Issue Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates with the control panel

Posted in Control panel by

Screenshot of WebFaction control panel Let's Encrypt section

Starting next week, our in-house developed ACME client will go live and you’ll be able to issue and install a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for the majority of your WebFaction hosted websites.

We will enable this feature in two waves. On Monday, the 17th of September, 2018, at 13:00 UTC for all websites on cloud servers and, baring any major issues, for websites on shared servers a week later, on Monday, the 24th of September, 2018, at 13:00 UTC.

In order for our Let’s Encrypt certificate tool to work, the website you want to generate the certificate for should be resolving to the IP address of our server, either by having it’s NS records pointing to our nameservers or have it’s A records pointing to the web server’s IP address.

We’ve already updated our control panel documentation to include instructions on how to secure your websites, but if you have any questions feel free to raise a ticket and our support team will gladly answer any questions you might have.

Please note that there are currently three limitations on our custom ACME client:

  • there is no support for wildcard domains
  • it is not possible to enable or disable a Let’s Encrypt certificate using our API
  • no certificates for webfactional.com subdomains. If you have one in your https websites, you will need to remove it before issuing a certificate

All are in our road-map to work out in a future version.

Also note that Let’s Encrypt has set some rate limits, which you can review here. Our control panel will show an error if you try to hit them.

UPDATE: Our ACME client is now enabled on all sites hosted on cloud servers.

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Manage SSL certificates with the control panel

Posted in Control panel by

Screenshot of WebFaction control panel certificate picker

You can now manage SSL/TLS certificates with the WebFaction control panel! In just a few clicks, you can:

  • generate certificate signing requests
  • upload or copy and paste certificates
  • choose which certificate to use with each of your websites

Effective immediately, you can secure a site without opening a support ticket. But if you run into any problems, the support team is still available to help you out. Because we’re sure you’re eager to start managing certificates on your own, we’ve enabled the feature now, but we’re working to make managing certificates even better over the coming days, with complete documentation, API support, and more.

But as of today, you can upload a certificate and private key from any certificate provider through the control panel. If you don’t already have a certificate, you have a few choices when it comes to getting one:

  • You can use your server’s default, shared certificate, though visitors will get an error message warning that the connection may not be secure.
  • You can buy a certificate from a certificate provider (typically your domain name registrar can provide this service).
  • You can get a certificate from Let’s Encrypt, a certificate authority that provides free 90-day certificates.

The new functionality is available in the panel under “Domains/Websites > SSL Certificates”.

We’re really excited about Let’s Encrypt! It’s a great project that’s helping to make secure sites practical for everyone. And though we’re not ready to announce anything yet, let’s just say that we want Let’s Encrypt and the control panel to work very well together.

Update: As of 12 October 2016, our documentation and API have been updated to include the new SSL certificate management features!

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Meet our new SSD hosting plans

Posted in General by

Over the past few months we’ve been hard at work preparing our next generation of hosting plans. We’ve selected high-performance, pure SSD servers and we’ve carefully crafted a robust and secure software setup based on CentOS 7. Today we’re excited to launch these new plans:

  • $10/mo, 100GB pure SSD storage, 1GB RAM, 1TB bandwidth, shared servers
  • Managed cloud servers from $20/mo for 2GB of RAM

All existing customers can continue using their existing plans at their current price for as long as they like. To be migrated to a new plan just put in a migration request from the control panel.

Just like the old plans the new ones come with fully managed servers, SSH access, email and DNS hosting and a full-featured control panel to let you configure all aspects of your hosting.

Our friendly customer support team is available 24×7 to answer any questions you might have: either open a ticket or just email support@webfaction.com.

You can find all the details about our new plans on our updated website.

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Your WebFaction account: customer support

Posted in General by

This is the fourth in a series that’s going over what’s included in your WebFaction account. In today’s installment, we’re taking a closer look at the team that supports your account.

Above all, the customer support team is committed to communicating with you in a timely, accurate, and courteous way. If you have a question, a problem, or a suggestion, we want you to be able to trust that the customer support team will respond with care and respect. Whether you’re asking a question in the Q&A Community or opening a support ticket, WebFaction customer support is there to help you.

But the customer support team isn’t passively waiting to hear from you. The support team is connected to monitoring and reporting about the state of the WebFaction service, so many problems are resolved without your intervention. For example, if a network connection goes down or server needs to be rebooted, the support team is often notified about and can respond to the problem before customers are even aware of the issue, much less had a chance to submit a support ticket.

Yet having a monitoring system doesn’t mean much if there’s no one around when alarms start going off, so WebFaction’s support team provides 24-hour coverage every day of the year. The team is globally distributed, so even though it might be a weekend, evening, or holiday where you are, it’s usually just another work day for the support team member that responds to your request. With continuous coverage, you can expect that it won’t be long before you receive a response and that the support team member that responds to you is up to the task.

In addition to the customer-facing support team, our team of systems administrators is on hand and on call too. Their main task is to make sure your server is stable, secure, and up-to-date. For example, our sysadmins took the steps required to protect WebFaction servers from the POODLE SSL vulnerability discovered recently. Or, in the event of a major problem, like a hardware failure, the systems administrators step in to restore the server to a working state or migrate it to new hardware.

In a perfect world, software never has bugs, servers never crash, and network connections never fail. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, so that’s why we’ve put together a multitalented team to look out for you.

To learn more about what you can do with your WebFaction account and how to get help, check out our documentation site, or join us in the Q&A Community to ask the support team a question.

Previously in the “Your WebFaction account” series: emailserversthe control panel.

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Your WebFaction account: servers

Posted in General by

This post is the first in a new series for potential and current WebFaction customers to learn more about what’s included in WebFaction plans and accounts. For new and potential customers, we’re going to go in-depth on what WebFaction delivers. For customers who’ve been with us for a while, we hope to remind you of your plan and account features, so you can continue to get the most out of your account.

At the core of every WebFaction plan is use of one of our shared or dedicated servers, depending on your subscription. Regardless of the specific plan, each comes with an allocation of disk space, an allocation of memory, and SSH access.

Disk space and memory are critical to web hosting. Your disk space allotment, measured in gigabytes, is the amount of files you can store on a WebFaction server. Currently, our plans start with disk space allotments of 100 GB. As a point comparison, 100 GB is which is about as much data found on two to four Blu-ray discs. Your memory allotment, measured in megabytes, is the amount of the server’s working memory (also known as RAM) that you can use. Currently, a WebFaction plan starts with 512 MB of memory, which is sufficient for a wide variety of processes, including web applications and utilities.

Note that, on a shared server, your memory and disk space aren’t dedicated pieces of hardware for your use alone. To keep costs and prices low, your files are stored on disk drives split up between users, just as your processes use physical memory modules split between users. This kind of sharing is done in controlled way, so that individual users may not exceed their allotments of memory or disk space to the detriment of their server neighbors. This kind of sharing also comes with a major benefit: common processes, like nginx for static-only sites and shared MySQL and PostgreSQL databases, are shared across the server’s users, so they don’t count against your individual consumption of your memory allocations. Compare that to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), where each individual user must pay for the memory and disk space required to run a full operating system.

To access your server, your plan comes with a user account that’s accessed with SSH, or Secure Shell. SSH is an encrypted and authenticated way for you to connect to your server. You can use it control your files and processes and, thus, your disk space and memory consumption. With SSH, you can run software using a command-line interface called a shell (most people use the default shell, Bash). You can manage files using command line utilities, or connect with your favorite SFTP client. SFTP is a secure alternative to FTP, and uses SSH to communicate between client and server. Many hosts do not allow SSH connections (or even SFTP), but we offer it because it’s more secure and flexible.

To learn more about what you can do with your WebFaction account, check out our documentation site or join us in the Q&A Community.

Next in the “Your WebFaction account” series: Email

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Busy October and a $50 credit for all new services ordered

Posted in Django by

As you may have noticed October has been a busy month for WebFaction:

To finish the month in style we are giving a $50 credit for all new services ordered before October 31st at midnight UTC:

New customers: just sign up between now and October 31st, pay $9.50 for the first month (or pay for longer) and enter the promo code “BUSYOCTOBER”. $50 will automatically be credited to your account.

Existing customers: add one new service to your account (or upgrade an existing service) between now and October 31st, pay for one month of that service and mention the promo code “BUSYOCTOBER”. A $50 credit will be automatically added to your account. You need to keep the new service for at least 6 months to keep the credit.

Each customer is limited to one credit only, and it is non-transferable and non-refundable.

Here is to a great October and many more great months to come!

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Memory doubled!

Posted in General by

We’re excited to announce that we have doubled the memory on our base plan without changing the price: the memory quota is now 512MB instead of 256MB and the price is still $9.50/mo (or $8.50/mo if you pre-pay for one year). All existing accounts have been upgraded to the new quota.

The memory used by the operating system, web server and database servers still doesn’t count towards your memory usage.

Customers on Web418 and over can also purchase an extra 512MB of memory (for a total of 1GB) for $7/mo. Unfortunately customers on Web417 and under are still limited to 512MB of memory per account per server as these machines don’t have enough RAM to accommodate more than that. If you’re on Web417 and under and want more than 512MB of memory you can request a migration in the control panel under “Account->Server migration”.

We have also doubled the memory on our larger plans and you can now get a 2GB plan, 4GB plan or 8GB plan for $40/mo, $80/mo and $160/mo respectively (discounts apply for yearly pre-payments). See the “Account->Upgrade / downgrade” screen in the control panel for details.

Enjoy the extra memory!

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Welcoming Ruby 2.0

Posted in General by

Today we’re happy to announce that the recently released Ruby 2.0 is now available on all of our servers. You can run Ruby 2.0 today as ruby2.0. Here it is on Web310:

$ ruby2.0 -v
ruby 2.0.0p0 (2013-02-24 revision 39474) [x86_64-linux]

Ruby 2.0 comes with a number of new features, performance improvements, and built-in library changes.

One of the more prominent new features is an addition to the language syntax: keyword arguments. Sometimes known as named parameters, keyword arguments provide a more explicit way of using arguments and setting defaults. Here’s a little example:

$ irb2.0
irb(main):001:0> def greet(greeting: 'Hello',  name: 'WebFactioneers')
irb(main):002:1>   puts "#{greeting}, #{name}!"
irb(main):003:1> end
=> nil
irb(main):004:0> greet(name: 'readers')
Hello, readers!
=> nil
irb(main):005:0> greet(greeting: 'Howdy')
Howdy, WebFactioneers!
=> nil
irb(main):006:0> # you can even change the order
irb(main):007:0* greet(name: 'readers', greeting: 'Salutations')
Salutations, readers!
=> nil

For more details about Ruby 2.0, including a description of potential incompatibilities with previous Ruby versions, please see the official release notes. Try out Ruby 2.0 with your WebFaction account and, if you have any questions, join us in the Q&A Community.

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A look at databases on our servers

Posted in Control panel by

It’s a rare web hosting user that can get by without a database, so today we’re taking a closer look at how you can setup and use popular databases with WebFaction.

To start, the WebFaction control panel makes it easy to create databases, so there’s no need for any complex commands. You just pick out some details and click Add database (Check out the introduction to our new database management interface for an in-depth look):

A screenshot of the databases user interface

A database created with the control panel runs on your server’s shared database process. The shared server is more convenient than configuring your own and doesn’t count toward your account’s memory usage.

Different applications have different needs, so every WebFaction server supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL. MySQL is extremely popular and is used in several of our one-click installers, including WordPress and Drupal. PostgreSQL is growing in popularity and sports some exciting features, like procedural languages PL/Perl and PL/Tcl.

Once you’ve created your database of choice, it’s easy to connect to it and start storing data. Check out these documentation sections:

Although the shared database and the associated documentation is convenient, it’s not necessarily for everyone. That’s why we recently introduced a one-click installer for private MySQL and PostgreSQL instances. A private database is a good option if you’re facing problems with contention on the shared database or if you want to customize the database configuration.

And, of course, you can always set up and run a specialty database from your home directory on your own. For example, check out our instructions on installing MongoDB.

For more details, see the WebFaction User Guide page Databases. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments or join us in the Q&A communtity.

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Ten amazing years, $100,000 giveaway!

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[Update Feb 7th 9.30am UTC] Our birthday giveaway has now ended. We sold out in about 40 hours.

Today marks WebFaction’s tenth birthday: ten years of hosting, ten years of support, and ten years of working to provide a service that we can be proud of. Ten years ago WebFaction opened its metaphorical doors to the world, and though a lot has changed since then, including our name, we hope to be doing for another ten years what we’ve always done: our best for our customers.

To celebrate this milestone, we’re giving away $100,000 in hosting services to new and existing customers. Starting tomorrow at 2pm UTC, new and existing customers may receive a one-time credit added to their accounts.

New customers: just sign up from tomorrow Feb 5th at 2pm UTC and pay $9.50 for the first month (or pay for longer). $100 will automatically be credited to your account.

Existing customers: add one new service to your account from tomorrow Feb 5th at 2pm UTC (a 256 MB plan, 256 MB extra memory, or a 1GB plan) and pay for one month of that service, and you will receive the next three months of that service for free.

Each customer is limited to one credit only, and it is non-transferable and non-refundable. Once we’ve given away $100,000 in services, the promotion will end and we’ll update this blog post to reflect that. Be quick or you might miss out on the free services. If you don’t need them yourself you can refer a friend and earn yourself some affiliate rewards.

Here is the Twitter announcement and the Facebook announcement so you can help spread the word if you’re on Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you for our first ten years; we can’t wait to see what’s in the years to come.

[Update Feb 5th 2pm UTC]: The giveaway has started!
[Update Feb 7th 9.30am UTC] Our birthday giveaway has now ended. We sold out in about 40 hours.

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