Plesk WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release: Action Log, wp-cron Management Workflow, SSL Support, and More

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - Plesk

WordPress Toolkit v5.4 has been in development for over two months, during which the team has produced four minor product updates. Now, it’s time to present the second major release of WordPress Toolkit in 2021 to the public. Read on to find out more. 

WordPress Toolkit Action Log

A lot of things can go wrong with your WordPress installation for a variety of reasons. Having a detailed log of events that happened to your site could be very helpful if things ever go south.

WordPress Toolkit now saves a log of essential actions it performs on all managed websites to address this need. Logs are written in plain text for each individual WordPress installation. They have a particular naming pattern that uses internal site UID and are stored in a separate folder: 

$HOME/logs/wpt_action_logs/action_log_#SITE_UUID#.log (where $HOME is the home directory of your domain).

For example, in Plesk, you can find the log here:

/var/www/vhosts/mywebsite.net/logs/wpt_action_logs/action_log__4d4a10e8-84b2-423e-8539-b43c97b692ae.log

On cPanel, the same log would be stored here:

/home/admin/logs/wpt_action_logs/action_log__4d4a10e8-84b2-423e-8539-b43c97b692ae.log

 

Log files are accessible via File Manager of your control panel or via ‘Logs‘ link on the site card that opens the corresponding log file in the Log Browser (on Plesk) or File Manager (on cPanel). For convenience, the ‘Logs‘ link is also available as an icon in the site title, so you can quickly open the log for any site in a collapsed site list:

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - WordPress Toolkit Action Log - Plesk

Note that Log Browser in Plesk cannot properly parse the WordPress Toolkit log right now. We will rectify it in the next WordPress Toolkit release.

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - WordPress Toolkit Action Log 2 - Plesk

Not all events are logged at the moment, just the most important ones, but we will expand the list in the next WordPress Toolkit release to ensure that everything WordPress Toolkit does could be found in the log files. We will also introduce the interface for viewing correctly parsed logs in the same Toolkit release. We hope that this feature will help site admins troubleshoot their sites and reduce the number of support tickets we (and our partners) receive.

New wp-cron Management Workflow

The ability to turn off default wp-cron behavior was introduced one year ago in WordPress Toolkit v4.7. Since then, we’ve collected a lot of feedback on this feature, and it was time to put this feedback into action.

First, the option was renamed to ‘Take over wp-cron.php‘. This was done to avoid the classic “enable to disable” confusion, where you are prompted to enable something that says “disable,” and you’re like “ehhh??” 

Second, you now can explicitly choose if a replacement cronjob should be created or not via the ‘Create a replacement task when a takeover is initiated‘ switch:

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - - New wp-cron Management Workflow - Plesk

If you toggle this switch after ‘Take over wp-cron.php‘ is already enabled, it will create or remove the replacement cronjob correspondingly. If the switch is toggled before the takeover is initiated, then the replacement cronjob will be (or won’t be) created when the user enables the takeover.

Speaking of replacement cronjobs, they are now way less strict when it comes to user modifications like task execution frequency. Basically, you can modify every aspect of the cronjob without being afraid that WordPress Toolkit will overwrite the changes. If WordPress Toolkit cannot find its own cronjob, it will not try to recreate the cronjob, concluding that it was knowingly modified or removed by the user. If the user has butchered or removed the replacement cronjob by mistake, it can be recreated by switching off and on the corresponding ‘Create a replacement task…‘ switch.

SSL/TLS Support Status

WordPress Toolkit has been showing the SSL/TLS status on the site card for quite some time, but this status was not particularly helpful, as it merely showed which protocol was used in the WordPress site URL. We’ve redesigned this behavior to be more beneficial to site administrators. Now, the site card features the actual status of what’s going on with SSL/TLS certificates on your site. In particular, WordPress Toolkit now detects and helps address the following situations:

  1. If SSL/TLS support is turned off on your hosting
  2. If there’s no SSL/TLS certificate installed for the domain name used by your WordPress site
  3. If SSL/TLS certificate you’re using is self-signed
  4. If SSL/TLS certificate you’re using is expired
  5. If SSL/TLS certificate you’re using was not issued for the domain name used by your WordPress site
  6. If permanent SEO-safe 301 redirect from HTTP to HTTPS is turned off on your hosting
  7. If SSL It! extension is not installed in Plesk
  8. If SSL/TLS feature is turned off for your account in cPanel
  9. If there’s a protocol mismatch (HTTP to HTTPS redirect is enabled, but WordPress still uses HTTP)

Example of situation #5 from the list above:

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - SSL/TLS Support Status - Plesk

… and, obviously, we’ll also let you know if everything’s OK with your site in terms of SSL/TLS, displaying your certificate name:

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - SSL/TLS Support Status 2 - Plesk

If you don’t have a certificate, the Toolkit will gently nudge you towards issuing a Let’s Encrypt cert or buying a cert.

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - SSL/TLS Support Status 3 - Plesk

New Cloning Backend

When it comes to cloning, many WordPress-related tools and services claim that they clone WordPress sites. However, the question today isn’t “which tool can do it,” the question is “which tool does it best” – after all, both BMW Isetta and BMW i8 are German cars that can drive on your average road, but there’s a world of difference between them in terms of performance. Our cloning mechanism has been quite complicated (to put it mildly) since its inception. This complexity made things difficult to maintain and improve, so we decided to update it. Specifically, our goals were:

  1. Easier maintainability (a single backend for all supported platforms instead of multiple different algorithms)
  2. Better security
  3. Improved performance
  4. Enhanced reliability

It took us quite some time, but we got it done, and WordPress Toolkit now boasts a new backend that meets all our expectations. We have even managed to test it in battle conditions: a cPanel customer was experiencing weird slowdowns during cloning, so we’ve decided to replace the cloning backend on the affected server to see what happens. The experiment was a resounding success, speeding up the procedure dramatically. Even so, such change could be quite risky when applied on all WordPress Toolkit servers at once, so we’re planning to introduce it gradually – more about that in the next paragraph.

Other Improvements & Bugfixes

WordPress Toolkit v5.4 includes a lot of other minor improvements and multiple bugfixes. Some of the highlights include:

  • AlmaLinux support on both cPanel and Plesk
  • Integration with WHM / cPanel was redesigned and simplified for improved reliability
  • WordPress Toolkit now ships with its own version of UI library on Plesk to make sure that all the latest changes and bugfixes are available to our users as fast as possible
  • Progress display in windows was standardized and unified for better user experience
  • Various warnings and notifications related to problematic PHP versions were improved and made more consistent
  • Minimal WordPress version that can be installed via WordPress Toolkit was increased to WordPress v4.9 (the last major release without Gutenberg for those who refuse to use it)

Finally, the output of ‘–info‘ CLI command now includes the WordPress installation state:

WordPress Toolkit 5.4 Release - Improvements & Bugfixes - Plesk

More Updates on cPanel

E-mail notifications on cPanel

E-mail notifications about updates and quarantined sites are now finally available on cPanel. There’s no UI for managing them now, so they are disabled by default to avoid making users unhappy. To enable the notifications, server administrators need to put the corresponding option in their config.ini file and set its value to true:

cpanelAdminSuspiciousInstanceNotificationEnabled‘ – sends a notification about new suspicious instances to server administrator.

cpanelResellerSuspiciousInstanceNotificationEnabled‘ – sends a notification about new suspicious instances to each reseller.

cpanelClientSuspiciousInstanceNotificationEnabled‘ – sends a notification about new suspicious instances to each client.

cpanelAdminAutoUpdatesNotificationEnabled‘ – sends a digest of newly available and installed updates (WordPress core, plugins, themes) to the server administrator.

cpanelResellerAutoUpdatesNotificationEnabled‘ – sends a digest of new available and installed updates (WordPress core, plugins, themes) to each reseller.

cpanelClientAutoUpdatesNotificationEnabled‘ – sends a digest of new available and installed updates (WordPress core, plugins, themes) to each client.

We’re planning to introduce the UI for managing these notifications in the next major WordPress Toolkit release, at which point we’ll enable all these notifications by default. Until that, hosters and server administrators will have to rely on config file modification to receive helpful information from WordPress Toolkit in their mailboxes.

Leika for cPanel

For those who don’t know yet, we have a service called Leika for rolling out gradual changes and conducting various experiments. This service offers tremendous help controlling the spread of potentially dangerous changes and experimenting with ideas that could positively affect user experience.

Until now, Leika only worked for Plesk, But not anymore as we’ve just made it available for WordPress Toolkit on cPanel too. The cloning backend change described earlier is one of many WordPress Toolkit features to undergo gradual rollout for the whole audience – and it’s the first one (but not the last one) on cPanel.

Future Plans

Many of the plans for the next release were already mentioned above:

  • Add UI for action logs
  • Add the rest of the actions to logs
  • Add UI for e-mail notifications on WHM/cPanel

In addition to these things, we are looking into improving how we handle popular caching plugins during cloning. There’s more exciting stuff coming in v5.5, but I’ll have to keep that under wraps for now – after all, we should always keep some pleasant surprises in store for you 😉

With that said, see you soon, and thank you for your time!

Hosting Control Panels of 2021 – The Definitive Guide

Hosting Control Panels 2021

If you’re involved in managing servers for web hosting then you’ll appreciate the importance of having a simple, yet highly effective method of monitoring and looking after your hosting infrastructure. The most effective way of managing all the processes related to routine tasks of hosting infrastructure is to use a web hosting control panel.

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Plesk vs cPanel – two hosting control panels compared

Plesk vs cPanel - Battle of the hosting control panels

When it comes to web hosting control panels, Plesk vs cPanel comparison is something you may think about. Apart of DirectAdmin, ISPConfig and Webmin, both cPanel and Plesk has long history on the market of server management tools.

About Plesk and cPanel

Plesk has helped system administrators for over 10 years. Because of its user-friendly interface and wide set of features, admins can manage their servers more efficiently. The latest Plesk is available in Windows and Linux and is designed to work unobtrusively, manage performance and gatekeep in the shadows.

 

Plesk Onyx

cPanel first appeared in 1996. As its a pioneer in this market, cPanel still has a dedicated fanbase for its obsolete products. Even though its current offering is called cPanel 68. Newer iterations of this popular solution are a kind of welding together of cPanel. This facilitates customer account management and Web Host Manager (WHM) which tackles server administration.

 

cPanel

Plesk vs cPanel – Usability

CLI (command line interface) is an option for each of these interfaces. But most users will no doubt want to unlock their goodies via the GUI (graphical user interface).

Most users favour Plesk over cPanel for its tidier GUI, which makes it simpler to understand and more intuitive to use. Its approach is to group tools on the left of the screen – as that’s the side people start reading from. And you can find more options buried under each tool.

cPanel’s approach comes from the ‘garden shed’ approach to GUI design. Because the designers seem to have just thrown everything in there and shut the door. The redeeming feature that helps it claw back some points in the Plesk vs cPanel contest is that you can modify the interface to suit your own preferences.

Security – Plesk or cPanel?

Both solutions boast a variety of features designed to make servers bulletproof. Or at least, safe from incursions by nefarious bots and their human handlers.

But Plesk offers features such as fail2ban – which prevents intrusions, active directory integration, and spam defence for email. Meanwhile, cPanel offers automatic installation of SSL certificates, directories with password protection and IP address denials.

Best Features – cPanel or cPanel alternative, Plesk

So, Plesk or cPanel in terms of variety of features? Plesk and cPanel give clients identical features to manage accounts and servers. Users can configure DNS settings ( read about name servers setup ), manage email accounts and databases. And they also get FTP (File Transfer Protocol) facilities. The cPanel experience can be bolstered with extra apps. But Plesk hits the ground running with straight-out-of-the-box access to more helpful apps and extensions.

Plesk, as cPanel alternative, supports Docker for Linux, putting the 200,000 image Docker catalogue at their users’ fingertips through the web hosting control panel. And Gitman extension makes Git use a feature too. In contrast, cPanel users can only enjoy the same experience via complicated workarounds. Which may not really be ideal.

Plesk vs cPanel: Distros

As we said before, Plesk runs on both Linux and Windows Server, while cPanel is a Linux-only deal. True, you can achieve Windows-server-compatibility, but only via certain tweaking and fiddling.

CentOS, CloudLinux and RedHat Enterprise Linux are the only OS incarnations supported by cPanel. In contrast, Plesk works with 14 Linux distros that include Debian, CentOS, and Ubuntu. This in addition to being compatible with Windows servers.

Solutions Plesk Onyx cPanel/WHM
OS compatibility Both Linux and Windows operating systems are supported.
  • Windows family: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012)
  • Linux family: Debian, CentOS, Ubuntu, Cloudlinux 6-7, Virtuozzo, Red Hat Enterprise 6-7
cPanel is Linux control panel. Supported distributives: CentOS, Cloud Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Web servers Apache, NGINX with caching Apache with Nginx caching
Administration Unified authorization procedure for users and administrators. cPanel basically consists of cPanel and WHM – WHM is accessible only for server-related administrational tasks. cPanel access gives control only over website.
Interface Modern UX/UI based on React.Js. Built-in ready to code environment with support of Javascript, PHP, Perl, Ruby On Rails, Python, Java and .NET. User-friendly interface with full control over majority of cPanel/WHM features. Availability of command line and API-based access as the way to automate administrational tasks.
Security A lot of security features are provided from the box e.g. Plesk Firewall, Revisium Antivirus, Fail2ban AutoSSL, cPHulk, built-in support of CSF/LFD and some other useful features
WordPress support WordPress Toolkit provides full list of automation & management features vital for the scalable WordPress infrastructure support. cPanel’s WordPress Manager is far away from perfection.
Extensions/Add-ons Plesk comes with ecosystem of various extensions, covering all possible needs of any server administrator. Among these extensions are Security Advisor, WordPress Toolkit, Joomla! Toolkit, Let’s Encrypt SSL support, SEO Toolkit etc. Extra apps are available via auto-installers.
DBMS MySQL / MariaDB / MSSQL Server databases can be managed via web browser. MySQL/MariaDB databases management via web interface
SSL Let’s Encrypt + Symantec AutoSSL with Let’s Encrypt
Mobile accessibility
Backups Ready to use solutions based on Dropbox, Acronis, Google Drive Compatibility issues can be spotted between various cPanel backup versions.
Technologies Support of Docker, Git, Node.js, WordPress Toolkit Docker, Node.Js & Git can be still supported by cPanel, however workaround here is sophisticated

Plesk vs cPanel – what’s your decision?

After reading this far, it’s obvious that your ideal web hosting control panel will be largely dictated by your server’s OS. But as a human who has to use an interface every day, you want to choose the one that makes your life easier. With 100+ extensions and a more intuitive interface, Plesk seems like the current winner. Though both solutions are feature-rich, the Plesk vs cPanel face-off must be won by the new kid on the block.

Which VPS Control Panel is right for you?

Which VPS Control Panel is right for you? Plesk, cPanel/WHM or HSPcomplete

We’ve firmly established the VPS control panel (Virtual Private Server) as an important component in the web hosting landscape. For web hosting admins and end-users, it’s been a blessing to centrally manage every website on their server. This simplified account management helps avoid the tedium of performing the same essential tasks on different systems every day. 

More on the Web Hosting Panel     More on the Developers’ Panel

But as with any good idea, everyone wants in on the action. Same happened here. Competition has given rise to a rapid increase in the number of control panels on the market. With some even beginning to specialize in particular hosting environments. 

To help you find the solution that’s right for you, let’s take a look at HSPcomplete, Plesk, and cPanel. These are the 3 control panels users most often go for in Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting.

Plesk Onyx

Award-winning Plesk garnered its accomplishments from exemplary abilities in VPS and shared hosting environments.  Plesk’s superior VPS control panel can install and handle all the systems and applications you might need to host on a single VPS server. With its great versatility and scalability, Plesk users can even expand and manage anything up to thousands of virtual hosts on one server. It’s customizable to meet customer requirements and truly offers users an impressive VPS control panel.

Ask Plesk a Question     Try Plesk for Free

HSPcomplete

HSPcomplete is a lightweight piece of software that provides a single UI to help users manage their VPS hosting account. Its main selling point is that it’s simple to use. But it does also offer a comprehensive array of useful features. Overall, HSPcomplete is a competent VPS control panel offering great reliability. The let down is having less functionality than you need to successfully manage reseller accounts.

cPanel/WHM

cPanel has also received award recognition for its performance as a leading VPS control panel. It trails Plesk in second place, although quite a lot of web hosts and users have adopted it due to its clean interface and rich variety of features. The UI is simple to use, allowing even beginners to get up and running relatively quickly.  However, there’s a disadvantage to its icon-based approach compared to the templates used in the control panels above. Because it tends to be resource-hungry and place greater demands on disk space.  

Our VPS Control Panel Recommendations

It can be challenging to find a clear winner when auditioning for the ideal VPS panel solution, so let’s try and make it simpler.

The cPanel/WHM (Web Host Manager) will always be a good choice thanks to its simplicity, but its weighty footprint and icon-heavy interface design slow it down compared to the other VPS control panels. cPanel is certainly adequate on a VPS front, but it might not offer the same high level of performance that a VPS control panel like Plesk Onyx can give.

Talk to Plesk for Free     Get a Free Plesk Trial

In the end, the right control panel is the one that best suits the individual, and individual choice is of course very subjective. The best way to manage your virtualized environment or typical hosting arrangement is to try out the solutions and see which one you like most. You should be to able to find live demos of all these packages to give them a test drive.

CPanel to Plesk Migration Guide

cPanel To Plesk Migration Guide

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.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. Use you migration manager to make sure that the versions of Plesk and cPanel you have are compatible for the transfer.
  3. Install the Plesk transfer and migration manager on the destination.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Check Plesk Migration for Linux     Check Plesk Migration for Windows

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.

Contact for Managed Migration     Get More Migration Support