S3-compatible Backup Space for Servers & Websites with Storj DCS

You may remember that we wrote about the opportunity of decentralized storage providers back in 2018 on our blog.

The technology has developed well – and today we’re introducing S3 compatible backup space for your server or website with Storj DCS (Decentralized Cloud Storage) and an integration with Plesk. With Storj and Plesk, backups are a fraction of the cost of other backup and storage solutions. In addition, Storj DCS is 100% decentralized, uses encryption by default to offer enhanced security, edge-based access management for superior privacy, and is also compatible with the S3 protocol. Storj also delivers multi-region redundancy at no extra cost.

What is Storj DCS in 2021?

Storj DCS (Decentralized Cloud Storage) is an encrypted, secure, and cost-effective object storage service that enables you to decentralize your object data around the world using a simple logical instance.

Storj offers 2 types of operating models on how you can participate in its network:

  • Store your data across the decentralized network (primary focus in this article)
  • Put your extra space to use and start earning revenue today by running a Storage Node that is part of Storj’s network (there will be a future offering with Plesk to support this capability)

More Security and Privacy

Decentralized cloud storage is more difficult to attack. On the decentralized Storj network, files are encoded for redundancy, divided into pieces, and spread across storage devices around the world. Each device is a different piece of hardware, in different geographic locations, and is operated by different people.

Storj’s capability-based security model is also more efficient than the ACL model, as there are no central repositories of credentials that could be exposed. Data is encrypted client-side – meaning that only you have the keys to retrieve your data making it almost impossible for a data breach.

Better Performance

Storj DCS is faster and more predictable than competitors due to the way data is encrypted, split, and streamed in parallel. The Storj network uses erasure coding for redundancy so it can distribute file pieces over many Nodes located in different physical locations around the world.

Easy to Implement

Integrating with Storj DCS is as easy as reconfiguring your existing config files, with no new code needed. It literally takes a few minutes.

Affordable

The economics of decentralized cloud storage is more efficient than competitors’. Decentralized infrastructure taps into underutilized, or latent hardware and puts it to use in the decentralized cloud swarm. Storj is significantly more affordable than other leading cloud providers such as Amazon S3, while offering multi-region redundancy and encryption by default at no extra cost.

How to use STORJ with Plesk

Note: Whether backing up your server or website inside Plesk using Storj DCS, the process is the same. We focus on how to backup your website into Storj in this article. If you prefer to backup your whole server to STORJ, just use the server level backup manager with the same principles.

  1. Create and login to your free account on Storj DCS
  2. Go to “Objects” and create your first S3 bucket:

3.  On your Dashboard, create your access grants (if you did not create an access grant during the initial setup wizard):

 

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4.   While creating your credentials, select “Generate S3 Gateway Credentials” in the last step:

 

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5.   Now we’re ready to go and move to the Plesk side. Go to the Domain or Subscription and select “Backup Manager”:

 

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6.   Select “Remote Storage Settings”:

 

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7.   Select “Amazon S3 Backup”:

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8.  This one is important to get right:

  • The service provider has to be “Custom (Minio, Openstack, etc.)”
  • The API Endpoint URL is the “End Point” from Storj
  • The Login (Key) is your “Access Key” generated by Storj
  • The Password (Secret) is your “Secret Key” generated by Storj
  • For the bucket, please use the bucket that you generated earlier in these steps
  • As Path, I usually set “/” unless you want to use a subfolder, then please define your subfolder of the bucket here.
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9.   Then press “OK” and we’re good to go for our first backup. Go back to the Backup Manager in Plesk and select “Back Up”. Make sure you select either to store in just the remote backup location or in a combination of the local and the remote location.

Once you click “OK” we’re backing up into Storj!

10.   Now, every Backup is only as good as its restoration if things go wrong. So let’s try to restore the backup that we have just made into Storj. Click on the Backup that you have made:

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11.  Select “All objects (entire system)” for the restore, but you are free to also use any other options including selective restore. Then click on “Restore”:

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12.   Congratulations! Your first backup from Storj has been successfully restored:

Future Outlook

As we are extending the partnership with Storj and the WebPros group, you may also use the same functionality as above in cPanel. You can refer to this video to check out how to do this.

In addition, we are also closely working with the Storj team for an auto-installation of the agent on your server so you can’t only use their storage service but also become an active Node in their network. With this feature, you could then also earn money with your Plesk or cPanel server. Storj pays Node Operators for their unused storage and bandwidth, so anyone can monetize their under utilized devices. But details on that follow soon – keep watching this blog for updates.

 

Want to try Storj yourself now?

If you are ready to try Storj DCS, sign up free to take advantage of their offer of 150 GB of capacity and bandwidth across 3 projects (50 GB each).

Plesk is now available on Linode: Here’s how to install it

install Plesk on Linode

Cloud companies like Linode are revolutionizing how businesses reach their customers today. Digitizing painful old processes, allowing them more time to focus on what they really care about – making their products unique. This is why we have Plesk on Linode. Now let’s talk about how to install Plesk on Linode too.

As a Web Professional, your goal is to provide highly available and scalable services to your customers. You want to be able to focus on what you’re good at. Forget the nitty-gritty technical server management, cost-streamlining, running of instances, backups, and account management. These tasks are for the  virtual private server, designed precisely for this purpose. If you’re tired of managing infrastructure and security when you just want to focus on improving your product/service, Plesk Obsidian is the solution. Now for the infrastructure…

What’s Linode?

Linode is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider

Linode is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider company based in New Jersey, US. Linode offers multiple products and services for its clients. Its flagship products are IaaS solutions with multiple VM sizes at different price points billed hourly.

Additionally, Linode Backup allows customers to back up their servers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Linode Manager and NodeBalancer both allow users to manage multiple server instances across a single system.

You can learn more about Linode here.

Getting started with Plesk on Linode

First, please review the Software Requirements for Plesk to find what Linux distributions are supported by Plesk.

  1. Then, log into your Linode Account and click on “One-Click Apps”. If you don’t have one, you need to create one first.
Plesk Linode 1

2. In the middle of the page, click on “Plesk”

linode plesk

3. Then scroll down to choose some options based on your needs:

    1. You need to define a domain name for your server. This should be in the format yourserver.yourdomain.com . This is only going to be active after your point your DNS to the virtual machine but is a requirement for a successful deployment.
    2. Select an operating system of your choice. You can currently choose the latest CentOS and Ubuntu versions. Which one is best for you is a matter of choice and there are no limitations of Plesk independent of what you are going to use.
    3. Select a Region of your choice. Depending on where you or your customers’ websites are, select the datacenter region that you may need. Usually, it’s recommended to choose the closest location to where the majority of your website visitors are coming from to avoid any performance delays.
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4. Afterwards, scroll down further and select the size of your virtual machine. Plesk runs smoothly on a small virtual machine. However, it highly depends on your setup and how many websites you plan to run on a single virtual machine. Please also refer to this guide for details.

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5. Scroll down again and define further options. The Linode Label and “Add Tags” are optional things. Here, you’ll need to set a root password, which you will need to remember for later 😉

Further Optional Add-ons are optional and up to you whether to use them or not. Then click “Create” on the right side.

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6. The Plesk Stack Script asks you to fill in basic information. Which will start the Plesk configuration, install a temporary license key and let you to login. All without needing an SSH to generate a password afterwards. Because you can define it upfront.

Leave all the other settings as default.

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7. You should see this or a similar screen in your browser after you pressed enter in the browser. Click on “Login to Plesk”.

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8. You can safely ignore the “insecure” message after you pressed “Login to Plesk”. The reason is that unless your chosen domain name for the server has no SSL certificate assigned, this message will stay. You can do this later for free using a Let’s Encrypt certificate inside the Plesk configuration.

Then use the user “root” as your username and the password that you defined inside the Linode interface earlier. Click “Log in”.

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9. You can then enter a few more details to set up the server. And a password for the login with the “admin” username. You can then use that login to access Plesk instead of using root and the root-password. We highly recommend that if you’re accessing the virtual machine through the terminal, you only use the root access.

You can either use a trial license for Plesk or check out our Plesk licenses to enjoy its full capabilities.

Enter the activation code you receive in your Plesk order and “Enter Plesk”.

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10. Welcome! After a few more seconds of initialization, you can now add your first domain and/or website. If you need more details, we also suggest checking out our documentation or Plesk University where we have free courses available.

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Recently, we even launched a free Udemy course on how to get started with Plesk on Linode. So you can get your first website up and running in no time. In the meantime, we’re available if you need any additional support. Or if you want to be part of our growing Facebook Community Group. Give us a knock and we’ll let you in. Happy Plesking on Linode!

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities (3): Decentralized Cloud Storage

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities - Decentralized Cloud Storage - Plesk

Decentralized Cloud Storage is one use case that’s growing very fast and aims to solve one of the biggest online challenges today. Cloud storage is controlled by a few super large providers (Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, Amazon, and so on). Raising questions about data protection, privacy, licensing, control and ownership of data. It’s yet another hidden blockchain opportunity for hosting and cloud providers.

Decentralized Cloud Storage in the Blockchain age

A few Blockchain companies have started working on proper alternatives, providing opportunities for cloud and hosting providers too! They all operate in a similar way:

(Read part 1 of the Blockchain series if this is not clear yet)

  • Instead of running storage through a company that controls it centrally, a decentralized Blockchain network stores the data.
  • The technology is open source and there’s no company controlling the data within this Blockchain network.
  • Compared to a centralized network, decentralized cloud storage ( decentralized networks ) represents not 100s or 1000s of computers/servers, but often millions. The price to store data is lower and the availability of such network is significantly higher than traditionally centralized networks.
  • The data is encrypted and each user controls their own encryption keys. Making the Blockchain concept a rock solid, unhackable and unbreakable solution.

Examples of such Blockchains are:

  • STORJ: (Funding: 35M USD) – Version S3 compatible V3 will be released soon
  • Sia: (Funding: 1.5M USD) – in production
  • Filecoin: (Funding: 257M USD) – no product yet, just a file system so far
  • IPFS: (Funding unknown) – in production and already used by developers worldwide.

Where’s the opportunity for cloud and hosting providers?

Because of the way these Blockchain networks operate, there are two use cases that hosting & cloud service providers can pursue.

  1. Consume storage:
    For example, use the storage of these networks to have an additional way of storing special or sensitive data, at a super cheap price.
  2. Contribute your spare/idle infrastructure:
    Add it into the Blockchain network to help keep it up and running. Get paid in tokens.

We’re still in the early stage of decentralized storage, but the expectations are high. This considering the investment sizes and advantages this approach provides, compared to centrally-controlled cloud storage. So I recommend you have a look now and make sure you’re ready for it as early as possible.

Decentralized Computing powered by Fog Computing (aka Blockchain)

Imagine running a decentralized approach for computing power across millions of computers on a Blockchain. It’s probably one of the most complex Blockchain areas being built.

Traditional cloud computing, especially the hyperscale cloud providers, consists of a few large companies – Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba. They have central control over thousands of machines, used by millions of users. Plus a couple of thousands of hosting providers, but they’re 100x smaller than the global hyperscale giants.

There are now organizations, funded with millions of USD, that are trying to change this. So that cloud computing can become “Fog Computing” – a globally scalable network of computing power based on a Blockchain. Millions of computers connected decentrally – without central control. Making computing power usage on a global scale not only more secure, but also much more inexpensive.

Where’s the opportunity for cloud & hosting providers?

Computing power:

  1. Even if those new approaches are decentralized, the computing power behind is still required. But it will be layered and connected across the world through a secure and scalable Blockchain layer. Such computing power (spare, idle infrastructure) can be easily contributed into those networks and get paid in tokens.
  2. In case you need in-expensive computing power in a secure and scalable way, those offerings will be much more cost effective than traditional offering.

Here are a few well-funded companies working hard to launch or have already launched their network. Some even go as far as to develop apps on these infrastructures using the new standard, Webassembly.

Next Blockchain steps for Hosting & Cloud Providers?

Despite its early stage in a super fast growing and developing space, there already are multiple initial Blockchain use cases. So it’s definitely the right time for the cloud and hosting provider industry to be part of it. We recommend checking all the use cases mentioned above and in part 2 of our Blockchain series and seeing if they work for you. Be active, grow your business.

Recommendations for further reading:

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities (2): Masternodes & Enterprise Blockchain Hosting

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities - Masternodes and Enterprise Hosting - Plesk

If you remember the concept of “Proof of Stake” (e.g. no “mining” with special hardware needed), most of alternative cryptocurrencies out of Bitcoin and Ethereum still require a good amount of “full nodes” that keep the decentralized network up and running. Masternodes are the back-end network of proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies.

1. Masternodes and Blockchain

A wallet, or a whole blockchain instance, runs on millions of computers worldwide keeping the various blockchains up and running. Masternodes do that in real-time, with more advanced setups, and often running in data centers.

This is where the opportunity is for cloud and hosting service providers. The modern way of mining – keeping public decentralized blockchain networks up and running.

Why are Masternodes gold for cloud and hosting providers?

  1. You can setup more/better targeted solution offerings for people who are interested in hosting their cryptocurrency masternodes with certain pre-configurations.
  2. Cloud and hosting providers can run their own masternodes with spare hardware and monetize this new opportunity.
  3. When running masternodes as a cloud & hosting provider:
    • If you run pre-configured masternode VPSs that you sell to end customers, you can charge a premium for the managed service (security or monitoring, for example) and simplify the automation of masternode VPSs.
    • If you run one or multiple masternodes yourself, you can monetize spare infrastructure or hardware in a much better way.

How to make money from running masternodes

Generally, the masternode concept, like Dash or Zcoin, is an investment. So besides helping to keep a blockchain network up and running, you are:

  1. Investing in cryptocurrency money upfront, limiting entry to those who really mean business.
  2. As soon as you have the node up and running, you’re getting a share of the transaction fees. At the time of writing, crypto prices are low, so you can sell high later. And considering the run into Blockchain worldwide was so fast, it’s likely prices will rise again soon.

Here’s a good resource on masternode types and their relevant ROI.

But before you set up your own Masternodes, please:

  1. Make sure you understand the technical platform, team and project behind each masternode concept. And be certain there’s a real cryptocurrency and blockchain running behind it.
  2. Diversify your investments and don’t put all your money into one single masternode concept or cryptocurrency.
  3. Comply with AML (Anti Money Laundering) and/or KYC (Know Your Customer) Laws.

Masternode providers today:

2. Enterprise Blockchain Hosting

So far we’ve been talking about public Blockchains. That means zero central control and all of them decentralized. Some would call them “uncontrolled” despite the built-in consensus mechanisms those blockchains have.

However, for some time, there’s been another approach – private/permissioned Blockchains. This rising star will convince large enterprises to benefit from Blockchain technology because all stakeholders can easily share data across multiple companies and competitors in a secure way. And this wasn’t available before at reasonable cost.

The main difference is that they’re only available to a set of stakeholders with read and/or write access. Often, an association of adjacent companies or competitors use such stakeholders for a secure proof of record for a selected set of data. This is based on distributed consensus algorithms – and still not seen by the rest of the world.

This means great Enterprise/ permissioned Blockchain Hosting opportunities for cloud, managed and infrastructure providers. Because they can build, run and manage such Blockchain infrastructures for their customer or multiple customers.

There are several example projects in production already, even outside the classic financial use case. Including identity systems, real estate, supply chain and more. Ultimately, they provide a better approach than traditionally centralized databases.

Companies and organizations to check out if you want to learn more:

Stay tuned for the final part of the Hidden Blockchain Opportunities series next Monday. We’ll talk about one more use case for hosting and cloud service provides – Decentralized Cloud storage!

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities (1): Hosters, Cloud Providers & Plesk

Hidden Blockchain Opportunities - Hosters, Cloud Providers and Plesk - Plesk

Cryptocurrencies lost a chunk of their value in the last nine months – and I lost most of my money! Blockchain and legal cryptocurrency issues – Ring any bells? You may have heard about the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto inventing the first cryptocurrency in the world – Bitcoin (more details in this Bitcoin whitepaper). And thus, hidden Blockchain opportunities for hosting and cloud providers.

Being active in global closed Blockchain user groups, like Crypto Explorers and Nextblock, I learned from higher profiles than myself. Now I’m a Chainstack advisor, which is like Plesk for Enterprise Blockchains – a spin-off of our partner, Acronis. And here’s my take on all the Blockchain hype.

Blockchain opportunities across different levels

Blockchain started by solving what any cryptocurrency solves: the “double spend problem”. So if you think about copy/pasting files today, they’re all identical files. With cryptocurrencies – that can’t happen. And there’s more to come.

Like storing in a secure, decentralized (not controlled by a company/person) system that nobody can change. Since they’re decentralized, they’re all open source!

Moreover, the organizations owning the intellectual properties are mostly consensus and direct democracy-based foundations. This is to make sure intellectual property survives any commercial failures a company may have. Here’s a 2-minute video that sums it up nicely:

But that wasn’t enough. Later came Ethereum, based on a more advanced concept allowing a “smart contract” on top of Blockchain. Basically, self-executing computer programs that are legal contracts. But with more dependencies and automatic execution of clauses than possible with a traditional contract. Here’s a 90-second Ethereum overview and how smart contracts work on top of a Blockchain:

This not only changes legal models across many industries, but economic ones too! The following 15 minutes dig into a range of opportunities for kids to experienced adults to experts:

And what about other cryptocurrencies like EOS, IOTA, Tezos, NEO, DASH and more? They’re just different blockchains (decentralized encrypted computing networks and protocols), similar to Bitcoin, but mostly to Ethereum.

What’s Plesk doing in the Blockchain space?

We have a network of 382,000 servers, hyper-decentralized across various data centers worldwide. So we’ve already developed prototypes. Soon you may be able to offer your Plesk server’s spare hard disk space on the decentralized storage network. And vice versa, backup your server or website into decentralized storage.

Soon, we’ll launch a new Plesk Extension: Cloudbric. Cloudbric is a spin-off of Penta Security Systems in Korea, and one of the leading cyber security companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Cloudbric offers an advanced WAF (Web Application Firewall) and is transforming into a Blockchain-based company. Soon available as a one-click experience within the Plesk ecosystem.

Plesk is also an alpha partner of STORJ, the decentralized cloud object storage that’s affordable, easy, private and secure. STORJ is Amazon S3 compatible and will be integrated as a Plesk Extension early 2019 as STORJ goes into production.

Besides focusing on simplifying the lives of web professionals, Plesk will add more useful tools and products on top of the platform. Helping cloud and hosting providers increase their success. Such tools might be extended with Blockchain use cases over time, so watch this space!

Current Blockchain drawbacks we can solve

First of all, you might have heard that operating any Blockchain network requires a lot of power and parts. Bitcoin and Ethereum need mining – computing puzzles that a decentralized network participant needs to solve to append the decentralized leger. The leger is where info is stored, unchangeable and encrypted via “blocks” that build a “chain”.

Bitcoin Mining requires hard-to-get ASIC chips and Ethereum needs scarce graphic cards. This process is inefficient and expensive to operate. However, it’s very secure, and is technically “Proof of Work.” Now, although Proof of Work is an operational requirement for many Blockchains, it isn’t the preferred way.

First of all, it’s expensive and only worth it if prices are high. And because of special hardware requirements, it’s not for everyone and not at scale. This is why other Blockchains and their cryptocurrencies invented “Proof of Stake” – something that Ethereum are still aiming to reach this year or next.

Blockchain benefits for hosters and cloud providers

Proof of Stake would result in being able to operate Blockchains on completely standard infrastructure and hardware – without any special requirements. Basically, making it available for everyone. And this is where hosting and cloud service providers come in.

You have 100s or 1,000s of servers on stock, and many of them idle or not fulfilling full potential. So take this opportunity to join a new world and spend computing power on a potentially more useful concept. Check the market leaders in the field – hyperscale cloud providers Amazon, Azure, Google and IBM – They’re already on it. What about you?

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Hidden Blockchain Opportunities series next Monday where we’ll dive into detailed use cases for hosting and cloud service provides!

Migrate to Plesk on AWS from Plesk, cPanel or DirectAdmin

Why migrate to Plesk on AWS?

Amazon Web Services is the cloud computing platform by Amazon.com, offering over 90 key infrastructure services such as computing power, storage options, networking, and databases, delivered as on-demand resources with pay-as-you-go pricing.

As part of the hyperscale cloud revolution, increasing numbers of web professionals are now running their instances on AWS, and many Plesk hosting partners have chosen AWS to run their managed-services business. Running your instances, hosting or managed business with Plesk on AWS provides many significant benefits over the traditional hosting infrastructure:

  • Scales better than traditional shared or VPS hosting: Plesk on AWS is based on AWS’ latest innovations and integrates smoothly with the Route53 service of AWS. Support for new AWS services are constantly being added as Plesk Extensions to take advantage of the automation and customization features of the Plesk platform. Pass on the value to your website and app customers by including AWS services to their portfolio.
  • Improved innovation: Deploy from websites and apps anywhere to everywhere. Tune, secure and optimize images that can be scaled horizontally (for high traffic sites) with ease-of-use through AWS.
  • Improved infrastructure: Quick and cost-effective spin up of dedicated multi-server environments.
  • Increased security: Intelligent Security Advisor, free SSL with Let’s Encrypt, Fail2ban, configurable firewall, ServerShield by CloudFlare, Security Core w/ ModSecurity by Atomicorp, Patchman (Patches Vulnerabilities in CMS), Datagrid reliability & vulnerability scanner, and much more
  • Proven workflow: Deploy a Domain, DNS, SSL and simple PHP application in just a few minutes…or a multi-services multi-stack application in as much time. Improved CMS (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!) and eCommerce (WooCommerce, Prestashop, others,..) workflows to ensure better development velocity.
  • Increased productivity: Move from a release cycle every quarter to deploying changes on a minute-by-minute basis
  • Increased agility: Fully integrated deployment capabilities to deploy code more frequently
  • Global AWS Infrastructure: Plesk instances through the AWS marketplace are immediately available on any of Amazon’s many data center locations.

To learn more about Plesk on AWS, as well as our plug-and-play Plesk WordPress Server Solution and Plesk Business Server Solution, go to our Plesk on AWS page.

Let’s start the migration to AWS

Here’s what we’ll cover in this tutorial:

  1. Prepare your Plesk (or cPanel/DirectAdmin) source server
  2. Install Plesk on AWS as a target server + configure public IP
  3. Install Plesk Route53 Extension on Plesk on AWS + configure the extension.
  4. Install Plesk Migrator Extension on Plesk on AWS
  5. Migrate all the data (Plesk to Plesk), domains will be created in route53 also on this step.
  6. Use the Plesk feature “Switch DNS” – so that the source server stays a Slave until all domains are switched on the Route53 side (actually on the domain registrar’s), website stay functional during the switching time of 24-48 hours that Route53 needs for DNS sync.
  7. After that, you need to contact your registrar to delegate your domains to Route53 DNS.

1. Preparing your existing Plesk or cPanel/DirectAdmin server (source)

Note: there are some limitations in case you plan from Linux to a Windows Server and vice versa! In general, we recommend only to migrate from Linux to Linux or Windows to Windows.

To ensure that the migration is successful, a number of TCP and UDP ports need to be opened on the source and destination servers.

Plesk offers a nice Firewall component that needs to be installed in case you don’t want to do this over command line. If you can’t find the firewall in Tools & Settings -> Firewall, then you need to install the component first (click here). Then you can access it over Tools & Settings -> Firewall. More details on the firewall for Linux here and Windows here.

For Unix servers, open the following ports (In case you are migrating form Plesk using the Plesk Firewall Extension, these ports are all configured correctly for you by default!):

  • TCP port 22 for SSH connections on source server.
  • TCP port 8443 for access to Plesk XML API on the target server and on the source servers, if migrating from Plesk.
  • TCP ports 110, 143 for POP3 and IMAP, on the source and target server. These are used for post-migration checks.

For Windows servers, open the following ports:

  • TCP ports 135, 139, 445 and UDP ports 137, 138. Be sure to open these ports on the source and on the target server.
  • TCP port 1433 for MS SQL, if it is used as the default instance.
  • UDP port 1434 and all (or manually selected) TCP ports for MS SQL, if it is used as a named instance.
  • TCP port 10155 for a custom Plesk Migrator service performing miscellaneous tasks.
  • TCP port 10156 for rsync server.
  • TCP port 8443 for access to Plesk XML API on the target server and on the source servers, if migrating from Plesk.
  • TCP ports 110, 143 for POP3 and IMAP, on source and target servers. These are used for post-migration checks.

Also, make sure that https://installer.plesk.com is accessible from the destination server.

We recommend that you install and configure all the necessary services and settings on the destination server before performing the transfer. For example, if you plan on migrating MySQL databases, make sure that the MySQL server is installed and running on the destination server, and so forth.

Make sure that Plesk on the destination server has a separate license. Otherwise, you may experience problems with the license validation during migration. The possible ways of obtaining a license are described in the Administrator Guide.

2. Preparing your AWS Plesk instance (target server)

Follow this guide to set up Plesk on AWS. Note: be absolutely sure that your AWS instance is configured running with a public IP address as described in the installation tutorial, otherwise you might have issues with the DNS parts later. 

Plesk OnyxImage: Plesk Onyx

3. Installing the Plesk Migrator Extension

To install Plesk Migrator using the Plesk interface

  1. Log in as administrator to Plesk on the target server.
  2. Go to Extensions -> Server Tools -> Plesk Migrator 
  3. Select Install on the Plesk Migrator detail page.

4. Installing the AWS Route53 Extension inside Plesk

In case you plan to use the DNS features of Plesk (what is highly recommended!), you need to make sure that you have the Route53 Extension installed.

  1. Log in as administrator to Plesk on the target server.
  2. Go to Extensions -> DNS -> Amazon Route 53
  3. Select Install on the Amazon Route53 detail page.

Just for reference – here the guide for Route53 from AWS: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/Route53/latest/DeveloperGuide/MigratingDNS.html

5. Initiating the migration on your AWS Plesk instance (target server)

  1. Log in to Plesk on the destination server as the Plesk administrator.
  2. Go to Server Management > Extensions > Plesk Migrator > Start a New Migration. If Plesk Migrator is unavailable, install it following the instructions here.
  1. Select the hosting panel installed on the source server from the Panel type menu.
  2. Specify the following:
    • The source server’s IP address. If migrating from a Linux server, specify the SSH port as well (22 by default).
    • (Plesk for Linux) The login and password of a root user on the source server. Alternatively, you can choose to authenticate via SSH keys. For details, refer to Authentication by SSH (Linux).
    • (Plesk for Windows) The login and password of the built-in administrator accounts on both the source and the destination servers.
    • The directory for storing temporary files on the source server (make sure there is enough free disk space available to store the dump of the largest database that will be migrated).
  3. If migrating from a Windows-based server, specify the method for installing the RPC agent (an application enabling Plesk Migrator to gather data):
    • Automatic (recommended). Plesk Migrator will try to deploy and start RPC agent on the source server using the built-in administrator account. In some cases, automatic deployment may fail (for example, due to firewall settings, or because the File and Printer Sharing or RPC services are disabled). If this happens, deploy the agent manually.
    • Manual. A link to download the RPC agent package will be provided. Download the package and install the agent on the source server manually.
  4. Click Prepare Migration to proceed to the next step. Plesk Migrator will attempt to fetch the data about the different objects (domains, subscriptions, customer/reseller accounts, and hosting plans) found on the source server. If the connection fails, double-check the source server information, make sure that the connection is not blocked by firewall, and try again.

    Note that from this point onwards, you can leave the Migrator interface without losing your progress – the migration will remain in progress until you finish it explicitly. To continue from where you left off, click Server Management > Extensions > Plesk Migrator and then click the corresponding migration in the list.

  5. You now find yourself on the Add subscriptions tab.

  6. Here you must select the subscriptions to be migrated (note that you cannot migrate individual domains, the fewest number of objects you can migrate is a single subscription and all its domains). You can use one of the three available filters:

    • By Subscription. If you migrate a subscription owned by a customer or a reseller, the corresponding customer/reseller account will be migrated as well (unless a custom subscription owner is specified – see below). The hosting plan the subscription is based on will also be migrated.
    • By Customer/Reseller. If you migrate a customer or reseller account, all subscriptions owned by the account will be migrated together with the hosting plans they are based on. Note that migrating a reseller account does not automatically migrate the customer accounts owned by the reseller. If you select a reseller account and one or more customer accounts owned by that reseller for migration, the reseller’s ownership of the customer accounts will be preserved on the destination server.
    • By Hosting Plan. If you migrate a hosting plan, all subscriptions based on the said plan will be migrated as well. If you migrate a hosting plan belonging to a reseller, said reseller will be migrated as well, plus all subscriptions based on the selected hosting plan together with the customers who own those subscriptions.
  7. Select what types of content (mail content, web content, and databases) will be migrated.
  8. Select a custom subscription owner. By default, whenever a subscription owned by a customer or reseller is migrated, the corresponding customer or reseller account is created on the destination server as well. If you select a different subscription owner, the ownership of all subscriptions being migrated will be assigned to that account.
  9. To change the migration settings, click Settings in the upper-right corner.

  10. Here, the following controls are available:

    • Adjust application settings. By default, during migration Plesk attempts to make changes to the configuration files of a number of popular web applications to make them operable on the destination server. Clear the checkbox if you want to make the changes manually. Leaving this option enabled will increase the migration time.
    • Apache restart interval (Plesk for Linux only). Restarting the web server on the destination server is necessary for the migrated domains to become available over the network. Make sure not to set this value too low (less than 300 seconds is not recommended), as all hosted domains become temporarily unavailable every time the web server is restarted.
    • Run post-migration checks. By default, after the migration is finished, Plesk performs a number of automated tests to identify potential issues with the migrated domains. Clear the checkbox if you do not want the tests to be run. Leaving this option enabled will increase the migration time.
  11. When you are satisfied with the list of subscriptions to migrate and the migration options, click Migrate to proceed. Plesk will run pre-migration checks to detect potential issues and display a report.

  12. We advise you to fix the detected issues (if any) before continuing with the migration. Make the necessary configuration changes, then click Refresh to re-run the tests.

  13. When the pre-migration check returns a clean result, click Start migration to begin migrating. Once a migration is underway, you can monitor its progress on the Overview tab.
  14. As subscriptions are being migrated, status reports will be displayed for every subscription for which the migration was either completed successfully or failed.
    • The icon indicates that the migration was completed successfully.
    • The icon indicates that the migration was completed with errors. Click [Details] to see the list of issues that occurred during the migration.
    • The icon indicates that the migration failed. Click [Details] to see the list of issues that occurred during the migration.
  15. If you want to perform an additional sync of a subscription’s content after the migration is finished, click [Re-sync] next to the subscription’s name.
  16. If you want to migrate additional subscriptions from the source server, return to step number seven. Otherwise, unless you plan to migrate from the same source server again in the near future, you can click Finish migration to remove it from the list of ongoing migrations.

6. Going into production: switch DNS

  • Any DNS zones (domains) will be transferred to the configured Route53 correctly when using a public IP address on your Plesk server on AWS, without any manual interventions.
  • After the migration, AWS need some time to propagate new DNS records/domains inside their infrastructure.
  • IF on source server DNS was handled by Plesk, then the migrated domains continue to work on old DNS but points to new IP’s because of “switch DNS” feature described earlier.

7. Request at your domain registrar or registries to switch DNS to route53

After your changes to Amazon Route 53 resource record sets have propagated to Amazon Route 53 DNS servers (see Step 4: Check the Status of Your Changes (API Only)), update your registrar’s name server (NS) records to refer to the Amazon Route 53 name servers.

migration with no downtime – woohoo!

 

8. Additional tips

In case you are not ready to migrate your whole server yet, there is also an option to just migrate 1 site to a server with Plesk on AWS or one WordPress instance into Plesk’s all new WordPress Toolkit. For that, please refer to separate documentation available here.

 

Thanks to the whole AWS team for co-authoring this write-up and for providing feedback and technical insights to optimize this tutorial.

Be well, do good, and stay Plesky!

6 killer KPIs (and free templates) to regrow your lazy cloud business

6 Killer KPIs for your cloud business

Too busy to revive your inconsequential business?

Everybody in IT is busy these days. But when you say cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service) or hosting service providers, ¨booming¨ is more like it. Double-digit growth over the last 10 years is making an avalanche of tech companies transition toward hosted cloud based services businesses, mapping out a unique era in the history of web technology.

But let’s be honest, what most of us refer to as “cloud” is more often “cloud washing”.  Whatever the verdict may be, we’re all enjoying the recent tidal waves of disruption. Hyperscalers such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and others are providing cheap infrastructure like a utility. Undoubtedly, with such competitive environment comes an increase in confused end-customers coupled with the overarching need for “traditional” hosting and cloud service provider markets to change. NOW.

Continue reading

WHD.RACING! Castles, cars and cellos!

World Hosting Days racing event

Maximum super power under the hood. Total control in your hands.

They say with great power comes great responsibility.  On the weekend of 15 -16 June 2016, the fabulous crew behind World Hosting Days gave us a taste of mega power.  Imagine our delight: Plesk’s CTO and I were among the lucky few invited to a C-level racing event for around 50 people.  C-level?  Do I mean a smug-looking bunch of suits clinking champagne glasses and yapping money? Not really. For a start, there’s not that much money to be yapping about.  Plus, the chance to feel like Lewis Hamilton for a day dominated all conversation.  One thing for sure: racing cars, highbrow by definition, are more fun than a barrel of monkey memes.

Day 1 – Race “preparation”

World Hosting Days - Racing Event - Castle

Let’s wheel back, pun intended.  We arrived in the early evening. The location was just about 10km (6.5 miles) outside of the glorious city of Salzburg.  More specifically, in the town of Fuschlsee, home to Fuschl castle and site where the famous 1950’s “Sissi” films were made.  Fit for an empress indeed, we were absolutely amazed to be spending the weekend in such stunning surroundings, overlooking glimmering Austrian lake waters.

World Hosting Days - Racing Event - Lamborghini

Having had a few drinks with friends from the hosting and service provider community, we then moved on to dinner at the castle, accompanied by the sounds of one of the most acclaimed cello players, Philip Sheppard, splendid sir! Once there, Plesk was clearly as visible as we could be – with our name sprawled on the side of a sweet Lamborghini Murciélago.

Leagues from the traditional Lamborghini that would be allowed on “normal streets”, our hearts warmed with the sight of Plesk’s logo on this bad boy. But more of that soon.

Day 2 – The show down: getting to the race track

World Hosting Days - Speaker

Rise and shine, time for presentations from some of our partners, covering topics from simplified business financing to managing remote teams across 17 different time zones –useful stuff to say the least! Now came something altogether exciting though: the Salzburg Ring, a major race track about 10km (6.5 miles) away.

We rolled up at about 12pm, giddy as school kids at a petting zoo.  In need of food first, especially those who had knocked back one GT too many the night before, we braced ourselves to pursue the track like pros…or at least pretend to be.

 

 

World Hosting Days - Racing - Salzburg Racing Ring

There were basically 2 options: race yourself using KTM cars or be a “racing guest” alongside a professional driver in a Chevrolet Camaro or one of the other astonishing cars.  Both very appealing.  Before we started, Plesk CTO and yours truly, the CMO, embarked on our first ever Facebook LIVE event. Check it out here:

 

https://www.facebook.com/Plesk/videos/1087710661288674/

Once streaming our crazy good fortune to the world was done, it was racing time!  Plesk’s lovely Murciélago was one of the first to hit the track. And believe us – the sound alone is immensely exhilarating. Getting the chance to drive it as a guest was even crazier!  To get a glimpse of the fast and furious action, watch our video below.  Can you see how over the moon we were?

To draw an analogy to Plesk, the Murciélago has LOTS of power under the hood and is easy to drive. Unlike Plesk though, protection and built-in security are not this race car’s forte. Nonetheless, both are tools built for pros by pros which get you from A to B- waaay faster!

World Hosting Days - Racing Car

Another correlation lies in the flexibility of built-in components. You control maximum super power but the magic is clicking away behind closed curtains.  You can always add more intelligence to run it on its own, but the steering, breaking and shifting is up to you. Would you agree?

World Hosting Days - Racing Continues

 

 

Adding a last comparison – there was a “little brother” available for guest racing. A Chevrolet Camaro that sounded like a Formula 1 car, pushing everyone’s testosterone to its limits!

 

 

 

World Hosting Days - another Lamborghini

Of course there were also other cool things going on at the race track.  Besides being a guest in either of the Lamborghinis or the Camaro, there were many KTM cars available for driving.  These little beauties are something like car-sized go carts and weigh 600kg (1200 lb).  Make one mistake and you’ll be skidding down the gravel bed.  Two of our more comedy prone attendees did just that and ended up crashing. Luckily nobody was injured but still, the race track owners were not too pleased.

¨Pinching-yourself-level-fun¨ was the weekend’s main ingredient.  Some great networking was had and above all, I’d like to personally thank Soeren von Varchmin, the CEO of World Hosting Days for making it all possible.  We are very much looking forward to more events like this – it was a never to be forgotten experience. Yet another indication that the hosting and Cloud industry is really up to speed!

World Hosting Days - JanWorld Hosting Days - Lamborghini Room

THANK YOU WHD! THANK  YOU PLESK!

Five Simple Rules to Make Your Website and Web Server Secure

Five Simple Rules to Make Your Website and Web Server Secure

You have a web server or a website and you want it to be secure from the bad guys. One thing we know about bad guys is that they are ALWAYS looking for the easiest route to perform their bad deeds. They are looking for the low-hanging fruit to pluck.

This blog post is about how NOT to be the low-hanging fruit.

Rule #1: Keep your software up to date

You can file this one under “everybody knows this but few actually do it.” These days every reputable software thinks about security updates and patches a regularly released to operating systems, control panels like Plesk, and even to website content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, and DNN. Yes, keeping up with all of that can be a chore since different vendors release updates on different schedules.

So … pick one day per month and check for updates. If there are updates available, back up your systems and run them. Better yet, choose software that has version control available on the inside. For example, our Plesk control panel helps to keep track of its own security updates and can help you run updates to your CMSs, making the process even easier.

Still think it is hard to manage updates? Then consider high value-add services like patchman.co. Patchman will work seamlessly with your control panel behind the scenes to keep the CMS side of things up to date. This is perfect whether you are a web designer managing a handful of small sites or a large company hosting tens of thousands of installations … it just works.

But there is no question about it … well-maintained software is the best and most important first line of defense.

Rule #2: A Firewall – get one, there is no excuse

There are still tens of millions of websites that are not sitting behind a firewall. Black-hat types LOVE to find these websites. And there is really no excuse these days since adding a firewall has never been easier.

If you are working for a large enterprise organization and have a string of Barracuda or SonicWall hardware guarding the gates, then good for you, we wish we had your IT budget. But as great as all that hardware is, most websites do not have data that threatens national security and they can be hard to manage. Software-based firewalls can be more than enough and they are easy to set up and manage via a web interface. And you probably have access to one right now via your base operating system, or better still, inside your new control panel.

What’s that … your control panel doesn’t have firewall control functionality? Get one that does, you will thank us later.

Rule #3: Bad Firewall Settings Are Your Own Darn (De)fault

Great … you installed the firewall, but that’s not enough.

You wouldn’t use the bank’s default password on your savings account, so why would you use the default settings on your firewall? Let me give you an example.

Secure Shell (SSH) revolutionized web server security. It is really great, but not perfect. By default, most systems point SSH to server port 22. The problem is that all the bad guys know that the default setting is port 22. Simply setting this little config item to a more secure port (anything above 1024) will prevent malicious web scans from finding it easily.

A few simple configuration tweaks like this go a LONG way to prevents those bad guys from knocking at your website’s door. If you are using your control panel to manage your firewall, search their documentation for recommended firewall security settings and then implement those to start. You won’t be sorry you did.

Rule #4: Yes, You Do Need a CDN

If you think that you will never be the target of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS), you’re wrong. I have personally seen dozens of these attacks—often on small innocuous sites that have done nothing wrong. And when an attack occurs, it can impact everyone in the datacenter—not just the target site.

So lets say that your server or site is just sitting there, minding its own business. Two server racks down the hall, however, there is a server housing the election website of some political candidate that the internet vigilantes just don’t like. This is exactly how your site can become the collateral damage of someone else’s political agenda.

In the old days, Content Deliver Networks (CDNs) were invented to bring content closer to the end user. This made pages load faster and more reliably and prevented spikes in global traffic from overwhelming a server. It was a really good idea and it worked. But having a CDN does something else too. By broadcasting a site from several locations and directing visitors to the best one, A CDN prevents DDoS attacks from bringing a site down by distributing the attack back out across the web.

The market leader in this space right now is CloudFlare. You can set it up a basic CDN for free, and then add additional features if you want to. And their system is easy to set up online in minutes.

Rule #5: What a difference a single letter makes – FTP vs. FTPS

As you know, FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol” and it is the most common method to upload and download large files to and from websites. This includes everything from pushing up bulk content, images, and code blocks to your server or when your customers download content that you have provided.

FTPS stands for “File Transfer Protocol Secure” and is just a much more secure way to transfer files and manage them. Even thought the term SFTP is used generically for all types of secure file transfers, technically FTPS only applies to Linux environments. Windows more often uses “FTP over SSL” or “FTP over TLS.” But FTPS is used so often, now several commercial products market file servers as “FTPS for Windows.”

Any way you slice it, making sure that the bad guys don’t hijack your file server to upload bad stuff is what you want to do.

This should be fairly easy to configure in your control panel. If you are using Plesk, you can find instructions in the Plesk Administrator’s Guide.

You Are Off to a Great Start

Security takes consistent diligence, but it is worry it. We always recommend that you stay aware of all of the latest security updates and advancements and review all of your security options. This applies to everyone, but if you are using Plesk, you can find additional security configurations and options in the “Securing Plesk” section of your Administrator’s Guide.