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DNS issues

Sometimes you cannot access a web site when others say it is working correctly. This article particularly refers to web sites referred to by a domain name that have recently moved from one server to another.

  1. The first thing to try is to refresh your browser cache. Your computer stores web sites you have viewed to speed up loading the enxt time you visit. Sometimes it will reload out-of-date information. See this web page for an explanation: http://www.refreshyourcache.com/en/cache/  or do a web search for “refresh browser cache”.
  2. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may have out of date DNS information stored on your computer, causing your web browser to be looking in the wrong place for thew web site. You need to “flush” your local DNS record – the Windows command is ipconfig /flushdns . For more details see this web page: http://www.wikihow.com/Flush-DNS or do a web search for “flush dns”.
  3. Sometimes there are errors in the regularly updated DNS tables held by your ISP. These will normally self-resolve over time but some DNS servers are more reliable than others. Two free services we recommend that can be used as an alternative to that provided by your ISP are:
    Open DNS: http://www.opendns.com/
    208.67.222.222
    208.67.222.220
    Google Public DNS: https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/
    8.8.8.8
    8.8.4.4
    The above IP addresses are current at the time of writing and are included here for convenience. It is unlikely they will change but check their web sites in case of problems. The sites also give details of how to set this up on your computer.

Email attachment sizes

Legacy Cloud accounts

If you are using one of our legacy Cloud accounts, email attachments are limited to 50 MB (using POP3/IMAP) or 30 MB (using Webmail)

Email mailing scripts

Many mailing scripts are full of security holes leaving your site open to spammer hacks. Be very careful with what you use.

We can supply a secure script of our own for contacct forms if required.

We do not recommend the use of the PHP mail() command in any script that sends mail to recipients outside your domain, as many mail servers (including btinternet.com) refuse to dela with them as they wrongly assume ALL mail sent that way is spam. Use a script that sends via your SMTP server.

Junk Mail Filtering

Junk mail filtering is provided on all accounts. By default it adds a “Spam?” reference on the subject line, allowing you to set up filters in your email software.

Viruses in emails are set to delete.

This can be turned off or configured on request.

Legacy Cloud accounts

You can configure your junk mail filtering through your Domain Control Panel. By default, it is set to Level 4, if you don’t want filtering, set to 10 (Extremely Tolerant).

The default setting is to place the mail in a Spam mailbox (only accessible via Webmail or IMAP) but it can be changed to add a tag in the Subject line if required.

Remote database access

Remote database access is available, but has to be configured for you. Please contact us if you require this.

Your database access software will require the following information:

  • IP address to connect to
  • Port number
  • Database name
  • Username of database
  • User password of database

Note – the usernames and passwords mentioned above are not the dsame as your Domain Control Panel access details.

Legacy Cloud accounts

If you are using one of our legacy Cloud accounts, this can be set up from your Control Panel, go to Database Tools > MySQL Databases

SSL Certificates (HTTPS)

You should use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) if your website does any of the following:

  • accepts credit card payment (not necessary if you use a third-party payment gateway such as PayPal or Worldpay)
  • uses password login
  • exchanges private data

In addition some browsers and search engines are pressurising for all web sites to use SSL, although not essentially necessary. Some search engines will now give higher ratings to those that do.

SSL encrypts all data sent beween the user and the server and vice versa. You must have an SSL Certificate vouching for the safe standards of your site to use SSL without the end user getting dire warning of insecurity.

Free SSL Certificates are available on our Gemstone accounts, but there may be an initial install fee. Thereafter, all renewals are free.

Legacy Cloud accounts

We offer free SSL certificates on our legacy Cloud accounts. Renewal takes place every three months.

Installing the free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate

You can install the Let’s Encrypt SSL Ceritifcate through your Cloud Control Panel, or we can do this for you for a small fee.

  1. In your Cloud Control Panel, make sure the Web Site Preview option is disabled.
  2. Click on the Let’s Encrypt icon for the web site concerned.
  3. Click on “Check My Domains” and you will see a list of all domains related to that web site, which will be certified with the certificate.
  4. If all domains show “OK” click “Request Certificate”
  5. Your certificate is now installed. Wait 24 hours to allow the DNS to propogate before testing the web site address(es) using the https:// prefix. A green padlock symbol should show the SSL is working without issue. Different colour padlocks or triangles indicate an issue.
  6. You can identify any issues on specific pages by visiting https://www.whynopadlock.com/
    The most common issue is graphical images linked using http:// but the above site will tell you where problems lie.
  7. Once you are satisfied SSL is working as it should, you need to force all site visitors to use it. Simply add some code to the .htaccess file in your public_html directory as follows, which will automatically switch anybody that uses http:// to https:// silently and seamlessly. In time, search engines will recognise your https:// URL. The code you need to add is as follows, add it at the top of the file:
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yourdomain.co.uk/$1 [R=301,L]
    Replace yourdomain.co.uk with your web site’s domain name
  8. That’s it!

Renewing the free Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate

The certificates have to be manually renewed every three months, this is how to do it:

  1. In your Control Panel, rename the directory from public_html to public_htmlx
  2. Create a new directory named public_html
  3. Follow the above process to install a Let’s Encrypt certificate
  4. Delete the temporary public_html directory that you created
  5. Rename the public_htmlx directory back to public_html

This process will temporarily take your website off-line during the process, so you may like to choose the time you do this. It shouldn’t take more than two minutes to complete.

Uploading database content

If uploading data to a database. you may encounter the usual size limitation when using PHPMyAdmin or the LOAD DATA command.

This can be overcome by using special scripts such as BIGDUMP which is available from https://www.ozerov.de/bigdump/

Don’t forget to delete your files afterwards, otherwise you are leaving a massive security hole!

Using .htaccess files

You can change the way your web site works by using an .htaccess file.

This is a curiously named file – it must be of named .htaccess and uploaded to the root directory of your site. It must be created as a plain text file in a text editor.

Many of the features available are already incorporated in your account but if you need to change them, the .htaccess file will over-ride those default settings.

To prevent access to the web site from certain IP addresses:

deny from 000.000.000.000

Substitute the IP address you wish to block.

To prevent access to the web site to users referred by another web site:

RewriteEngine on
# Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} offendingdomain\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* - [F]

Blocked users will receive a 403 error message.

Redirect users to a different location

If you move a web site, or part of a web site, you can redirect users to the new one – for example if your moved pages are http:mywebsite.co.uk/blabla and you move them to http://mywebsite.co.uk/not_so_bla :

Redirect //blabla /not_so_bla

You can enter a new URL if the pages have moved to a new domain:

Redirect //blabla http://www.mynewsite.co.uk

If a single page has moved, just use:

Redirect /somedirectory/filename.htm http://www.mynewsite.co.uk/someotherdirectory/someotherfilename.htm

There are so many permutations it is impractical to list them all here.

Password protection

You can password protect directories using .htaccess but on legacy Cloud accounts it is simpler to do so through your User Control Panel.

Error documents

You can configure what is displayed when a user is returned an error page by specifying a file – e.g:

ErrorDocument 401 /my_error_pages/error401.html
ErrorDocument 404 /
my_error_pages/error404.html
ErrorDocument 500 /
my_error_pages/error500.html

Priority of files displayed when user visits your domain

Files are given specific priority to be displayed if a user types http://yourdomain.co.uk. You can change this priority by:

DirectoryIndex index.cgi index.php index.html

To force download of files instead of displaying on screen

You may sometimes want to force download of certain file types, for instance users can configure their browser to view PDF or other files on-line but you may specifically want them to be downloaded:

AddType application/octet-stream .pdf .mp3

 

 

 

For more advanced options, see http://www.htaccess-guide.com/ .