Staying Secure with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
May 21, 2015

It’s no secret that hackers hunt for vulnerable systems and valuable information like passwords and credit card numbers. And often they get away with it. But how? It comes down to one word: Ignorance. This is why it’s important to be knowledgeable enough to make your websites and other accounts more secure.

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For example, it’s important to understand the difference between malware and hacking. Malware, or malicious software, is any program that can degrade or disable the security on your computer or your website (or, in some cases, both). The act of hacking is more direct, often involving a targeted attack against one system. Many hackers use malware to break open the door to your system and then use their hacking skills to make off with your credentials, data or identity.

Email accounts, website logins and hosting accounts contain sensitive information about you and perhaps even about your customers. A failure to maintain security can cost you privacy or even destroy your credit or your business. This is why FatCow takes security very seriously.

Here are some simple ways that you can do the same:

1. Be Wary

We get links from friends, family and coworkers for use in communicating, staying informed and getting our work done. But some links are not what they seem, and can result in a malware infection on your computer or website. Be wary of links from email addresses or social media posts whose sender you don’t recognize. Even if you do recognize the sender, if a link includes a URL you don’t recognize, or comes from someone who hardly ever contacts you, think twice before clicking it.

2. Be Certain

Be certain that the site you think you’re on is really the one it appears to be. Some hackers will build replicas of popular sites like Facebook or banking pages to trick people into entering private information. Always ensure that the domain name in your browser’s URL bar matches the website you intend to be using.

3. Secure Your Passwords

Passwords are another potential vulnerability. We have some tips to maximize the security your passwords provide, but you can find more information here. First, don’t use the same password everywhere. This is an easy way to give hackers the keys to every single account you possess. Second, don’t use a predictable password, like your dog’s name or the street you grew up on. Hackers can use social engineering tactics such as calls to customer service numbers to retrieve such information about you before they even have your password.

4. Use a Password Manager

A password manager can generate strong passwords for you and store them in a secure place. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business has a great page that describes some common pieces of software built for those very purposes. Custom keyboards on modern smartphones enable the use of these password managers even on mobile devices.

5. Other Extras to Consider

Consider using SiteLock site scanning to check your site for viruses. Keep WordPress updated and be sure to keep your data backed up.

Staying secure isn’t always the more fun work to do. But it’s the most important. So use this information as a guide to stop ignorance in its tracks. You and your business will be better off.

How to Manage Your Site Expresso with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
May 15, 2015

How to Manage Your Site Expresso with FatCow

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You can build and maintain your website on FatCow in many ways. If you’re new to making websites and want to get up and running, Site Expresso is one option. It guides you through the setup process. And the good news is that you can create up to seven pages, an image gallery and a contact form.

The basic Site Expresso menu displays a drop-down list of your pages, a Styles drop-down, a Colors menu and a Preview & Publish button. You can use this menu to add pages, edit text, create links to other pages, add images and to change the visual design of your site. You can enable as many of the seven pages as you need. Each one is designed for a different purpose.

Create a new page by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the Pages menu item and selecting Add a Page. Your page type choices are Products, Services, About, Image Gallery, Testimonials and Contact. Choose the one you want and select Add Page.

Once you have added the content to a page you can preview it by clicking the Preview & Publish button. Make sure everything is in its right place and then click Publish. Your changes will be instantly visible to your visitors.

Use the Styles button to choose an overall look and feel for your site. There are styles for many different types of websites, so don’t hesitate to try them all out. You can further customize your site by adding your logo to the site header.

Hover your mouse over the logo area on your homepage and click the Edit Logo button that appears. Then use the Find button to open the upload screen and select your logo from its location on your computer.

Ensure your visitors will see your logo by enabling it in the “Display My Menu” in the upper right area of your Home page. You can also enable your business name, which may be a good idea if your logo doesn’t include it. Click Continue to save your changes.

If you maintain a blog outside your Site Expresso site,add a link to it in your Pages menu. Choose Blog from the Add New Page menu we mentioned earlier and paste your blog’s web address in the box. Click Save and visitors to your business website will have easy access to your blog. Add a link from your blog to your business site as well for even better cross-marketing.

Your Contact page is vital so test your settings before you publish your site. When visitors fill out the contact form you’ll receive an email containing their message. Try sending yourself one from your Contact page so you can be sure it’s working.

Associate your social media profiles with your site by double-clicking the bottom-right corner of yourhomepage to add “Follow” links. You can add links to your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn profiles. This helps your visitors find you on their social network of choice.

How to Manage FatCow Invoices and Receipts

By Jessica Ann
May 7, 2015

We know managing money can be a complicated thing, especially when you are running a small business. Many small business owners find themselves playing the roles of CEO, CFO, CTO and whatever else is required of them to grow their business. That’s why we try to make it as easy as possible to manage and access your FatCow transaction records.

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Invoices and Receipts

Begin at your Control Panel and go to Billing Central. You will see a table of transactions listed in order from the most recent to the oldest. Each entry includes a reference number, the item name, the bill date, the amount due, the credit applied, the total amount, the current status, the payment method and the paid date. You can use the links in the right-most column to view a printable HTML version of your invoice or receipt, download a PDF copy or send it as an email to the administrative and billing addresses you have on file with us.

If you need to access multiple records at once, use Billing Central’s Printable Statement feature. Choose the date range into which the invoices or receipts you need fall. Then decide whether you want a PDF or a CSV file. PDFs are good for distribution and printing, while CSVs are appropriate if you plan to analyze the data in a program like Microsoft Excel. Click Pull Statement to generate the document and you are done.

Credit Cards with FatCow

You can keep one credit card and one PayPal account on file with us at any given time. Update your credit card information by clicking Update Billing Info in your Control Panel. The Update Credit Card option may be selected by default. If not, select it and click Edit. Correct or change your credit card information, double-check it and click Submit Credit Card Update.

You will need to include your credit card’s CVV number. This is the four-digit number which appears unembossed on the front of American Express cards and the three-digit unembossed number found on the back of Discover, MasterCard and Visa cards.

We require the CVV so we can be extra confident that your information is secure. Speaking of security, make sure your ZIP Code is correct as well because we won’t process your card if it doesn’t match the billing address on file with your cardholder. There are some very smart folks working to root out fraud, but these simple measures are very effective.

FatCow can automatically update credit card information for American Express, MasterCard and Visa cardholders as long as they continue to participate in the Automatic Credit Card Updating Service. If your card expires or is lost or stolen, your card provider will automatically notify us of the information found on the replacement card issued to you. This is a great service because refunds can only be issued to the card from which the original charge was made, and it also ensures you never miss a payment from your own customers.

PayPal with FatCow

PayPal is so well-known that even the government accepts it. PayPal users can pay all renewing FatCow costs from their PayPal or choose to make one-time payments from PayPal. Do this by selecting PayPal during your purchase and then click PayPal’s One-Time Payments. The next time you are charged for that service it will be billed to your default payment method, not to your PayPal account (unless your PayPal account is your default payment method).

PayPal occasionally produces an error, so we have developed some basic solutions for the most common issues. If you try to pay with PayPal and receive an error stating “Billing Agreement Id or transaction Id is not valid” or “Billing Agreement was cancelled,” try using the One-Time payment method described above. If that doesn’t work, get in touch with us. Other errors most likely result from PayPal declining the transaction for some reason, so contact their support folks.

How to Stay in the Know with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
May 1, 2015

FatCow customers can rest easy knowing we work hard to keep their websites running on well-maintained servers. They are powerful machines, and we’re good at what we do. But problems happen. That’s why we have a robust Support Center. But there are some more proactive ways for you to keep informed about what’s going on behind the scenes at FatCow.

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Server maintenance is a complicated job. For example, the IRS alone spends roughly $5 million annually on mainframe and server support. That’s one project in one department of one agency. We don’t have the same resources as the IRS. But we also don’t have the same customer base either. Yet we still take maintenance seriously and keep you informed.

The Customer Alert Mailing List

Remember that newsletter you signed up for years ago that sends you a new poem every morning? Or the one that sends you “breaking” news all the time? If you’re smirking or rolling your eyes, you agree that these emails are, to put it nicely, useless. Much of the advice in this 2012 PDF by the University of Washington on email newsletter best practices is still sound. The most important thing is to be useful.

Log into your FatCow account and head to the Customer Alert page. Select the Email Alert ON option on the Customer Alert Mailing List page and then click Change Settings. You can also enable a subscription to the alerts from the Support Center. Look for the Receive System Alerts via Email message.

Other FatCow Email Subscriptions

We have other newsletters and email lists in addition to the Customer Alert list. Our Mailing Subscriptions page allows you to subscribe or unsubscribe from any newsletters or other emails that aren’t account related. We reserve the rights to send you email about your account for administration purposes. But if that’s all you want, we’re cool with that.

However, we take your time and privacy very seriously, so we only send you stuff we think you’ll find interesting or useful. If you want to receive newsletters or emails beyond standard account management communications, head to that subscribe page we linked to in the previous paragraph. Enter the email address where you want to receive newsletters and we’ll display your subscription status.

You’ll see a list of the newsletters you can subscribe to, and whether or not you’re subscribed. Click Subscribe or Unsubscribe to change your status for each mailing. Click Update my subscription settings to confirm your updates.

Other Communication Options

You may have questions that we don’t email you about. If this is the case, you can always send us a support ticket or give us a call at (888) 278-9780. We’re awesome and friendly, and we’ll do everything we can to help you out.

Will Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ hurt my small business? What should I do NOW?

By moosnews
April 29, 2015

Are you ready, friends? Mobilegeddon is upon us.

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Don’t worry, your new smartphone hasn’t finally become sentient (that we know of), but there are big changes ahead. Before you reach for your tinfoil hat, there are a few things you should know.

Google tweaked its search algorithm on Tuesday. From now on, sites that aren’t mobile-friendly — meaning ones that have text that’s too small, take a long time to load, or are generally hard to navigate — will see their search rankings plummet. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re about to experience a huge drop in search traffic.

Not great, obviously, but here’s why it’s a very big deal: Approximately 86% of all U.S. smartphone users search via Google. There are 177 million websites covered by Google search. If you’re not optimized for those mobile users, you’re going to get lost in a very large crowd.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Step 1
Find out if your site is mobile-friendly. Check this free, instant mobile-friendly test ASAP.

Step 2
If your site isn’t ready to go, don’t panic. We can help. Consider us your guide through this post-apocalyptic mobile wasteland. We’ll make your site mobile-friendly within a few days, helping you avoid any major losses in traffic or revenue (Google will notice the change and you’ll quickly regain your search ranking).

But you’ve got to move quickly. Call us at 1-855-736-5619 or click the button below and we will reach out to you within one hour.

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Crisis averted. But still keep an eye on your smartphone.

Managing All Kinds of Users with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
April 22, 2015

The term “user” comes up a lot on the web, referring to customers, visitors, software purchasers and other people on the “client-side” of server-client interactions. This article looks at a few different types of users you may encounter in operating your FatCow account, and how to keep them happy.

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How to Set Up a New WHM User

Web Hosting Management, or WHM for short, is the interface available to our Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Dedicated Server users for managing their own customers in Reseller Hosting accounts. It makes managing multiple accounts easier and faster. Keep in mind that our Shared Hosting customers, while they’re awesome, don’t have access to WHM as part of their FatCow package.

You will always need to make a new cPanel user in WHM before your customer can access their portion of the server. Begin, as we often do, by logging into your FatCow Control Panel. Click the Server Control Center icon and then hit the “Regenerate” button next to root password. In your web browser, type http://SERVER_IP:2087, replacing “SERVER_IP” with the IP address of your FatCow server. Use the username “root” and the password you regenerated a moment ago.

Now you’re going to head to the Account Functions section in WHM and click Create a New Account. Now fill in the the Domain Information portion, using the settings for the new cPanel user. You’ll have to assign a package to the account. But there will only be one to choose from (we try to make things easy).

How to Create FTP Users

You may need to create FTP users for customers or their clients, and luckily it’s not a difficult process. It’s important to note that this tool is available to our VPS, Dedicated and Shared hosting customers.

Go to the FTP section in your Control Panel and fill in the form title Create New FTP Account. Assign a username to the account and create a password with at least six characters, one letter, one digit and one punctuation character. Click “Create FTP User.”

Hopefully, you’re all done. But sometimes there may be an error you need to troubleshoot. We have some quick troubleshooting tips in our Knowledgebase.

Manage MySQL Users

MySQL is a powerful database management platform. You can accomplish a great deal with even the basic commands. And once again, like FTP management, this feature is available to users of any FatCow hosting package.

But you can’t always do everything alone. Start from your Control Panel and navigate to the MySQL Manager. Choose the database you need help with from the left panel and click the Add New User button in the right panel. Select a username and password. The username has to be unique and the password has to match our security requirements.

Click Add User and that’s it. Now you can send an email to the new user (while you get some takeout and watch the latest episode of Silicon Valley). Keep in mind that you can also use the MySQL Manager to change passwords, alter privileges or delete users.

How to Deal with Users You Don’t Want

We like to keep it positive around here, but some users are knowingly or unknowingly engaged in some shady behavior. Many may have been secretly hijacked for use in botnet attacks, others are just meanies. Here’s how to keep them out:

Use the .htaccess Editor to open the Block IP Addresses tool. Choose the folder you want to block and add the IP or range of IPs you want to block to the Current Settings section. Click save to initiate the new blocking rules. If you don’t need certain blocking rules anymore, click the Delete icon in the Blocked IP Addresses / Ranges table. Remember that all of the folders within the folder that you apply the block will also be blocked for the included IPs.

Tips for Building Your FatCow Site

By Jessica Ann
April 17, 2015

It’s rewarding to build a business and the web has made that goal available to more people than ever. The Small Business Administration calls it “a significant business leveler”. But there is a great deal of administrative overhead involved with running a successful business website, whether you’re generating leads or selling merchandise. It’s easy to get caught up in the related details and lose sight of why you built a website in the first place.

Do yourself a favor and get as much of that administrative stuff out of the way at the outset. We make it as easy as possible to take care of the details and get down to business. We’ll start, as usual, at your trusty Control Panel.

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Choose a Site Editor

The first thing you should do is to choose a Site Editor, which is the tool you will use to actually build your website. The Set Site Editor page gives you four available site editors. They are:
Weebly
WordPress
File Manager
FTP Settings
Choose whichever one works with your website, and then some cash will magically appear through your computer.

Cache, Not Cash

Just kidding (although anything can happen).

The proper pronunciation is cache, not cash. And you’ll need to clear it.

The cache is a clever feature of modern web browsers that can actually work against you when you’re trying to build your website. The cache is a collection of folders in which your browser stores temporary copies of the websites you’ve recently visited. The logic is that if you choose to return to those sites for any reason, they’ll load almost instantly from the cache. And when you’re just surfing around the web, it is a huge time-saver.

But when you’re building a website, it can be a pain. For example, you see an error in your draft website while you’re working. You head into your Site Editor of choice and make the correction. Then, you revisit your website to make sure the correction has been made. After all, a correction isn’t a correction if it doesn’t…correct.

Anyway, the browser loads your website from the cache, probably using a version of the site it saved before you made the change. This means that you’ll still see an uncorrected version of the site. This can be confusing and lead to an exasperated loop of revise-check-revise-check. The answer is to clear that cache.

How to Clear Your Cache

Our Knowledge Base has browser-specific instructions for clearing the cache, but the steps are similar for each browser. Internet Explorer and Firefox both have a Tools menu in which you’ll find the options for dealing with the cache. Chrome has a handy search feature on its Settings page where you can just type “clear browsing data.” You can also just click this link from within Chrome.

You’ll see a list of items you can delete no matter what browser you use. It’s safest for our purposes to uncheck everything that doesn’t include “cache” or something like “offline website data.” If there’s a time range option, choose the longest duration. Click the “Clear…” button to apply the changes and then close your browser completely.

Your next visit to your website should download the most recent version of the site and show you any changes you made. This process may seem daunting the first few times but it gets easier. Scour your site for all the changes you need to make to clear your cache as infrequently as possible.

How to Transfer Account Ownership with FatCow

By Jessica Ann
April 1, 2015

We’ve told you before how important secure passwords are, and that’s all the more true when you’re transferring ownership of a FatCow account. FatCow accounts may include your business or personal email addresses, which can be targeted by hackers. Start at your Control Panel to prepare your account for transfer.

Update Account Information

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Pay close attention to these updates while making them. Incorrect information could cause issues for the new owner. Their takeover could be significantly delayed if you’re not careful.

First go to the Change Account Info section in your Control Panel and click Edit. Change the account information to match the owner you’re planning to transfer your account to – and then hit Update. This is the primary identification for the new owner in our system, so double-check everything. Repeat the process for secondary accounts if you have them.

Update Security Questions

You will need to change your security question before you transfer your account, so no one learns your question and answer and also because the transferee will need to set their own question and answer. Click Set Security Question and then choose Existing Profile. You’ll have to select the right profile if your account contains more than one.

If you’re making your first security question, you’ll have to select New Profile. Update the question and answer and click Save.

Security questions for secondary users may no longer be necessary if you’re transferring account ownership. You can delete them by entering the Change Account Info Section and clicking Delete for the secondary user. This will remove the user and their security question from your account.

Change Payment Information

From your Control Panel head to Update Billing Info. Change the credit card or PayPal information. It’s probably a good idea to have the person to whom you’re transferring ownership do this, since asking them for their credit card number or PayPal info may make you come across shady. Credit card fraud is no joke these days, so keep things on the up and up.

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.