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All web hosting companies need to do server migrations – an essential and routine task in our line of work. When it comes to migrating servers and accounts, you need to do so with proper planning and perfect execution. Otherwise, it can cause website downtime and complications. Hence, we created this cPanel to Plesk migration guide to smoothen the process.
You may need a server migration for a variety of reasons, but in most cases, it’s either because of security improvements or business growth and expansion. Millions of hosting servers use Plesk and cPanel as their control panels. And that’s why a cPanel to Plesk migration is one of the most common tasks tech support employees do.
Preparation steps for cPanel to Plesk migration
Failing your cPanel to Plesk migration can lose you a lot of time. So ensure your Plesk migration process is seamless with these necessary preparation steps. And make sure you prepare both servers for the process. These are the essential steps that you need to follow to prepare the migration in a proper way.
- Make sure that you have enough disk space on both cPanel and Plesk servers. The space available within the source needs to be at least the same as the amount of data transferred. And the destination should have at least 5 GBs more than that.
- Use you migration manager to make sure that the versions of Plesk and cPanel you have are compatible for the transfer.
- Install the Plesk transfer and migration manager on the destination.
- In order to make sure there are no IP issues, add one or more shared IP addresses. Meanwhile, follow up with the exact number of dedicated IP addresses within both servers.
- If you have mailing lists in the source, install the Mailman mailing list manager in the destination server. And that way, you can handle them properly.
- To connect the destination server to the source server, allow the IP of the Plesk server within the cPanel firewall. Also, configure the source server to allow SSH connections.
- Make sure that SELinux is disabled on your Plesk server while the process is ongoing.
Plesk and cPanel store virtual hosts in different paths. If you’re transferring to a new server, change its virtual host location to ‘/home’ for a smooth transfer.
How to execute cPanel to Plesk migration
Migrations need different time frames, depending on the size of the data and your network speed. But do schedule the execution for quiet hours so that the transfer can go faster. Configure your “Transfer and Migration Manager” with Plesk’s interface. Then change the source server details including password, IP address, upload path, data that needs to be transferred, and add some custom rules just in case some conflicts occur while the migration takes place.
One of the important things you need to do is IP address mapping. So remember to map all the dedicated and shared IPs within the source server to all of the corresponding IPs which are in the destination server. When the process is finished, make sure to look at the report to ensure that everything was transferred correctly.
How to overcome Migration Agent downsides
Although you can use the migration agent for a more automatized migration, you may run into some bumps.
1. Your FTP account passwords don’t get migrated and you generate new ones. Your solution is to track the passwords and update your users.
2. You will not manage to migrate DNS zones. So you have to edit your domain DNS records post-migration to configure them properly.
3. You won’t transfer data such as SSL certificates, PHP extensions, Apache modules, Domain keys and IP blacklists. So you’ll have to configure them manually in your destination server.
4. Often, the migration agent splits user accounts with multiple databases that are under one domain into several user accounts. So, you need to find the database dump within the source server. Then copy all of it to the destination server manually.
The biggest challenges we run into as system admins and web experts are multiple server management, site management, and maintenance. If we don’t do this right, we face consequences. We waste time and resources. So it’s essential to own a web hosting control panel – making the whole thing simpler. While being able to create sites, apps, automate tasks, handle website security, and more.
Plesk Onyx is an all-around control panel and WebOps solution. Devs rely on it for its coding environment. Not to mention everyday tasks as it offers many extensions. Including Node.js, Ruby, WordPress Toolkit, Joomla Toolkit and more.
Plesk Control Panel Bonuses
Plesk supports Docker, which empowers developers to create and manage their new software. Do this by managing and deploying all Docker containers straight from the control panel. Additionally, Plesk offers GitHub integrations – deploying apps and sites quick from a Git repository, remote or local.
Plesk server management continues to add to its multiple server management capabilities. By giving absolute control of multiple accounts and subscriptions across all servers.
Multiple Server Management with One Control Panel
Plesk’s Multi Server extension lets you administrate multiple servers and routine tasks with just one control panel. Doesn’t matter if you’re a hosting provider, reseller, or manage your own hosting. Constantly switching between several hostnames, username IDs, and so on is exhausting.
Plesk designed its Multi Server extension with this in mind. For effective and secure multiple server management. With this extension, you can perform hosting actions on many servers. And manage the infrastructure with ease. This because memorizing hostnames, passwords, and login identifications become unnecessary.
It’s similar to simple web server management. However, the same scope of features is related to a number of servers. All through a single control panel.
Why the Multiple Server Management Extension?
You can install this extension directly from Plesk’s extension list. But note that you need to install Onyx on all your servers first. You’ll have all the features that Plesk has. But with this extension, you’ll gain additional functionalities:
- Managing as many customer subscriptions and accounts as you want from your control panel.
- Choosing between any billing systems you like, including yours.
It’s a very useful business-ready platform. Ideal for development studios and web designers who manage many different sites and clients.
What Plesk Multi-server management Consists of
- At least two nodes which are all connected to each other using the SDK extension.
- The basic two nodes include Service nodes and management nodes.
- Plesk multi-server that will be installed on all extensions with all nodes.
- All of the nodes that will have the same license key and configurations.
Subscriptions and Customer Account Management
So we said that this system comes with two nodes – service and management nodes. You use the service node to manage hosting. Because it has the power to host sites, system databases and emails. It also ensures quality load-balancing. This is important since it decides which node will provide hosting for the new subscription. Meanwhile, the multi-server extension has a separate API extending from Plesk’s API. Giving the power to add commands within the system.
The management node is a single Onyx server. Useful for both customers and administrators. And it servers a single point login spot. All new customer accounts go into this node too. But remember, this node has no tools for any hosting actions. So we use the management node to create accounts and the service node to manage their hosting.
Additionally, when a customer logs into the management node, they see and manage all subscriptions hosted through service nodes. You can see the following information on the subscription tab:
- Status – a status sign that shows whether a subscription is successful or not.
- A service node IP address that is provisioned for a certain subscription.
This is how Plesk server management can help you with web server management and multiple server management. You as an admin can rely on this comprehensive platform for its capabilities at all times.
UPDATE: Starting from Plesk Onyx 17.8 Multi Server feature is no longer available
“There must be a simpler way to manage servers!” – thinks everyone who demands ASP.NET hosting. Well, you’ll be hyped to know hosting companies are now listening. Many have even just begun to offer a highly-rated Windows hosting control panel in their plans. The beauty of these panels is that they offer a web-based interface. This means you can use familiar settings of a user or admin’s web browser to manage multiple server services.
Let’s now take a look at two in the ASP.NET hosting environment: Plesk and WebsitePanel. And let’s compare to see which one works out best for you.
About Plesk and Plesk Onyx
Plesk is an industry-leading control panel for server and web hosting automation. Its creators designed it with ease-of-use in mind, as well as power. So whether you need to manage email, apps or sites, the intuitive interface lets you do it all in a jiffy.
The Plesk Onyx Panel is great for getting your website or email up and running. In minutes, you can choose from several hundred apps and install them with a single click. Maybe it’s because of this convenience that over 250,000 Windows servers have used it to date. And it’s even grown to become the number one solution for ASP.NET hosting service providers, web designers, and website owners.
Why Plesk Onyx?
- The easy-to-use GUI. So you can perform common tasks even with little to no experience;
- It reduces page-loading times and improves mobile responsiveness;
- Its automatic installer gets even the most complicated websites up and running in no time.
WebsitePanel began as DotNetPanel, which its creators made only for the Windows web technology platform as a Windows hosting panel. The initial DotNetPanel developers contributed a great deal to WebsitePanel. And now Microsoft has added to their legacy by investing in WebsitePanel’s future. Development efforts continue, with main focus on giving hosting providers and developers access to powerful Windows hosting products and services. And moreover, the ability to manage customer servers.
Naturally, the project has evolved over time. Developers and contributors to WebsitePanel may have stopped upgrading the original open-source aspect. But they have now veered off to take the code in new directions. Thus giving users access to optional extras for WebsitePanel that share its underlying technology.
This is an improved version of WebsitePanel. Even though the code isn’t open source, and you can’t modify or compile it yourself, you can still use it.
They conceived MSPControl for IT providers and Cloud Computing Companies. Hence offering them a comprehensive portal with a full suite of automatic services on Windows servers. Users can even get detailed control of Windows Server applications. So that means Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft RemoteApp, Microsoft Online Services, Microsoft Sharepoint, Hyper-V R2 Deployments, Microsoft IIS, and more.
SolidCP appeared in 2016. Its design is responsive and easy-to-use. And it’s a stable control panel for both Windows and Linux servers. Moreover, it benefits from being open-source and so costs nothing to use.
A number of hosting industry professionals manage it with over 10 years of experience. Its biggest advantage is that it lets you manage multiple servers from one simple interface.
Plesk vs. WebsitePanel
No doubt that both Plesk and WebsitePanel are Windows hosting panels that attracted their own legions of hard-core fans. Hosters and developers alike can argue for their chosen platform until the cows come home. However, this enthusiasm can muddy the newbie user’s choice between the two. So, with that in mind, we’ll just run through the key differences.
1. User Interface
A good UI can make or break any system, and generally, many consider Plesk’s to be better. It’s well-designed, clean, and attractive. Although WebsitePanel (MSPControl or SolidCP) also offers a user-friendly platform, it’s not quite up to the same standard.
Plesk offers a higher level of security than any version of WebsitePanel. It has comprehensive authentication methods, anti-virus, and anti-spam solutions. Plus its support for web server security and network security services are a cut above what WebsitePanel has to offer.
Choosing Between Plesk and WebsitePanel?
Plesk and WebsitePanel (MSPControl and SolidCP versions) are both very sound and capable Windows hosting panels. They’ll help you manage every aspect of your hosting account when you use them correctly. You can find them both available under most ASP.NET hosting plans – at no extra cost. So you picked a VPS or dedicated server solution? Then your higher need for security and usability makes Plesk Onyx your logical choice.
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Cost is often the biggest factor in the minds of business leaders when it comes to picking a cloud hosting platform provider. But is it right to focus so heavily on price when value for your business needs is clearly the primary focus? For anyone looking to choose from the ‘big three’ cloud hosting platforms, it comes as no surprise that Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are the dominant horses in this race.
The rise of junk mail has naturally mirrored the rise of the web. It’s true that anti-spam methods have grown in sophistication, filtering out more unwanted messages than ever before. But still – one or two uninvited guests manage to slip through the net.
Spam email is as old as the web, and its growth has kept pace with the web’s explosion in popularity. So, enter three (fairly) new tools that are taking the fight against spam up a notch: DKIM, DMARC and SPF. Here’s a glimpse of these tools and a quick rundown of what they can do.
DMARC, DKIM and SPF – What are they?
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a system that ensures emails are genuine by comparing them against a TXT list of approved senders. Senders are published in the DNS record. These DNS entries can be trusted because owners and administrators are the only individuals allowed to make them.
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) detects forged email and allows each item to be authenticated. When sending an email, it’s easy to claim that it’s coming from a particular domain, but DKIM actually validates such claims.
DKIM works by adding a digital signature to an email message so that the two become associated. The sender of an email publishes a key in the DNS and this can be compared to the signature. If they match, then it’s clear that there has been no tampering with the email.
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) is an additional mechanism that works in tandem with SPF and DKIM. With this, the domain admin can publish a policy, saying whether it uses SPF, DKIM or both. It lets the receiving server know how it should handle failures.
It’s clear that the DNS is key for these systems to function properly. Let’s see how they work.
How Does SPF Work?
- First, the receiving mail server fetches the sender address of every message it gets.
- Then, it performs a TXT DNS query, checking the SPF entry’s claimed domain.
- After, the data in the SPF entry can be used to authenticate the sender’s server.
- Finally, the sender’s server receives a rejection notice if this authentication fails.
How does DKIM work?
- The final server in the domain infrastructure compares the domain that is in the “From” header. This ensures that it has an entry in its signing table. If not, the process stops.
- Second, a “DKIM-Signature” header is added to the mail message, using the private part of the key in the message content.
- Now, the content of the message is locked and nobody can modify it. Any attempt to do so results in a mismatch with the DKIM header.
- So when the message gets to the receiving server, it creates a TXT DNS query that lets it get hold of the key from the DKIM-Signature field.
- Finally, the result of the DKIM header check reveals if a message is real or fake.
How does DMARC work?
- When a message arrives, the mail server looks for a DMARC policy relating to the domain that DKIM and/or SPF use.
- If one or both checks are successful and still comply with the DMARC policy, then it will be deemed successful. If not, it fails.
- In the event that the check fails, the published DMARC policy will guide further action.
Best practices and their limits
Unfortunate but true: even if you observe best practices and your mail system uses all of these tools correctly, phishers, scammers and spammers will still get through your defenses now and then.
Not all servers are using all of these three tools, but even if they are, it still helps to note the limits of what SPF, DKIM and DMARC can do:
- Using DKIM on its own doesn’t ensure that the server sending the message to a specific domain is entitled to do so.
- SPF can’t do anything with messages that have been forged in a shared hosting situation. This is because all of that mail will appear to be coming from the same IP address.
- DMARC is still in its infancy stage and has not enough users have adopted it to make a significant difference.
- Used on its own, DMARC can and will break your mail flow. To avoid this, you will need to set up both DKIM and SPF before you change the DMARC policy to anything other than “none”.
It’s essential for you to work through the SPF, DKIM or DMARC setup process correctly. If you don’t, all your users’ important messages will be marked fraudulent.
Bottom line: Should I be using these tools or not?
Short answer: Yes. Even though they are not as widely popular as they should be right now, they certainly will be – and soon too. One of the best ways to encourage others to adopt these best practices and use these tools is to adopt it yourself. Or maybe act shocked when you talk to people who don’t!
Plesk Onyx gives you the power to protect your email infrastructure from spam/spoofing issues. And you can do this by setting up DKIM, SPF and DMARC via a web interface. You can find out more about how to turn on DKIM functionality, set up and configure SPF records and initiate DMARC on your server here.
First published on Nov 13, 2017 – Updated on Feb 4, 2019
Nowadays, a server operating system might host some of the following services:
- Web service and associated applications used by websites
- Mail service
- Database services
- DNS service
Often there’s also an installed control panel software that helps to facilitate the deployment and management of these services. So migration of the data and services from one server to another one is, in this case, the process of transfer of the control panel data and content (such as websites, mail, databases, DNS zones) to the new server.
Disadvantages of manual backup/restore
Generally, the migration procedure backs up some data on the old server. Then, transfers the backup file to the new server and restores it there. For such a complex environment, the transfer of data to another server isn’t the easiest option. You can, of course, move all the data piece by piece using the native backup/restore tools for each server component and file copy. However, it often takes an unreasonable amount of work-time and manual operations.
The other disadvantage is that it’s not possible to make a seamless transition if the services on the old server are active. Some data will be lost in transfer staying on the old server or some services will be down during the transfer.
Migration to a server with Plesk
Let’s now suppose you have Plesk Onyx on the new server. In this case, it will be easier to transfer all the data (web/mail/databases/DNS/Control Panel data). Because Plesk provides a special tool, the Plesk Migrator Extension, which automates the process.
This is the migration tool that Plesk provides for migration to the latest, recommended Plesk Onyx versions. You install it via Plesk Panel like any other Plesk Extension and it has a handy user interface too.
There can be different reasons for migrating services and/or data from one server to another. Let’s go through the typical server migration scenarios and see how Plesk makes the whole process simple.
Moving your services to the Cloud with Plesk and our hyperscaler partners
Migration from another control panel/hosting environment to Plesk
Moving your services to the Cloud with Plesk
It’s become popular to move onto cloud services and scale your business. You can easily install Plesk on the most-loved cloud platforms, like:
- Amazon AWS
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Compute Engine (we have yet not blogged about this yet, but you can install Plesk on a Google Cloud VM the same way as a regular stand-alone Plesk server)
And once you install Plesk, you can migrate to the cloud instance with Plesk from anywhere, in a standard way.
There will practically be no difference as it doesnt depend on where Plesk is installed (cloud instance, virtual container/ machine or a physical server). You always migrate to Plesk using the Plesk Migrator Extension (this is the number one tool for Plesk migration).
Migration from another control panel/hosting environment to Plesk
If you have any control Panel you would like to leave for Plesk – check out our list of supported Panels. We might already have implemented the support of migration from it.
Your Panel not on the list yet? No problem. Plesk has a dedicated migration assistance team who can prepare the scripts for migration or do a full, paid migration service for you, if needed. Do not hesitate to contact us so we can help you implement the migration method from your server environment to Plesk.
You can even do this from your Panel (one that is not yet supported) on your own, using our custom migration framework.
Migration to the new Plesk and Operating System versions
Another common reason to migrate to a server managed by Plesk is to update the old Plesk version and/or Operating System. Please check the Plesk EOL policy. We recommend that you migrate to the latest Plesk version (Plesk Onyx, since 2017) on a supported operating system.
You can check what upgrade/migration options are available for your OS/Plesk version in the Migration Process Guide.
More common migration scenarios
- Joining and migrating services from several Plesk servers, one by one, to a new, bigger, more powerful server.
- Migrate part of Plesk subscriptions to a new server.
- Shift to the Plesk Multi-Server product.
- Moving data to a server in another datacenter.
- Switch to a server with upgraded hardware.
- Transfer from a physical server to a VM/container.
In any case, the Plesk migration process is the same – you always migrate to Plesk using the Plesk Migrator Extension on the target Plesk server.
Common questions around migration to Plesk
Usually, when the migration planning has started, the following questions appear.
- Which tool should I use to migrate?
- What should I configure/check/install on both servers?
- Are there any ports that need to be opened on the servers?
- Will be there any services downtime during migration?
- How do you sync outdated data on the old server during migration?
- How much disc space do both servers need for migration?
- Is it possible to keep IP address of the old server instead of changing the domains’ DNS records?
You can find the answers and more details about the migration process in the Migration Process Guide document.
In most cases, Plesk migrator will warn you about the problems which need to be solved when it does automated pre-checks. Also, it will warn about problems when it does automated post-checks on migrated objects. Based on the warnings you can always do required corrections and repeat the migration of the problem customers/mailboxes/websites/databases any time.
Typical Plesk migration steps
A short overview of the migration steps (more in detail in the Migration Process Guide)
For steps 1 and 2:
- Install Plesk on the destination server.
- Install all 3rd party components/software that your services use on the source server.
- Make sure to install all products licenses.
- If you plan to migrate databases, make sure that you install and register database servers on the Plesk Panel. Do this in the destination server of the same or higher version than the source server.
- Install all available PHP versions via Plesk Panel installer on the destination server.
- For Windows – Install the latest .NET framework version on the server.
- Then, you can just install the Plesk Migrator Extension on Plesk Panel in the destination server.
- Start the migration to Plesk from there.
- Follow the hints of the automated pre-check/post-check procedures.
For step 3 and 4:
This will not interrupt your services on the source server. It will merely copy data from the source server and will validate them on the destination server. It will warn you if something is missing or if you need to configure something.
When you are satisfied with the migration result, you can sync data in step 6 from the source server to update it and switch domains’ DNS (or move IP addresses) to complete the migration in step 7.