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Varial Introduces HTTP to HTTPS Conversion Service for WordPress

June 28, 2018

On July 23, 2018, Google will make the bold move to prominantly label all websites viewed in Chrome over HTTP as “Not Secure”.

Unfortunately much of the web is not ready with over 30% of all websites not supporting HTTPS.

When a website is accessed over HTTPS, information is transmitted over a secure, encrypted connection from the visitor’s browser to the server. This not only offers a security advantage, but can improve search engine rankings and speed up your website by enabling the next-generation HTTP/2 and QUIC protocols which are available only to HTTPS websites.

With web browsers now alerting visitors when websites are viewed over HTTP, our customers have been scrambling to switch to HTTPS to avoid scaring away visitors with a “Not Secure” warning.

As such, we have been bombarded with questions on how customers can convert their existing websites to use HTTPS. The answer is unfortunately complicated, and highly depends on how your website has been coded.

Some websites can simply be accessed over HTTPS instead of HTTP and will display the SSL lock icon without issue, however many websites will require changes to their code to be compatible with HTTPS.

To assist our customers with this transition, we are introducing a HTTP to HTTPS Conversion service for WordPress websites hosted on our servers.

Our HTTPS conversion service for WordPress includes the following:

  • Backup existing website before making any changes.
  • Ensure a free SSL certificate has been installed for your domain.
  • Reconfigure WordPress to use HTTPS across all pages.
  • Convert any hardcoded HTTP references in your database to HTTPS.
  • Convert any hardcoded HTTP references in your active WordPress theme to HTTPS.
  • Update .htaccess file for compatibility and to redirect all pages from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Maximum 2 hours of our staff’s time to complete the conversion.
    (We will notify you before proceeding if we anticipate your conversion to take longer.)

We are offering this service to Varial Hosting customers for a $99.99 one time fee.

To order please contact our Sales department at sales@varialhosting.com to begin the process.

ORDER NOW

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Varial Celebrates 15 Years of Business

June 1, 2018

Today we celebrate a major milestone.

15 years ago I began selling web hosting and design services as a way to subsidize the cost of running a music discussion forum I had created that was exploding in popularity.

Our first customers were the bands that frequented the forums and other users of the Magento software (now known as Joomla) that I used to develop the site.

We started out as a reseller for the Florida-based hosting company I was using at the time, before expanding to a dedicated server that I had rented from a data center in Texas. After our first few years of business we stopped offering design services to focus solely on web hosting and building our own products.

Upon completing my University education, web hosting became my full-time career as we moved into a downtown Saskatoon office space and purchased our own server hardware which we colocated in Montreal, Quebec.

With business growing rapidly, we incorporated and changed our name from D.I.Y. Web Hosting to Varial Technologies Inc in 2008 and launched a number of successful blogs and iPhone applications, alongside our hosting operations.

In 2011 we relocated our offices to a new technology hub and co-working space in Saskatoon and began making plans to focus our services and ultimately reinvent our company.

With WordPress becoming so popular with our customers we launched our next-generation hosting platform and optimized WordPress hosting plans in 2016 to rave reviews and moved all of our server hardware from Montreal to our new Saskatoon data center. Today WordPress accounts for over 75% of all web applications installed on our servers and runs over 4000X faster compared to our legacy platform!

While we aren’t throwing a big party for our 15th anniversary (like the one pictured above from our most recent website launch), we are planning to catch up on some much needed rest over the weekend and get ready to continue working on many planned backend changes like bringing all servers to feature-parity and improving our website and support materials.

What started as a side project to make a few bucks ultimately led to a 15 year career in technology that sparked unexpectedly. I sincerely want to thank all of our customers, family, and friends for all of their support in making that happen.

Fun fact: Varial is now half as old as the Internet itself!

Much love,

Ryan Smith
CEO
Varial Hosting

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Introducing JetBackup

May 30, 2018

For many years, R1Soft has been our primary tool for daily backups of our servers and disaster recovery.

R1Soft has many benefits over cPanel’s native backup system as it supports fast incremental backups of changed files and full bare-metal restores of entire servers. Unfortunately the software is not without its problems as the longer you seem to use it the slower and less reliable your backups become.

Over the last few years we’ve migrated our R1Soft backups to three different storage servers to combat its issues but problems with it continue to persist. Backups have gone from taking 1-2 hours per server to 6+ hours, with frequent failures requiring a full block scan that can take over 24 hours to complete.

Due to these pressing issues we have decided to replace R1Soft with an alternate solution called JetBackup, which we’ve been testing across our servers for over a year.

JetBackup shares many similarities to cPanel’s native backup system but with many advancements. JetBackup supports incremental backups to remote servers, allows for self-service restores of files and databases through a customer’s cPanel control panel, and is lightweight and uses minimal system resources. More importantly, JetBackup has proven to be more reliable than R1Soft in backing up our servers.

We have set up a brand new storage server for JetBackup and initial replications of our servers are underway. The initial backup will take up to 7 days per server to complete, with subsequent incremental backups then being taken daily. Once initial backups have completed a new JetBackup section will be available in cPanel, allowing customers to directly download and restore their backups.

Once all servers have been backing up with JetBackup for several weeks, we will then disable R1Soft, making JetBackup our primary backup solution going forward.

JetBackup Migration Progress:

Hermione – Completed
Lockhart – Completed
Malfoy – Completed
Potter – Completed
Sirius – Completed
Snape – Completed

 

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Change of Domain Registration Partner

May 15, 2018

After 15 years as our domain registrar, eNom has announced a change to their business model and major price increases coming to all of their partners.

The planned price increases are so drastic that we would have to substantially increase our domain rates, which would put us in a position where we do not feel we could offer competitive pricing.

Instead of increasing our customer’s pricing, we have sought out a new domain registration partner.

Effective immediately, .com/net/org/ca domains will now be registered through our new partner, Public Domain Registry.

As customer domains come due for renewal our staff will facilitate the process of transferring the domains to our new partner. To allow time for the domains to be transferred, your next domain renewal invoice will be sent two weeks early.

Upon completion of the domain transfer, you may be asked to confirm your email address with the registry. Please complete this step if you receive an email requesting it.

While changing our domain registration partner is very time consuming for our staff, this decision has been made in our customer’s interests to avoid an increase in our domain rates and keep all of our customers at their current pricing.

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Varial to Sponsor FUZE Conference, May 17 in Saskatoon

May 10, 2018

FUZE Conference 2018 is just one week away and we are thrilled to be a sponsor of the event for our fifth year in a row!

FUZE will be held at the Sheraton Cavalier Hotel in Saskatoon on Thursday, May 17th.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Costa Maragos (U of R/CBC)
  • Dustin Ratzlaff (unINK)
  • Andrew Potter (Wyant Group)
  • Mona Elesseily (Page Zero Media)

We hope to see you there!

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How to Avoid a “Not Secure” Warning on Your Website

May 1, 2018

Web browser developers are strongly pushing for an encrypted web and are taking actions to encourage website owners to begin using HTTPS.

The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox and Safari now display a “Not Secure” warning when visiting a login or payment page over HTTP. This is to alert the user that the information they are submitting is being sent over an unencrypted connection.

To remove the “Not Secure” warning, these pages should be accessed over HTTPS instead so the information is transmitted over a secure, encrypted connection from the user’s browser to the server. To use HTTPS, your website must have a valid SSL certificate installed for your domain name.

We got you!

The good news is that Varial Hosting provides free SSL certificates for all domains hosted on our servers! Free SSL certificates have been provided for over a year and are ready for our customers to begin using.

For example, Varial customers can log into their cPanel and Webmail interfaces securely over HTTPS from the following locations:

https://cpanel.yourdomain.com/
https://webmail.yourdomain.com/

* Replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain name.

You can also log into your WordPress administrative area securely over HTTPS from an address like:

https://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/

Make the switch

The next step is to use HTTPS across your entire website. This not only offers a security advantage, but can improve search engine rankings and speed up your website by enabling the next-generation HTTP/2 and QUIC protocols which are available only to HTTPS websites.

Switching your website to HTTPS may be as easy as typing in https://www.yourdomain.com/ instead of http://www.yourdomain.com/ in your browser.

However, it unfortunately is not always that simple. Changes to your website code may be required to make your website compatible with HTTPS.

We recommend reading over the following articles for more information on preparing your website for HTTPS compatibility:

Why is the lock icon not displaying or my website loading incorrectly when accessed over HTTPS?
– How do I redirect all visitors to HTTPS?

If you require assistance updating your existing website for HTTPS / SSL compatibility, please consult a web design firm. Varial Hosting does not provide support for updating a customer’s website code.

The ugly

In a bold move, Google has announced that in version 68 of their Chrome browser (due later this year), they will begin to label all pages accessed over HTTP as “Not Secure”. This will force the hand of website owners to switch to HTTPS to avoid scaring away visitors with this glaring warning.

If your website is not currently taking advantage of HTTPS, we recommend making the switch at your earliest convenience!

Update: A professional HTTP to HTTPS conversion service for WordPress websites is now available for Varial Hosting customers.

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Introducing Server Side Caching For Joomla and Drupal

April 12, 2018

Joomla and Drupal users, get ready for a major performance boost!

LiteSpeed Cache, the caching plugin allowing Varial Hosting customers to achieve lightning fast WordPress performance is now available for Joomla and Drupal!

Our server side cache can make your website load hundreds of times faster and reach many more visitors.

Improve your website performance today by installing our LiteSpeed Cache plugins:

How to install LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla
How to install LiteSpeed Cache for Drupal
How to install LiteSpeed Cache for WordPress

Need help installing these plugins? Simply contact our Support department and we’ll install them for you free of charge!

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Varial Featured on Top 10 Website Hosting

April 11, 2018

UK review site, Top 10 Website Hosting recently caught up with our CEO Ryan Smith for an interview and review of our services.

Learn more about our optimized WordPress hosting service and origins of our company by clicking here to read the article!

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Content Delivery Network Expands to 150 Locations Including Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg

April 2, 2018

CloudFlare, our content delivery network partner recently expanded their network to 150 cities across the world, including points of presence in three new Canadian cities, Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

With our company and data center located in Saskatoon, this is particularly exciting news for us as CloudFlare is now a participant in the Saskatoon Internet Exchange and can interconnect locally with our data center partner to exchange traffic faster and with lower latency.

Varial Hosting customers can easily activate the CloudFlare content delivery network from their cPanel control panels by following this guide:
https://varialhosting.com/support/faq/hosting/#cloudflare

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WordPress Cache Plugin Updated to v2.0

March 9, 2018

LiteSpeed Cache, the caching plugin allowing Varial Hosting customers to achieve lightning fast Wordpress performance has just been updated to version 2.0. This new version includes big improvements to image optimization, bug fixes and more.

Customers can update this plugin through their WordPress admins or install it by following this guide: https://varialhosting.com/support/faq/wordpress/#caching

Changelog:

v2.0

  • [NEW FEATURE] Image Optimization Added level up guidance.
  • [REFACTOR] Image Optimization Refactored Image Optimization class.
  • [IAPI] Image Optimization New European Image Optimization server (EU2).
  • [IMPROVEMENT] Image Optimization Manual pull action continues pulling until complete.
  • [IMPROVEMENT] CDN Multiple CDNs can now be randomized for a single resource.
  • [IMPROVEMENT] Image Optimization Improved compatibility of long src images.
  • [IMPROVEMENT] Image Optimization Reduced runtime load.
  • [IMPROVEMENT] Image Optimization Avoid potential loss/reset of notified images status when pulling.
  • [IMPROVEMENT] Image Optimization Avoid duplicated optimization for multiple records in Media that have the same image source.
  • [IMPROVEMENT] Image Optimization Fixed issue where phantom images continued to show in not-yet-requested queue.
  • [BUGFIX] Core Improved compatibility when upgrading outside of WP Admin. (@jikatal @TylorB)
  • [BUGFIX] Crawler Improved HTTP/2 compatibility to avoid erroneous blacklisting.
  • [BUGFIX] Crawler Changing Delay setting will use server variable for min value validation if set.
  • [UPDATE] Crawler Added HTTP/2 protocol switch in the Crawler settings.
  • [UPDATE] Removed unnecessary translation strings.
  • [GUI] Display translated role group name string instead of English values. (@Richard Hordern)
  • [GUI] Added Join LiteSpeed Slack link.
  • [GUI] Import / Export Cosmetic changes to Import Settings file field.
  • [INTEGRATION] Improved compatibility with WPML Media for Image Optimization. (@szmigieldesign)
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