Most Widely Used Plesk Extensions and Toolkits This ‘HoliDeals’ Season (Part 2)

If you enjoyed the first HoliDeals announcement, this blog post will definitely perk you up. The world is running on Cloud today. Especially businesses that have to host their websites. Plesk has emerged as a great web hosting control panel that can make things way too easy for you. And you can make your Plesk control panel even more efficient with the right extensions, feature-rich packs, and toolkits. This way you not only increase productivity but reduce operating costs too.

But don’t worry – we got you sorted. As they say, ’tis the season to be jolly. And we want to make your holidays even more special with our Plesk HoliDeals Calendar. For 24 days, starting from December 1st, 2020, you’ll get exclusive discounts on top Plesk extensions, feature packs, toolkits, and licenses to make your toolbox jingle all the way!

So, enough chitchat – Let’s reveal the next 12 extensions and discuss their major benefits and features!

#13 Teamspeak Interface

It’s Tea(m) Time! This extension is a multifunctional web interface that allows you to install Teamspeak Interface and add-on modules with just a single click. With this extension, you can manage TeaSpeak and Teamspeak 3 Voice Server and other existing instances.

It provides you with an extensive set of user management options and roles, customized according to your customer needs or the co-administrators’ needs.

Teamspeak Interface extension is an ideal solution that enables you to control TeaSpeak and Teamspeak 3 servers through the web. There are two available license packages with Teamspeak Interface – Basic Starter and Pro Starter.

The Basic Starter pack comes with:

  • 100 additional user accounts.
  • Manage up to 3 voice server instances.
  • Includes extensions like Server File Management and Icons, Server Group Management, Channel Group Management, Client and Permission Management, TS Bots, and API.

The Pro Starter pack comes with:

  • 300 additional user accounts.
  • Manage up to 10 voice server instances.
  • Includes extensions like Reseller Management, Server File Management and Icons, Server Group Management, Channel Group Management, Client and Permission Management, TS Bots, and API.

We are offering an exclusive discount on this extension through HoliDeals. Make sure you grab the opportunity before it’s too late.

#14 Joomla! Toolkit

Joomla! Toolkit is a powerful toolkit for Joomla! users that allows them to secure and mass manage Joomla templates, extensions, and instances running on the Plesk server. The toolkit comes with a single dashboard for easy management, safety, and creation of Joomla instances.

All it takes is a single click to download, initialize, and configure the toolkit for hassle-free operation. We have created Joomla! Toolkit to enhance the security aspects of your content management system. There is no security expertise requires – the toolkit hardens your website by default, and with its security scanner, you can ward off any potential threats.

It is an all-inclusive toolkit for Joomla! as you can update templates, extensions, and instances from a single place. Also, you can monitor the performance of your Joomla websites from a single dashboard.

#15 KernelCare

Those who have Linux servers installed always experience system vulnerabilities and security flaws. To cope with this issue, we have launched the KernelCare extension that protects your Linux server against critical issues and downtime.

It is a paid extension and is probably one of the best security and server tools. During the HoliDeals, you have the opportunity to purchase the subscription at the best value.

The extension installs kernel updates within a matter of minutes without needing to reboot your Linux server. In this updated version of KernelCare, we have fortified the extension with the following benefits:

  •   Displays the server uptime.
  •   Enables roll back changes.
  •   Support automatic and manual updates.
  •   Check for updates every four hours.

#16 Cloudplan

You can use Cloudplan on your Plesk server to host folders and files, synchronize them between all your devices and share them on the go. We have designed Cloudplan to be a PCaaS (Private Cloud as a Service) solution that you can install on all on-premise servers, cloud servers, and even hybrid clouds.

The primary objective of Cloudplan is to provide users with a complete private cloud solution with full control over data. With this extension, you can connect all the possible nodes available, including cloud and on-premise servers, mobile devices, PCs, and laptops, among others.

They all can be connected automatically with end-to-end encryption. You will be provided with a centralized web portal to control and monitor the whole private cloud network.

#17 Sitejet

Sitejet is a web design platform for agencies that allows you to collaborate with your team and customers with ease and create, manage, and launch quality websites. It comes with a high-performance content management system (CMS), which you can use to create responsive websites.

It is designed and developed by a team of experienced web designers looking at cost-effective results for web developers. With Sitejet, you can streamline your web development process.

The extension comes with intelligent workflow automation, file management system, time tracking, to-do, and a ticket to make the design process less complicated and less time-consuming. Some of its salient features include:

  •   Customer collaboration.
  •   Whitelabel platform.
  •   Multi-user and permissions.
  •   Scale your agency.
  •   Manage customers efficiently.
  •   More time for creativity.
  •   Complete design flexibility.
  •   Save management and design time.

#18 Virusdie

Virusdie is a Plesk website antivirus extension for Windows and Linux servers that lets you keep your websites free from viruses with just a single click. The extension comes with features like email alerts, patch management for plugins and CMS, an in-built file editor with malicious code highlighting, automatic malicious code deletion, and an accurate threat scanner.

The best part is that we have designed Virusdie to be compatible with a selection of content management systems, including PrestaShop, DLE, Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress, among other popular methods.

We are offering Virusdie services for both free and paid. In the free version, you get features like:

  •   Email notifications
  •   Automatic antivirus database updates every 6 hours
  •   Full description of viruses
  •   Automatic site scans for vulnerabilities.

In the premium version, you get:

  •   Scheduled scans – daily and weekly
  •   Vulnerability manager
  •   Malicious code highlighting
  •   Safe and accurate malicious code deletion
  •   Scheduled scans – daily and weekly
  •   Vulnerability manager
  •   Malicious code highlighting
  •   Safe and accurate malicious code deletion

#19 Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit

If you have a WordPress content management system that you want to keep updated and secure all the time, then you should download our Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit. We have designed this extension to help you determine the required updates to keep your websites up-to-date.

We are offering a one-month free trial of Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit, in which you get smart, automated tests, and you will always remain in charge of the operations.

Make use of the free trial to understand how the extension might be helpful, and if you like it, you can always purchase it. As we are currently in the middle of the Plesk HoliDeals Calendar, there is a high chance that you might get a good deal on Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit.

The prominent features that will make you install this extension are:

  •   Smart Updates available for WordPress themes, plugins, and core.
  •   Production website is not affected during both manual and automatic updates.
  •   Smart Updates service determines the changes, analyzes the update, and concludes whether the update needs to be performed on the production site.
  •   Automatic and manual updates are available.
  •   We are providing Smart Updates for WordPress Toolkit on a per-site basis.

#20 Statistics and Usage Manager

This is an extension for Plesk that enables you to manage and view disk usage and traffic of your Linux OS subscriptions. The best part is that Statistics and Usage Manager allows you to do this all in real-time.

With Statistics and Usage Manager, you can sort your subscriptions by disk space statistics or traffic. You are also provided with a custom button to manage and view the statistics of all your subscriptions. As an admin, you can disable or enable this function.

This is an excellent extension for web managers looking to gain insight into how their websites are performing. You can use the Plesk HoliDeals currently available to grab this extension at the best possible price.

#21 Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights provides you with increased visibility in search engines by suggesting specific improvements and providing you with tools to design and develop fast and fully optimized websites.

The extension allows you to analyze your website content and its performance to determine what can be improved. With Google PageSpeed Insights, you can:

  • Analyze the performance of your website.
  • Rate the website based on its desktop and mobile performance.
  • Make use of the suggestions to optimize your website.
  • Access extension UI like mod_pagespeed Apache module to enhance website performance.
  • Reduce the size of static files.

#22 Bitninja

Bitninja is a Plesk extension designed for companies who are looking to bulletproof their server security. This extension provides a proactive and unified system that prevents 99% of all types of malicious attacks, safeguarding your company from reputation loss.

It comes with nine defense modules, namely:

  • Port Honeypot.
  • IP Reputation.
  • DoS Mitigation.
  • Web Application Firewall.
  • Log Analysis.
  • Web Honeypot.
  • Malware Detection.
  • Outbound WAF.
  • SSL Terminating.

These defense modules save you at least 12 hours of troubleshooting every day.

#23 Additional Language Pack

Plesk includes language packs for the translation of UI into different languages. While all the supported languages are installed during Plesk installation, you can download the Additional Language Pack extension if you want additional languages.

The number of languages you can install and download will depend on the Plesk license you have bought.

Suppose your site operates globally, and you want to reach out to the local community by offering your website in their native language. In that case, you can do so with Additional Language Pack.

#24 Web Host VPS or dedicated

Finally, here’s our last but not least HoliDeals offer. The growing need for customer self-administration can be quickly taken care of by Web Host VPS or dedicated. This Plesk edition proves to be an optimal solution that can fully customize your business, allowing you to increase profit and service offerings. 

When you install Web Host VPS or dedicated, you get several benefits, such as:

  •   Improved supportability.
  •   Turnkey application storefront for resale of services and applications.
  •   Instant high-end website creation and design.
  •   Improved audience focus for agencies, content teams, and website developers.
  •   Customize your service offering.

Don’t Miss a Gift!

Did you know you can add your daily reminders to your personal calendar? Or you can also subscribe now to receive fresh updates to your mailbox. Check here if you want to know more!

So… these above are some super hot extensions that you would want to install to boost your Plesk server performance. So, you would want to make use of the Plesk HoliDeals Calendar

Based on their popularity, we have managed to list these 24 Plesk extensions and toolkits. If you think that you need offers on some other Plesk products and services, let us know in the comments. Happy HoliDeals!

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Reveals Radical Improvements to Smart Updates Premium

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Reveals Radical Improvements to Smart Updates Premium - Plesk

We’re happy to announce WordPress Toolkit 4.3 is now publicly available. This release focuses on radical improvements to our premium Smart Updates. Namely user experience, checks, and more usability features like sitemap and switch.

New Smart Updates User Experience

The main complaint about Smart Updates was that it worked as a black box. It took its time to clone and analyze the site (performance was also addressed in WordPress Toolkit 4.2). Also, after analysis, users wouldn’t get any proper info, which understandably made you doubt us. Therefore, the main way to combat this issue was full process transparency.

Upon performing the cloning and the subsequent analysis, Smart Updates will show our users all the details. The Website Summary tab will list pages checked and mention all issues found, while also informing users what it was looking for. You can even download a full test summary as a text file – Handy for update issues you want to investigate further. While the forecast tells you if the update is safe to execute or not.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 - Smart Updates - test updates results ux

If at least one new issue is found during the test, Smart Updates warns you of the dangers. Hence, you should address issues before running the update – or, if they’re not serious, update anyway and fix them after.

What’s really cool about the new Smart Updates though, is it alerts you of site issues – even those unrelated to the update. The system may detect an issue before the update which then persists. The tool will tell you that although the update’s safe, the site has a pre-existing issue you should check. If Smart Updates finds issues on a page, you can switch to the Page Details tab to see what exactly is wrong on that page.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 - Smart Updates - Test updates results - page details

As you can see, if a page has a new issue, you’ll get a red dot. The aspects with issues also have a red dot on the Page Details tab.

New Smart Updates Checks

As you can see from the above screenshots, the system is now also checking for PHP errors, warnings, or notices. Such issues typically indicate a broken plugin or a theme, so you shouldn’t take them lightly. Speaking of plugins, Smart Updates is also looking for any Plugin shortcodes on a page (WP-specific pieces of code that various plugins widely use).

When a shortcode is inserted in a post or on a page, WordPress dynamically replaces it with the corresponding content upon generating the page. This means if the actual shortcode appears on a page instead of the content, something went horribly wrong and the site admin needs to intervene.

Using Sitemap to Analyze Pages

The page limit is currently set to 30 URLs to avoid overloading both our screenshot-making service and the servers where Smart Updates is used. We’re now monitoring the Smart Updates load in order to fine-tune this limit. Meanwhile users can create a special custom sitemap that tells Smart Updates which pages to check. This is useful if you have a large site with over 30 URLs and you’re worried about certain pages more than others. (Docs for this feature are coming soon.)

The Smart Updates Switch and Screen

Before, you could only enable Smart Updates on the Updates screen, which you may have missed if you enabled auto-updates. So, to ensure Smart Updates is visible to everyone, we added a Smart Updates switch on the website card.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 - Smart Updates - Switch screen

A red dollar sign appears if you have not purchased the feature. Server Administrators see the Upgrade button in the prompt, since they can install the license key in Plesk. Other users will be prompted to contact their server administrator to buy the feature.

The Updates screen also got some love when we trimmed off unnecessary descriptions of plugins and themes. Or rather moved them to small pop-up windows which you open by clicking ( i ) next to each plugin/theme. The current and available version of WordPress core, plugins, and themes also went into a separate column for better visibility.

WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Smart Updates - Updates Screen

Outdated PHP Notifications on WordPress Toolkit 4.3

You’ll see a warning if your PHP is earlier than 5.6 because these websites may not be manageable via WordPress Toolkit soon. We’re planning to update wp-cli soon, and the new version of this truly invaluable utility requires WordPress sites to use at least PHP 5.6.

Outdated PHP Notifications on WordPress Toolkit 4.3

More WordPress Toolkit 4.3 Stuff

This release also includes multiple smaller enhancements (see Release Notes), like the Smart Updates Results page. It used to open after following the link in the notification email, but it’s now branding-neutral. So hosters no longer need to worry about unexpected Plesk branding displayed in odd places.

The team has also fixed dozens of bugs, including a bunch reported by you – our users. Most were related to Smart Updates or the update procedure anyway.

We’re also currently running a 30 day free trial period for those who have not yet checked Smart Updates out.

Our next WordPress Toolkit release will be a small 4.3.1 update for last-day Smart Updates fixes and improvements. Our team will then focus on the changes we need to launch our remote initiatives. Such as WordPress Toolkit for cPanel, Remote Management functionality and other endeavours. So stay tuned for more WordPress Toolkit updates this Fall and join me in celebrating another impressive release. Cheers!

My Plesk User Experience (2): Lessons learned from testing Plesk Onyx

My Plesk user experience 2 - Plesk Onyx testing and analysis

So Plesk Onyx came along and it had implemented NGINX caching. Naturally I was curious and removed all my customizations. Then I started to compare the website performance with the inbuilt NGINX caching, other caching methods, and the Speed Kit extension that speeds up websites.

This was the variety of tests and configurations I made on the platform:

Platform Web Server Configuration Caching Engine Configuration
1 WordPress Website on Plesk Onyx 17.8.11 Proxy Mode and Smart static files processing turned ON NGINX Caching OFF
2 WordPress Website on Plesk Onyx 17.8.11 Proxy Mode and Smart static files processing turned ON NGINX Caching ON
3 WordPress Website on Plesk Onyx 17.8.11 Proxy Mode and Smart static files processing turned ON NGINX Caching OFF Redis Caching ON
4 WordPress Website on Plesk Onyx 17.8.11 Proxy Mode and Smart static files processing turned ON NGINX Caching ON Redis Caching ON
5 WordPress Website on Plesk Onyx 17.8.11 Proxy Mode and Smart static files processing turned ON NGINX Caching OFF SpeedKit Ext. ON
6 WordPress Website on WordPress.com Everything in default mode
7 WordPress Website on Vesta CP NGINX Web Template turned ON with the WordPress2 Option selected

I installed the Plesk server (version 17.8.11 update 25) on the Digital Ocean droplet on CentOS7 with 2 GB RAM. Next, installing the Redis server as it was. I plugged in Redis Object Cache with its default settings. And had no additional parameters in additional NGINX directives.

There was PHP version 7.2.10 with default settings and the “FPM application served by NGINX mode. And the VestaCP server installed on Digital Ocean droplet on Ubuntu 16.04.

As a test page, I used a typical blog post with lots of photos. Hosted both on the server and externally, with a small chunk of text and one comment.

Testing on the Plesk Onyx Platform

Testing on Plesk Onyx platform

For testing, I used the httperf command line tool (with the same launch parameters) and a well-known online testing system GTmetrix.com. From the GTmetrix.com reports, I chose the following parameters:

Time to First Byte (TTFB) is the total amount of time spent to receive the first byte of the response once it has been requested. It is the sum of “Redirect duration” + “Connection duration” + “Backend duration“. This metric is one of the key indicators of web performance.

Once the connection is complete and the request is made, the server needs to generate a response for the page. The time it takes to generate the response is known as the Backend duration.

    • Fully Loaded Time: RUM Speed Index is a page load performance metric indicating how fast the page fully appears. The lower the score, the better.
    • PageSpeed Score
    • YSlow Score

The httperf utility was launched with the following parameters:

httperf –hog –server jam.pavuk.su –uri=/index.php/2018/10/03/kgd/ –port=443 –wsess=100000,5,2 — rate 1000 –timeout 5

The creation of 100,000 sessions (5 calls each 2 seconds) with speed 1,000. And here, the following markers received with httperf were the most interesting:

  • Connection rate – the real speed of creating new connections. It showed the server ability to process connections.
  • Request rate – the speed of processing requests, in other words a number of requests a server can execute per second. It showed web app responsiveness.
  • Reply rate – an average number of server replies per second.

Plesk Onyx Test Results

Plesk test results

Clearly, there’s an ocean of tools and solutions to test website performance. Some more complete and respected than others. But even the tools I used allowed me to come to pretty objective conclusions. The test results are summarized in the table below with the green buts highlighting the best values of the parameter, and the red – the worst.

Plesk Onyx test results table

And so, after analyzing the received data, we can conclude the following:

  1. Unchanged PageSpeed and YSlow Scores
    PageSpeed and YSlow Score metrics in Plesk remain absolutely the same, no matter the configuration. Therefore, they don’t depend on caching or other server settings like for code optimization, image size, gzip compression and CDN usage.
  2. Caching is essential for speed
    No caching on Plesk at all gives the worst time metrics. Fully Loaded Time and TTFB dramatically increase. Websites with the turned off caching are significantly slower.
  3. NGINX and Redis are a successful combo
    Comparing caching methods, NGINX caching used in Plesk seems better than Redis Cache. It’s possible the default Redis Cache configuration doesn’t let us achieve a higher performance. It’s not quite clear how the used combination of both caching tools works, but it gives quite alright TTFB и Backend duration metrics.
  4. WordPress performance suffers
    WordPress.com shows the worst performance results. However, by default, it doesn’t actually offer bad optimization for the PageSpeed Score.
  5. Vesta and NGINX mean extremely fast page load
    Using the lightweight Vesta control panel with the turned on NGINX Web Template + php-fpm (wordpress2) designed for WordPress hosting gives great speed results. Even more, for WordPress hosting, VestaCP has custom NGINX web templates including NGINX caching support.

Moving to a new DigitalOcean Droplet

Plesk on Digital Ocean droplet - install - now a one-click app

I deployed Plesk to the new DigitalOcean droplet using Web Installer as it doesn’t require me to go to the server via SSH and do all the stuff in web interface. This recent migration from my VPS to a new DigitalOcean droplet gave me new data for my last Plesk experience. All in all, the migration was successful with minor warnings, which in most cases I resolved using migration wizard suggestions.. The bottom line is that Plesk with turned on key features and settings gives very good results for your website.

Also, I strongly recommend you turn on NGINX caching with your Plesk if you’re seeking a simple and reliable way to speed up your website. You won’t need to set up any difficult configurations. And web pros can make the most of Plesk by fine-tuning as they see fit. That’s what it’s made for. their right.

Finally, my story was aimed at people without professional knowledge who simply want to use built-in Plesk features. So I hope that this story will be good reason for you to login to Plesk and take a fresh look.

My Plesk User Experience (1): Easy Starts and Common Issues

Plesk User Experience While Testing Plesk Onyx

Plesk first crossed my path when it came packaged with web hosting acquired from a Russian provider. At the time it was version 12.0, but I never paid any attention to it until I discovered that part of its service was domain names registration.

Starting Off with Plesk

It couldn’t hurt to register a couple of domains for myself, and so I did. I added them to Plesk, and configured the DNS records. Now these websites loaded default web pages. Then, as I already had websites hosted in Plesk, I thought “Why not use mailboxes registered on my own domains?”. So I went and created a couple of mailboxes and configured Roundcube webmail.

But it was all just personal use until I occasionally started to use this complete infrastructure as a sort of a test server. Why? In order to solve tasks related with questions from forum users. And so, my Plesk server operated like this for a while without any use cases development. That is, until the start of 2017 – when I spontaneously took a closer look at something I had available, but which was laying there unused this whole time.

Easy Building on the Plesk Platform

Building on Plesk Platform

I realized that I could now use my own platform for my personal blog. It didn’t take me long to choose WordPress as I had previous experience with it. What’s more, the new Plesk Onyx had integrated its WordPress Toolkit, which looked promising. After getting a license with additional extensions, I started building – themes, plugins, you name it, before publishing my first posts.

Plesk is also built for multiple domains. So when my famous, American Instagrammer friend needed a website to develop her “Travelling with kids” idea, I offered my hosting platform.

Within Plesk, I created a personal account for her and subscriptions with two domains. One was used to host her website, and the other to host her personal mail.

She quickly learned how to use the WordPress admin dashboard and Plesk. She created mailboxes and installed WordPress plugins and themes. Then created posts and moderated comments. Which I believe says a lot about how easy Plesk’s interface is.

As thousands of subscribers were actively visiting both our blogs, it was time to pay more attention to Plesk server maintenance. And later, to server optimization, creating regular work in the Plesk interface and even more in the Linux command line. But more on that later. Before that, there were common issues of all sorts that I had started to face.

Issues uncovered and solved by using Plesk

Issues solved by using Plesk
  • Service downtime
    Various services like httpd and MySQL stopped every now and then. I managed to solve this by turning on and configuring Watchdog.
  • Memory usage
    Then Health Monitor started to constantly notify that MySQL consumes RAM.
  • Basic MySQL settings
    I had optimized operation modes of MySQL via CLI and thought it would benefit to have at least some basic settings of MySQL optimization in the Plesk interface. Eventually, RAM for VPS was increased from 1 to 2 GB, solving the issue.
  • Frequent updates
    Email notifications about new WordPress plugins made me login to Plesk often. I am one of “update-it-all” types and very meticulous when it comes to installing the latest software versions. The Smart Updates feature in WordPress Toolkit solved this task.
  • Extensions accessibility
    I used to find accessing my installed extensions inconvenient. So it was great when WordPress Toolkit had installed extension icons in the left menu.

Speeding up and hardening the WordPress Website

Speed Up WordPress Website

During an internal contest for the best WordPress website hosted in Plesk, I focused on two goals. I wanted to make my WordPress website the fastest and the most secured.

To achieve the A+ note on ssllabs.com, special NGINX parameters became necessary. They were installed via Additional nginx directives and the /etc/nginx/conf.d /ssl.conf file. An attempt to maximize the speed of my website powered by NGINX was a special matter.

At that time, NGINX caching wasn’t yet implemented in Plesk. So I tried various caching solutions, such as redis, memcached, and the very same NGINX caching. All via the CLI, of course, but with the help of customized settings.

It didn’t take long to realize the NGINX version shipped with Plesk was not suitable to use with trendy acceleration technologies. Ones like caching, the brotli compression method, PageSpeed Module, or TLS1.3. Even the Plesk Forum also raised this issue as it seemed to occupy the minds of advanced users.

The result was publishing different ways how to compile the latest NGINX versions. Thus, supporting modern technologies, and substituting the NGINX version shipped with Plesk for a custom one. I also joined forum users in compiling and optimizing NGINX builds for my Plesk server, all during the contest.

In the end, I got the speedy WordPress site I wanted powered by customized NGINX with Redis caching. All was well until Plesk Onyx was released. See what happened next in part 2 of my Plesk experience story tomorrow.