Improving Website Speed

One of the areas I have been looking at in June and July is the apparent slowness of some, but not all websites, this can be intermittent and influenced by other things happening on the same server. The guidance below covers the sorts of things I will check if someone reports this. If you think your website is slow, follow this checklist to rule out some of the factors that may be responsible. There are also tips below on how to improve your performance. If you need help please contact me and I will take a look for you.

What is “normal”?

What performance should you expect is really the first question. It depends on what you are doing. If you are not logged in and a normal user viewing the website, you should expect the site to load in under 5 seconds, in my experience in 3.5 seconds but I am on a very fast internet connection. It may take a little longer to locate the site the first time you access it, but after the site has been located use that as your guide. If it is consistently taking >10 seconds to load, then it is a problem that needs to be checked out.

Normal of course is also determined by your internet download speed. If that is the bottle neck, then your performance may be slower.  Continue reading Improving Website Speed

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Securing mail from your website to a mailbox

By default a wordpress installation uses a method of sending mail that does not use a mailbox to send the message and does not encrypt the message. Email cannot be confirmed to be end to end secure unless you know the receiving or sending person is using encryption and is set up correctly; you can encrypt mail in the places where you control email so that it is encrypted from the website to the mailbox. If it is your mailbox, and you know that your mail client is set up correctly with encryption, then you have end to end security. If the website is running over SSL and the address starts with https:// (98% of them are now), then a user entering information into a form is also encrypted. So the path from the users browser, through your contact form, from the website to your receiving mailbox is encrypted and cannot be intercepted as plain text.

How do I make the changes

Log into your website and go to Plugins.
Seatch for WP Mail SMTP, locate it and install it. Continue reading Securing mail from your website to a mailbox

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Do You Send Newsletters?

New recommendations for Newsletters

Some of you are using Mailpoet on your websites to generate newsletters. I have run into a lot of problems sending out my newsletter this month, I have had to send it three times. I checked through my logs and found that a very small number came out last month as well. I have been investigating what has happened.  The top two entries in the image below show there is a problem because rather than a 65%+  opening rate, there is a 4% opening rate.

Continue reading Do You Send Newsletters?

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Changes to Updraftplus

In another article on this site I refer to some issues with Updraftplus the backup plugin we use on all sites. One of the things that has happened over the past three months is the settings have been corrupted.  Where this has happened there are a wide range of symptoms, I will not go into them here.

Reset the configuration

I have been advised by Updraftplus to reset the configuration (effectively means erase the settings and set them up again). If your site was backing up to an external dropbox that either I set up for you, or you set up, it is no longer doing so. The settings for your dropbox authentication have been lost as a result of the reset process. I could not avoid it.  Continue reading Changes to Updraftplus

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What you don’t know can’t kill you

For many charities they may independently buy hosting and build a website, or someone else builds it for them and they don’t take any more action. There is a flaw in this, not all website hosting works as smoothly as you may think it does, and as you will see in this article, sometimes things happen which will substantially break a site, ….. and you are unaware of it.

Over the past two weeks I have raised around 10 support cases with the hosting provider we are using. They have been brilliant over the past year, I don’t have any regrets moving to them, the sites are generally trouble free. Since we moved to them last year, I have raised 178 support cases on your behalf, you never knew that did you? Continue reading What you don’t know can’t kill you

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Changes to incorporate SSL

With GDPR coming along shortly, I am working my way around the hosting accounts and where it is possible, I am enabling a security certificate for each domain.

Unlike the previous hosting we were in, this one offers free security certificates, they normally cost around £75 per year. They are free to me, so they are free to you.

What does this mean?

It means that when a visitor comes to your website they do not go to http:// they go to https:// the “s” is important because it means the data going to and from the website is generally* encrypted. I will explain why I have said “generally” in a moment”.  SSL means Secure Socket Layer.

What is particularly important is anything entered into a form is encrypted between the user and the website, and therefore nobody can intercept it on the wire. When your site was first built we were not able to use SSL certificates, and all requests and data entered between a client and the server were in plain text. If they could be intercepted then they could be read.  Continue reading Changes to incorporate SSL

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Hosting Costs Change

Since I started providing hosting and email for everyone I have been providing it for £48 per year, with a few exceptions where there was high usage or multiple accounts. I have not increased those charges for six years. With GDPR coming in, there are some additional measures that can be made to help protect the integrity of your website.

With effect from April 1st 2018 , all hosting renewals will increase to £5 per month, £60 per year. Currently within the hosting arrangement all sites are backed up each week and several copies week’s worth of copies are stored in the hosting, generally between 3 and 6. I also visit each site and check it four times a year, so my service is a little more than just providing space on a server.  Continue reading Hosting Costs Change

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Webmail…..

… is not JUST webmail

I thought I would make some comments here following some conversations I have had recently with people. There may be some misunderstandings.

Multiple 10GB mail boxes

If you are using the mail accounts provided with the hosting, the mail boxes are each 10GB in size. While you can access them through this address: https://stackmail.com you can also access them through ANY device with a mail client (aka mail program).

I personally access my mail account on the following devices:

iPhone, iPad (using the native email application), Macbook using Mac mail, iMac using Mac mail, Windows 7 desktop running Outlook & Thunderbird, Windows 10 laptop running Outlook and on any of those devices I can also use a browser to get to webmail. I also run my accounts as IMAP. This means on each device, I get the same view of my mail including any special folders I have set up. This is because I am viewing mail on the server, and not locally. If I was set up as POP3 on my clients, then the server is only used as temporary storage for mail.  Continue reading Webmail…..

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Problems with Webmail?

Over the last 4-6 weeks a few people have reported seeing an error reported by webmail. The hosting company has reviewed this some weeks back now and made changes, and now it happens less frequently. If you see any error messages while accessing website (or anywhere else) please take a screenshot (press the print screen button) and paste the screenshot into a word document, or an image file. Send it to me with the following information:

  • The time it occurred. (very important)
  • What you were doing
  • What the IP address of your computer is. You can find this out by googling “what is my IP”

Continue reading Problems with Webmail?

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