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Upcoming Database Upgrades


Monday, July 3rd, 2017 - General, Updates

Changes are coming to our servers later this summer. Some of these changes may require you to update the scripts you have on your website.

We will be upgrading the database service on all of our servers starting at the beginning of August 2017. This upgrade is due in part because the current versions have reached or are going to soon reach their end of life. The upgrade should also give a performance increase to scripts and services that utilize the database service.

Quick Summary: If you don’t read this full post, the main take away from this is that you need to insure that all of the scripts on your website are up to date. If you are using old, outdated, and especially end of life’d scripts, then you may encounter problems with this upgrade.

How will this affect you?
The main issue concerning your account in regards to this upgrade is going to be how up to date your scripts are. If the scripts on your website are up to date then you should not notice any change, perhaps a performance boost. If however your scripts are not being kept up to date, then you may experience your website being offline. Keeping your scripts up to date is really just a great idea in and of itself. But if you are using ancient versions of the script, then those versions may not be compatible with the new database server protocols. Extremely old versions of Joomla! are known to have issues with this. Other scripts may also have problems. If you are using plugins, components, addons, or themes tied into the script, you will want to be sure that they are up to date as well.

Newer software, such as this upgraded database service, is meant to provide better performance by optimizing the way it handles data. This means that it can’t continue to support the way older scripts handle data AND bring a performance boost. Continuing to support old and outdated software would result in a performance degradation in the database service. Likewise, new versions of scripts are developed to boost performance and by continuing to use older versions of the script you are being plagued by a performance degradation.

Keeping your scripts up to date, not only helps with the security of your account, but it also helps with the performance of your account.

I don’t want to or can’t update my script
If you can’t update the script on your account, then you need to find out why. If the task of updating the script is too technical, then you may need to hire a qualified professional to update the script for you. If you are unable to update the script because the developer or vendor is not releasing updates, then you probably should consider a different script. There are a lot of website scripts out there. Some are well written and properly maintained by the developer or a team of developers. Many others are poorly written and are never maintained. Avoid using the poorly written and unmaintained scripts.

Not wanting to update the script unfortunately is not a valid excuse. The majority of our client base keeps their scripts up to date. It is not fair to them that they cannot reap the benefits of the performance increase a database service upgrade provides just so the handful of other clients that refuse to keep their scripts up to date can keep their scripts running.

Failing to keep your scripts up to date is a dangerous proposition anyway. Security holes are published for out of date software, this is how abuse and malicious actions can happen on your account and server.

Will there be any downtime associated with this upgrade?
Our intention is to keep downtime to a minimum. There will be some downtime involved in this upgrade, but just how much is unknown. It could be 5 minutes to 2 hours, although our hope and plan is to keep this closer to 5 minutes. We really can’t do this upgrade without incurring at least a small amount of downtime.

When will my account be upgraded?
We can’t provide an exact timeline for that. Our plan is to upgrade a few servers at a time all beginning on August 1, 2017. How many servers can be done per day and how long it is all going to take is really up the air.

What are the technical aspects of this upgrade?
We will be upgrading the database server to MariaDB. MariaDB is a fork of MySQL. Much of the web hosting industry is switching to MariaDB and MariaDB is known to give real performance gains. MariaDB still uses MySQL bindings for scripts and connections, so it’s really a drop in replacement for MySQL. Nothing changes with your database structure. Just the software that maintains that database, currently MySQL, will be switched to MariaDB.


WordPress Outdated Notices


Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 - Updates

We are sending out WordPress outdated notices to accounts that we show as having an outdated version of WordPress installed. If you are affected by this, you should receive an email from us with the details.

It is important to keep your WordPress (and any script) up to date and practice good, solid security for your account. If you do not, then this can lead to your account being hacked, defaced, or used for abusive purposes. If this happens, then we may have to suspend your account. That is why security is important.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Concerning these outdated script notices, it’s a good idea to ask yourself these three questions:

• Am I using this installed script?
If you aren’t using this script installed on your website, then it may be a good idea to just delete it and remove it from your web hosting account. That way you don’t have to worry about keeping it up to date or it becoming an avenue for malicious users to abuse your site. A lot of people seem to think that if they aren’t using a particular script or section of their website, then malicious users won’t ever find it. This is wrong. Just because you aren’t using it doesn’t mean that malicious users can’t take advantage of it.

• Should I back up my site before attempting an update?
Yes. Backing up your website before any update is always a good idea. For the most part, WordPress updates are fairly uneventful. But if something does go wrong, having a backup is always a good thing.

• Am I keeping all of my plugins and themes up to date?
Yes, you should be. Exploiting of themes and plugins have risen in recent years. Always use reputable themes and plugins and keep them up to date to insure security of your WordPress site.

If you receive a notice from us regarding an outdated WordPress script on your account, that message will contain a section similar to below. I am going to take a moment and explain some of the items.

The email message will contain a section that lists your outdated WordPress scripts, and it will look something like:


Account: %YOURDOMAIN.COM%
Script: WordPress
Installed Path: /home/%USER%/%PATH%
Installed Version: X.X.X
Latest Version: Y.Y.Y
Script Website: http://www.wordpress.org

If you have multiple accounts, then you may see 2 or more of these sections in the email message.

Let’s take a look at this line by line:

Account: %YOURDOMAIN.COM%
This refers to your account. The domain name of the account that contains the outdated WordPress script. This is the main account associated with your web hosting account in our system. The actual WordPress installation might be on a parked or addon domain on the account, but our system can’t differentiate that.

Script: WordPress
This simply refers to the script as being a WordPress script. Similar notices may be sent out for other scripts.

Installed Path: /home/%USER%/%PATH%
This is an important part. This refers to where the WordPress installation is at on the server’s file system. This may be an addon domain path – in which case you would access the WordPress script via the addon domain. Generally speaking if this path looks like /home/%USER%/public_html/%PATH% – then you can access this by using the domain name in the Account section above – http://%YOURDOMAIN.COM%/%PATH% – but not all Installed Paths are going to be under the public_html folder. To access the WordPress admin dashboard for this installation you would typically just add /wp-admin to the end of the path, i.e: http://%YOURDOMAIN.COM%/%PATH%/wp-admin If you don’t know what installed path this installation is referring to in your email message, simply write us back and we can figure it out for you.

Installed Version: X.X.X
This is going to tell you what version of WordPress is installed at the above Installed Path. This can tell you just how outdated that WordPress installation really is.

Latest Version: Y.Y.Y
This will tell you the latest version of WordPress as it applies to your WordPress script. WordPress has different release trees and therefore different latest versions, depending on what version you have installed. For example, if you are using WordPress 4.3, then your latest version might be WordPress 4.3.3. If you are using WordPress 4.4, then your latest version might WordPress 4.4.2.

Updating WordPress is fairly straight-forward. You simply need to log into the WordPress admin dashboard for the installation you are wanting to update. Click on the Dashboard tab on the left side and click on Updates. From there you will see “An updated version of WordPress is available.” and underneath that will be a link to Update Now to the new version. Simply click that link and WordPress will be updated.

You can also update your themes and plugins from this screen.

Matt
AMS Support


PHP Updated


Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 - Updates

All of our servers have had PHP updated.

All of our servers are now running PHP 5.6.20 and PHP 5.5.34.

Not a lot has changed in these versions. These releases are mostly just general bug fixes. Users should not notice any issues with these upgrades.

Matt
AMS Support


WHMCS Upcoming End-of-Life


Friday, April 8th, 2016 - Updates

WHMCS recently released version 6.3 of their popular WHMCS billing software. I know a lot of our users depend on this software for their web hosting business. I thought now would be a good time to review the end-of-life status for various WHMCS version.

First, a primer. Why is end-of-life important? As software developers work on adding new features and optimizing code for a program, over time the core of that software may need to be replaced. To put it simply, this is what WHMCS 6.3 represents, a new core. Now, developers cannot continue to update cores for various other releases forever. So the amount of time that a software core remains active and able to be updated is called that software’s lifetime. Eventually those softwares reach their end, called their end-of-life. If you use a piece of software that is end-of-life, essentially you are using a version of the software that will never see updates again. This means that major security holes can be disclosed for those versions, and the developers aren’t going to fix it. Depending on end-of-life software puts your account, and potentially your customer’s data at risk.

WHMCS is currently supporting 4 different versions. From a developer’s standpoint, that’s a lot of software cores to keep safe and secure. The oldest of these cores – WHMCS 6.0 – is set to go end of life on July 31, 2016. If you are using WHMCS 6.0 you need to be aware of this and making plans to upgrade to a newer version.

A look at the current (as of April 8, 2016) WHMCS version makeup:

WHMCS Release Tree
Latest Version
Expected End-Of-Life
WHMCS Version 6.0 6.0.4 July 31, 2016
WHMCS Version 6.1 6.1.2 September 31, 2016
WHMCS Version 6.2 6.2.2 December 31, 2016
WHMCS Version 6.3 6.3.0 Unknown

IMPORTANT NOTE: – If you are using any other version of WHMCS, for example WHMCS version 5.3.14, then you are using an end-of-life version of WHMCS and may be vulnerable to security threats!

To upgrade WHMCS, you may need to contact your license vendor. That would be whoever you purchased your WHMCS license from. You may also find the information on WHMCS’s site to be useful for upgrading.

Matt
AMS Support


Joomla! 3.5 released


Tuesday, April 5th, 2016 - Updates

Joomla! recently released Joomla! version 3.5. All Joomla! users are encouraged to update. The most noteworthy improvement includes the ability for Joomla! to email website administrators and inform them of new releases. For a complete list of improvements see:

For those updating Joomla! from Joomla! 3.4 to Joomla! 3.5, you will need to use the Joomla! Update component to perform the upgrade. Information on that component can be found here.

Additional upgrade information can be found at:

J3.x:Upgrading from Joomla 3.4.x to 3.5 – Joomla! Documentation

Chris
AMS Support


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