yourdomain.tld", "yourdomain.tld" and "subdomain.yourdomain.tld" within a single certificate, a UCC should fit your needs.

There is also some extended validation available, some bigger companies take advantage of this (e.g. PayPal pp_ev). At this point I want to mention that the private key and certificate will always remain the same, there is no encryption change, the certificate will just get signed.

Right after you got your certificate signed by some official authority, everyone will be able to access your encrypted website without any warning.

ssl_ok_en

Important:
Encryption is important, all services (email server, FTP server, web server, etc.) running on your server should offer a way to establish an encrypted connection. There is no need of installing a signed certificate on each service, for most services self-signed certificates are fine.

 

Posted by: Gianni-Donato | Tagged as: , , , , 4 Comments
1Jun/172

Using your nameservers in cPanel and Plesk

To use your domain in the Internet, you need to configure nameservers. The nameservers are needed to resolve the domain names into IP addresses. We recommend to use our nameservers (ns1.contabo.net, ns2.contabo.net, ns3.contabo.net) for your domains. We provide redundant servers in different data centers and you can easily manage your DNS zones over the customer control panel. But for several reasons it can be necessary to use your own nameservers.

This tutorial provides short instructions how to manage your own nameservers with cPanel and Plesk. For most domains extensions (TLD), it is necessary to use at least two different IP addresses for two different nameservers.

In this tutorial we are going to use the domain "yourdomain.com" and want to use the nameservers "ns1.yourdomain.com" and "ns2.yourdomain.com" with the IP addresses "1.1.1.1" and "2.2.2.2".

cPanel

To use an additional IP address for a second nameserver, you will need to add the IP address in WHM at "IP Functions" - "Add a New IP Address". The DNS server will be accessible on all configured IP addresses on your server. You can use different IP addresses for the nameservers than for your website.

To use the nameservers with your domains, you will need to add them in WHM at "Server Configuration" - "Basic Webhost Manager® Setup". At the end of the page you can enter the nameserver you would like to use. After you entered the nameserver, you need to select "Configure Address Records". Please enter the IP address you want to use for this nameserver and press "Configure Address Record". After this is finished you can close the windows using "Close". Please note, that in some conditions -- for example if the nameservers are currently configured on a different server -- the entries for the nameserver will not be updated immediately. After you have finished, please press "Save changes".

Now you can "Create a New Account" with your domain at WHM - "Account functions". The configured nameserver will be used in the configuration of your new account and the DNS zone will be created with default values. You can see all DNS entries at WHM - "Edit DNS Zone".

On this page you can manage all DNS entries of your domain. Most entries are for internal usage and should not be changed. To manage user defined values, we recommend to use the "Zone Editor" at "Domains" in the cPanel account.

At last, you will need to configure your domain settings at your domain registrar. You need to change the nameserver entries. If you want to use subdomains of your domain, for example "ns1.yourdomain.com" for your domain "yourdomain.com", you will need to configure so called "Glue Records". This means, the domain registrar does not only save the name of your nameservers, but also the IP address. In some cases it is required to configure the new IP addresses for the nameservers at the current DNS zone of your domain.

After you have finished the configuration, it can take up to 24 hours until the new settings are propagated correctly. To test your nameservers and the name resolution for your domain, you can use tools like intoDNS. This tool will test the settings at your DNS provider and of your nameservers.

Plesk

At first you will need to create your domain in Plesk. At "Websites & Domains" you can see an overview of your domains.

To use a second IP address for your nameservers, the IP address needs to be configured at "Tools & Settings" - "Tools & Resources" - "IP Addresses". The DNS server responds to all configured IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. You can use different IP addresses for your nameservers than for your websites.

All DNS zones in Plesk will be configured based on a DNS template. You can find the settings at "Tools & Settings" - "General Settings" - "DNS Template". In the DNS template you can configure all entries you need for all domains on your server. Beside some default entries and entries for internal services like webmail, the settings for the nameservers can be found here. By default Plesk creates two nameserver entries "ns1.yourdomain.com" and "ns2.yourdomain.com", but with the IP address of your domain. If you want to use the same nameservers for all your domains, we recommend to change the NS entries and the IP addresses of your nameservers in the template. If you want to use different nameservers, you can also change these settings later in the DNS zone of your domain. After you have finished the configuration of the DNS template, you will need to apply the DNS template to all domains.

Now you can see the new settings also in the DNS zone of your domain. You can manage the DNS zone at "Websites & Domains" - "yourdomain.com" - "DNS Settings". There you can add, edit and delete DNS entries.

At last, you will need to configure your domain settings at your domain registrar. You need to change the nameserver entries. If you want to use subdomains of your domain, for example "ns1.yourdomain.com" for your domain "yourdomain.com" as your nameservers, you will need to configure so called "Glue Records". This means, the domain registrar does not only save the name of your nameservers, but also the IP address. In some cases it is required to configure the new IP addresses at your current DNS zone of your domain.

After you have finished the configuration, it can take up to 24 hours until the new settings are propagated correctly. To test your nameservers and the name resolution for your domain, you can use tools like intoDNS. This tool will test the settings at your DNS provider and your nameservers.

Posted by: Torsten | Tagged as: , , , 2 Comments