Setting up Your Ideal Web Development Environment With Plesk Essentials

Morning beverage ready. Mail and calendar checked. Daily meeting with the team done – It’s time to start your engines and crack on with your project. If you’re familiar with this sequence, it’s because you’re also immersed in the web developer’s everyday routine.

Carrying out your daily tasks might be an easy-peasy chore. But when it comes to beginning a new project from scratch. And setting up your web development environment, you might need to add on a few more steps. Before starting cooking up a new project, you must have all the ingredients sorted. That is, for example, prepare all the data and tools you’ll need along the way.

And indeed, there’s a significant amount of web development tools out there. But what tools are suited to web developers? How do you decide which ones to have in your toolbox? In this article, we’ll bring you some prime extensions and toolkits that will make your web development experience even better. Let’s get ready to know some of Plesk’s essentials for web development, DNS, security, SEO, server, and backup.

Organizing Your Toolbox

At Plesk, our goal is to make web development simple and easy. And its integrated platform with full development and deployment capabilities allows you to build, secure, and run servers and websites. But if what you want to know is how to level up your skills with great tools, here are some excellent examples. Let’s dig deeper:

DNS, Security, and Web Plesk Extensions for Web Developers

Plesk DNSSEC

The DNSSEC acronym stands for Domain Name System Security Extensions. It’s a set of DNS protocol extensions that sign DNS data to secure the domain name resolving process.

The Plesk DNSSEC extension helps make the Internet safer. Let’s see what it allows you to do:

  • Configure the settings used for key generation and rollover.
  • Sign and unsign domain zones according to the DNSSEC specifications.
  • Receive notifications related to DNSSEC records and keys.
  • View and copy DS resource records and DNSKEY resource record sets.

Docker

Docker is a handy software technology that provides containers. That means an extra layer of abstraction and automation of operating-system-level virtualization. As a flexible Plesk tool, Docker can help you perform a wide variety of tasks. But that’s not everything. Docker also removes the obstacles to adapt to new technologies digitally as it uses existing technologies. This way, it acts as an assistant between different operating systems and developers.

The extension also frees applications from system infrastructure. Allowing expansion in capacity through collaboration. Here’s more of what you can achieve with Docker for Plesk:

  • On-demand access to a vast range of modern technologies.
  • Upload a custom image or choose one from a catalog.
  • Deploy and manage Docker containers straight from the Plesk interface.
  • Install Docker containers locally or to a remote node registered in Plesk.

Web Presence Builder

If you’re a beginner in web development, Web Presence Builder is the right tool for you. It doesn’t require great HTML knowledge or graphic design skills. This tool helps you create professional-looking websites not bad, huh?

Web Presence Builder also provides a simple visual editor and a broad set of templates for different websites. Pick a page design that you like and your content template. And then add your text to the pages and publish the website. Here’s what you can do with this tool:

  • Create web pages.
  • Add a wide variety of content (text, images, video, scripts, and more).
  • Edit website settings (website name, keywords, icons, and so on).

Joomla! Toolkit

Up next it’s the Joomla! Toolkit. A complete toolkit to power Joomla! websites. With this toolkit, you can mass-manage, secure, and automate all your instances, extensions, and templates running on a server managed by Plesk. All from one single entry point. Here’s more:

  • One single dashboard to control, maintain and monitor all your instances.
  • One-click installer to download, initialize, and configure Joomla! from start to finish.
  • It hardens your site against all types of cyberattacks with its robust security scanner.

Plesk WordPress Toolkit

As a developer, you’re probably craving lots of features and intelligent tools that make your daily workload easier to digest. Well, we’re proud to say that our beloved Plesk WordPress Toolkit is definitely one of them. With this toolkit, you can focus on core tasks and automate the mundane ones. And substantially increase productivity, security, and efficiency too.  

The Plesk WordPress Toolkit is by far the most complete tool for WordPress admins seeking pre-configured solutions for the best possible performance. As well as an intelligent tool that helps to always keep their WordPress sites secure and up-to-date without breaking a live site. In case you’re not falling yet, here’s why using this tool is not only a smart idea but also a rewarding experience: 

  • Manage all WordPress sites on the server simplifying admin tasks.
  • Install, activate, update, and remove plugins and themes from one single dashboard.
  • Keep the highest level of security selectively securing websites.
  • Clone and stage websites to simulate changes before going live. 
  • Synchronize the changes between files and databases of different sites.
  • Optimize SEO for higher traffic and manage WordPress search engine indexing.

Smart Updates

A great addition to the Plesk WordPress Toolkit is the Smart Updates feature. This power-tool combo automatically updates WordPress core, plugins, and themes using AI. Here’s more:

  • Smart Updates clones and simulates your WordPress updates before performing them.
  • It mitigates the risk of hacked sites by running updates in a secure staging environment without affecting production. 
  • You can activate Smart Updates in WordPress Toolkit with a switch, as well as automate update analysis email notifications.

SEO, Backup, Cloud, and Server Plesk Extensions for Web Developers

SEO Toolkit

Along with the performance, a thought-out SEO strategy is fundamental to improve your search engine rankings. And with better rankings, more visibility, traffic, and conversions. 

Organic search can become your primary source of clicks, traffic, and revenue for your business. With the SEO Toolkit, you get all the tools you need to give your customers a chance to find you online. And help them pick your website over those of your competitors. We’re listing some reasons why you should use SEO Toolkit for your website:

  • Track SEO KPIs and check your website’s Visibility Score to measure your success.
  • Site Audit analyzes your site and gives you tips on how to enhance optimization.
  • SEO Advisor provides you a to-do list to improve your performance based on your Site Audit and Visibility Score.
  • Log File Analyzer will crawl your site and pages to help search engines rank and index them accordingly.
  • Check each of your keyword’s performance and compare it directly to your competitors’.

Google PageSpeed Insights

As explained above, one of the main worries for web developers is site performance. Because after all the work you’ve put into your web development, you just want it to work smoothly and without any issues. But don’t panic – Here’s what you need to know to achieve good visibility in search engines. 

First of all, you need to create websites that are fast, useful to your visitors, optimized for all traffic, and most importantly, mobile-friendly. And secondly, you should monitor your sites with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. It will help you analyze your website’s content and its performance to suggest specific improvements. Here’s how the PageSpeed Insights extension works:

  • Analyzes the performance of websites hosted on your Plesk server.
  • Assigns every website a desktop and mobile score depending on its performance.
  • Generates a report based on the results of the analysis and displays suggestions to optimize your websites’ performance.
  • Provides links in the extension UI to the suggested tools aimed at improving websites’ performance (for example, the mod_pagespeed Apache module).
  • Gives already compressed files to reduce the size of static files (free API key required).
  • Installs the mod_pagespeed Apache module and lets you configure it for your needs.

Plesk Cgroups Manager

Often, web developers suffer what’s known as the ‘noisy neighbor’ problem. For those who aren’t familiar with this concept, this issue occurs when a website on a shared hosting consumes all system resources and disrupts the performance of other websites.

To avoid this common problem, we recommend using the Plesk Cgroups Manager extension. This solution helps you deliver reliable and continuous availability. The Cgroups Manager lets you control the amount of CPU, RAM, and disk read/write bandwidth resources each subscriber or tier of subscribers gets. You can use Plesk Cgroups to:

  • Prevent consuming of resources of your server by some of the subscriptions on your shared environment.
  • Automatically set a limit of resource consumption, monitor it, and send email notifications when it exceeds a certain level.
  • Set limits at two levels – subscriber service plan level or subscriber level.

Backup to Cloud Pro

Last but not least, we find the Backup to Cloud Pro extension. This solution is for all web professionals that want to set up different backup schedules to the cloud effortlessly. What’s more, it allows you to focus on more exciting and innovative tasks as it automates your backup management. It’s easy to set up and you can secure your domains with Google Drive, Amazon S3, DropBox, DigitalOcean Spaces, and Microsoft OneDrive:

  • Back up the entire server, individual user accounts with websites or individual subscriptions.
  • Schedule backups.
  • Restore data from backup archives.

CyberDeals Sale – 50% Off Selected Plesk Extensions and Toolkits

Thank you for reading up to this point – As a reward, we want to share with you a sneak peek of what’s coming soon this November. From Friday 27th until Monday 30th, we’re giving 50% off all the extensions listed in the article as part of our CyberDeals sale. So if you don’t want to miss out on these unbeatable offers, stay on the lookout for new updates. And catch them before they fly! 

How to configure external DNS with DigitalOcean DNS extension on Plesk

As a customer-friendly hosting panel, Plesk’s entire architecture and ecosystem are strategically designed to streamline and simplify things for customers. Besides the availability of extensions, the menu empowers clients to self-manage various backend and front-end aspects of their website. One of the very useful extensions in this list is the DigitalOcean DNS extension. In this tutorial, we will learn how to configure an external DNS server quickly and safely with Plesk.

There are good chances that, as a genuine netizen, Domain Name Service shouldn’t be an alien word for you. But sharing more knowledge never hurts. So, let’s dig deeper into this before coming to the main topic – Here’s a first sneak peek: 

DNS described in simple language

Think of DNS as a translator between you and the computer. DNS or Domain Name Server converts the simple English names like www.google.com into “computer language” of numerical codes.

This process of changing general domain names into computer language is called Resolving. The entity/agent that obtains the IP address by communicating with other servers is called DNS resolver. Loaded with sophisticated capabilities, Plesk can work as a reliable and competent DNS resolver.

Here’s what makes Plesk as a DNS server resolver so appealing: 

  • It can act as a backup server.
  • It delivers quick and direct translation services.
  • It offers easy-to-handle translation services on a remote server.

How does DNS work?

A specific storage space containing specific domain addresses either in a file or an authorized server is called domain zones. There are two types of DNS servers – Root DNS servers and secondary DNS servers, commonly known as lower-level DNS servers.

Root DNS servers refer to a hierarchically arranged global storage system containing the entire DNS database and corresponding IP addresses for all domain names. When the requesting browser attempts to access, say www.myexample.com it requests the authorized server to get the corresponding IP address.

Next level DNS servers store partial DNS databases. These servers are owned by business entities or ISPs who have registered their computers on the DNS system. They run the DNS server software to initiate and manage the DNS resolution process. Each DNS server comes with a public IP as well as vital databases of other hosts including their network names and addresses.

The visitor enters the desired domain name in the address bar and hits enter. It initiates the communication between visitors’ system and DNS server. Acting as a DNS client the web browser requests DNS data from a DNS server which is run by the user’s Internet service provider. Acting on the request the server looks into the internal DNS database to find a matching IP address.

In case if the server fails to find the match it forwards the request to another secondary DNS server in the network. If the matching IP is not found there the request is then escalated to the root server containing the global DNS database. After getting the domain name and corresponding IP the data is returned to the web browser through the route of DNS network. This is known as forward DNS. There is another process known as reverse DNS but that is beyond the scope of this article. You can read about it here.

Delegating DNS zone responsibilities

As a domain name client, you can either allow your registrar to handle the DNS zone responsibilities or delegate it to Plesk. The latter option enables you to self manage your domain zone through your Plesk interface.

Just like most of us techies, DNS is also a multi-tasker. Along with translating domain names into IP addresses, it also delivers other vital data like information related to mail domain, IP validity status, etc.

Configure an external DNS server quickly and safely with Plesk

By default the Plesk works as a master DNS server for the hosted website, i.e., other DNS servers can directly transfer their zones file from it. You also have the option to use the third party DNS servers. In this guide, we present the step by step instructions on how to install a digital ocean DNS extension on Plesk.

  •         Go to the Plesk Extensions Catalog.
  •         Search for DigitalOcean DNS and click “Install on my server”
  •         Open the extension.
  •         It opens the page presenting two options for installation namely “0Auth Authentication” and “API token”

Setting up your DigitalOcean DNS using Plesk Extension with API Token

Click on “API Token.” You would be prompted to enter a token. To generate the token, log into your digital ocean account and click API (left bottom). Click on “Generate a new token”. Enter your desired token name in the resultant dialogue box and click the button below it. You would see the details of the generated token. Copy the code.

Next, go to the Plesk tab, paste code in the box, and click the button below it. On the next screen, you can confirm that the digital ocean extensions have been connected. Click on the option “Activate all” and the extension will be active on all the connected domains.

Setting up your DigitalOcean DNS using Plesk Extension with 0Auth Authentication

Follow the same steps up to step 4 and upon presented the 2 authentication options choose “0Auth Authentication.” It will redirect you to your DigitalOcean account. Select your account and click “Authorize the application”, which will show you a confirmation link. Click the link. You would be taken back to the Plesk extension page click on activate all. It will activate on both extension and DigitalOcean. The existing records will be synchronized for both.

A Final Word

DNS servers offer you some key benefits for the security and performance of your website. However, setting it manually on your hosting server is a tedious process. Plesk simplifies it by offering you a smart extension that allows you to automatically configure external DNS through its DigitalOcean DNS Extension.

In this guide, we explained the benefits as well as detailed steps of configuring External DNS with DigitalOcean DNS extension on Plesk. For more information, you can also check this video tutorial on our Youtube channel. So, if there’s anything you’d like to share with us, drop us a line in the comment section below! 

Configuring DNS For A Domain With Plesk

Configuring DNS with Plesk

DNS stands for Domain Name System and it’s a naming system arranged in a tree-like fashion that turns human-readable domain names into the strings of numbers known as IP addresses that identify web resources. This kind of translation is known as resolving. When adding a domain name (with Websites & Domains > Add Domain), look no further than Plesk to handle resolution duties for your resources. It’s capable of performing three very useful roles:

  • acting as a backup server
  • directly processing translation requests
  • handing them on to a remote server

The backup server role can be changed for existing domain names (Websites & Domains > domain name > DNS Settings). We’ll examine each role and explain how to assign them in the next section.

DNS Name Resolving

The whole domain name system is arranged as a hierarchy. It’s known as the domain namespace. This global system holds every possible domain name and it’s divided into logical “domain zones.” A domain zone is a bit of the namespace that stores the addresses of specific domains. Addresses are kept in a file on another name server that has authority for that zone. So, for example, when a browser tries to access www.forinstance.com, it retrieves its IP address from a server that has authority for the forinstance.com zone. Check the related documentation for additional information about how DNS works.

Plesk as a Master DNS Server

After you buy a domain, a registrar lets you go into the settings for the DNS zone that’s responsible for your domain and its subdomains. You can choose between allowing the registrar to look after it or handing that responsibility on to Plesk. If you go with that option, then you’ll be able to manage a zone from your own account.

To look at what records are in a domain’s DNS zone right now, and to also add, modify, and remove records, go to Websites & Domains > DNS Settings.

Click Add Record to add a record, and then click on its name to modify it. For removing records, look for the checkbox next to its name and click Remove. A note of caution though—getting rid of certain records could have a detrimental effect on how your domain functions. For instance, if you get rid of the A record then this would mean it won’t be able to resolve anymore. If you do make changes that you later want to undo, just click Reset to Default to roll back to the default DNS records. This undoes all the changes that have been made to the DNS zone and restores it in line with the DNS template for the whole server. It’s worth remembering that when going through this procedure any custom records that you might have added to the zone will disappear.

You’ll also find the SOA record in the DNS zone. You can look at and make alterations to its record values by going to Websites & Domains > DNS Settings > SOA. If you put a check in the Use serial number format recommended by IETF and RIPE checkbox this will alter how Plesk stores SOA serial numbers, changing them from the Unix timestamp to the YYYYMMDDNN format suggested by RIPE. A lot of domain registrars, usually ones in Europe may require you to use this format, so you can always try enabling this option if your registrar won’t allow your SOA serial number.

Plesk as a Slave DNS Server

If you’d like to give authority for your zone to a DNS server that you already have and you’re an advanced user, you can enable Plesk to act as a slave (or “secondary”) DNS server. In this situation, Plesk will hold a copy of your zone and you won’t be given the choice of managing it via the Customer Panel. Plesk’s DNS server is only used if your primary name server stops working for some reason.

To make the Plesk DNS server behave as a secondary name server:

  1. Go to Websites & Domains and click on the domain name so you can manage its DNS settings.
  2. Click on DNS Settings.
  3. Click on Master/Slave to switch DNS server mode.
  4. Click on Add Record.
  5. Type the IP address of the primary (master) DNS server.
  6. Click on OK, and then Update.
  7. Go through steps 2-6 again for each website that’s going to need a secondary name server on your server.

To make the Plesk DNS server work as your main backup:

  1. Go to Websites & Domains and click to choose a domain name so you can manage its DNS settings.
  2. Click DNS Settings.
  3. Click Master/Slave to go between DNS server modes.

The zone’s original resource records will be restored.

Registrar’s DNS Settings in Plesk

If you decide against using Plesk as a DNS server, you’ll need to undertake all zone management via a domain registrar’s site. Some registrars will permit remote DNS zone management. If that’s the case with your hosting provider, you’ll still have the opportunity to make changes to the DNS zone using the Customer Panel, irrespective of the location of your authoritative name server.

To turn off the Plesk DNS service for a site that currently uses external name servers:

  1. Go to Websites & Domains and click to choose a domain name so you can manage its DNS settings.
  2. Click DNS Settings.
  3. Click Disable.

When you turn off the DNS service for the zone the screen will refresh, leaving only a list of name servers. You can click on these links to validate how the zone configuration is validated on the external authoritative name servers.

If you would like to validate a zone configuration that’s maintained on authoritative name servers, follow these steps:

    1. Add the entries pointing to the appropriate name servers that are authoritative for the zone to the list: Click Add Record, choose a name server, click OK, and then click Update.
    2. Do this for every name server you want to test. The records will appear in the list.
    3. Click on the records that you’ve just created.

Plesk will recover the zone file from remote name servers and then check the resource records to ensure that the domain’s resources are correctly resolved. The results will be interpreted and displayed on the screen.

Additional Domain Operations

If your Customer Panel has billing system integration, then you might find that Plesk offers you these operations on domains:

  • Permission to set a password for accessing the domain management panel on a registrar’s site.
  • Locking and unlocking of a domain name when you want to transfer to another provider.
  • Altering contact information like domain registrant and various other details.
  • Altering DNS settings for domain zones served by a domain registrar.
  • Configuring automated renewal of the domain account with the domain name registration company.

For setting a new password to access your domain management Customer Panel on a registrar’s site:

  1. Go to your Account.
  2. Look for the domain name you want to change the settings for and click the Show Domain Info link next to it.
  3. Click Change Domain Password.
  4. Enter your new password and click OK.

To lock or unlock a domain name for transfer to another provider:

  1. Go to your Account.
  2. Look for the domain name you want to change a setting for and click the Show Domain Info link next to it.
  3. Click Change Registrar Lock Setting.
  4. To permit domain name transfer, uncheck the Lock checkbox and click OK.

To change domain owner’s contact, technical, administrative, or billing information:

  1. Go to Account.
  2. Find the domain name for which you want to change settings, and click the link Show Domain Info that’s next to it.
  3. Click Edit Contact Info.
  4. Go through the required changes and click OK.

To change DNS settings for a domain:

  1. Go to Account.
  2. Find the domain name you want to change the settings for and click the Show Domain Info link that’s next to it.
  3. Click Edit DNS Settings.
  4. Set the domain name servers that serve the DNS zone for your website and also the IP address of the server where the website is hosted.
  5. If your website’s DNS zone is served by your domain name registrar, then you can also detail other resource records that influence how your website’s services may be accessed using the Internet.
  6. To save your changes, click OK.

To configure automatic renewal of the domain name:

  1. Go to Account.
  2. Look for the domain name that you want to change the settings for and click the Show Domain Info link next to it.
  3. Click Automatic Domain Renewal.
  4. To permit auto-renewal of domain registration, select the Turn on auto renewal checkbox and click OK.

Getting the Best WordPress Hosting Performance Today

WordPress Hosting Performance Today

Fast, performant, and close to home? It sounds like a line from an ad. But it’s not. It’s about what a hosting provider should offer a WordPress business. So let’s dive into the behind-the-stage attributes that will give you ultimate WordPress Hosting Performance.   

To have great WordPress performance, you should look for the following magic features: CDNs and your server location. A data center that’s geographically-close to its users guarantees low latency. While CDN ensures excellent response times to users worldwide. Let’s call them the salt and pepper of the WordPress hosting performance dish. Read on to discover the rest of the equally important ingredients.

The WordPress Community on WordPress Performance

We asked the WordPress Community for a top tip to boost WordPress Performance. Here’s what we got. 

Must-Have Hosting Performance Features

WordPress needs hosting. Which WordPress performance attributes would make the latter one the best match?

Optimizing Speed and Performance - Ruby on Rails vs PHP

Server-level Caching and CDNs

Server level caching is a great way to provide a significant performance boost to most websites with a lot of static content (images, CSS, HTML). While CDNs also perform caching, it’s good to have a server-level caching by default.

Speaking of Content Delivery Networks, the providers who offer a CDN with the selected WordPress plan score higher in the attractiveness top. Even upper on this list are the providers who offer a CDN that’s integrated into a control panel.

HTTP/2 and DNS

Also, the hosting provider or CDN one must enable the HTTP/2, the latest major revision of the HTTP Protocol. Moreover, to make a good impression and provide the best possible performance for the users, Gzip compressing should be part of the offering.

A performant hosting experience includes offering a fully-featured DNS service. The providers which offer restricted DNS or domain features (like adding a parked domain, add-on domain or subdomain) don’t make the best impression.

First Byte 300ms or Less

Can it make it in under 300 milliseconds? Then, it’s a keeper. For the end-users, it means their browser will receive the first byte of response within this time-frame. Apparently, 300 milliseconds or less is the golden number – according to numerous e-commerce studies.

Detailed WordPress Performance Benchmarks

stats - NGINX vs Apache - Plesk

“We want it all and we want it now”. These are the expectations we hear from customers browsing online platforms. This is why speed and performance play a major role in the success of any online business. Website performance is about retaining users, improving conversions, making customers happy – and ultimately, growing your business.

Studies say you have just 27 seconds to make a first good impression. When you have an e-commerce website, you have even fewer seconds at your disposal. Neil Patel, digital marketing guru, states that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Moreover, Google penalizes slow and poorly performing websites from an SEO perspective and downgrades search engine rankings.

Therefore, other than the managed WordPress hosting plans, how a provider handles various levels of traffic in real-time is also very important.

What Makes the Difference?

  • Concurrency is the number of multiple simultaneous users that are connected to your application, requesting content as quickly as possible. But not all at once.
  • Meanwhile, Requests Per Second (RPS) represents the number of requests the web server can respond to within 1 second. Sites with higher RPS will be able to handle more traffic.
  • As for the latency, it represents the response time observed for 95% of the requests sent during a time frame.

Why Geography Impacts Performance

location - CDN - globe

How do you feel about long-distance connections? They may work, but with some struggle. This also applies to your WordPress hosting, so that you can get the bets WordPress Hosting Performance.

Your website may not perform at its best if the location of the data center that hosts it is not close to your audience. Picking a data center in the same city as your audience will provide much lower latency.

An ideal scenario would be to have two data center locations in the same region to deliver at full speed dynamic content. In particular, PHP generated content dynamically, which can’t be cached easily. And even all your users are in the same area as your data center, you don’t want to lose points for high latency.

This is why using a CDN comes handy. As a Content Delivery network helps you to deliver excellent response times to users worldwide.

Top WordPress Hosting Performers and Why

So, now you know what to look for in a WordPress hosting provider. But do such ideal hosting providers exist? Well, yes. According to Cloud Spectator Report, the best ones, in terms of performance features, are:

  • FlyWheel
  • Kinsta
  • Pantheon

All three of them are A-class hosting performers because they have in place: server-level caching, HTTP/2, gzip compression, premium DNS, First Byte at or under 300ms in at least 1 location, CDN available and CDN management.

WordPress Hosting Performance Features

FlyWheel and Kinsta are top performers also in regards to Global Reach. Pantheon got maximum points for Backup and Restore features, too. For Staging & Cloning, both Pantheon and Kinsta got gold medals. Kinsta received a two more on WordPress Support, respectively Onboarding chapter.

Nevertheless, on Developer Friendly, General Support, respectively Security Features aspects, other providers got into the spotlight. However, none of the 17 providers included in the international benchmark study achieved top scores across all nine listed categories.

Important takeaway: as a WordPress owner you need to determine which feature sets are vital for your needs before selecting a WordPress Hosting provider.

How Plesk Impacts Your WordPress Performance

Speed Up WordPress Website

Lots of points to consider when choosing the best-performing WordPress hosting provider for you, right? Fortunately, there is another way to get the same perks, but without any headache. While using Plesk Hosting Platform for your virtual or dedicated server, you can also use the WordPress Toolkit extension on top of it.

Instant benefits? Everything becomes simpler regarding configuration, routine management or overall performance of all your WordPress projects. Remember that Google likes performant websites and ranks them higher in the search results.

Discover more ways to turbocharge your WordPress Performance here.

To keep it short and simple: a fast and well-optimized WordPress website will do the work. And happy visitors can become satisfied customers later on.

Cloudflare Releases New Warp VPN

Cloudflare releases new Warp VPN - Plesk Partners

Cloudflare has just launched their new Warp VPN which secures and optimizes DNS queries. Once enabled, Warp encrypts all connections – Securing all internet traffic on any device. Have a look at this VPN performance tool and what it can do.

Warp Protects Your Phone’s Traffic

Warp is able to run on any web browsers and app running on your phone. Cloudflare built the VPN around a UPD-based protocol optimized for mobile internet and the speed it requires. Thanks to Cloudflare’s massive global network, Warp VPN can connect with servers faster than ever.

In addition, tests show that Cloudflare’s network is constantly checking connections. So Warp improves Internet performance and delivers a better experience for users

“Tests show better internet speed once Warp is enabled” - says

vpn/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Cloudflare Chief Executive.

Warp Performance & Speed

Security is the main feature of VPN tools that impact Internet speed. However, Warp VPN not only improves security aspects but also Internet performance and reliability.

Cloudflare will launch two different versions of their New Warp VPN. The free, basic version is available to you now. But for better performance and speed, Cloudflare’s developing Warp+, the premium version for those wanting to work at lightspeed.

Cloudflare

More Protection with ServerShield by Cloudflare

Admins and site owners know as well as we do that Server security is just as important as performance. So if you’ve already installed Plesk, we suggest looking into the free, complete security solution: ServerShield.

The extension will enable you to protect your websites against online threats and DDoS Attacks. Thus, stopping malicious web traffic while delivering content much faster. ServerShield provides a Web Application Firewall that can stop real-time attacks. This makes it easy to fight SQL injections, spam and cross-site scripting. For additional security features that harden your protection shields further, go for the Cloudflare ServerShield Plus Advanced option.

For more info, see the ServerShield installation guide.

Top Cloudfest Hackathon Results You Need to Know [Video]

Top Cloudfest Hackathon Results You Need to Know - Plesk

Over 90 contributors, fueled by pizza and coffee, produced mind-blowing results at the fourth edition of Cloudfest Hackathon. Our Pleskians contributed to many of the seven projects, with CTO Jan Löffler as team captain for the “Hack My Hoster” project. Here’s a closer look at our accomplishments this year.

Hack my Hoster – Jan Löffler from Plesk

How secure is your hosting provider? Who leads as a role model and who falls behind? The target of this project was to protect the customers of the most popular hosting companies against hackers. How? By revealing security vulnerabilities and pushing the liable providers to fix them before being exploited.

Jan and his team reviewed and tested settings for web server, PHP and database. Also, they reviewed and tested SSL certificates, and checked password security and authentication methods. In the end, they performed own scripted intrusion tests and uploaded Malware to test security scanners. Then, Jan presented how the different hosters performed in the tests.

We were happy to find two role models in this category: HostPress and Kinsta. Because the ways in which they protect their customers exceeded our expectations. As a result, the team stated they would like to team up with these hosting companies to offer an even better solution. And Jan went on to give his CloudFest keynote in front of 100s of hosters about better protecting their customers.

Domain Connect DNS Provider – Arnold Blinn, GoDaddy

Domain Connect is an open standard that makes it easy for a user to configure DNS. This is for a domain running at a DNS provider to work with a service running at an independent service provider. During previous CloudFest hackathons, this team worked on sample implementations and third-party integrations – including a full Plesk implementation in 2018.

But this year, Arnold and his team worked on a DNS Provider Library. So proof of concept implementations for cPanel, Bind and PowerDNS have been built on top of this.

Domain Connect Panel at Cloudfest 2019

Moreover, a Domain Connect panel took place with Arnold, our Jan Loeffler, Pawel Kowalik and Kellie Peterson. While representing Plesk, IONOS, and Automattic, they explained why Domain Connect is important to simplify DNS management for website owners. And how easy it was to implement it for their companies.

ID4me Plugin Fiesta – Pawel Kowalik, IONOS

ID4me is a new open digital identity service providing seamless user onboarding and authentication. They return control over digital identities back into the hands of users via an independent SSO solution. During the hackathon, this identity service was implemented for 12 client integrations, including Plesk, and two authority services. But it was 11 that ended up having a working solution.

The protocol has thus been proven and tested for interoperability. Besides IONOS, GoDaddy, OpenXchange and many others, Plesk will support login via ID4me similar to “Login with Facebook” or Google.

Application <=> Server Management Protocol (ASMP) – Alain Schlesser, Bright Nucleus

The ASMP protocol tries to enable management operations. Because they want to bridge the gap between applications and the server environment they run on. This keeps the initiative and responsibility with the application owner, while keeping the hoster’s full control of the actual implementation.

During the hackathon, the working group started work on an RFC and fleshed out an Open API 3-specification. Additionally, they did a proof of concept. Resulting in a PHP client library, a PHP sample server, and a WordPress plugin complete with docker setup. In order to run end-to-end tests with this new protocol.

Finally, several big players have stated their interest in this protocol, with the two biggest CMS systems on the application side, and Plesk/cPanel as well as major hosts like GoDaddy on the server side.

Hoster wtf – Marc Nilius from WP Wartung 24

The end-user hosting experience can vary dramatically, especially in the shared hosting environment. Most hosting companies have individual configuration backends as well as different configuration or infrastructure stacks. It can become quite challenging for an end-user to find the best hosting partner according to their individual needs.

So Marc’s team, which I had the pleasure to be a part of, established a list of quality criteria. So that we could test different hosting packages. The focus was set on easy registration and onboarding, end-user support and technical requirements (for CMS).

During the hackathon, we tested seven international and German hosting providers specialized in managed WordPress hosting. Marc briefly presented the results and showcased some true “Hoster wtf” issues we discovered during testing. The mid-term goals are to first add a ranking to the criteria list. Then, to provide a comparable list of shared hosting plans and providers. As well as to offer additional help for configuration pitfalls for these hosts.

Cloudfest Hackathon 2019

We’ll keep a close eye on these five projects to see what more comes out of them. Meanwhile, we look forward to the fifth Cloudfest Hackathon in 2020! See you there?

How to set up a Nameserver

A DNS or Domain Name System is a convention that defines how computers swap data on the Internet. For every website name, like plesk.com, DNS turns it into an Internet Protocol (IP) address like: 21.231.89.78. Hence, giving each computer on the network a unique identity. It’s a bit like a phone number. Every time you access a website, you enter a name, then the request goes through a DNS server or nameserver.

What’s a Nameserver?

This server holds an enormous database of records. So what it does is find the stored name and turns it into its corresponding “phone number.” Therefore, this system makes sure people only need to remember the names for these addresses – and not majorly long numbers.

How you create these DNS records will vary according to your hosting provider. So please check their interface to make sure. But here’s how you can configure nameservers so you can translate domain names into IP addresses.

Note that for domain extensions (TLD), you’ll usually have to use at least 2 different IP addresses for 2 different nameservers. As an example, we’re using the domain “domain.com” with the nameservers “ns1.domain.com” and “ns2.domain.com” which should have IPs “1.1.1.1” and “2.2.2.2”.

Setting up a Nameserver with Plesk Control Panel

Creating Your Domain

First, create your domain in Plesk. Then, go to “Websites & Domains” to see an overview of all your domains. If you want to configure a second IP address for your nameservers, go to “Tools & Settings” > “Tools & Resources” > “IP Addresses”. The nameserver will respond to all configured IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. The IP addresses for your nameservers can be different from the ones you used for your websites.

In Plesk, you do DNS zone configuration with a DNS template. You can find this under “Tools & Settings” -> “General Settings” -> “DNS Template”. This template has all the nameservers ‘ settings – apart from some for default entries and internal services, like webmail. So this is where you can configure the entries for all the domains on your server.

Plesk creates two nameserver entries by default, “ns1.domain.com” and “ns2.domain.com” – just as examples. If you want to use the same nameservers for each of your domains, it’s best to change the NS entries and IP addresses of your nameservers in the template. To use different nameservers, you can also change these settings later in your domain’s DNS zone.

When you have configured the DNS template, you’ll need to apply it to all domains. Now you can see the new settings also in the DNS zone of your domain. You can manage the DNS zone at “Websites & Domains” – “domain.com” – “DNS Settings”. Here, you can add, edit and delete your DNS entries.

Domain Configuration

Finally, you’ll need to properly configure your domain settings with your domain registrar. So, change the nameserver entries. And if you want to use subdomains based on your domain (such as “ns1.domain.com” for your domain “domain.com”) as your nameservers, you’ll need to set up “Glue Records”. This just means that the domain registrar saves the name of the IP address as well as the names of your name servers.

Sometimes you’ll need to configure new IP addresses at the current DNS zone of your domain. Since a DNS update takes time, you may need to wait up to 24 hours before the new settings become actual. You can test your nameservers and the name resolution for your domain with tools like DNSstuff. It can help you verify the settings at your DNS provider and your nameservers.

Read more about Slave DNS on Plesk and take a look at our DNS extensions by clicking below.

How to add Centralized Slave DNS to Plesk Multi Server

Centralized Slave DNS and Plesk Multi Server

Hey there fellow Pleskians! Today we’ve been thinking about enhancing Plesk Multi Server with Centralized DNS support. Why? Because you’ll be able to use a single set of name servers for all the domains you host on Plesk Multi Server service nodes. And even if we’re still developing Centralized DNS further, you can still use our Slave DNS Manager extension to get this feature going in a few simple steps

The article covers:

  1. How to configure Centralized DNS on a new Plesk Multi Server installation
  2. How to do this process with existing customers and subscriptions
  3. How to troubleshoot any possible issues

What is Plesk Multi Server?

This server allows single-Plesk-interface users to run hosting services on multiple servers. This way, you’ll get two or more Plesk instances interconnected via our Extensions SDK. One of these nodes will be a “Management node”, used for managing all other nodes. Meanwhile, all the Plesk instances connected to a Management node are called “Service nodes”. Plesk Multi Server is intended for small and medium-sized shared hosting providers and web design & development studios that also host the clients’ website. Is this you? Then let’s briefly touch upon the infrastructure configuration.

Infrastructure Configuration

Plesk Multi Server 

Plesk Multi Server needs one or more service nodes installed. So here we’ll go for a clean installation – two service nodes with no subscriptions or customers. In this setup, each service node will be used as a master DNS server.

Plesk Multi Server

Slave DNS Server 

First, deploy and configure one or more DNS servers that will be used as Slave DNS. So follow these configuration steps below. In this example, we’ll be using servers with CentOS 7:

  1. Either configure SElinux…
    # sestatus 
    SELinux status:                 enabled
    # setsebool -P named_write_master_zones 1
    

    …or disable it completely: 

    # sed -i 's/SELINUX=enforcing/SELINUX=disabled/g' /etc/sysconfig/selinux
    # sed -i 's/SELINUX=enforcing/SELINUX=disabled/g' 
    
  2. Update packages and reboot the OS:
    # yum update -y; reboot
  3. Install and configure the BIND service:
    • Install it:
      yum install -y bind bind-utils
    • Allow new zones with rndc:
      sed -i 's/options {/options {\n allow-new-zones yes;/;' /etc/named.conf
    • Turn off DNS recursion: 
      # sed -i 's/recursion\ yes;/recursion\ no;/g' /etc/named.conf
    • Specify which IP addresses are allowed to query the server. We disabled this option entirely: 
      # cat /etc/named.conf | grep allow-query
      //allow-query     { localhost; };
      
    • Add the network interfaces the named daemon will listen on. In this example, all IP addresses are added: 
      # sed -i 's/127.0.0.1;/any;/g' /etc/named.conf
      # systemctl restart named
      
    • Insert the group write privilege to /var/named, /var/named/chroot/var/named:
      # chmod g+w /var/named/ /var/named/chroot/var/named/
  4. We recommend you enable firewalld or iptables on the server. And make sure that ports 53 (DNS) and 953 (rndc) are accessible from the outside: 
    # systemctl start firewalld
    # firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-port=53/tcp
    # firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-port=53/udp
    # firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-port=953/tcp
    # firewall-cmd --reload

Slave DNS Manager on Plesk Multi Server

Installation and Configuration

  1. Go to the Extension Catalog and install the Slave DNS Manager extension. You can learn more about how this extension works in our article here.

    Slave DNS Manager at Plesk

    Install Slave DNS manager
  2. Use Tasks to make sure that the extension has been properly installed on all service nodes.
  3. Add the configured DNS server as a slave DNS to one of the service nodes.Slave DNS Manager extension
    Plesk - node selection
    slave-dns-6-go-toadd-slave
  4. Enter the IP address of the Slave DNS server and remember the secret key. It will be used by the rndc utility to transfer DNS zones from the master to the slave.
  5. After saving the configuration, check the status of the connected server.  You’ll probably see the following error – but don’t panic! 

    usr/sbin/rndc -b 10.52.79.37 -s 10.52.63.61 -p 953 -y rndc-key -c /usr/local/psa/var/modules/slave-dns-manager/slave_10.52.63.61.conf status rndc: connection to remote host closed This may indicate that * the remote server is using an older version of the command protocol, * this host is not authorized to connect, * the clocks are not synchronized, or * the key is invalid.

  6. To fix the issue, add the secret key you saved during step 4 to the named.conf configuration file on the Slave DNS server and restart the DNS server. 

    # cat /etc/named.conf | grep -A10 rndc key “rndc-key-master” { algorithm hmac-md5; secret “Y2QwZmIxZjRmN2U3NmU1YzY5MzhmOA==”; }; controls { inet * port 953 allow { 10.52.79.37; 127.0.0.1; } keys { “rndc-key-master”; }; };

  7. Click ‘Resync‘ to re-check the communication with the slave DNS server. You should see a green check mark telling you that the settings are correct.slave-dns-9-allgood
  8. Add the required number of Slave DNS servers by repeating steps 3-7.
  9. Configure the Slave DNS servers for all Plesk Multi Server service nodes.
  10. Don’t forget to add the IP addresses of the service nodes to the controls{…} section of the named.conf configuration file on each Slave DNS server.

You can learn how to install and configure the Slave DNS Manager extension on standalone Plesk servers in our documentation.

How to check if you configured Slave DNS correctly

  1. To check if your Slave DNS is good to go, you should first create a new subscription in Plesk Multi Server. In this example it’s the “testing.tld” domain name.Slave DNS check - adding your own subscription
  2. Look at the Slave DNS server:
    • You will see the following messages in /var/log/messages: 
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: received control channel command 'addzone testing.tld IN  { type slave; file "testing.tld"; masters { 10.52.79.37; }; };'
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: zone testing.tld added to view _default via addzone
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: zone testing.tld/IN: Transfer started.
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: transfer of 'testing.tld/IN' from 10.52.79.37#53: connected using 10.52.63.61#36010
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: zone testing.tld/IN: transferred serial 2017081903
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: transfer of 'testing.tld/IN' from 10.52.79.37#53: Transfer completed: 1 messages, 20 records, 575 bytes, 0.002 secs (287500 bytes/sec)
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: zone testing.tld/IN: sending notifies (serial 2017081903)
      Aug 19 17:34:10 a10-52-63-61 named[21982]: received control channel command 'refresh testing.tld IN '
      
    • In the mapping file: 
      # cat /var/named/3bf305731dd26307.nzf | grep testing.tld
      zone "testing.tld" { type slave; file "testing.tld"; masters { 10.52.79.37; }; };
      
    • And in the domain DNS zone file: 
      # ll /var/named/ | grep testing.tld
      -rw-r--r-- 1 named named 1031 Aug 19 17:34 testing.tld
      
  3. Finally, request the DNS zone of a particular domain from an external server: 
    # dig testing.tld @10.52.63.61
    ….
    ;; ANSWER SECTION:
    testing.tld.		86400	IN	A	10.52.79.37
    …
    

Add Slave DNS with existing subscriptions and domains

You can also configure Slave DNS Manager for an existing Plesk Multi Server infrastructure. It’s the same as with a clean installation. So let’s configure Centralized DNS for Plesk Multi Server with two service nodes and 500 subscriptions.

Plesk Multi Server

Perform steps 1 through 7, as for a clean installation. After the configuration is complete, click the ‘Resync‘ button so that the DNS zones of all existing domains are transferred to the DNS slave servers.

Slave DNS Manager extension - Resync option

Check the /var/log/messages log to make sure that all DNS zones have been moved. You will see messages about the successful completion of the transfer, or one of the errors described in the Troubleshooting section. You can find all transferred DNS zones in the /var/named directory: 

[[email protected] ~]# cat /var/named/3bf305731dd26307.nzf | wc -l
508
[[email protected] ~]# ls -la /var/named/ | wc -l
519

Troubleshooting: Slave DNS on Plesk Multi Server

Here’s a list of issues you may encounter while configuring the Slave DNS server, and steps to resolve them.

  1. Error: rndc: connect failed: 10.52.47.119#953: host unreachable
    Solution: Make sure that the server is up and running.
  2. Error: rndc: connection to remote host closed
    Solution:

    • See that SElinux has been either disabled or properly configured.
    • Make sure that the master rndc key was added to the named.conf file.
    • Confirm that the required ports are not blocked by the firewall: 
      #firewall-cmd --get-default-zone
      public
      # firewall-cmd --list-port
      953/tcp 53/udp 53/tcp
      
    • Look at the Slave DNS server configuration section for steps showing how to fix all possible issues.
  3. Error: rndc: recv failed: connection reset
    Solution: Ensure that you specified that control instructions must be accepted from the IP address of the Plesk Multi Server service node. Make sure that you configured BIND to listen on all accessible network interfaces. Check the controls{…} section in /etc/named.conf file on the Slave DNS server.
  4. Error: In /var/log/messages: named[2296]: open: 3bf305731dd26307.nzf: file not found
    Solution: Correct all the permissions on the /var/named directory.
  5. Error: In /var/log/messages:
    named[2003]: invalid command from 10.52.79.37#34535: expired
    named[2449]: invalid command from 10.52.75.171#52596: clock skew
    chronyd[473]: Forward time jump detected!
    

    Solution: Sync the clocks between servers.

  6. Error: In /var/log/messages: named[2253]: client 10.50.2.83#54824 (testing2.tld): query ‘testing2.tld/A/IN’ denied
    Solution: Make sure that you haven’t allowed queries for localhost only. Check the allow-query{…} section in the /etc/named.conf file.

And your Slave DNS Manager is alive!

Now you know how to set up centralized Slave DNS on both a clean Plesk Multi Server installation and one that is already in production. Plus, you’ve got pointers for any potential pitfalls you may encounter. It’s time to put this knowledge into practice – Go ahead, give it a try! 

Finally, the Slave DNS Manager extension is an open project and you can always contribute by committing to our Github repositoryMay the force be with you!