SiteGround Blog

SiteGround Now Looks Better, on All Devices!

We just launched an enhanced look of our website SiteGround.com. We have been working on it for a while and its launch date has been heavily influenced by Google’s announcement that mobile friendliness of a website is officially becoming an important factor for search engine placement as of tomorrow. And yes, you have guessed it right - the new site is fully responsive. However, what is even more important is that the new site is fully representative of who we are and how we do things around here. The Site is Now Fully Responsive I should admit that we have been a little slower on implementing this than I would have wanted. The true reason being that even today only less than 9% of our visitors use mobile devices to access our website. However, our motivation to speed up the project was increased drastically after the Google announcement that responsiveness will be important for search engine standings. So today we are ready and we look good on mobile devices too. We no Longer Use Stock Images We have never been big fans of the usage of ready-made solutions in what we do. All the software on our servers is heavily modified by our own dev-ops for better speed and security; our ticketing and chat systems are custom-made by our own developers to improve the response time of our support team; even our office interior has been specifically designed to reflect our believe that hand-made solutions are better, more beautiful and more fun. This very unique approach of our company has already inspired our major rebranding two years ago. That is how we’ve got our new hand-written logo and how we chose the origami as an important visual symbol of our strive for a hand-crafted perfection. And yet, even after the redesign, our website still relied too much on stock photos that are not exactly unique and are definitely not fully representative of who we truly are. So today, I am really happy to see our distinctive approach applied to our website look too. All the new images you will see on the site are pictures, taken by our designer in our own office. Browsing our website now feels much more like walking around our office. On the different pages you will see what we see around us every day: the beautiful print material, produced for a conference; or a delicate real origami, hanging from the ceiling; or a complex structure built by Jenga wooden blocks. Welcome to our world, no matter what device you are using! The post SiteGround Now Looks Better, on All Devices! appeared first on The SiteGround Blog.

SiteGround Organizes Bulgaria PHP Conference

We are happy to announce the Bulgaria PHP Conference, which will take place in Sofia on September 25-27, 2015. The event will bring together some of the most prominent PHP community members from all over the world and will offer a great selection of speakers and sessions (all of them in English). We are also proud that the organization of the event will be completely carried out by the SiteGround team. How did we get involved? It all started 2 years ago, when SiteGround’s Head of Development, Mihail Irintchev, together with other developers from SiteGround, founded the Bulgaria PHP user group and started to hold regular meetings in our office in Sofia. After organizing multiple meetups and having visited several major PHP conferences around the world, Mihail realized that a global PHP event can be organized in Bulgaria, too. When he shared this idea, the whole SiteGround management team was excited. We saw this as a great opportunity to further develop the already strong and active PHP community in Bulgaria. We see value in making it possible for developers from Bulgaria and the region to meet and learn from some of the most prominent minds in the global PHP community. It is also an opportunity for our region to once again be recognized as a place with strong IT potential and lots of development talent. What’s in store for anyone who attends? We are six months away from the event, but here are some insider facts that might give you a good picture of what to expect: We received more than 100 session applications from all over the world, which we have to narrow down to 24 (we have room for 24 sessions split in 2 days and in 2 tracks). Several people from the Bulgarian PHP user group will be involved in the selection process, to ensure that only top-quality sessions get into the schedule. Several well-known names are already announced on the site. The rest of the schedule is underway and promises to be very exciting and diverse, too. We received about 12 proposals for training sessions, which we have to narrow down to 5, as we have only one day cut out for them: Friday, September 25th. We already sold 15% of the tickets with 6 months to go, without even starting any marketing campaigns! I should point out that tickets are quite affordable (right now the conference pass is 65 euro) because we want the event to be accessible to more people. What’s in store for anyone who sponsors? The Bulgaria PHP Conference is a community event, not a commercial one. Its main purpose is to strengthen and enlarge the PHP community. SiteGround supports the event financially, with organizational expertise and efforts. Any company that is interested to get involved is welcome to sponsor the event, too. All sponsors will receive multiple opportunities to interact with attendees and speakers, and to make their brand noticed. We believe that any company that has something interesting to offer to the PHP community should consider sponsoring the event. We aim to have a special focus on recruitment opportunities, as there will be a lot of talented developers visiting the conference. What’s even more? Last but not least, the city in which the conference will be held – Sofia, is a great place to visit. It offers amazingly affordable and good accommodation and food, topped up with a vibrant social and cultural life. So, if you want to hear what some of the finest PHP global experts have to say, you might want to put Sofia in your calendar. The SiteGround team will be happy to see all of you at Bulgaria PHP Conference in September, so hurry up: buy your discounted ticket while they are available or contact us for sponsorship opportunities.

Protected Against a Vulnerability in WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

A security vulnerability in the famous WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast was just reported by the WP Scan Vulnerability Database website. Our security specialists have immediately reacted to protect all SiteGround customers and have crafted and added new security rules to our WAF (web application firewall). This means that we will actively filter any possible incoming hacking attempts that try to exploit the vulnerability. Although Yoast SEO users are protected on our servers we still highly recommend to anyone using the plugin to update it to the latest version 1.7.4. This latest release is not vulnerable to the reported Blind SQL Injection.

Client Survey 2014

We could not have wrapped up last year without collecting feedback from our customers via the traditional client satisfaction survey. We want to thank all of you who took the time to fill it out and answer our questions. The results once again managed to exceed our expectations. We already knew that 2014 was a record year for us in terms of number of new customers added, however with growth at such fast rate it can be challenging to maintain service quality. That is why we were very excited to see that not only the number of the customers has increased, but we managed to keep, and even improve, the amazing satisfaction levels from the previous years. Below I will share a summary of the findings from the 2014 survey responses. New Clients Are the Fastest Growing Group It is a great recognition for our work to have so many new customers choosing SiteGround as their host. We are happy to see our dedication to deliver high service standards continued to attract new users in 2014 at a fast pace and quality hosting matters for them. 2014: Best Satisfaction Levels on Record So, growing our client base is an outstanding achievement, but the most valuable survey result for us is your evaluation of our service. It’s rewarding that our efforts to train and improve the skills of our customer support are positively reflected in your ratings. You value our investments in better hardware for our servers and innovative technologies that make your websites load faster. We are grateful for your trust and for the highest ratings on file you gave us measuring overall satisfaction with support, speed, uptime and security. Breaking down the numbers, we also saw that the proportion of very satisfied customers in each area grows, compared to the group that is only satisfied. This motivates us to keep doing our best to maintain our reputation and give you a great customer experience. More Clients Recommend Us We are very thankful to all customers who actively have recommended us in their networks. This has always been a very important way for us to grow and add new clients. In 2014 we saw an increase in the people who say it’s highly likely to recommend our service to their friends and colleagues. This positive trend was also reflected in the result that a really big percentage of the people who joined us in the past year have learned about SiteGround through the recommendations of other users. They were either coming from their friends, or just people who have shared their experience with us online. So, now we are ready to say good bye to a great 2014 and continue to strive for a quality of service that deserves your high evaluation!

Building The Joomla.com Hosting Platform

When SiteGround was chosen by OSM to be the official hosting provider for Joomla.com – the new free website service by Joomla, we were really excited. We knew that creating an infrastructure that needs to host hundreds of thousands of sites will not be an easy task. This was a huge and complicated project, but our passion for complex technical challenges was what made us participate in the RFP in the first place. Of course, we were additionally motivated by our love for Joomla and by our previous long-year experience of hosting thousands of Joomla sites on our own servers. Many people from SiteGround and from the Joomla! community have done some amazing job on the different aspects of this new service like creating the website, designing the templates and developing the extensions. However, in this blog post I will concentrate especially on the technical challenges that our DevOps team encountered while designing, developing and implementing the hosting platform for Joomla.com. The Goals If you check the official Joomla.com site’s footer you’ll see that users get access to modified version of Joomla! CMS hosted on a special hosting infrastructure built by SiteGround. We had to develop this special hosting infrastructure because this project has some unique requirements: It must be extremely efficient, so that hosting millions of websites for free is sustainable. The websites should be blazing fast and highly secure, so that the user never associate Joomla CMS and SiteGround hosting with negative experience. Starting your new Joomla website should be as easy and fast as possible, so that people do not get discouraged on the first step. The infrastructure should be highly scalable, so that it grows seamlessly with the number of its users. Below I will go over the technical decisions we made to achieve these goals. One Joomla! to Rule Them All (efficiency and safety) The main efficiency challenge that our team had to overcome was that hosting a big number of Joomla websites, even if they are just inactive default installs, requires quite a lot of space. Just to give you some numbers, the latest Joomla! Installation archive (3.3.6) contains 6952 folders and files. On a Linux server every file or folder uses an inode. The size in MBs of these files is not big, but the number of inodes on a server is limited. Even people that are not big mathematics fans will understand that installing a new Joomla! app for every new client will quickly cause the drives on the servers to become full. We needed to think of an original solution how to minimize the number of the inodes needed and what we came out with was that only one Joomla! CMS application will be shared by all the clients. The idea was to create a Joomla! CMS skeleton that contains the core Joomla! files and then link all sites to this one skeleton. We identified the folders and files that should be part of the skeleton and we created it. Of course, we also considered the folders, such as the images directory, that should be unique for every site. Once the skeleton was ready, creating new accounts was easy because we just had to create symbolic links to it. On top of the resource usage efficiency that resulted from this decision, we achieved two additional things that highly increased the security of the system. (1) Using a single Joomla made the upgrade process really easy. Once a new Joomla! version is released we just upgrade the skeleton’s codebase and all clients are instantly upgraded to the new release. (2) Using a single Joomla meant that the users themselves will have limited access to mess up with the system files. The upload of external extensions and templates is not allowed as a result and this makes the security of the system much easier to maintain. Custom Caching (efficiency and speed) Another one of the key technical solutions that allowed us to achieve even more efficiency from the system and to ensure that the users’ websites are really fast is the custom caching that we developed specifically for this platform. We used the famous Nginx web server and PHP-FPM to cache information and speed up the delivery of static resources and dynamically generated data. We installed Nginx and configured the PHP-FPM and then we found out that we’ll have to patch them in order to use them. The first problem that we faced was that we did not have the ability to purge the cache only for a specific domain name. We downloaded the ngx_cache_purge module, extended it and tested it on our end. The issue with PHP-FPM was that it lacks support for chroot and this was essential for us due to security reasons. Again, it took us some time to do it but our DevOps engineers patched and extended the code and we compiled our own PHP-FPM. Dynamic DNS (immediate provisioning) Now that we have created fast, secure and efficient environment, we had to think of a way to allow clients to use their new Joomla! sites right after they created their accounts. When one creates a new Joomla.com account he/she chooses a unique sub-domain name. We all know that the DNS sometimes needs time to update all DNS records in all databases used all over the world. Many internet service providers cache DNS data and in general it is not cool to wait to use your newly created free Joomla! site. To solve this issue we decided to use something called Dynamic DNS. This technology allows us to quickly map domain names to IP addresses and maintain certain accessibility levels using well-known addresses. The result was immediate account activation and access to your website without the need to wait for any propagation time. Linux Containers (infinite scalability) As I mentioned, we had to find a solution that should be highly scalable. At the same time we needed something that is easy to configure and automate the whole process. We decided to use Linux containers mainly because they offer almost unlimited scalability options. For example, we can configure a container to automatically scale-up if it uses more than 80% of the available RAM. The same is valid for the storage capacity and the available CPU power. On every container we also use two MySQL instances to ensure that the servers will be able to handle more concurrent connections. Now that Joomla.com is already functioning we have started welcoming a big number of Joomla! sites on the infrastructure described above. I am pleased to say that so far we haven’t faced any major issues and the platform is handling flawlessly the traffic towards the existing sites, as well as the launch of the new ones. We are looking forward to the bright future ahead of the project!

Building The Joomla.com Hosting Platform

When SiteGround was chosen by OSM to be the official hosting provider for Joomla.com – the new free website service by Joomla, we were really excited. We knew that creating an infrastructure that needs to host hundreds of thousands of sites will not be an easy task. This was a huge and complicated project, but our passion for complex technical challenges was what made us participate in the RFP in the first place. Of course, we were additionally motivated by our love for Joomla and by our previous long-year experience of hosting thousands of Joomla sites on our own servers. Many people from SiteGround and from the Joomla! community have done some amazing job on the different aspects of this new service like creating the website, designing the templates and developing the extensions. However, in this blog post I will concentrate especially on the technical challenges that our DevOps team encountered while designing, developing and implementing the hosting platform for Joomla.com. The Goals If you check the official Joomla.com site’s footer you’ll see that users get access to modified version of Joomla! CMS hosted on a special hosting infrastructure built by SiteGround. We had to develop this special hosting infrastructure because this project has some unique requirements: It must be extremely efficient, so that hosting millions of websites for free is sustainable. The websites should be blazing fast and highly secure, so that the user never associate Joomla CMS and SiteGround hosting with negative experience. Starting your new Joomla website should be as easy and fast as possible, so that people do not get discouraged on the first step. The infrastructure should be highly scalable, so that it grows seamlessly with the number of its users. Below I will go over the technical decisions we made to achieve these goals. One Joomla! to Rule Them All (efficiency and safety) The main efficiency challenge that our team had to overcome was that hosting a big number of Joomla websites, even if they are just inactive default installs, requires quite a lot of space. Just to give you some numbers, the latest Joomla! Installation archive (3.3.6) contains 6952 folders and files. On a Linux server every file or folder uses an inode. The size in MBs of these files is not big, but the number of inodes on a server is limited. Even people that are not big mathematics fans will understand that installing a new Joomla! app for every new client will quickly cause the drives on the servers to become full. We needed to think of an original solution how to minimize the number of the inodes needed and what we came out with was that only one Joomla! CMS application will be shared by all the clients. The idea was to create a Joomla! CMS skeleton that contains the core Joomla! files and then link all sites to this one skeleton. We identified the folders and files that should be part of the skeleton and we created it. Of course, we also considered the folders, such as the images directory, that should be unique for every site. Once the skeleton was ready, creating new accounts was easy because we just had to create symbolic links to it. On top of the resource usage efficiency that resulted from this decision, we achieved two additional things that highly increased the security of the system. (1) Using a single Joomla made the upgrade process really easy. Once a new Joomla! version is released we just upgrade the skeleton’s codebase and all clients are instantly upgraded to the new release. (2) Using a single Joomla meant that the users themselves will have limited access to mess up with the system files. The upload of external extensions and templates is not allowed as a result and this makes the security of the system much easier to maintain. Custom Caching (efficiency and speed) Another one of the key technical solutions that allowed us to achieve even more efficiency from the system and to ensure that the users’ websites are really fast is the custom caching that we developed specifically for this platform. We used the famous Nginx web server and PHP-FPM to cache information and speed up the delivery of static resources and dynamically generated data. We installed Nginx and configured the PHP-FPM and then we found out that we’ll have to patch them in order to use them. The first problem that we faced was that we did not have the ability to purge the cache only for a specific domain name. We downloaded the ngx_cache_purge module, extended it and tested it on our end. The issue with PHP-FPM was that it lacks support for chroot and this was essential for us due to security reasons. Again, it took us some time to do it but our DevOps engineers patched and extended the code and we compiled our own PHP-FPM. Dynamic DNS (immediate provisioning) Now that we have created fast, secure and efficient environment, we had to think of a way to allow clients to use their new Joomla! sites right after they created their accounts. When one creates a new Joomla.com account he/she chooses a unique sub-domain name. We all know that the DNS sometimes needs time to update all DNS records in all databases used all over the world. Many internet service providers cache DNS data and in general it is not cool to wait to use your newly created free Joomla! site. To solve this issue we decided to use something called Dynamic DNS. This technology allows us to quickly map domain names to IP addresses and maintain certain accessibility levels using well-known addresses. The result was immediate account activation and access to your website without the need to wait for any propagation time. Linux Containers (infinite scalability) As I mentioned, we had to find a solution that should be highly scalable. At the same time we needed something that is easy to configure and automate the whole process. We decided to use Linux containers mainly because they offer almost unlimited scalability options. For example, we can configure a container to automatically scale-up if it uses more than 80% of the available RAM. The same is valid for the storage capacity and the available CPU power. On every container we also use two MySQL instances to ensure that the servers will be able to handle more concurrent connections. Now that Joomla.com is already functioning we have started welcoming a big number of Joomla! sites on the infrastructure described above. I am pleased to say that so far we haven’t faced any major issues and the platform is handling flawlessly the traffic towards the existing sites, as well as the launch of the new ones. We are looking forward to the bright future ahead of the project!

SiteGround’s Experience at Affiliate Summit West 2015

The Affiliate Summit West was the second Affiliate Summit where SiteGround exhibited and the first event I ever attended as an Affiliate Manager at SiteGround. It is really the biggest conference on affiliate marketing, gathering more than 6000 online marketers in Las Vegas for 3 days of education, networking, and a lot of fun. As a first timer, and having heard the feedback from my colleagues from previous years, I was quite nervous and curious how we will navigate through that huge amount of people to meet our objectives – make meaningful new connections and reinforce our existing ones. We gave away free tickets to help our existing affiliates learn and grow their businesses We believe that the relationship we have with our existing affiliates is our top priority and their success is also our success. That is why we decided to give away free tickets to three of our affiliates who were most passionate about attending the event. Our lucky winners were our two travel bloggers Will Tang and Kerwin McKenzie, and Scott Buehler who runs review websites. Will, Kerwin and Scott, it was really great to meet you in person, hear your stories and help you with your promo efforts! We do hope that the ideas we’ve discussed with you will help you take your affiliate projects to the next level. I can’t help but share Scott’s deep and personal Affiliate Summit Story. We are extremely happy to learn that the event had such a big impact on him and we are glad that we were a small part of it. We collected feedback and exchanged ideas about our Affiliate Program with a few super-affiliates When you have 6000 people in one place, it’s hard to have a valuable business conversation. That is why, to escape the busy Affiliate Summit Meet Market and Expo Floor, and ensure we have the opportunity for some really meaningful (and extremely enjoyable) talks, we invited our ticket winners, our top-performing affiliates, and long-time SiteGround partners and friends to a private dinner. Fantastic conversations and new ideas for improvements of our program were born out of those conversations. We highly appreciate the feedback and we are excited to start implementing those new ideas real soon! Here goes a big shout out to Oscar Gonzalez, Zac Johnson, John Chow, John Rampton, Murray Newlands, Syed Balkhi, and the other guests: thank you for joining us and trusting us to be your preferred host! And here’s a tip for all our affiliates: if you want to improve your promotional methods and increase your earnings, the guys I mentioned above are the affiliate super-stars you should definitely learn from. We had a booth where we made lots of new and valuable connections This year, we had both a Meet Market table and an expo booth where merchants like us get a great opportunity to speak to potential affiliates. Let me tell you this – all three days of exhibiting were so busy that even till the last minutes of the final day of the summit we were having interesting conversations with bloggers and potential partners. It’s hard to describe the craziness on the Expo floor, so you may check John Chow’s traditional expo floor tour and get the feeling of what it is like to be part of the summit. A Big thank you to the organizers! If you still can’t tell it, Affiliate Summit West was a fantastic experience for us and we’d like to personally say a huge thanks to the organizers Missy Ward and Shawn Collins who have done such an incredible job bringing to life an event from this size. Keep up the great work! Meet us at Affiliate Summit East We are committed to continue the tradition and give more of our affiliates the opportunity to experience Affiliate Summit and meet us in person! We are definitely planning to go to Affiliate Summit East in August, so stay tuned for some free ticket giveaways and make sure you read our affiliate newsletter! I’ll be more than happy to meet you in New York!

SiteGround’s Experience at Affiliate Summit West 2015

The Affiliate Summit West was the second Affiliate Summit where SiteGround exhibited and the first event I ever attended as an Affiliate Manager at SiteGround. It is really the biggest conference on affiliate marketing, gathering more than 6000 online marketers in Las Vegas for 3 days of education, networking, and a lot of fun. As a first timer, and having heard the feedback from my colleagues from previous years, I was quite nervous and curious how we will navigate through that huge amount of people to meet our objectives – make meaningful new connections and reinforce our existing ones. We gave away free tickets to help our existing affiliates learn and grow their businesses We believe that the relationship we have with our existing affiliates is our top priority and their success is also our success. That is why we decided to give away free tickets to three of our affiliates who were most passionate about attending the event. Our lucky winners were our two travel bloggers Will Tang and Kerwin McKenzie, and Scott Buehler who runs review websites. Will, Kerwin and Scott, it was really great to meet you in person, hear your stories and help you with your promo efforts! We do hope that the ideas we’ve discussed with you will help you take your affiliate projects to the next level. I can’t help but share Scott’s deep and personal Affiliate Summit Story. We are extremely happy to learn that the event had such a big impact on him and we are glad that we were a small part of it. We collected feedback and exchanged ideas about our Affiliate Program with a few super-affiliates When you have 6000 people in one place, it’s hard to have a valuable business conversation. That is why, to escape the busy Affiliate Summit Meet Market and Expo Floor, and ensure we have the opportunity for some really meaningful (and extremely enjoyable) talks, we invited our ticket winners, our top-performing affiliates, and long-time SiteGround partners and friends to a private dinner. Fantastic conversations and new ideas for improvements of our program were born out of those conversations. We highly appreciate the feedback and we are excited to start implementing those new ideas real soon! Here goes a big shout out to Oscar Gonzalez, Zac Johnson, John Chow, John Rampton, Murray Newlands, Syed Balkhi, and the other guests: thank you for joining us and trusting us to be your preferred host! And here’s a tip for all our affiliates: if you want to improve your promotional methods and increase your earnings, the guys I mentioned above are the affiliate super-stars you should definitely learn from. We had a booth where we made lots of new and valuable connections This year, we had both a Meet Market table and an expo booth where merchants like us get a great opportunity to speak to potential affiliates. Let me tell you this – all three days of exhibiting were so busy that even till the last minutes of the final day of the summit we were having interesting conversations with bloggers and potential partners. It’s hard to describe the craziness on the Expo floor, so you may check John Chow’s traditional expo floor tour and get the feeling of what it is like to be part of the summit. A Big thank you to the organizers! If you still can’t tell it, Affiliate Summit West was a fantastic experience for us and we’d like to personally say a huge thanks to the organizers Missy Ward and Shawn Collins who have done such an incredible job bringing to life an event from this size. Keep up the great work! Meet us at Affiliate Summit East We are committed to continue the tradition and give more of our affiliates the opportunity to experience Affiliate Summit and meet us in person! We are definitely planning to go to Affiliate Summit East in August, so stay tuned for some free ticket giveaways and make sure you read our affiliate newsletter! I’ll be more than happy to meet you in New York!

New Autoscalable Cloud on Linux Containers

Last year our team worked very hard on developing a new cloud platform based on Linux containers. We saw a great potential in this technology, as it was much more efficient, faster and easily scalable than the traditional virtualization methods. Today, we are happy to announce the official launch of this technology for the SiteGround cloud accounts. How it all began…. It actually started nearly a year ago. It took us tons of kernel patches and hours of hard work to make sure that our new container-based platform is not just fast, but also rock-solid and secure. Once we were ready, we launched the new platform in a separate sister brand (GetClouder) that was offering unmanaged hosting and was targeting the hard-core geeks that want to tweak their hosting environment on their own. Through the last 6 months the platform has been successfully used by thousands of people through GetClouder. However, we have always wanted to use it for our managed services at SiteGround too and now we are ready to go! Main benefits of the new cloud service The SiteGround cloud platform provides all the benefits of the Linux container technology, adapted to the specific needs of our clients: Autoscaling to meet unexpected traffic spikes From your User area, you can set your new cloud’s CPU or RAM to autoscale when the CPU or RAM consumption reaches certain levels. This is a great way to avoid any downtime or slowness in times of unexpected traffic spikes. The option is not turned on by default but we highly recommend that you take advantage of it. The creation of an autoscaling event (setting the usage levels upon which the autoscaling will kick in) is easy and free. We would charge only when and if the scaling actually happens. Instant scaling without reboot When you add more RAM, CPU, or space, or all the three together, the extra resources are added immediately and without any rebooting or other downtime associated with that process. That applies to both the autoscaling event and when you scale your server manually. Flexibility to create your own cloud plan On the new cloud platform, you can “create” your own plan – meaning a custom combination of RAM, space, and CPU that will meet your specific needs and will optimize your spending. More speed for your website Yes, I guess you expected that – the new platform is faster! Thanks to the resource efficiency of the Linux containers, the websites hosted on it get better performance. What about the old clouds? We will continue maintaining the old cloud platform, honoring all the terms of the service as until now. However, all new clouds will be activated on the new setup. If you have a cloud of the old generation, but you are really eager to lay your hands on that hot new technology, you may request a migration to the new platform via our HelpDesk. You can find more information about the new cloud plans on their product page: https://www.siteground.com/cloud-hosting.htm

New Autoscalable Cloud on Linux Containers

Last year our team worked very hard on developing a new cloud platform based on Linux containers. We saw a great potential in this technology, as it was much more efficient, faster and easily scalable than the traditional virtualization methods. Today, we are happy to announce the official launch of this technology for the SiteGround cloud accounts. How it all began…. It actually started nearly a year ago. It took us tons of kernel patches and hours of hard work to make sure that our new container-based platform is not just fast, but also rock-solid and secure. Once we were ready, we launched the new platform in a separate sister brand (GetClouder) that was offering unmanaged hosting and was targeting the hard-core geeks that want to tweak their hosting environment on their own. Through the last 6 months the platform has been successfully used by thousands of people through GetClouder. However, we have always wanted to use it for our managed services at SiteGround too and now we are ready to go! Main benefits of the new cloud service The SiteGround cloud platform provides all the benefits of the Linux container technology, adapted to the specific needs of our clients: Autoscaling to meet unexpected traffic spikes From your User area, you can set your new cloud’s CPU or RAM to autoscale when the CPU or RAM consumption reaches certain levels. This is a great way to avoid any downtime or slowness in times of unexpected traffic spikes. The option is not turned on by default but we highly recommend that you take advantage of it. The creation of an autoscaling event (setting the usage levels upon which the autoscaling will kick in) is easy and free. We would charge only when and if the scaling actually happens. Instant scaling without reboot When you add more RAM, CPU, or space, or all the three together, the extra resources are added immediately and without any rebooting or other downtime associated with that process. That applies to both the autoscaling event and when you scale your server manually. Flexibility to create your own cloud plan On the new cloud platform, you can “create” your own plan – meaning a custom combination of RAM, space, and CPU that will meet your specific needs and will optimize your spending. More speed for your website Yes, I guess you expected that – the new platform is faster! Thanks to the resource efficiency of the Linux containers, the websites hosted on it get better performance. What about the old clouds? We will continue maintaining the old cloud platform, honoring all the terms of the service as until now. However, all new clouds will be activated on the new setup. If you have a cloud of the old generation, but you are really eager to lay your hands on that hot new technology, you may request a migration to the new platform via our HelpDesk. You can find more information about the new cloud plans on their product page: https://www.siteground.com/cloud-hosting.htm

Hosting WordSesh 2014 – Challenge Accepted!

Few months ago WordSesh organizers contacted us asking if we would host their online conference. Needless to say, we got quite excited to help this great WordPress event happen. The project was very interesting from a technical point of view too, as we needed to ensure that thousands of visitors will be able to follow the free live stream for 24 hours without any downtime or other technical issue. What is WordSesh and why is it hard to host such event? WordSesh is a 24 hour free online conference that gathers all the best WordPress speakers from all over the world in a free non-stop sessions marathon. This year was the third edition of the conference and it was expected to be the biggest so far. This meant that for the 24 hours while the event was held the website would experience an enormous and not easily predictable traffic surge. Of course, it was crucial that any traffic increase during this time frame was handled seamlessly, because even the shortest downtime could mean a serious failure for the event. For example 10 minutes downtime on a normal website, with steady traffic during the whole year, might go unnoticed, but you can imagine how detrimental even 10 minutes downtime may be if they occur during the most visited session of the event, for example. We chose Linux containers for infinite scalability Since we didn’t want to risk any downtime with WordSesh, we opted for a hosting technology that we love for its almost unlimited ability to scale on the fly without downtime – the Linux containers. Using containers gave us the peace of mind that no matter what happens we will be able to add more resources both vertically and horizontally to each part of the infrastructure we built for WordSesh. At any moment, we had people on duty ready to add more resources or face any other potential issues. We built a redundant infrastructure from the start Basically, we had two load balancing containers, two PHP FPM containers and two MySQL ones to handle all the traffic during the event. The two load balance containers running NGINX were set to distribute the incoming connections to the other containers behind them. Since those were configured to scale horizontally, we were able to add new load balancers in seconds if high load was detected. Those had some caching enabled for the static resources only and configured to work with the CloudFlare CDN service. After the loadbalancers, we connected two PHP FPM containers with opcode caching enabled and a Memcached service running. It was particularly helpful for the gravatars of the hundreds visitors that were shown on the main page of the website. Showing all these gravatars resulted in high number of queries to the database and Memcache optimized serving those queries. Right after the PHP FPM containers, there were two MySQL containers configured with a master/slave replication. As you can see, everything was configured and set with a lot of redundant resources from the start to handle traffic spikes. Here, I’d like to mention that the different containers were located in different host nodes as an extra precaution. We added a state-of-the-art dynamic caching Finally, we wanted to enable a dynamic caching so we can handle the maximum number of simultaneous connections to the site before we need to add new hardware. As you probably know, the main challenge when implementing a dynamic caching system is to purge the cache whenever a change on the site occurs. Though, as part of our SuperCacher we have developed a very effective WordPress plugin that handles this challenge, it was developed for normal sites that reside on a single server and was not able to purge the cache efficiently in such highly complex infrastructure with multiple MySQL and PHP containers. This is why, we used a technology called Stale cache to regenerate the cached content every 10 seconds with a single connection to the PHP containers. This means that we were basically serving cached content all the time to the WordSesh visitors but that cache was at most 10 seconds old. This worked great and the containers easily handled all the traffic coming their way. In conclusion, I am happy to say that this solution handled the traffic perfectly and there weren’t any problems during the WordSesh event. This was a great experience for our team that once again proved we can host huge sites with great traffic spikes!

Hosting WordSesh 2014 – Challenge Accepted!

Few months ago WordSesh organizers contacted us asking if we would host their online conference. Needless to say, we got quite excited to help this great WordPress event happen. The project was very interesting from a technical point of view too, as we needed to ensure that thousands of visitors will be able to follow the free live stream for 24 hours without any downtime or other technical issue. What is WordSesh and why is it hard to host such event? WordSesh is a 24 hour free online conference that gathers all the best WordPress speakers from all over the world in a free non-stop sessions marathon. This year was the third edition of the conference and it was expected to be the biggest so far. This meant that for the 24 hours while the event was held the website would experience an enormous and not easily predictable traffic surge. Of course, it was crucial that any traffic increase during this time frame was handled seamlessly, because even the shortest downtime could mean a serious failure for the event. For example 10 minutes downtime on a normal website, with steady traffic during the whole year, might go unnoticed, but you can imagine how detrimental even 10 minutes downtime may be if they occur during the most visited session of the event, for example. We chose Linux containers for infinite scalability Since we didn’t want to risk any downtime with WordSesh, we opted for a hosting technology that we love for its almost unlimited ability to scale on the fly without downtime – the Linux containers. Using containers gave us the peace of mind that no matter what happens we will be able to add more resources both vertically and horizontally to each part of the infrastructure we built for WordSesh. At any moment, we had people on duty ready to add more resources or face any other potential issues. We built a redundant infrastructure from the start Basically, we had two load balancing containers, two PHP FPM containers and two MySQL ones to handle all the traffic during the event. The two load balance containers running NGINX were set to distribute the incoming connections to the other containers behind them. Since those were configured to scale horizontally, we were able to add new load balancers in seconds if high load was detected. Those had some caching enabled for the static resources only and configured to work with the CloudFlare CDN service. After the loadbalancers, we connected two PHP FPM containers with opcode caching enabled and a Memcached service running. It was particularly helpful for the gravatars of the hundreds visitors that were shown on the main page of the website. Showing all these gravatars resulted in high number of queries to the database and Memcache optimized serving those queries. Right after the PHP FPM containers, there were two MySQL containers configured with a master/slave replication. As you can see, everything was configured and set with a lot of redundant resources from the start to handle traffic spikes. Here, I’d like to mention that the different containers were located in different host nodes as an extra precaution. We added a state-of-the-art dynamic caching Finally, we wanted to enable a dynamic caching so we can handle the maximum number of simultaneous connections to the site before we need to add new hardware. As you probably know, the main challenge when implementing a dynamic caching system is to purge the cache whenever a change on the site occurs. Though, as part of our SuperCacher we have developed a very effective WordPress plugin that handles this challenge, it was developed for normal sites that reside on a single server and was not able to purge the cache efficiently in such highly complex infrastructure with multiple MySQL and PHP containers. This is why, we used a technology called Stale cache to regenerate the cached content every 10 seconds with a single connection to the PHP containers. This means that we were basically serving cached content all the time to the WordSesh visitors but that cache was at most 10 seconds old. This worked great and the containers easily handled all the traffic coming their way. In conclusion, I am happy to say that this solution handled the traffic perfectly and there weren’t any problems during the WordSesh event. This was a great experience for our team that once again proved we can host huge sites with great traffic spikes!

Say Hello to our new chat

Over the last 12 months, we have been working hard on new in-house developed chat software. The aim was to implement a series of improvements that would make the customer experience better and the work of our customer care departments even more efficient. Now I am very happy to announce that the new chat has been launched and we are already enjoying all the great improvements it introduced. Pretty and Personal Well, yes, we put quite an effort in the design in order to make the chat easier and more pleasing to our clients. We also made it very personal, so that you feel at first sight that you are chatting with a friend who cares. And in order to get to know our operators and learn more about them, we made their personal profiles more visible. With just a single click, you could check the profile of the operator you are chatting with, learn more about their interests and their work experience at SiteGround. Mobile-friendly Of course we also made this fancy interface compatible with mobile devices, so our customers could come to chat with us using their mobile devices without the annoying scroll.   Faster Connection We wanted a faster chat connection. Now you get connected twice as fast to an available operator compared to the old chat software. One of the reasons for this fast connection is the usage of Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) protocol, which makes the exchange of messages and presence information nearly instantaneous. Integrated Tools to help the operator Now, even the admin back end is more user-friendly, with lots of tools inbuilt in order to speed up the actions of the operator when diagnosing a problem for the client. The operator sees if the server of the client is down and the internal notices reporting the event and the reasons for it. The operator can perform client-side checks for site and email service and automatically forward that report to a higher-end technical support on behalf of the client. More efficient chat distribution system We have a new system for distributing chats among operators, considering their skill level and number of active chats at the moment. Thus we achieve more efficient resource allocation, better quality of chats and faster servicing of the client. It seems our customers are already enjoying the changes made! In the last month since we started using the new software, we received double the number of excellent ratings compared to the previous month. We’ve also received some feedback emails from our customers, expressing how great our new chat is. Thanks to all of you for sharing your feedback with us!

Say Hello to our new chat

Over the last 12 months, we have been working hard on new in-house developed chat software. The aim was to implement a series of improvements that would make the customer experience better and the work of our customer care departments even more efficient. Now I am very happy to announce that the new chat has been launched and we are already enjoying all the great improvements it introduced. Pretty and Personal Well, yes, we put quite an effort in the design in order to make the chat easier and more pleasing to our clients. We also made it very personal, so that you feel at first sight that you are chatting with a friend who cares. And in order to get to know our operators and learn more about them, we made their personal profiles more visible. With just a single click, you could check the profile of the operator you are chatting with, learn more about their interests and their work experience at SiteGround. Mobile-friendly Of course we also made this fancy interface compatible with mobile devices, so our customers could come to chat with us using their mobile devices without the annoying scroll.   Faster Connection We wanted a faster chat connection. Now you get connected twice as fast to an available operator compared to the old chat software. One of the reasons for this fast connection is the usage of Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) protocol, which makes the exchange of messages and presence information nearly instantaneous. Integrated Tools to help the operator Now, even the admin back end is more user-friendly, with lots of tools inbuilt in order to speed up the actions of the operator when diagnosing a problem for the client. The operator sees if the server of the client is down and the internal notices reporting the event and the reasons for it. The operator can perform client-side checks for site and email service and automatically forward that report to a higher-end technical support on behalf of the client. More efficient chat distribution system We have a new system for distributing chats among operators, considering their skill level and number of active chats at the moment. Thus we achieve more efficient resource allocation, better quality of chats and faster servicing of the client. It seems our customers are already enjoying the changes made! In the last month since we started using the new software, we received double the number of excellent ratings compared to the previous month. We’ve also received some feedback emails from our customers, expressing how great our new chat is. Thanks to all of you for sharing your feedback with us!

How to Maximize Income from Your Website – Video and Slides from the Webinar

“How to Maximize Income from Your Website” is the final session from our affiliate webinar series. You will learn different methods to increase your site traffic, and success tips to help you better convert your traffic to generate higher affiliate income. Find below a recording of the session and slides from the presentation. If you haven’t been on the previous 2 editions of the series you can find them in our blog as well. Videos and slides are available for the webinars on hidden secrets of our affiliate area and the advantages of SiteGround service compared to other hosts.

How to Maximize Income from Your Website – Video and Slides from the Webinar

“How to Maximize Income from Your Website” is the final session from our affiliate webinar series. You will learn different methods to increase your site traffic, and success tips to help you better convert your traffic to generate higher affiliate income. Find below a recording of the session and slides from the presentation. If you haven’t been on the previous 2 editions of the series you can find them in our blog as well. Videos and slides are available for the webinars on hidden secrets of our affiliate area and the advantages of SiteGround service compared to other hosts.

Our WordPress sites now on PHP 5.5 and above!

During the past few weeks, we have undertaken a serious campaign to increase the number of the WordPress sites that use more recent PHP versions on our servers. As a result, now more than 90% of all our WordPress sites are on PHP 5.5 or higher. As scary as such a massive update may sound when you have more than 100,000 WordPress instances, it turned out to be a real success. But PHP 5.5 was available for our customers for more than an year… We are one of the few hosting companies that always make the latest PHP version available for use to all its customers as soon as it has a stable release. But we also have a philosophy that it is the customer’s own choice which PHP version will be used on each of its folders. Providing this unique flexibility we thought we have done our due. However, lately we have been hearing more and more talks in the WordPress community about the negatives of using the old PHP versions and especially PHP 5.2. That got us auditing the versions of the WordPress and PHP used on our servers. Although, the percentage of sites using PHP 5.2 was really low, we found the number of sites not using the current most widely adopted PHP version – 5.5, to be surprisingly high for our standards. We got curious what are the reasons for so many people not to use more recent PHP versions, when we have provided them with the option to easily do that. … so why did clients use old PHP versions in general? When researching the reasons why, it turns out the greater majority of the clients were either unaware of the existence of a more recent one or felt uncomfortable updating on their own and thought they need a developer to do it. As it is our mission to both keep our clients safe (by keeping their software up-to-date), and make their life easier when it comes to website maintenance, we decided to help them make the change. By stepping in we also took over any additional maintenance work related to the update. Clients were given the option to opt out if they thought this update might have bad consequences for their sites. We took the responsibility to do the move So basically our conclusion was that giving the choice to the customers may not be enough. Taking the responsibility to make the right choice for them and being there to deal with any possible consequences turned out to be a better approach. We updated the PHP version of thousands of installations. We got a handful of tickets asking for assistance after the update, which were all related to a client using a specific plugin incompatible with the PHP 5.5 version. Such cases were either fixed, where possible, or downgraded to the old version upon client’s discretion. So the conclusion of this campaign is that we will still stay true to our philosophy to value the customer freedom of choice. However, we will not let this philosophy prevent us from taking the responsibility and helping the customer make the right choice, whenever possible.

Our WordPress sites now on PHP 5.5 and above!

During the past few weeks, we have undertaken a serious campaign to increase the number of the WordPress sites that use more recent PHP versions on our servers. As a result, now more than 90% of all our WordPress sites are on PHP 5.5 or higher. As scary as such a massive update may sound when you have more than 100,000 WordPress instances, it turned out to be a real success. But PHP 5.5 was available for our customers for more than an year… We are one of the few hosting companies that always make the latest PHP version available for use to all its customers as soon as it has a stable release. But we also have a philosophy that it is the customer’s own choice which PHP version will be used on each of its folders. Providing this unique flexibility we thought we have done our due. However, lately we have been hearing more and more talks in the WordPress community about the negatives of using the old PHP versions and especially PHP 5.2. That got us auditing the versions of the WordPress and PHP used on our servers. Although, the percentage of sites using PHP 5.2 was really low, we found the number of sites not using the current most widely adopted PHP version – 5.5, to be surprisingly high for our standards. We got curious what are the reasons for so many people not to use more recent PHP versions, when we have provided them with the option to easily do that. … so why did clients use old PHP versions in general? When researching the reasons why, it turns out the greater majority of the clients were either unaware of the existence of a more recent one or felt uncomfortable updating on their own and thought they need a developer to do it. As it is our mission to both keep our clients safe (by keeping their software up-to-date), and make their life easier when it comes to website maintenance, we decided to help them make the change. By stepping in we also took over any additional maintenance work related to the update. Clients were given the option to opt out if they thought this update might have bad consequences for their sites. We took the responsibility to do the move So basically our conclusion was that giving the choice to the customers may not be enough. Taking the responsibility to make the right choice for them and being there to deal with any possible consequences turned out to be a better approach. We updated the PHP version of thousands of installations. We got a handful of tickets asking for assistance after the update, which were all related to a client using a specific plugin incompatible with the PHP 5.5 version. Such cases were either fixed, where possible, or downgraded to the old version upon client’s discretion. So the conclusion of this campaign is that we will still stay true to our philosophy to value the customer freedom of choice. However, we will not let this philosophy prevent us from taking the responsibility and helping the customer make the right choice, whenever possible.

The CryptoPHP Infection – A Story About Getting Paid Themes and Plugins for Free

A few of our email servers went wild sending spam this weekend. After quickly fixing the spam issue, we started the longer process of identifying the cause for the spam. It turned out to be the CryptoPHP infection (check out the official whitepaper), activated through a few WordPress themes and plugins. What is CryptoPHP infection? The CryptoPHP infection was detected a long time ago, but seems to have been more frequently exploited over the last few months. Hackers who use that method to exploit websites, take paid WordPress, Joomla and Drupal themes and extensions, remove the code blocks that verify a certain extension/theme is licensed, and then distribute them for free. Such versions of extensions/themes are called nulled scripts. The modified themes/extensions usually contain malicious code that provides full access to the infected sites to the hacker. Inside a nulled theme/extension there is a line of code that looks similar to this: <?php include('assets/images/social.png'); ?> Most PHP developers will immediately notice that this code block looks strange. The PHP directive includes a file, which should contain PHP code. However, in this case the file is an image and it contains malicious code, which is usually obfuscated. The malicious code is used for various purposes like black-hat SEO attacks and other, such as on our servers, sending spam. What we did? First, we scanned our servers to identify how many sites were infected and we limited the access to the nulled scripts. This means that such malicious files will not run as expected on our servers and hackers will not be able to use them to access sites hosted on our infrastructure. Second, we are in the process of applying a server-wide protection to make sure any future attempts like the CryptoPHP infection are prevented. What You should do? As we cannot establish the full scope of the damages that the infection might have incurred, we sent an email to all infected users asking them to do two things: Check the list of users to their applications for admins they do not recognize and delete them. The admin user has full access to your site and if that user is not created by you for a trusted person, it is most probably created by the hacker. Run an audit of your websites for possible backdoors left by the hackers, which means – look for unknown files that are not supposed to be on your account. We also strongly recommend you never to download free extensions and themes that are supposed to be paid. No matter what type of software you download, make sure you do it from a reputable source. We also encourage you to share the information about this vulnerability and why using free themes that are supposed to be paid is not a good idea. This will help create awareness and protect more websites from the infection.

The CryptoPHP Infection – A Story About Getting Paid Themes and Plugins for Free

A few of our email servers went wild sending spam this weekend. After quickly fixing the spam issue, we started the longer process of identifying the cause for the spam. It turned out to be the CryptoPHP infection (check out the official whitepaper), activated through a few WordPress themes and plugins. What is CryptoPHP infection? The CryptoPHP infection was detected a long time ago, but seems to have been more frequently exploited over the last few months. Hackers who use that method to exploit websites, take paid WordPress, Joomla and Drupal themes and extensions, remove the code blocks that verify a certain extension/theme is licensed, and then distribute them for free. Such versions of extensions/themes are called nulled scripts. The modified themes/extensions usually contain malicious code that provides full access to the infected sites to the hacker. Inside a nulled theme/extension there is a line of code that looks similar to this: <?php include('assets/images/social.png'); ?> Most PHP developers will immediately notice that this code block looks strange. The PHP directive includes a file, which should contain PHP code. However, in this case the file is an image and it contains malicious code, which is usually obfuscated. The malicious code is used for various purposes like black-hat SEO attacks and other, such as on our servers, sending spam. What we did? First, we scanned our servers to identify how many sites were infected and we limited the access to the nulled scripts. This means that such malicious files will not run as expected on our servers and hackers will not be able to use them to access sites hosted on our infrastructure. Second, we are in the process of applying a server-wide protection to make sure any future attempts like the CryptoPHP infection are prevented. What You should do? As we cannot establish the full scope of the damages that the infection might have incurred, we sent an email to all infected users asking them to do two things: Check the list of users to their applications for admins they do not recognize and delete them. The admin user has full access to your site and if that user is not created by you for a trusted person, it is most probably created by the hacker. Run an audit of your websites for possible backdoors left by the hackers, which means – look for unknown files that are not supposed to be on your account. We also strongly recommend you never to download free extensions and themes that are supposed to be paid. No matter what type of software you download, make sure you do it from a reputable source. We also encourage you to share the information about this vulnerability and why using free themes that are supposed to be paid is not a good idea. This will help create awareness and protect more websites from the infection.

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