Tag: updates

WordPress 5 release date, Social Media experiment and CloudFlare turns 8.

WordPress 5 release date, Social Media experiment and CloudFlare turns 8.

Today on episode 26, Web Hosting Podcast. WordPress 5 gets a tentative release date. I discuss a social media experiment I tried. And cloudflare celebrated its 8th birthday in style by releasing some great new features and services.

 

WordPress 5 has a tentative release date of November 19th, 2018 Release Notes
This date could be pushed back as needed and even moved to 2019. It appears that this may coincide with the coming release of PHP 7.3, which is due December 13th, 2018. If you are currently using the Gutenberg editor plugin in your current version of WordPress, then version WordPress 5 will be familiar to you. You will still have the ability to go back to the classic editor, the one currently in use, by installing a plugin. However, there are likely big code changes that are still going to break a lot of plugins and themes when WordPress 5 comes out. Here are some things you must know before the big WordPress 5 release comes out.

1. Test your plugins and themes as well as any custom code you may be using on your site.

Option 1, for a while, there was a Gutenberg database of listed plugins that you could use to validate your install. This project has since been abandoned and is no longer maintained. The CSV file is still available to download, but it is likely very outdated. Use with caution as it might not be complete or current. Download CSV here.

Option 2, copy your current website to a staging url. Something like test.yoursite.com or dev.yoursite.com. Then activate the Gutenberg plugin. You will then need to manually test every plugin and theme you use. This is a very tedious task and is fraught with perils. You really are going to need to know what you are doing. I would recommend, if you plan to try this, to disable all plugins and set the theme to a default theme after you copy/clone your site to the staging environment. Then one by one, make sure your plugins are updated and then activate them and test. If you find a plugin that does not work, then you may have to start over unless you know how to debug plugins or deactivate plugins using ftp/sftp methods. Once you are completed with the plugins testing, then I would update and activate your theme. You will have to test again and again after each and every change. This sounds like a monumental task, and lets be honest it is, but it is something either you or your developer really needs to do. The last thing you want happen is for your site to be updated and then break.

2. Make sure you have a full and complete backup of your WordPress install and you know how to restore from it. I can’t stress this enough at this point. If you do NOT know how to make a backup or do a restore using the backup, then you or your developer need to get on this. I mention backups in almost every episode and it is very very important that you take this step seriously. If your site automatically updates and things break, there is likely no way to go back to a previous version even if you try the classic editor plugin, your site may still not function as expected or just not render at all. There are dramatic code changes in a major release that my just not work, even in classic mode.

Before hitting that update button on WordPress 5, make sure you have all your options thought out. Backups, any testing needed, a good developer on standby and a restore plan. It is very likely that a large number of installs will break and your web host of choice will very likely have their hands full. They may not even help you at all without charging for it. So be prepared for the worst and work backwards from there.

Social media

Top social media platforms in the U.S.
Facebook – 2 billion active monthly users
YouTube – 1.9 billion active monthly users
Instagram – 1 billion active monthly users

Last month, I did something as a test for myself. I used social media heavily and I mean really heavily. I challenged myself to post regularly on twitter and instagram, preferring to use instagram as my platform of choice for video. My personal challenge was to promote the podcast, but to also have fun and be myself. I posted random cloud photos, pictures of my dog, and information about my podcast. The task was to see if doing this would have any impact on my podcast downloads and website hits. I posted at least once a day, but more as needed or when the desire struck. I primarily used instagram, but by doing this I also allowed instagram to post to facebook and twitter. My primary use for twitter is to post news articles that I find relating to hosting or security. My results shocked me, in the 3 weeks that I tried this I gained almost 600 new podcast downloads and it is still climbing. I went from having 1 or 2 downloads a day to having 20 or 30 a day.

Think about that, in the case of a podcast they are listeners, but in a business that could be customers and potentially big sales opportunities. Now, it should be noted that I am not a social media master or anything like that. I just do what most others do, post, and I use what I have access to. Meaning, posting pictures of clouds or my dog, is my staple and easy for me to do. I don’t post pictures of my family, other than the dog, online unless I have some form of control of the content. So I am left with what I have access too. I also have some skills in video, so making a short video on the do’s and don’ts of hosting was easy for me to do. Those types of videos I posted on instagram as posts, not stories, so everyone could see them. I did not always promote my brand, or podcast. Again, I had fun with it and let people see my human side, not just the business side.

I think what I learned is that anyone can do this type of thing but the biggest thing is to have fun. I don’t worry about the number of followers, and actually I don’t watch my podcast download count either. Neither of those really mean anything to me. What I do keep an eye on is the interactions. If someone comments on a post, I thank them or answer their question. If someone retweets a tweet, then I might follow them. Things that can generate a conversation or communication of some sort is what I go for. That would be my first piece of advice. Don’t fret over numbers, if someone does not hit the “heart” button don’t assume it was not seen. Don’t worry about the total number of followers and likes you get. If you do that, then you are likely going to add stress and not have fun. That would be my second piece of advice, have fun. Social media is social, it is a chance to let your guard down a bit and let people into your life, have fun with it. I would rather see photos/videos of someones dog chasing its tail then another almost informative ad on a product. I am sure most other people would too, but if you post product info every third post, that might work.

Anyone that is listening to this, I challenge you to promote on social media. Get creative with it and have fun. The results you see might surprise you as it did me.

CloudFlare

CloudFlare recently had its 8th birthday and did so with a bang.
If you have not heard of or use CloudFlare, I invite you to listen to Episode 2 here
For the most part, CloudFlare is a software as a service cache that does a whole lot more. Now celebrating their 8th birthday, congratulations by the way, CloudFlare does even more. In addition to adding caching features to your site and helping to keep it secure, CloudFlare offers domain registrations at wholesale prices and adds domain privacy for free. This service is currently in early access and I invite you to head over to their site to check out all of their service offerings, most of which are free. I use CloudFlare on all of my sites and love it, I can’t wait to be able to also register domains through them.

Harden and secure wordpress, using managewp.com and GDPR.

Harden and secure wordpress, using managewp.com and GDPR.

Today on episode 18 of Web Hosting Podcast, I continue the discussion of the wordpress hack dissection. I have been asked, since the last episode, about ways to harden and secure a wordpress install and what I recommend to do about managing updates. Also in this episode, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), Are you ready for the coming changes on May 25th?

GDPR New rules for EU take affect May 25th, 2018 – Official Link
The most important pieces that change here
WordPress 4.9.6 was released with GDPR specifically in mind. Release Notes

Simple ways to keep your wordpress install safer.

  1. Keep your wordpress install updated. Plain and simple. Have a update schedule and stick to it. Some plugins need the core of wordpress updated before it will be allowed to update the plugin in question. If you are on a old version of wordpress, it is very likely your plugins are outdated as well and possibly contain exploits used to hack your site.
  2. Don’t use plugins that are outdated or no longer maintained. These could easily have old exploits that leave you open for a hack and they will never be updated. The plugin could also be purchased by a hacker group, which has happened, and they add code to exploit your install. If you see a plugin that has not had updates for many years then suddenly has 1 update recently, be wary.
  3. Use strong passwords and don’t use the default username “Admin”
  4. Use a plugin to block failed login attempts.
  5. Move wp-admin url to something else.
  6. Ensure the PHP version you are using is still being maintained. If you are using PHP 5.x series, you really should migrate to PHP 7.x.
  7. Use common sense. Don’t login to your wordpress site, even over HTTPS, in a shared wifi environment. This would be coffee shops, bars, the mall, etc.. Even over HTTPS, information can be intercepted.

 

If you are new to wordpress and managing updates, you can use an external management application that provides additional services.  I personally use managewp.com for this task.  It has many features (listed below) and is 100% free for unlimited domains.  Best of all, well maybe not best, they gave Web Hosting Podcast a coupon code to use after you sign up.  Use WHPOD after you enter in your billing details, this will apply $10 to your account so you can try the paid options for nothing.

Initial questions about managewp that I am often asked by listeners and pretty much anyone that will tolerate me talking about this product.

Q: why would i want to use it?

Q: how difficult is it to signup?

Q: do i need to be a techie to set it up?

Q: how much for basic services?

Q: how much is x feature?

Q: can i get help?

Q: Is it secure?

Current pricing for a site is free for unlimited domains. This free plan includes the following addons.

  • manage updates, plugins and themes
  • Monthly Cloud Backup
  • 1-click login
  • Performance Check
  • Security Check using sucuri
  • Collaboration
  • Analytics with google
  • Manage Comments
  • Code Snippets
  • Maintenance Mode
  • Client Report
  • Vulnerability Updates
  • Templates

The following addons are paid options per month per site. Total price for all Premium addons is $8/mo.

  • Premium Backups $2 +.13 per GB of traffic.
  • Clone (requires Premium Backups)
  • Safe Updates (requires Premium Backups)
  • Templates (requires Premium Backups if creating a template from a current site)
  • White Label $1
  • SEO Ranking $1
  • Uptime Monitor $1
  • Advanced Client Report $1
  • Automated Security Check $1
  • Automated Performance Check $1

Plugins I currently use the paid versions of:

Premium Backup – I schedule a nightly backup to their backup location and a weekly backup to DropBox. I also use “safe updates” which allows me to perform a backup before I run a update, then verify the screen image of before and after the update to determine if I need to roll back.

Security – This allows me to schedule a scan of my site daily. This not only scans my site for issues, it also checks for vulnerabilities in plugins and checks the web of trust to ensure my site is not listed on any “not safe” databases.

Uptime Monitor – This sends me a email and text message if my site goes offline, but not only that it also verifies that a specific keyword is found on my site. This helps let me know if my site has been defaced, which would still mean it is up and online.

SEO Ranking – I paid for this just to see how it works. This allows you to set up to 100 keywords and track them for your site with SEO.

Advanced Client Report – I also paid for this to see how it works. This allows me to get a weekly report for my site. it tells me what has been updated, SEO and Analytics reports as well as security audits. It pulls all the information from the plugins active in my account and sends me a nice little report every week.

Plugins I don’t pay for.
Advanced Performance – I already spend a lot of time using pagespeed tools to get the most performance I can. I am always tweaking things. It is just easier for me to trigger a Performance Check manually since I am always in my managewp dashboard.

My total monthly cost is $6. $2/mo. for Permium Backups, $1/mo. for Uptime Monitor, SEO, Client Reports and Security Check.