My Plesk Update Delivers Multi-Server Management and More

Since the start of 2020, Plesk customers have enjoyed a dedicated portal to manage their Plesk licenses, personal information and subscriptions: My Plesk.

The innovative interface has, since release, created a personal self-care space where you can adapt your profile and have full control over purchases. The functionality simplifies billing and subscriptions, while providing a channel to keep track of the status of your products. There, you can update, renew and upgrade subscriptions and purchases directly.

The full capabilities of the My Plesk portal can be found here.
But the really great news is that as of March 2021, you can do even more with your My Plesk account!

What’s new for My Plesk

Server Inventory

Along with the already-existing ‘Licenses’ tab, there is now in the newest version of My Plesk a tab dedicated to managing servers as well (currently available in beta stage).

In this new open beta program, users of My Plesk can now:

  • Add multiple Plesk servers to the Inventory list, easily
  • Login to the Plesk interface directly from the Server Inventory with a single click
  • Access the availability status of your servers
  • View and browse the aggregated list of domains hosted by your server(s)

Using this unique tool, our community has access to the major, fundamental elements of their hosting management business is one place. This streamlines the hosting experience, and complements the existing License Management and Plesk interface itself.

Server inventory My Plesk blog

Licence Reactivation

As part of the My Plesk License Management module, this update also includes a key new feature to help web professionals: License Reactivation.

With this release, users of My Plesk can reactivate subscriptions that have become inactive, completing the potential life-cycle of any Plesk license and usage. The function gives flexibility and power to our customers, supporting them in their business journey at every stage.

My Plesk portal blog

Other Improvements

The existing features of My Plesk provide ample personalization opportunities. Features from the previous version are still available and under constant improvement processes to really give back the best experience to you, our community. For example, you can continue to enjoy your own personal profile with easy access to your License Activation Keys and Extensions.

Have you signed up to the My Plesk portal yet? If you have even one Plesk or extension License, you are eligible to create your profile and manage your account with this process:

  1. Go to My Plesk > Sign up
  2. Enter the email address you used to purchase the license and create a password > Sign Up
  3. Receive an email from [email protected] with subject ‘Welcome to My Plesk service!’ > make sure to verify your email address by clicking on the link in the email
  4. Now you can log into My Plesk

Please note that to access the invoices feature, please follow instructions from this article. If you want to change your billing details, you can find a guide for that here.

The Comfortable Advantages of the Hosting Control Panel

Hosting control panel Plesk

Let’s be honest. We all have enough to think about without constant security worries, micro-managing customers, and recovering lost versions of work.

But as a web admin, a lot of time and effort goes into these repetitive tasks every single day. Decades of complex back-ends have left end customers dependent on expert coverage for their sites, leaving necessary but mundane responsibilities to the IT crowd. 

Well, web admins and developers rejoice! The web and server landscape is rapidly transforming to allow automated management. 

Let’s say you need multiple new websites, and they have to be secured. Let’s say you need them backed up regularly, maybe when you’re not even at your desk. Some old sites need to be migrated and your SEO rank is tanking. That’s a lot to handle, right? 

Enter: The Control Panel. Web and server management, taken care of in a few clicks. *Breathe a sigh of relief*. 

So what can you expect from Plesk Hosting Control Panel? Read on.

 

Ease

What you need is a functioning system. But what you want is simplicity. 

With a single interface that organises multiple sites, giving you clear updates on security, back-ups and running efficiency, you can have both. Instead of juggling tools and manually monitoring each and every site’s health, the control panel takes care of complex tasks in moments.

Features like one-click deployment, mail server support, and automated health alerts allow quick streamlining of multiple tasks. On potentially unlimited domains, wherever you are.

Service provider view Plesk

Multiple customer management. Easy monitoring. Backup and security tasks lined up neatly. You’re welcome.

Security

Security is the #1 priority of any online business. Without it, customers won’t even be able to access your page. For that reason, web admins and hosters spend sleepless nights ensuring that their servers and customers are protected.

Under a web manager, you can sleep easy. Besides the necessities like SSL certificates, managed packages compile firewalls, encryptions, antivirus and more, holding the fort for you and your customers.

And guess what? Even your data is backed up and protected in the event of downtime or tricky updates, with a helpful advisor that keeps an eye on that status of your server at all times.

 

Advisor control panel Plesk

Speed

Unboxing any new feature for your site, or indeed setting up the server and domain for the site itself, can be time and soul-consuming tasks. However, web managers – or control panels – are set up with a catalog of extensions that can be installed and launched in minutes, and certain features can become active in one. Single. Click.

Heaven.

Not to mention the inbuilt performance monitor to show how fast your site is running and flagging any issues. So it keeps up the speed for your website visitors too. 

Want to automate your speed optimization? The Speed Kit is just a click away.

 

Speed Kit Plesk baqend

Efficiency

So you’re able to work fast, in total security, with ease. And it’s available on desktop and mobile for full control on-the-go. Just in case you needed further convincing. 

What else could you want?

Well there’s even more on offer if you leave traditional single-track hosting and web management behind:

 

Extensions efficiency Plesk

🚀 SEO Toolkit to put your website on the map,

🚀 G Suite integration because, well, who doesn’t use G Suite, 

🚀 Ultra-streamlined Premium Email with calendar and task lists,

and many more practical tools for WordPress, file and server management, all in one place. In fact, enjoy +100 add-ons beside what the Plesk interface already has built-in. Just, you know, for luck.

 

The future of web management has never been so clear. Customers are no longer content with sourcing each element of the online process in separate locations. They need just one, managed, safe place to work on what they love. 

Conclusion? Hosting control panels are good for the soul.

Ready to take the leap? See options for building and managing your web here

 

Footer coffee break Elvis Plesky Plesk Blog

Server Management – What Is It All About?

Various aspects of server management - Plesk

Nowadays it’s really easy to set up a server, with many essential server management functions you need via auto-install. Servicing your server is a different matter. Because keeping tabs on maintenance plus performance and utilization levels can be time-consuming. It gets even more difficult to perform server administration when your operations include multiple servers. Tapping into a single vendor can trap you, consider using a mix of vendors for your server operating systems.

Manual management across big installations is time-consuming. You just can’t manually log into server administration consoles on a machine by machine basis. Server management software are therefore crucial to successful management procedure. Most of these tools come with remote administration and machine monitoring. Thus, enabling you to manage machines across a range of sites in an efficient manner.

Server types

Server Types

There are application servers, web servers, email infrastructure servers, and file storage servers – classified as network attached storage. You may also use the term “server” to identify the hardware part under your application layer. Your management tasks and the performance evaluation will be different depending on the each separate case.

Cloud services have completely changed server monitoring and administration routine. If you use cloud services – the applications, e-mail and storage facilities you use will be offsite. Indeed, keeping track of all these co-located servers can become a real server management nightmare.

server monitoring

Server Monitoring

The first step in infrastructure management is getting a single interface to monitor all your servers from your single workstation. It’s important to get real-time data on your hardware. Your server checking software should show you instant facts covering processor use, memory utilization, and disk space availability. On top of that, you must be able to see which processes are operating on the server. Including what amount of resources each of these processes consume.

Essentially you need to rely on a tool which can provide alerts based on live data evaluation. On top of collecting data, your checking tool must be able to automatically flag issues to someone who can respond to these issues. This could include notification via e-mail or SMS.

Finally, we would highlight that it is key to keep on top of utilization. If you see your apps are increasingly taxing your machine, you can add capacity before a demand spike causes issues.

server management

Server Management

Planning the capacity of your server is a new area of server management. You never want to provide an excess of machine capacity. Doing so can mean wasting hardware resources, paying too much for utilities and spending too much on support. However, you do need to plan for surges in demand. So a bit of spare resources is always a good idea.

Note that provisioning for computing requirements involve also provisioning other areas such as your physical network. All while providing physical space for equipment including power supply is also important. You also need to account for staff requirements. These are variables that create a unique situation for your business. Meaning you need to pick a server management tool that fits your company the best.

Server management software should make it easy for sysadmins to keep an eye on hardware availability. Alongside the expiration of software licenses, patches that are due and automated alerts when unauthorized software installations are performed.

server administration roles - server administrator

Server Administration Roles

Senior staff is generally responsible for infrastructure management. Meanwhile, day-to-day maintenance and checking can be allocated to more junior staff. Or be fully-automated using management software.

Your company size of number of admin employees defines your flexibility regarding user roles and restricting access to system data. Small businesses, for example, may have just a single person in charge of machines. With a single associated user role and a single user account for your server management tool.

On the flip side, larger groups can benefit from allocating specialized tasks to individual employees. Hence making managing access to management functions a priority. To effectively manage your infrastructure, you need to use a range of software, including remote server administration tools.

server management tools

Choosing Server Management Tools

You’re likely to continue using the management tool you choose for a long period of time. So it’s worth carefully considering your choice. Factors you should keep in mind include:

Vendor Compatibility

Yes, you may be satisfied with your current hardware provider. But as you upgrade and renew your machines you may change providers or introduce a mix of providers. Don’t choose a server monitoring tool which restricts you to a specific provider. Even if all your equipment is from a single vendor, try to ensure long-term flexibility via a tool compatible with multiple vendors.

Server Monitoring Overheads

Every piece of software consumes resources, including server management and checking software. In most cases, a tool is likely to fit clients with operations that are a certain size. Importantly, you should avoid getting a tool which slows down your operations. Or which generates too much traffic on your network. Not sure what the resource impact of a tool will be? Many vendors offer trial periods on their software – just try it out first.

Match Your Server Administration Requirements

Different software come with different features, so try to match the tool you buy to your company’s oversight needs. Thought an extremely comprehensive package may look attractive, you should be careful not to buy software that you will never use. For small environments, buy a simple tool. For larger environments, consider a tool which can deal with complexity and which includes group-management functionality. However, never buy a tool that’s so complicated you end up not using it.

Server Management Roles

It’s useful to be able to grant restricted access to management consoles. Even if there’s just a single sysadmin looking after servers. You can, for example, give management staff the ability to directly view reports so that they can draw their own conclusions. Or, you may in future employ an assistant in which case you would need your junior employee to access functionality without giving full control to your assistant.

Scaling Server Monitoring

Your computing requirements may change in future. Smaller outfits should consider buying a cut-down edition of a tool which is made for large operations. Should you need to upgrade you can simply step up inside the product family, so you don’t need to retrain. Packages which only work with smaller environments may mean that you will need to switch vendors later on which can involve a learning curve.

Automating Server Management Processes

With the complex server environments so common nowadays, the mere ability to perform checking is no longer enough. Instead, you need to be able to automate the regular server administration tasks that are time-consuming. Good software can reduce much of the server administration tasks down to simply checking logs. It’s a job that gives the opportunity for interns to gain knowledge while freeing up the time of expensive sysadmins.

Server Monitoring Options

No question that overseeing your infrastructure’s important, but you don’t need to spend lots to get good insight into your servers. One way to obtain good value is by combining software, including application and network control.

At a basic level, software will simply show you the state of your servers. Including facts such as processor use and disk space utilization. These are important facts, but they do not always give much insight into the actual user experience. Note that just focusing on machine statistics may mean that you don’t see other important factors, including network performance or the uptime of your cloud service providers.

In essence, performance oversight is a large remit and it is worth using a complete system which can take care of all your IT requirements. So that you have a better idea of all the tweaks you need to perform to ensure your infrastructure is in good shape.

You’ll be doing a lot of reading as you search for a machine monitoring package. But you won’t really understand a server monitoring system without giving it a try – first-hand. Thankfully most server management/monitoring software let you try for free. As a result, you can make a much more accurate assessment regarding whether a particular tool is a good fit for you.

Yes, the evaluation process can take time since you’ll be spending time setting up a server management tool. Even if you have to perform this task several times, you need to get to the end-goal of finding the right fit.

Effective server maintenance: essential components of a server maintenance plan

A server does not require maintenance in the shape of oil changes and tyre pressure checks but in many ways owning computer equipment that act as a server is a bit like owning a vehicle. Driving a car does not involve engineering skills, and running a server does not require you to be a hardware engineer or software developer.

With a car you need to get some basics right, those oil changes and tyre pressure checks plus the occasional service. In the same way a server needs routine maintenance, and it is not just a matter of paying monthly hosting fees. Your server requires a lot of regular maintenance, much more than a vehicle in fact.

You don’t need to be an engineer to do this maintenance but you should know that a server that runs 24/7 serving millions of clients will need a server maintenance plan. It rarely involves physical wear in tear, you’re not going to hear your server squeaking away as it searches for files. But on a software level there is a layer of wear and tear. Let’s take a look.

Why you need a server maintenance plan

The moving parts in your server often last a lifetime, nobody opens up hard drives and oils their bearings, for example. At worst you may need to replace a fan or two but even these rarely give up the ghost. However, servers do incur “mileage” in a software sense of the word.

Over time, your server will build up large repositories and records, including cache files which can slow down transaction rates. The fragmentation of SQL tables over time is an issue too. As transaction volume builds old server settings may no longer be valid and the software of your server will become a soft target for attackers. Finally, both HDDs and SSDs eventually degrade, though this happens over a long period of time.

What happens when server degradation occurs? Well, at best you can suffer from slower server performance, which can cause glitches in your workload and lead to unhappy customers. At worst you can face heavy data corruption and data loss, or data theft due to hacking. Thankfully most of the server maintenance problems we pointed out can be managed away using a server maintenance plan.

Server maintenance plans: an introduction

We said earlier servers are not like cars, they don’t need physical maintenance, but that in many ways servers are in fact like cars in that they do need software maintenance. Just like your car some maintenance tasks will be urgent and need frequent attention, while others need only an annual review. You won’t check your engine and lights every month, but you will check your tyre pressure at least once a month, for example. Let’s look at some intervals for server maintenance:

Daily server checks

There are a bunch of things you need to check every day when you are responsible for a server maintenance plan. First, check updates including your virus scanner’s database and other critical software updates which can prevent zero-day attacks.

In fact you should closely look at vulnerability statements made by software and hardware vendors so that you can patch your servers against attacks. Also watch your security logs for evidence of intrusion attempts so that you have the opportunity to block these users.

Weekly server checks

Less frequently you should verify that your backups are working. It’s not necessary to do this on a daily basis as it is not that likely backups will be required when at the same time your backups have suddenly stopped working. Nonetheless, a weekly check is essential.

Another check you should do weekly or even every two weeks is your disk usage. Again, disk usage rarely suddenly changes so it’s not something you need to check every day. However running out of disk space can mean that your server breaks down. Watch for problems like accounts that are stale and outdated temp files.

Monthly server checks

We recommend that you optimize your database every two months, database fragmentation occurs at a rate of up to 5% per month and over time the fragmentation will really hit performance. Tuning individual applications is also important because unoptimized apps can hurt performance.

However, because traffic levels can vary a lot it can be useful to limit application tuning to once every two months so that you can get a good measure of app load levels.

Real-time server checks

We’ve listed plenty of points you need to check every day, but some checks must be done in real time. In other words, throughout the day. These server health data points can signal when the load is spiking and noticing problems early can help prevent a complete server failure: downtime is costly.

Most of these factors are easy to check using a server monitoring tool, in fact, you could even get automated alerts. You can check, for example, CPU and overall server temperature, the health of your RAID volumes and load factors including the number of open network connections.

How checks turn into a plan

So what is a server maintenance plan in reality? Well, a maintenance plan is simply a fixed schedule which outlines which of the above checks are done in a real-time, daily or monthly basis. Doing it is not that hard: though large operators will have in-house technicians smaller businesses can rely on remote staff or another company to do it.

But if you are all on your own don’t despair: you can build your own server maintenance plan, and it is not difficult at all.

Building a server maintenance plan

A good starting point is to classify your maintenance activities according to what you are trying to achieve with the activity and to move from there. In this article, we will split it into three areas.

First, we’ll look at the action you need to take to respond when there is an emergency, call it an emergency response plan. These include steps such as getting alerts when there is an emergency, and the ability to rapidly restore service when something does go wrong.

Next, we will consider steps you should take that can prevent emergencies from occurring in the first instance. For example, you can pro-actively do security checks, analyse performance numbers and check the usage of your server resources.

Finally we will look at some actions that act as a type of insurance in case you experience a server problem. These activities, including auditing your backups and doing fail-over checks will make sure you can rapidly restore your server if the need arises.

Responding to emerging problems: what you need to look out for

Different vehicles have different points of failure: a rocket has likely failure points that are very different from those on a racing bike. In the same way different servers have different root causes for failure: the reasons why a mail server could fail is very different from the reasons why a web server will fall over.

For this reason we can’t suggest a single plan that tells you exactly what you need to monitor to make sure you respond quickly in an emergency. Instead, we’ll guide you in the right direction by outlining what you should consider instead. We will use a web server as a typical example.

Problems with server capacity and user demand

Your server is not built to manage unlimited demand: it has a capacity limit. Sometimes demand can rise unexpectedly, perhaps someone sent out a wildly popular email to a million people or something on social media triggers demand. This can cause memory overload, disks that can’t respond and a server which does not serve pages.

Similarly, in environments where hosting is shared some users can run applications which draw an enormous amount of resources. In fact, some users can intentionally abuse server resources by not watching the amount of server load they generate.

Finally, sometimes server overload is caused by coding errors. Scripts that are not well written can cause memory to leak and other problems with resources. As part of your server maintenance plan you must watch out for both scripts and users who exploit more than their fair share of server resources, while simultaneously keeping an eye on over server utilisation.

Server attacks and malware

We live in an age where server attacks are incredibly common. These can come in several different shapes. For example, bots can try to brute force entry into your machine and the thousands of simultaneous queries this involves will cause capacity issues. A successful attack can lead to unauthorised access to your machine.

Malware is another big threat, software injections via undisclosed and unpatched vulnerabilities can allow hackers to gain entry to your machine, again giving unauthorised access and potentially leading to your server being used as a staging site for attacks on other machines.

Aside from the risks of unauthorised access including data loss and capacity issues, these attacks can lead to a loss of reputation: in other words, your server can be excluded from search engine results and you will find that your traffic drops precipitously. Watch out for attacks as part of your server maintenance plan.

Errors and failures

Servers are highly connected devices: both internally on a hardware and software basis and externally. Watch out for network problems, including broken connections to database backends or other apps that your server relies on.

Hardware is another point you need to watch, ensure that your RAID volume stays healthy for example and watch key indicators such as CPU and chassis temperature. Finally, if a redundant power supply fails – replace it immediately, and likewise with RAID volume issues.

In essence you need to monitor server statistics on all levels: network traffic, utilisation, loads and more so that you can notice when something is unusual. Only then can you investigate further. However it helps to have a plan that you can put into place when you notice an emergency situation developing.

Preventative maintenance: the key to avoiding problems

We’ve outlined what you need to be on the look for when it comes to monitoring emerging problems, but prevention is better than the cure. Again, it depends slightly on what server you are running, but let’s look at some of the preventative maintenance you can add to your server maintenance plan where the server in question is a database server.

Defragment and check indexes and integrity

Databases involve an enormous volume of read and write operations which need to be handled quickly, as a result a database can become fragmented. Delete queries in particular can lead to fragmentation which is why it is important to regularly optimize tables in your database to reduce the fragmentation that causes performance problems and which reduces free space.

Likewise, your preventative server maintenance plan should regularly do an index analysis, optimizing the indexes which MySQL is so reliant on. MySQL has an Analyze function which you should run on a monthly basis to ensure that MySQL can always find data fast. Analyze streamlines indexes and will make sure that queries are quickly executed.

Database integrity can be an issue, MySQL sometimes loses track of data sets as a result of database crashes and other app errors. Weekly checks of database integrity can prevent queries from failing as it provides MySQL with an opportunity to fix errors.

Check disk health and space

Just like database integrity, you can’t take disk health for granted. Always make sure you check your server logs because this is where you will find notices of HDD and RAID errors. These errors offer an indication of looming hard drive or RAID volume failure, giving you the opportunity to replace a drive before it brings down your server.

It’s not unknown for a server to fall over because it has run out of drive space. You must leave room for your database to increase in size, for backups to take place and for large database transactions to get processed. Free up space by removing temporary files, backups which are no longer relevant and other stale data.

Cluster efficiency is important, database clusters should sync efficiently if you want to prevent slow running queries and database errors. Again, early detection is key as it can prevent a costly database crash.

Scrutinise SQL logs

Your MySQL server will log errors when it finds table corruption or problems with indexes. Auditing your logs will ensure that you get an early warning of possible database failure: an error-filled log is a sure warning sign.

Slow queries are another point to watch out for. Aside from highlighting overall performance issues it also indicates which specific queries are causing performance problems, allowing you to tweak these to improve server performance.

Finally, a monthly health check on your server speeds will give you a record to go back on so that you can detect when your server is starting to experience bottlenecks. You can then fix these bottlenecks more easily before more serious issues emerge.

Overall you will need a degree of server management experience to really understand what it is about server performance that can throw up a red flag, indicating that a potential problem is approaching. Whether you run a web server, a DB server or something else, preventative maintenance is key.

Disaster recovery: building a plan to get up and running

Preventative plans are key to avoiding disaster, but even the best-run server environments occasionally face disasters. How do you respond? Clearly, the most important objective is getting things running again.

With a thoroughly thought out disaster recovery plan you can be up and running in a minute or less. Turnaround that is this quick is not necessary for every use-case, some websites owners will see no great harm if their site is down for an hour or two. For others, every minute of downtime is lost revenue.

There are a wide range of options that can minimize downtime. These include high availability clusters which are great at ensuring business continuity. Hardware with fault tolerance including redundant power supplies can work alongside fail-over mirrors to ensure that hardware failure never results in long downtime.

Crucial to disaster recovery: your backups

Some of the points we mentioned in the previous paragraph are expensive to implement, and outside the reach of many website operators. But one point is crucial to a sane server maintenance plan. It’s to do with your backups.

First, make sure your backups are in fact completing every day. Check for errors and ensure your backup tool reports the right status. Next, you need to check that your backups can be restored: can you retrieve the data, is there any corruption? Always monitor your available disk space as this is a prime reason for backups to fail. Finally, do a test run on the recovery process to verify how long it takes and whether it succeeds in the first instance. Watch out for unexpected glitches such as problems with connectivity that could make a recovery difficult.

Settling on your recovery plan

Finally, in deciding how you want to set up your recovery plan and on how much you invest you should carefully think through your application’s requirements. Start by thinking about how much downtime you can tolerate: how quickly do you need to restore services before the damage becomes intolerable?

Next figure out what plans, software and finally what hardware you need to get your disaster recovery plan in place. In doing so you can match the trade-offs you can accept, against those you cannot accept. But whatever you do always ensure your check and verify your backup strategy.