Managing Your FatCow Account

By Jessica Ann
March 19, 2015

Managing Your FatCow Account

It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of building and launching a website that we neglect basic account maintenance tasks. There are several simple ways to use your Control Panel to make sure your account is running at peak accuracy and efficiency. Password changes, contact information updates, customer alerts and account ownership are among the most important account management issues, so let’s talk about them.

Password Changes

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Please don’t use the same password everywhere. It is super insecure and makes you vulnerable to the will of evil hackers everywhere. It’s a good policy to change your passwords on a fixed schedule, like once, or twice or three times a year.

Change your FatCow password by starting at the Control Panel. Click Change Password and type your new password into the New Password text boxes. There are two so we can be sure you meant to set the password you typed.

Consider using a password manager like 1Password or LastPass to generate a secure password. Your new FatCow password will have to be strong or very secure, the top two of our four categories of password. The last thing you want is someone getting their hands on the administrative side of your website.

Weak passwords have only letters and numbers. “Fair” passwords add a special character. Both have only six characters. A strong password will include two numbers, an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter and a special character. A very secure password will have eight characters, two numbers, two special characters, an uppercase letter and a lowercase letter.

Additional Password Security

For those of you who are security geeks, we should note that your password can be no longer than 45 characters. For everyone else, remember you can’t use your username as your password, you can’t re-use one of the last three passwords you have used, and your browser will need to allow cookies on our website.

Remember to make a strong password for the email account you use with us, as well. After all, if someone can break into your email account, they can use our Password Reset tool to take over your FatCow account no matter how strong your FatCow password is. If you think this may have been done to you, contact us right away.

CGI Scripting on FatCow’s Platform

CGI Scripting on FatCow’s Platform

There are two kinds of FatCow customers: the geeks and everyone else. We love you all, but this one is for the geeks. Developers who need to build custom functionality into their website have a lot of options with FatCow. Our Knowledgebase covers those options in great detail, but this is a good overview.

Choose Your Language

CGI, or Common Gateway Interface, is a way to run scripts written in various programming languages on your FatCow account. You can use Perl, PHP and shell scripts to enhance your site with dynamic content like bulletin boards, polls and behind-the-scenes analytics. This extends your website’s capabilities beyond the HTML and CSS that power most static websites.

You can’t currently use Java servlets on FatCow because we want to provide the maximum amount of security for all of the websites hosted with us. However, we have large Enhanced Script Library with tools like a click-through counter and a form email script. Log into your FatCow account and then click over to the library and have a look.

You’ll have to make sure your scripts use the right file extensions to ensure they run. Perl scripts need .pl or .cgi extensions, PHP scripts need .php, .phtml, .php3, or /php5, Python scripts need a .py extension and SSI files require an .shtml or shtm extension.

Setup and Troubleshooting

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You don’t have to worry about manually directing your scripts to the right server path, though. Our CGI servers will intelligently direct them all to /usr/local/bin/perl/. This should make preparing your scripts a little easier. We want you focused on making your website awesome, not trying to find the right path for your scripts.

We also keep error logs so you can exterminate bugs. The most recent errors are appended to the bottom of the log. Our error logging begins with the date and time of the error in EST. Our customers outside Eastern Standard Time can use this handy link to find out the current time in EST. Next you’ll see the path to the file that generated the error, and then a description of the error itself.

If a particular error has you confused, search the web for answers (we like Stack Exchange). Just make sure you remove your own URL from the path because no one else is seeing your error logs. Unless there’s a parallel universe in which you’re building the exact same website with the exact same scripts. We tried to do the math, but suffice to say that’s highly unlikely (although it would be cool).

Anyway, if you find a script that worked yesterday isn’t working right today, get in touch with us to ask whether we’ve upgraded our server architecture. That can sometimes break absolute file paths and we can show you how to use symbolic paths that won’t break.

One final note: your scripts have 60 seconds to do their job every time they’re run, then we terminate them so you don’t slow down everyone else’s site. If you’re using scripting, chances are that you’re awesome enough to make that small restriction work for you. While we can’t provide support for many scripting issues, we will always try to help you with platform migration, FormMail.pl, scripts that used to work but suddenly don’t, and making sure scripts run on your account if that’s part of your plan.

How to Manage VAT with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
March 5, 2015

How to Manage VAT with FatCow

We want to avoid the obvious pun. We really do. But we can’t help it. We just had to: So, here it goes: Welcome to VATcow.

This one is for our customers in the European Union. The Value Added Tax is applied to consumer spending throughout the European Union. We don’t include VAT in our advertised prices, but we make it clear on our itemized invoices and in your billing account.

FatCow offers our services all across the European Union. As a result, we’re required to comply with VAT regulations despite being based in the United States. Our E.U. business customers may need to self-account under E.U. regulations. If you follow the instructions below, we’ll tell you whether or not that is the case or whether we will charge it for you.

Supply Your Own VAT Registration Number

Business and charities with VAT registration numbers can provide them to FatCow from within the Control Panel. Log in and go to the Account Management section. Then click on the Change Account Info.

Next click the link under the Primary Account Information section that reads “To update your VAT information please click here.” You’ll have to select the radio button for your account, whether it’s Personal, Business or Charity. We’ll use Business for this example.

After you select Business, enter your Business Name and then, in the second text box, the appropriate VAT Registration Number. Double-check the information you entered. Finally, click Update Account Use Information.

Supply the VAT Registration Number for your Reseller Clients

We know many of our customers use FatCow with their own customers. Our Reseller Program lets you provide FatCow services to your own clients. But that means you’ll have to help us comply with VAT regulations. It’s important to keep in mind that even our United States customers must deal with VAT when they have E.U. clients.

Your clients in the E.U. who receive invoices through FatCow need to give you their VAT Registration Number. Head back to the Control Panel, Account Management, and Change Account Info. Click the link under the Primary Account Information box. Choose the type of account you manage for your client, enter their business name and then add their VAT Registration Number. Double-check it again and click Update Account Use Information.

And there you go. Why make things hard when “Vatcow” makes managing the VAT easy?

FatCow Database Management

By Jessica Ann
February 26, 2015

FatCow Database Management

datachart

We know some of you are geekier than others. Your needs go beyond basic WordPress installations, e-commerce setups and website security. And some of you want to do database management.

But such things are not for the faint of heart. The slightest misstep in your database could cause drastic consequences – like accidentally making something disappear from your website.

That’s why our digital overlords (aka Bob the SysAdmin) invented the backup. We integrate database backup directly into your FatCow Control Panel.

How to Export your MySQL Database

Log in and go to MySQL Database. You may have more than one database in there, so either choose the one you’re about to modify or just back them all up. It’s probably never a bad idea to back up all the things, ever.

But you’ll have to do them one at a time to be safe. Click the Access phpMyAdmin icon in the column to the right of your username. Then, choose a database from the left sidebar and head to the Export tab.

Next, if your database is less than 10 MB in size, you’ll want to click Select All to make sure you’re exporting all of the tables from that database. Now all you’ll have to do is click Save As File and, if you want, choose a compression format.

If your database is larger than 10MB, though, you should consider exporting it in multiple groups of several tables at a time. The maximum file size when you’re importing your database elsewhere is always 10 MB. Trying to restore a database larger than 10 MB all at once will likely result in groans of annoyance, facepalms and a sense that the machines are winning.

A database only slightly larger than 10 MB may be small enough to re-upload later if you compress it before downloading. Once you’ve made your decision, click Go and you’ve successfully exported your database.

How to Import your MySQL Database

You’re going to start at the Control Panel again, in the same MySQL section you use to export databases. This time, though, you want to click Add Database. You’ll have to give it a name and create a user so you can access it later.

Click Add Database and then click on the name of your new database. You can upload an exported database in the Access phpMyAdmin section. Your database will be in the left panel, so select it.

Press Import and Choose File and find the exported database file you want to upload. Your imported database entries should populate the new database you just created. Congratulations, you’re officially a database management geek.

How and Why to Use Akamai on FatCow

By Jessica Ann
February 20, 2015

How and Why to Use Akamai on FatCow

We’ve hired brilliant geeks to set-up, optimize and maintain our servers in Boston. We know speed is vitally important to the success of any site. That’s why we supplement our brilliant geeks with optional Akamai edge server caching.

network

We know what you’re thinking: Akamai what? Edge server caching is a fancy way of saying that Akamai stores copies of your site’s content on its servers all over the world. That means that when someone visits your site, instead of downloading it directly from our Boston servers, they’ll get it from the Akamai location closest to them.

This is more important than ever these days because high resolution mobile and tablet devices require larger files than ever to truly look beautiful. Content such as images, CSS styling and JavaScript are cached by Akamai. The HTML of your site still comes from our servers, but Akamai helps it find the fastest path to each visitor.

Akamai with FatCow Nameservers

Akamai is integrated into our service, so if you buy it from within your FatCow account and are using FatCow nameservers, we do much of the setup work for you. We change your site’s DNS records so all traffic requests for your site are diverted to Akamai’s servers. This can take anywhere from two to 24 hours, so please be patient.

We also automatically flip some switches behind the scenes to enable browser caching for your site. Browser caching works together with rerouting through Akamai for maximum speed optimization. Finally, we’ll add “www” to your website address, even when people don’t enter it, to help Akamai avoid conflict with your base domain.

Akamai with External Nameservers

We know some of you use other nameservers. If you want to come back into the FatCow nameserver fold, read about how to update your nameservers. If you’re doing just fine with your external nameservers, no worries. You can still use Akamai caching.

You’ll have to go to your domain’s settings and find the screen where you can edit your DNS configuration. You’re going to create two new CNAME records. First, create a CNAME record pointing www.yourdomain.com to fatcow-cust.com.edgekey.net. Then create a CNAME record pointing origin-www.yourdomain.com to yourdomain.com. You can route other subdomains of your website through Akamai by repeating the first step and replacing www with the subdomain you want to route.

If your site is image heavy, or if speed is extra important to your success, such as with an e-commerce store, Akamai edge server caching is a great way to improve performance. Your site will look the same to your visitors, but load times will decrease and downloads should also be faster. Maybe we should change our name to FastCow?

Nah, we like our name.

E-Commerce with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
February 11, 2015

People come to FatCow to host their websites for all sorts of reasons. Some want to establish a way for customers contact them. Others want to connect with like-minded folks. But those who want to sell their products and services on their website need a unique set of features from their web host.

We offer a suite of services meant to make selling on your website as easy as possible. You can let your visitors browse your products and add them to a shopping cart, process credit card payments, and reassure customers that their transactions are secure. Now all you need is something to sell.

Shopping Cart

shoppingcart

There’s something about bringing the real world onto the internet in metaphorical form that’s fun. That’s why the system for letting customers gather items to purchase on your website is called a “shopping cart.”

We offer a shopping cart system called Ecwid. Our customers love it for many reasons. For example, it works on desktop and mobile devices, including tablets. It powers more than 40,000 stores selling via Facebook. And you can have it up and running in minutes.

You can use your Ecwid interface on FatCow to manage sales across multiple websites, social networks and third-party marketplaces like Amazon. Check out our page about Ecwid for more details.

If you want to try to sell stuff online but don’t want to deal with inventory and shipping, try our Doba offering. More than 200 suppliers let you offer visitors more than 1.5 million name-brand products for sale. They deal with the logistics so you can focus on the presentation and user experience of your sales site.

Credit Cards

If your visitors fill up their shopping cart only to face a confusing user experience when they try to pay, there’s a better way. We help you do it right by integrating PayPal. PayPal also includes shipping and tax calculators, international currency manager and useful reporting tools.

It’s a quick no-hassle way to accept payments. Customers from across the world have the same easy checkout experience as those across the street. Finally, it’s affordable no matter how big or small your business.

Security

Data security is in the news more than ever before. People demand a safe transaction, and even the slightest concern will send them packing. That’s why we offer Secure Socket Layer Certificates. SSL certificates tell the browser a site is the one it claims to be. They also confirm that sensitive information is being transmitted over an encrypted connection.

If you’re dealing with extremely sensitive information you can even consider an Extended Validation SSL Certificate. Many people will look for signs of security on your website before they trust you with financial or other sensitive information. And even if people don’t question your site’s security, all it takes is one data breach to potentially destroy your reputation.

How to Make the Most of FatCow’s Knowledgebase

By Jessica Ann
February 4, 2015

FatCow provides a variety of services to our customers. Some people only need one or two of those services. Many of you like the convenience of managing as much of your web presence with us as possible. We have built our Knowledgebase so that customers of all levels can quickly find answers to their questions.

We like the name “Knowledgebase” partially because it sounds like a spaceship full of scholars protecting all of the knowledge that exists in the universe.

We also like the name because it has a “home base” connotation that fits its purpose. It’s the place to start, or to refer back to if you have any questions or concerns. We love talking to you. You’re smart and clever. But sometimes you need immediate answers. When this happens, the Knowledgebase is the place to go.

Plan Ahead with the Knowledgebase

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We have divided the most important information about our services into 19 different categories. Beneath those you’ll find a list of our five most popular Knowledgebase articles. Next to that, we feature some of our most useful tutorials.

There is also a search box though, for those times when you know you have a question but you’re not quite sure what category you can find it in. There’s a wealth of information about getting started with your website, marketing it, and even about setting up e-commerce so you can sell products and services on your FatCow-hosted site. You can plan your entire launch, step by step (from design to sales) all from within our Knowledgebase.

This is useful for potential customers as well as for those who have already made the brilliant decision of working with us. We publish as much information about our offerings so that you can be educated and entertained about what we do. This hopefully means that you’re better informed and ready to work with us.

Use the Knowledgebase to Solve Problems

You can also use the Knowledgebase to troubleshoot any issues or difficulties you may have. For example, if you get stuck somewhere behind the scenes, the Accounts section is where to start. If you have trouble with accessing or manipulating your email, there’s a comprehensive collection of articles in the Knowledgebase about that too.

A common issue involves getting a new credit or debit card. This means your old one will stop working at some point, and when we try to bill you we may not be able to charge you the right fee. We think you’re great. And we love what we do. But we have to charge something for what we do or we won’t be able to keep doing it. That’s why we make it so easy to update your billing information.

Whatever you need, we’re confident our spaceship scholars (err…Knowledgebase) has the information to get you back on track. If you dig around in the Knowledgebase and still aren’t sure what to do, check out our Support Console. And if all else fails, head over to our Contact page to get in touch with us.

How to Understand FatCow’s Green Web Hosting

By Jessica Ann
January 28, 2015

We here at FatCow like to think we’re pretty awesome. We provide tools for hosting and building personal sites, business sites and e-commerce sites. But the offering we’re most proud of is our move to green web hosting.

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What do you mean by GREEN?

Let’s talk about what exactly it means when we say “green.” We don’t mean jealous, or good in the garden, or queasy after a rollercoaster. When we say green we mean friendly to the massive combination of rocks and water on which we all live.

A company goes green by deriving part or all of its resources with environmentally sustainable methods. It can also mean that a company’s products or services are environmentally sustainable. Of course, sometimes it means both.

Sustainability focuses on renewable resources, minimal impact on the surrounding environment, natural, non-destructive energy production whenever possible. While much of the technology used to do those things has been around for a long time, many industries have been slow to adopt it. Green energy can be generated in-house, for example using solar panels installed on the roof of your home or office building. But it can also be generated by a third party and sold to businesses interested in offsetting their environmental impact in the form of certificates.

FatCow’s Renewable Energy Certificates

We wish we had hundreds of acres of rolling grasslands on which to install a massive collection of windmills stretching far beyond the visible horizon. We really do. But we’re too busy building and maintaining top-notch data centers to keep up with all that landscaping.

We purchase what are known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Our purchase of RECs offsets our energy use by funding the creation of wind energy. That wind energy results in an overall reduction in the amount of fossil fuels used to power the energy grid.

We get our certificates from Community Energy Inc., who have been in the business of helping people go green for more than 15 years. The company has wind and solar energy projects all over the country. Thanks to our partnership with CEI, our webhosting is 100% wind powered.

What does wind-powered hosting mean for you?

Going green gave us all at FatCow a warm, fuzzy feeling. Well, it was actually more of a windy feeling (considering the source of our energy). But it’s hard to market a windy feeling, so let’s stick with warm and fuzzy. We think you’ll feel just as good about building a website with 100% wind energy, too.

But there are selfless acts we do because they are good, without regard to whether anyone ever knows we did them. Then there are win-win situations, where we can feel good about what we did and also tell the whole world. This isn’t as selfish as it sounds, you know, because the more people who work with companies like us who have gone green, the better off the planet will be.

See, win-win. In that win-win spirit, we’ve carefully crafted several badges you can place somewhere on your own website to let visitors know your web host is a fat, green cow. Market studies showed that while fat cows are cute, making the color green severely decreases their likability (possibly due to the association of green with…aliens).

Instead we use badges that simply and clearly state that your site is eco-friendly. You can see examples here. Select your own by logging into your FatCow Control Panel and heading to the Badges section. Congratulations, you’ve gone green with us, and now everybody knows it. This may inspire even more people to go green, which we think is awesome!

How to Use Sitelock and SSL with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
January 20, 2015

 

 

Every website has a reputation. It is a combination of search engine optimization and your standing with anti-spam services. If you don’t keep things tidy, you may be blacklisted. That’s why FatCow offers SiteLock Reputation Management.

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SiteLock Reputation Protection

Your reputation will continually improve as long as you keep secure and free of spam. When something strange does occur, deal with it quickly so you can recover. There are a few important steps you should take to get started with reputation management.

Our WP Essentials package comes with a free SiteLock Professional credit. Even the most basic SiteLock plan, the Find plan, includes scanning your site’s files for malware and speeding up your load times with a content delivery network. Compare [our other SiteLock plans](https://secure.fatcow.com/product/sitelock/) to figure out which is best for your site.

The SiteLock seal is a simple way to give your customers peace of mind. A new data breach is in the news every month, which means people are more careful about where they spend their money online. Use FatCow’s SiteLock services] to be sure you’re among the trusted.

SSL Upgrades

First, consider using SLL, or Secure Sockets Layer, encryption. It proves your site is what it says it is and secures communications between your visitors and your server. Once you have one you’ll have to make sure it’s valid. If it expires, communications will no longer be secure.

FatCow offers two types of SSL, standard and shared. Standard SSL works as described above. Shared SSL is present on all of your sites and basically certifies that your site is a valid FatCow subdomain. That’s geek-speak for “safe-to-buy-stuff-from.”

Quick SSL Premium is an intermediate step backed by the Equifax Secure Certificate Authority. It enables 128-bit encryption and a dynamic site seal with the date and time stamp of the last security scan of your site. And it comes with up to $100,000 of insurance coverage for loss of use, theft or corruption.

We offer True BusinessID with Extended Validation SSL for those whose sites require maximum security visibility. It provides all of the benefits of Quick SSL Premium, plus 256-bit encryption. These are issued by online security leaders GeoTrust Primary Certificate Authority.

True Business ID also enables a green address bar on your site, telling your customers that your site is highly authenticated, trustworthy, and safe. It is visual confirmation that your customers can trust you with their purchasing information.

A site seal which includes your company’s name and free technical web, phone and email support round out the True BusinessID package. But, just because we think you’re pretty great, there’s $50,000 more insurance compared to Quick SSL Premium, for up to $150,000 of coverage.

How To Make Your New Blog a Success

By Jessica Ann
January 12, 2015

 

We offer an awesome WordPress hosting package, but we know not everyone was born a blogger. There are some easy things you can do to make your blog successful. And there are some great ways to interact with other bloggers. Here are a few:

Consistency

The most important thing about a successful blog is consistency. You don’t need to write one hundred posts a day. But you should stick to a particular frequency. Start with one post a week, on the same day and around the same time each week.

It’s easy to get caught up in choosing a host (we already know you’re really good at that, well done!), picking out a theme, and customizing your blog to look and act exactly how you want it. But at the end of the day blogging is all about the content. What are you writing?

You have to enjoy the topics you write about. You have to want to write about it all the time if you’re going to remain consistent. More importantly, you have to be original, and tell readers something new every time.

Interacting With Other Bloggers

Half the fun of starting a blog is building up a loyal readership. But the other half is about joining the ranks of the millions of bloggers around the world. Whatever the topic of your blog, however specific, you’re sure to find others writing about similar subjects.

One way to find like-minded bloggers is to head to the homepage of your platform of choice. For example, if you have a WordPress.com account, you can use several different tools to find blogs like your own. View your Reader page and scroll down the left sidebar to the Tags section.

Type in a topic you’re interested in or that you cover on your own blog and browse the results. Visit some and subscribe to the best ones. Leave thoughtful comments on their posts. Don’t post links to your own blog in comments or you’ll risk being flagged as a spammer. People can find your blog through your profile. You just have to contribute to the conversation.

Bloggers who use Twitter (and you should!) usually put a link on their blog to their Twitter profile. Head over there and follow them. You can also do an easy Google search for “best [TOPIC] blogs” to discover blogs in your subject area.

The best way to interact with other bloggers is to find them and start commenting on their articles. You’ll gain readers, build a reputation and may even be asked to do a guest post on someone else’s blog.

Don’t Forget Visuals

There is plenty of data suggesting images help a blog grow traffic. The reason for this is relatively simple: images are more eye-catching than plain text, and they especially stand out on social networks. Break up the monotony of a Twitter feed or get added to someone’s Pinterest by including interesting images in your blog posts.

Once upon a time it was difficult to find images you could use on your blog without risking a copyright violation. Those days are over. For example, the social media company Buffer has compiled a list of more than 50 free image sources. There’s no excuse for publishing blog posts without an engaging image or two.

Quality visuals encourage your readers to share your content by making them more likely to get feedback like comments and repins. You can only look at so much plain text before your eyes start to hurt – and what you’re reading starts to feel like work. Do you know why a lot of people read blogs? It’s a break from doing work!

If you can publish consistently, seek out and engage like-minded bloggers and give your readers something eye-catching to share, you’ll be on your way to a successful blog. The first step though is to take a break from reading our blog and start writing something for yours. So go, write, and hit publish. Or if you need extra help, hire a writer or a creative agency to create content for you.

Good luck!