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.

mobilegeddon

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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.