The Admin Benefits You’re Getting with Plesk Server Control Panel

Admin Benefits of the Plesk Server Control Panel - Plesk

Web experts design hosting server control panels to help any kind of user, no matter how technically-skilled. Why? Because their goal is to help properly set up and manage websites. Instead of having to type complicated commands, users can just have a user-friendly GUI that performs actions. At the moment, the Plesk server panel is one of the most popular web hosting control panels in the world.

It has an intuitive and clear interface that everyone can find their way around. Especially true if the user has WordPress experience since the Plesk interface assumes a WordPress approach in terms of usability. Keep scrolling for details of Plesk’s core features.

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1. Easily Customizable Plesk Server Panel

Easily Customizable Plesk Server Panel - Admin Benefits of Plesk - Plesk

So why is Plesk so intuitive and simple? Because it provides the scope of all necessary tools you need to start – the right way. Essential tools that help you manage your website’s whole lifecycle. With Plesk Onyx, the latest release, you can use category pages for easy navigation while looking for the right tools.

Apart from Onyx basics, you can even customize your Server Panel with various extensions, split into categories within the menu. You’ll find the most popular ones on the main page and more extensions you may need in any of the categories. Narrow your search if you like and you can quickly add extensions in just a few clicks. Here are some favourites:

Also, you don’t have to pay for extensions you don’t need. Because Plesk designed its interface for you to only add what you use. This is how the overview is kept clean and simple within the server panel. Plesk Onyx and other latest versions also provide better support with new extensions such as Git, Node.js, Ruby, and Docker.

2. High Level Of Compatibility

High Level Of Compatibility - Admin Benefits of Plesk - Plesk

Plesk server panel supports many different operating systems, platforms and technologies. Thus multiplying its strength and contributing to the fact that most Windows Server installations use the Plesk control panel. Since cPanel and others don’t support Windows OS.

Still, the Plesk server panel isn’t limited to Windows servers only – it supports many different Linux versions too. Plesk also works with lots of different tools and platforms. Like the out-the-box WordPress Toolkit extension. This comes available and ready to use with most Plesk Onyx editions.

3. Variety of Admin Tools

Variety of Admin Tools Available - Admin Benefits of Plesk - Plesk

Administrators’ tools and extensions also include Magento, Patchman, CloudFlare CDN, and Let’s Encrypt. Compatibility with various OSs, tools, apps, and platforms allow admins to run their sites the way they see fit. Not just limiting themselves to useless or unappealing options.

Give users the ability to find what they need and add it to their control panel. You’ll ensure a clutter-free environment that’s easy to use and navigate.

4. Automation and Easy Management

Automation and simplified setup procedures are among the core benefits that Plesk brings to the table. Because server admins get to reduce the efforts and time for routine tasks when they need to.

You can install Plesk on Windows easily as it has a very intuitive GUI. It’s also easy to set up on Linux because it only requires one command to install with default settings. To set up a website using Plesk Onyx, you’ll have to go to the Domains page. First, simply click the domain name. Then choose Files > Databases > Install Apps > Install WordPress to make a brand-new website.

If you use a CMS like Drupal, Joomla or WordPress, you can create, secure and launch a site in minutes. Just drag and drop to add new content or features without having to insert a single line of code. Most extensions have one-click installation so you can set them up instantly.

You can automate server tasks by going to Tools and Resources. Then choosing Scheduled Tasks on the Tools and Settings page. Here you can schedule commands or PHP scripts too.

Moreover, you get extensions like Perfect Dashboard that give you more task automation power. For example, one-click updates for all websites on one account and automated backup integrity verifications. Or engine tests to show if any layout changes have cost you broken SEO tags, social tags, or display errors.

Who can start on Plesk Server Panel?

Various end-user groups with any level of experience can easily use the Plesk server panel. Because it has a clean and user-friendly GUI, huge compatibility potential and a large extension ecosystem. The latest Onyx release has a similar approach. Thus giving more capabilities, including tools and multi-server abilities.

Although there are administrators who still prefer working on CLI, Plesk may still save their time. And beginners get to learn quickly and get rid of the need for third-party support services.

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Plesk Multiple Server Management – How it Works

The biggest challenges we run into as system admins and web experts are multiple server managementsite management, and maintenance. If we don’t do this right, we face consequences. We waste time and resources. So it’s essential to own a web hosting control panel – making the whole thing simpler. While being able to create sites, apps, automate tasks, handle website security, and more.

Plesk Onyx is an all-around control panel and WebOps solution. Devs rely on it for its coding environment. Not to mention everyday tasks as it offers many extensions. Including Node.js, Ruby, WordPress Toolkit, Joomla Toolkit and more.

Plesk Control Panel Bonuses

Plesk supports Docker, which empowers developers to create and manage their new software. Do this by managing and deploying all Docker containers straight from the control panel. Additionally, Plesk offers GitHub integrations – deploying apps and sites quick from a Git repository, remote or local.

Plesk server management continues to add to its multiple server management capabilities. By giving absolute control of multiple accounts and subscriptions across all servers.

Multiple Server Management with One Control Panel

Plesk’s Multi Server extension lets you administrate multiple servers and routine tasks with just one control panel. Doesn’t matter if you’re a hosting provider, reseller, or manage your own hosting. Constantly switching between several hostnames, username IDs, and so on is exhausting.

Plesk designed its Multi Server extension with this in mind. For effective and secure multiple server management. With this extension, you can perform hosting actions on many servers. And manage the infrastructure with ease. This because memorizing hostnames, passwords, and login identifications become unnecessary.

It’s similar to simple web server management. However, the same scope of features is related to a number of servers. All through a single control panel.

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Why the Multiple Server Management Extension?

You can install this extension directly from Plesk’s extension list. But note that you need to install Onyx on all your servers first. You’ll have all the features that Plesk has. But with this extension, you’ll gain additional functionalities:

  • Managing as many customer subscriptions and accounts as you want from your control panel.
  • Choosing between any billing systems you like, including yours.

It’s a very useful business-ready platform. Ideal for development studios and web designers who manage many different sites and clients.

What Plesk Multi-server management Consists of

  • At least two nodes which are all connected to each other using the SDK extension.
  • The basic two nodes include Service nodes and management nodes.
  • Plesk multi-server that will be installed on all extensions with all nodes.
  • All of the nodes that will have the same license key and configurations.

Subscriptions and Customer Account Management

So we said that this system comes with two nodes – service and management nodes. You use the service node to manage hosting. Because it has the power to host sites, system databases and emails. It also ensures quality load-balancing. This is important since it decides which node will provide hosting for the new subscription. Meanwhile, the multi-server extension has a separate API extending from Plesk’s API. Giving the power to add commands within the system.

The management node is a single Onyx server. Useful for both customers and administrators. And it servers a single point login spot. All new customer accounts go into this node too. But remember, this node has no tools for any hosting actions. So we use the management node to create accounts and the service node to manage their hosting.

Additionally, when a customer logs into the management node, they see and manage all subscriptions hosted through service nodes. You can see the following information on the subscription tab:

  • Status – a status sign that shows whether a subscription is successful or not.
  • A service node IP address that is provisioned for a certain subscription.

This is how Plesk server management can help you with web server management and multiple server management. You as an admin can rely on this comprehensive platform for its capabilities at all times.

UPDATE: Starting from Plesk Onyx 17.8 Multi Server feature is no longer available

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!