Navigation indicator

WordPress 5.0 is Now Available

December 10, 2018

WordPress 5.0 has landed and introduces a new block-based visual editor and the new Twenty Nineteen default theme. Check out the WordPress 5.0 release notes for all of the new features available in this major version update!

Varial Hosting customers who have automatic upgrades enabled through Installatron have been automatically upgraded to this new version. All other users may manually upgrade using Installatron or from their WordPress administrative areas.

Default PHP version to be changed to 5.6 on December 1, 2018

November 1, 2018

In the coming months cPanel will be discontinuing their current web stack, in use on our Lockhart, Malfoy, Sirius and Snape servers, in favour of a new, modular system that allows for easy, automatic upgrades of its many components.

We have been preparing for this change for many months, planning the best way to proceed to minimize the impact to our customers. After much testing we have created an upgrade plan that we feel will be the easiest for our customers and introduce the least amount of changes.

On December 1, 2018, all customers who have their PHP version set to our “Native” or default version of PHP will be switched to our alternate, hardened version of PHP 5.6 that is supplied by our operating system and security vendor, CloudLinux.

Customers using Native PHP on our Lockhart, Malfoy and Sirius servers will see their PHP versions changed from 5.4 to 5.6. Customers on our Snape server will remain on PHP 5.6, but will be switched from cPanel’s Native PHP version to CloudLinux’s hardened version of PHP 5.6.

This change will only impact customers who have their PHP version set to “Native” on our Lockhart, Malfoy, Sirius and Snape servers. If you have previously changed your PHP version from Native PHP to an alternate version, you will remain on your current PHP version and will not be affected by this change.

As we have offered customers the ability to change their PHP version from cPanel for many years, you can feel free to make this change in advance of December 1st if you’d like to test your website running under PHP 5.6, or even with newer versions like PHP 7.2 which offers significant performance improvements over PHP 5.

Customers on our Lockhart, Malfoy and Sirius servers can also change to our hardened version of PHP 5.4 if you wish keep your PHP version the same as you are currently using.

To make this change in advance of December 1st, please follow this guide to change your PHP version from your cPanel control panel, or contact our Support department and we’d be happy to apply this change for you.

Once all customers are switched off of Native PHP on December 1st, we will then schedule the upgrade to cPanel’s new, modular web stack at a later date in December.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Support department for assistance.

Progress:

Lockhart: Completed
Malfoy: Completed
Sirius: Completed
Snape: Completed

Changes to Default Options for Alternative PHP Versions

November 1, 2018

To prepare our servers for upcoming web stack upgrades, the following changes have been applied to our default PHP options for alternative PHP versions.

These changes only affect customers who have changed their PHP version from “Native” to an alternate PHP version on our Lockhart, Malfoy, Sirius and Snape servers.

allow_url_fopen = Off (previously On)
date.timezone = America/Regina (previously undefined)
disable_functions = exec, passthru, popen, proc_open, shell_exec, show_source, system (previously undefined)
max_input_time = 60 (previously -1)
post_max_size = 64M (previously 8M)
upload_max_filesize = 32M (previously 2M)

All of these options are user configurable and can be changed from within cPanel.

cPanel Updated to v74 Across All Servers

September 5, 2018

The latest major release of cPanel is now available to all Varial Hosting customers. Version 74 includes improvements to the new Git Version Control feature, improved domain validation to reduce hiccups when issuing SSL certificates and automated spammer detection to prevent spam from sending from our servers.

More details on all the new features can be found at:
https://releases.cpanel.com/

Google Chrome Removes “Secure” Label From HTTPS Websites

September 4, 2018

Google released version 69 of their Chrome browser today which further reinforces their opinion that HTTPS is required for all websites by removing the green “Secure” label previously displayed on HTTPS websites.

Now only a simple lock icon will display to indicate that you are visiting a HTTPS website.

Eventually the lock icon and all indicators will be removed from HTTPS websites and only a red “Not Secure” warning will be displayed on HTTP pages to reinforce that HTTPS is the new standard that all websites should be using.

If your website is not currently using HTTPS by default, we recommend reading our previous article for more information or order our HTTP to HTTPS conversion service for WordPress websites if you require assistance making these changes.

 

Stop Malware with Proactive Defense

August 2, 2018

One of the biggest innovations in website security is now available to all Varial Hosting customers!

Unlike traditional approaches that scan and remove malware from infected websites, Proactive Defense analyzes the behaviour of PHP code in realtime and stops dangerous executions, preventing malware from running in the first place.

Thousands of malware samples were analyzed to develop heuristics to distinguish malicious behavior from legitimate activity. By analyzing running PHP code and detecting dangerous executions in realtime, Proactive Defense is able to stop both known and zero-day malware in its tracks!

Top security researcher Patrick William of Rack911 Labs has said this of Proactive Defense:

“After extensively testing Proactive Defense, we’re confident that it will stop almost all malware in realtime. Combined with the other features of Imunify360, there is nothing else on the market that offers such a high level of security.”

After weeks of testing, not a single false positive has been reported and Proactive Defense has now been enabled as part of our Imunify360 security package for all Varial Hosting customers!

Google Chrome Now Labelling All HTTP Websites As “Not Secure”

July 24, 2018

Today is the big day! With the release of version 68 of the Chrome browser, Google now labels all websites accessed over HTTP as “Not Secure”.

What does the “Not Secure” warning mean?

The “Not Secure” warning does not mean your website has been hacked or has a vulnerability. It simply means that the connection from your browser to the website you are visiting is not encrypted.

Google is leading the push for an encrypted web and is using this warning to force website owners to switch to the HTTPS protocol, or risk scaring away your visitors.

How do I enable HTTPS?

To use HTTPS, your website must have a valid SSL certificate installed for your domain name. The good news is that Varial Hosting provides free SSL certificates for all domains hosted on our servers!

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/

Updating your website for HTTPS

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 even speed up your website.

Switching to HTTPS may be as easy as redirecting all traffic from http://www.yourdomain.com/ to https://www.yourdomain.com/, however changes to your website code may be required to make your website compatible with HTTPS.

Whether your website will require extensive changes or not really depends on how it has been coded.

We recommend reading over the following articles for more information on how to prepare 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?

Please note that it is the responsibility of our customers to update their websites for HTTPS compatibility. If you require assistance with this we recommend consulting with a web design firm to help you to make these changes.

Due to the overwhelming number of questions we are receiving about this, we are now offering a professional HTTP to HTTPS conversion service for WordPress websites for Varial Hosting customers who would prefer to have our experienced staff make these changes for you.

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

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

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