It’s been a rather long time since we’ve made any significant changes to our services, but over the last few months we have been working to improve things for our customers. The result of software and the hosting industry evolving means we can now bring you some fantastic new features and options that will greatly improve your hosting service, and give power users far more control and flexibility with their hosting accounts.
Modification and Revamp of Real-Time Limits
We run software called CloudLinux on all of our shared servers, which allows us to set real-time account limits on resources such as the CPU(s) and physical memory. The purpose of the software is to prevent a single account from causing performance issues on the server by consuming all of the resources, leaving none for everyone else. We’ve been using this software for quite a few years and are extremely happy with it. However, we’ve recently increased these resource limits across all servers to be more in line with todays hardware. This should improve performance for all sites because more CPU is available to all.
Removal of daily CPU Usage/Minutes
In addition to real-time system limits on CPU usage we also had a daily maximum limit on total CPU “minutes” consumed. The key problem with the system was it was yet another limitation of the service for customers to monitor and be aware of. We want to make things as transparent and restriction free as possible and we felt this is one area where because we already have real-time CPU limits (as above), another limit on top of that is unnecessary. We have now removed the daily CPU limits we had in place and have deactivated the systems that monitor and report this usage.
We have been contacted by users asking when we are going to provide support for PHP 5.4 or even 5.5 and higher. Because of the nature of shared hosting we try to avoid upgrading PHP to major versions as these could disrupt existing websites that rely on older versions, and may not be compatible with the changes made in newer revisions.
To combat this we have now deployed “PHP Selector” across all of our servers. This allows end-users within cPanel to choose the PHP version they want to use for their account, along with the specific PHP modules or extensions, and even PHP configuration settings that they want to use. No longer are you restricted by the PHP version we run by default (5.3.28), or the modules we pick for you by default. You can now choose from between PHP 4.4, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5 and even PHP 5.6! As well as choosing the PHP version you want to use, you can also select which PHP modules/extensions you want to have support for. If that wasn’t enough control for you, you can even modify some of the PHP runtime configuration settings to give you more flexibility than ever.
You can access PHP selector by logging into cPanel and choosing the ‘Select PHP Version’ option. Please note that this is cPanel account specific, and not website specific. If you change the version within cPanel then all of your addon domains will also inherit these changes. If you are a reseller and wish to make changes to any of your sub-accounts, you will need to login to each corresponding cPanel account to make these changes.
Global SSH Access
All users on all shared, reseller and semi-dedicated hosting packages now have SSH access by default. We have removed our firewall restrictions where previously you had to enter your IP address into our client area, but have instead changed the SSH port to 2222.
To further try and improve SSH security we have also disabled password authentication. SSH access can now only be achieved by using an appropriate SSH key which can be uploaded via cPanel under the ‘SSH Access’ subsection. If you do not have an SSH key you can also generate one using the same link, and then download this key to be used in an appropriate local SSH client.
We have implemented “CageFS” which works to further isolate accounts from each other. This provides a significant layer of security on shared hosting and can help reduce cross-account attacks.
Additionally we have also implemented real-time file virus/malware scanning. When a file is added or modified on the server, it is immediately scanned by a set of tools that attempt to identify if the file is known to be malicious, such as a virus. If the file is known to be malicious or have malicious content inside, it is moved to quarantine for further investigation and/or removal by a member of our team. Typically when an account is compromised the attacker will use the account for various malicious activities. This could be spamming, setting up a fake phishing website or simply attempting to attack the other accounts on the server. With the new real-time scanning systems in place we can detect many of the most common malicious scripts and tools as soon as they are uploaded and remove them automatically. Of course, this will not prevent the exploitation or attack of a website, however it should help reduce the damage caused by these attacks.
Finally, we now have basic hardware DDoS protection in place across all of our US servers. This should help protect us against small to medium sized DDoS attacks such as those experienced on one of our servers last year.
Daily User Accessible Backups
A huge thank you to all of you who completed our recent ‘Backup’ survey. Your information has been invaluable and confirmed our suspicion that backups are something that certainly needed to be addressed. You may have been aware that our current backup policy has been that we do take backups of all of our servers, but these are for disaster recovery purposes (if a server was to completely “crash” and need to be replaced). This data was not accessible to clients and was not structured in a way where we could retrieve individual data for you. This is no longer the case!
We agree with your survey responses, and believe that as a hosting provider it’s up to us to backup your data for you. This data should be accessible to you at all times, and if you accidentally delete something or simply need to roll back your data for any reason, you should be able to do this as part of the service and completely on your own. We also believe that this is something that should be standard with our service, and not something that is sold as an addition or premium product to the hosting itself.
We’ve now added this feature to all shared, reseller and semi-dedicated hosting accounts. You can access your backups from within cPanel by selecting the ‘R1Soft Restore Backups’ option. We’ll be posting full knowledgebase articles/tutorials on how to use this system in the very near future. For now, you can view the official documentation on accessing and restoring backups from the Idera Website located here
Some notes about the system; we backup your account approximately 4-6 times a day, and store these backups for 14 days. That means you have access to approximately 84 different “snapshots” of your account data over the last 14 days. These snapshots can either be directly restored to the server in a few clicks (including MySQL databases), or you can choose to download this data to your local machine. Accidentally deleted a file or folder and need to get it back? You don’t have to restore the entire account, you can simply tick the file or folder you want to restore from any of these snapshots and in a few clicks it can be completely recovered. We think it’s a fantastic system and hope you will find it an essential part of our new service going forward.
If you are a reseller, you will need to login to the individual cPanel account directly in order to access a backup for a specific account. There is currently no global system for resellers to manage backups for all sub-accounts, as these backups work on an account level basis only.
We have more changes planned for the near future, but for now we hope the above will prove beneficial and advantageous to you all. We try to take all feedback we receive on board and where possible change our service for the better.
If you are experiencing any issues with any of the above new features, or wish to discuss anything contained within this blog post, please get in touch with us either via support ticket or using the comments section below.
Thank you very much for choosing ThisWebHost.