The Domain Name System (DNS) and How It Works

January 23rd, 2023

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the backbone of the internet, providing a way for humans to interact with website and email addresses using easy-to-remember domain names, rather than IP addresses. In this post, we’ll take a look at how DNS works, and how it enables us to navigate the internet.

When you type a website address into your browser, the first step that occurs is a DNS lookup. This is when your computer sends a request to a DNS server, asking for the IP address associated with the domain name. The DNS server then responds with the appropriate IP address, which your browser uses to connect to the server that hosts your website.

The process of a DNS lookup is similar to looking up a phone number in a phone book. Just as a phone book contains a list of names and phone numbers, a DNS server contains a list of domain names and their associated IP addresses. When you type a domain name into your browser, it is like looking up a name in a phone book, and the IP address is like the phone number.

DNS servers are organized in a hierarchical system, with the root servers at the top of the hierarchy. The root servers contain information about the top-level domains (such as .com, .org, .biz, .info, .us and .ca), and they are responsible for directing traffic to the appropriate top-level domain server.

The top-level domain servers then direct traffic to the appropriate second-level domain servers, which contain information about specific domain names. For example, if you type www.register4les.com into your browser, the root servers will direct traffic to the .com top-level domain server, which will then direct traffic to the www.register4les.com second-level domain server.

DNS servers are also distributed across multiple locations to ensure that the system is resilient to failures. This is done through a process called caching, which allows DNS servers to temporarily store information about recently looked up domain names. This allows for faster lookups and reduces the load on the servers.

Domain names are required to have a minimum of 2 DNS servers associated with the domain.  This provides redundancy in the event one of the DNS servers is not responding.   The two DNS servers need to be on separate networks, again for redundancy purposes.

In summary, the Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical system that translates domain names into IP addresses, allowing us to navigate the internet using easy-to-remember names.  DNS servers work together to ensure that we can reach the websites and email addresses we want, and caching helps to make the system more efficient and resilient.

 

Selling a Domain Name

January 10th, 2023

There are a few different strategies you can use to sell a domain name. Some of the most effective methods include:

  1. Listing the domain name on a marketplace: There are a number of online marketplaces that specialize in buying and selling domain names, such as Sedo, Flippa, and Afternic.  A search on your favourite search engine will give you links to these providers.  These sites allow you to list your domain name for a fee and reach a wide audience of potential buyers.
  2. Using an auction: Running an auction for your domain name can be a good way to generate interest and get the highest price possible. You can run an auction through a marketplace or by using an auction service like Flippa.
  3. Directly reaching out to potential buyers: If you know of a company or individual who might be interested in your domain name, you can reach out to them directly and try to sell it to them.
  4. Networking and attending events: Participating in Domain name events and Conferences will give you a chance to network with industry experts and other domain name investors who may be interested in your domain name.
  5. Putting it for lease: If you do not want to sell the domain name, but you want to earn some cash, you can put the domain name for lease.

Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to set a realistic asking price for your domain name based on its value and the current market conditions. Additionally, providing information that could make the domain name more valuable to potential buyers, such as web traffic statistics or revenue from existing websites, can be useful in the sale.

Migrating from Squarespace to Self Hosted WordPress

January 7th, 2021

Squarespace provides a user-friendly and easy to use interface for building a website.  Their hosting however can be quite expensive, and many users find their hosting features limited.  Self-hosted WordPress allows many customizations, and with the number of themes and plug-ins that are available, offers almost limitless ways to customize your website.

1. Setting up the WordPress Environment

  • Log into your https://register4less.com account for the domain in question
  • If you don’t have an advanced hosting plan, go to Paid Hosting > Order Advanced Hosting.
  • We recommend minimum the Crystal Hosting plan.  The Amber Hosting plan is our most popular.
  • When ordering the hosting plan, there is an option that is checked by default to update the DNS for the domain to point it to the AHS server.  Leave this checked.
  • Once the hosting plan is in place, go to Paid Hosting > Manage Advanced Hosting.  This will open the cPanel interface in a new window.
  • Scroll down the page, and click the icon for WordPress.
  • The Softacoulous installer will guide you to install WordPress, and provide you the link for where you can log into your new WordPress dashboard.

2. Exporting Your Squarespace Website

Once you have installed WordPress, it’s time to export the current content from Squarespace. Squarespace offers limited export functionality.  Depending on the type of content you have, you may be able to export some of it.  The rest you will have to copy/paste into your new site.

The type of content that can be exported is as follows:

  • Basic pages can be exported as WordPress pages
  • Blog posts can be exported as WordPress posts
  • Text, images and embed blocks
  • Gallery pages 

The following type of content will not be exported:

  • Audio, video and product blocks
  • Style changes and custom CSS
  • Product, album and event pages
  • Folders and index pages
  • Additional blog pages.  Only one will be exported.

Steps for Exporting your Website

  • Log into your Squarespace account, and go to Settings > Advanced > Import/Export
  • Squarespace will show you a popup window with a WordPress logo.  If you have products, you can first download these to a comma separated value (CSV) file.
  • Click on the WordPress logo to continue
  • Once the export has completed, you’ll see a button to download.  This will download the file to your local computer usual downloads folder.

3. Importing Into WordPress

  • Log into your WordPress dashboard, and go to Tools > Import.  You will see a list of platforms.  Squarespace will not be listed as it exports its content in XML format.  
  • Below the WordPress format, click the Install Now button. 
  • WordPress will install the importer .  Once ready, clic on the Run Importer link.
  • On the following screen, click the Choose File to upload the file you exported from Squarespace.
  • If all goes well, WordPress will show you the import settings page.  On this page, you need to assign an author to the content you are importing.
  • Once you have assigned an author, click the Submit button.
  • Once completed, you should see a success message.

4. Importing Images

  • At the time of this post, WordPress can’t automatically import images, but as with most things WordPress, there’s a plugin for that.  
  • Go to the Plugins > Add New page, and search for Auto Upload Images.  Install and activate the plugin.
  • You will edit all posts and pages containing images. This plugin will trigger the image import process when you save a post type.
  • WordPress allows you to bulk update content, so you can do it with just a few clicks instead of manually doing it one-by-one. Simply go to Posts » All Posts page and then click on the Screen Options button at the top.
  • Set the number of items per page to 999 and click the Apply button.  WordPress will reload the page, showing up to 999 posts.
  • Select all of your posts with the check marc next to Title, and choose Edit under the Bulk Actions menu.
  • Click the Apply buttons.  Wordpress will show you a quick edit box with all selected posts. You just need to click on the Update button, and WordPress will update all your posts.
  • This will trigger the plugin to import images from your Squarespace website and store them in your WordPress media library.

5. Fixing Permalinks

We need to make sure that you don’t miss traffic coming through the links from your old Squarespace website.  WordPress uses permalinks that make it easier for search engines to understand and rank your site.  We want to structure your permalinks so that they have a similar structure to how Squarespace’s setup.  

Squarespace uses year/month/day/post-name as the link format for blog posts. It also uses a prefix like blog or blog-1 in the post URLs.  A typical blog post URL using the default built-in Squarespace domain name may look like this:

https://your-domain-name.com/blog-1/2021/1/7/post-title

In the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks.. There you will see a section of URL structure options.  Select Day and name then scroll down to the custom structure section and add the following text:

/blog-1/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/

Click the Save Changes b button to update your permalinks structure.

This step makes sure that users visiting your website from search engines and other sources are redirected to correct posts and pages on the new WordPress site.

6. Importing Other Content 

Squarespace only allows you to export limited content. If you were using their eCommerce features, events, or hosting audio video files, then you will have to import all of them manually to your WordPress site.

Depending on how much content you have there, this process can take some time.

For products you will need a WordPress eCommerce plugin, like WooCommerce, the most popular plugin for this application.

For videos, we recommend that you create a channel on a video streaming site like YouTube or Vimeo, and then embed the externally hosted videos on your site.  This can help you SEO optimization wise, and also saves you space and bandwidth.

7. Start to work on developing your site with WordPress

Now it’s time to start working within WordPress.  You can experiment with different themes and plugins.  There are a number of excellent visual editors available for wordpress that will allow you to drag and drop elements.  A free one that is excellent is called Elementor.

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the internet.  WordPress has over 60% of the market share in the CMS market, and powers about 15% of all websites (including this one).  That popularity however has one drawback.  It makes WordPress a target for hackers.

There are a number of steps that you can take to help protect your site.  Many plugins provide assistance with security.  You should always keep the WordPress code, plugins and themes updated.  

Resetting WordPress Password

July 24th, 2019

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the Internet, making up 34% of all websites.  WordPress stores all user data, including your admin username and password in a MySQL database.  For security reasons, WordPress stores passwords encrypted, making them not readable or directly writable.  You can’t just connect to the database and update the username and password in plain text.  Here are the steps to follow to reset your admin login:

  • Log in to manage your domain name, and go to the menu Profile > Manage Advanced Hosting to open the Plesk management interface.
  • On Plesk, click Files to open the file manager, click on the link for the public_html
  • Click the link for wp-config.php, and locate the lines that have 
define( 'DB_NAME', 'brav4e5c_wp420' );

define( 'DB_PASSWORD', '4(.T2S-Pp()Fc62!S' );
  • Note the name of the database, and select and copy Control-C on Windows,  Command-C on Mac  the password that is in single quotes.
  • Close the file manager window (Click the X at the top right)
  • Click Websites & Domains, and click the Databases link, and then phpMyAdmin, and paste in the password for the database.
  • You may see one or more databases listed in the left column.  Click the “+” icon next to each to to the database name that you noted earlier.  look at the table structure.  Click the table name that ends in _users.
  • On your favourite search engine, look up md5 hash generator.  A popular site for this is https://www.md5hashgenerator.com.  This site will encrypt your new password.
  • On the site you choose, enter in your new password and have the site generate the md5 hash string.  Select and copy the entire string.
  • In the users table, you should recognize the admin user name for your account.  It is in plain text.  
  • Click Edit for that table entry, and replace/paste the encrypted password string with your new password (Control or Command V).
  • Save the changes.  You’ve now reset the password for your admin account.

Broad Support for Let’s Encrypt SSL Digital Certificates

August 14th, 2018

With all of our paid hosting platforms, R4L provides you a free digital digital certificate called Let’s Encrypt.  The web is quickly moving towards requiring sites to use encryption.  When you order an paid hosting plan with R4L, the SSL cert is automatically installed and maintained for you, allowing your website and email to be fully encrypted.

As posted on the news last week on the website Slashdot, the Let’s Encrypt open source SSL Certificate is now recognized by all major root certificates, including:

  • Microsoft,
  • Google,
  • Apple,
  • Mozilla,
  • Oracle, and
  • Blackberry

Let’s encrypt has been trusted by almost all borwsers, it had done so thoruh an intermediate certificate from a vendor called IdenTrust.  With Let’s Encrypt now being directly recognized and trusted, there is no longer a third party involved.  If ever in the future there were a problem with IdenTrust (we’re not saying that’s likely), Let’s Encrypt would continue to be trusted without a problem.  A problem similar to this did happen to Symantec certs when they were untrusted by Google and Mozilla.

Let’s Encrypt is now directly trusted by all major browsers and operating systems.

Moving a WordPress Site to the Root Directory

June 1st, 2017

There are a couple of common reasons people will want to move their WordPress website from a directory to the root directory.  The most common we’ve seen are:

  1. They installed WordPress in Softaculous’ default /wp directory, and don’t want to have to setup a forwarder for their website.
  2. They developed their site in a directory so that their website would not be offline or interfered with and now want to replace their existing site with the WordPress site.

While you can use the Duplicator plugin to create a zip archive of your website and then restore it in the root, there really is no need to create a large file to download and then re-upload.  The advantage of this is the plugin will rename all of the URLs that will need to be updated.  Disadvantage however is it is much slower, and potentially creates a very large file you will need to download and then re-upload.

Here’s how to do the move without the plugin:

1 – Backup Your Site

Before doing the move, to be safe, we recommend you use the backup wizard to create a backup of your home directory and MySQL database.  The backup Wizard will download the two backup files to your local hard drive.

  • Log in for your domain and open your cPanel
  • Click on Backup Wizard in the Files section
  • Click Backup, and then Home Directory and MySql Database

2 – Remove Old Files from the Root Directory

You can do this in a number of ways, deleting the files or moving them to a directory called something like “old_site”.

  • It is important that you delete or move the file called index.htm or index.html.  WordPress uses a file named index.php as its starting index file.  Most web servers, including ours, will load the html file before the php file.
  • Make certain there are no files in the root directory that would have the same name as any files that are in the directory where your WordPress website is currently.
  • If your WordPress site is currently using a caching plugin, deactivate the plugin and remove any cached files.

3 – Update WordPress’ Target Address

Log into your WordPress dashboard, and go to Settings > General, and update the target WordPress Address and Site Address so that the directory is removed.

When you click the Save button, you will immediately see a 404 Not Found error page.  Do not ba alarmed, that is normal.  You will be able to log in once you move your files in the next step.

4 – Move the Files

Using either FTP or the File Manager, you’re going to move the files from the directory WordPress is in to the root directory for your website.

Using FTP

Connect to your site using your usual FTP program (FileZilla shown here).  You should be connected with the /public_html directory as the current directory.  In our example, your computer’s file system is in the window on the left, and the server’s on the right.

  • On the server’s side, double click on the directory where the WordPress site is.
  • Click the very top file, scroll to the very bottom, and shift-click to select all of the files.
  • Drag and drop the files on the top icon which shows a yellow folder followed by two dots (..).

Using the cPanel’s File Manager

  • Open up the cPanel for your domain, and click the File Manager icon in the FILES section of cPanel.
  • On the left column, click the plus sign next to public_html.  This will show you on the left column what directories are in the root public_html folder.
  • Click on the directory name on the left column where WordPress is installed.
  • Select the upper most directory on the right window, and shift-click the bottom most file so all files and directories are highlighted.
  • Click Move on the top menu bar
  • A window will pop up.  Delete the directory name so only /public_html/ is displayed, and click the Move Files button.

5 – Update Permalinks

You now need to log in again to the WordPress dashboard.  Enter in your domain name followed by /wp-admin.  The final step in moving your site is to update the permalinks for your website.  Log into your WordPress dashboard, and navigate to Settings > Permalinks.  Click on Plain, and then the blue Save Changes button.  Once this has been saved, your site will now be fully functional.  It is highly recommended once you’ve completed this step, you update your permalinks again to “Post name” and click the Save Changes button again.  This makes your URLs more readable, and better for indexing by search engines.

6 – Setup 301 Forwarding

If there are external links or your site has already been searched and ranked by search engines, you’ll want to setup forwarding with the 301 redirect (permanent redirection) so that you can preserver your existing search engine rankings.  The redirection will also ensure anyone that’s linked to your old site’s location will still be able to find you.

  • On the cPanel, click on Redirects in the Domains section
  • Choose 301 option
  • Enter in the directory where WordPress was installed
  • Type in your domain name where WordPress has been moved to and click the blue Add button.

HTTPS with Advanced Hosting

May 19th, 2017

You may have read that Register4Less.com has added to our paid hosting plans Let’s Encrypt, a free open-source SSL certificate.  This certificate is now installed automatically when you order an advanced hosting plan, and has been installed for all existing paid hosting plans.

Benefits of having your site visitors connect using the https encrypted protocol include:

  • Better Search Engine ranking
  • Enhanced User Trust
  • Protect your User’s sensitive information

Forcing an https:// Connection

Forcing an https:// encrypted connection is now possible to setup via the cPanel interface, so no coding or manual file editing is now required.  

To set this up for your domain, makes sure you’re logged in to manage your domain on our website and do the following:

  1. Navigate to Paid Hosting > Manage Advanced Hosting to open the cPanel interface.
  2. Click on Domain in the Domains section of the cPanel
  3. If Force HTTPS Redirect is not enabled, click the slider for and domain and sub-domain.

cPanel Domains link

cPanel HTTPS Redirect EnableYou can however quite easily switch an http to an https connection by editing your .htaccess file.  Here’s how to do this.

 

PHP 7.1 Now Available

April 6th, 2017

Php 7.1If you are one of our customers that uses our Advanced Hosting Platform, you’ll be pleased to know Register4Less has now added PHP version 7.1.   PHP is one of the most popular programming languages used on the web today.  Sites like Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and Wikipedia all run using PHP.

The cPanel default (and native) version of PHP is 5.6.  Switching to version 7.1 should make your website load more quickly, thanks to the optimizations that have been made in 7.1.

To make the switch for your website, do the following:

  • Log in on http://register4less.com for your domain that’s using the advanced hosting.
  • Open up the cPanel (Paid Hosting > Manage Advanced Hosting)
  • In the Software section, look for “Select PHP Version” and click the link or icon.
  • You may want to note the current version you are using in case you need to revert if your website has problems with PHP 7.1.  It’s probably 5.6 though.
  • From the drop down menu, select 7.1 and click the Set as Current button.
  • Click on “Use Defaults” at the bottom of the page to use defaults PHP modules.

You’ll want to test your site to make sure everything is functioning correctly.  For WordPress sites, some plugins are not yet compatible with PHPp 7.1, so you may want to try 7.0 if things are not working correctly, or revert back to the version you took note of earlier.

Upgrade of Basic Hosting Server to NGINX

March 28th, 2017

NGINX is an open-source, high-performance HTTP server and reverse proxy, as well as an IMAP/POP3 proxy server. NGINX is known for its high performance, stability, rich feature set, simple configuration, and low resource consumption.

This past week, out network staff have upgraded the hosting platform for the 10MB free hosting service Register4Less.com provides with every domain name.  The server for the http://Register4Less.com website itself has also been upgraded to NGINX.  The hosting platform had been using Lighttpd for a number of years before the upgrade.

NGINX provides a number of advantages over Lighttpd or Apache, including:

  • possible per-domain customizations if required,
  • sub-domains can now be setup by ftping using the same credential as the domain it’s based on, using its own top-level folder,
  • no database use for configuration, so even more responsive than before,
  • using latest stable Nginx web server for better security.

While our staff are confident that the change from Lighttpd to NGINX will be seamless, we ask that if you are using our basic hosting platform and see any issues to contact our support team.

In the industry today, NGINX is second only to Apache in terms of volume of sites that use it as the web server application.

.EU – Changes to the Renewal Grace Period

November 17th, 2016

Effective November 23, 2016, all .EU domain names will no longer have a Renewal Grace Period.

Any .EU domain expiring on or after November 23, 2016 will be deleted immediately, if not renewed before that date.  .EU domains still retain the Redemption period, so any domain that has been deleted will be subject to a redemption fee plus the domain’s normal renewal fee if needed to be renewed.

We at Register4Less.com of course would prefer to avoid this additional fee on the domain’s renewal, so it is imperative to not allow .eu domains to expire unless you fully intend to drop the domain.

If you have questions regarding this, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team.

New Rules for Changing Domain Ownership

October 4th, 2016

ownershipOn December 1st, 2016, ICANN will require all accredited registrars significantly change how they handle domain ownership changes.  Briefly, it will no longer be possible to update the domain owner’s contact information by simply logging in to manage the domain and submit a new set of contact data.

Inter-Registrar Transfers

Currently, the only type of transfer of a domain that requires confirmation is the Inter Registrar transfer which is governed by ICANN’s Inter Registrar Transfer Policy.  The process of transferring a domain from one registrar to another will still follow the confirmation process with the domain’s current administrative contact.  The current contact must click a link sent to the contact in the current Whois record for the domain being transferred.  The admin contact must confirm the transfer with the current registrar, and may confirm the transfer away from the current registrar.

Inter-Registrant Transfers

New starting in December will be the process of confirming changes in the owner contact of a domain.  When there is a change in the owner contact’s first or last name, organization name, email or telephone number, a new confirmation process will be triggered.  The process is as follows:

  • Register4Less (R4L) will first check if the domain name is eligible for a change in the owner’s contact.  If the domain is not, the contact update will not be saved and a message presented to the user stating why the domain cannot be updated at this time.
  • R4L will send an email to the current owner contact requesting they (or their designated agent) approve the change.  If that email is not responded to favourably, the contact change is rejected.
  • Once confirmed by the current owner contact, R4L will send an email to  the new owner contact requesting they (or again, their designated agent) approve the change.  Note, the previous and new owner contact may be the same address.  Both emails need to be confirmed in order for the update to complete.
  • If / when both confirmations are positive, R4L will then send an email to both contacts confirming the update.

The R4L Team will post updates to this procedure as they develop.

Use Your Gmail Account to Filter Spam

July 7th, 2016

Less Spam with GreylistingI have had a gmail account setup for a number of years, but really haven’t been getting much use out it since I prefer to use my personal email based on my own domain name, which is of course registered and hosted with register4less.com.  The one thing gmail does actually do quite well is filter spam with a low rate of filtering out valid email.  There are a number of reasons I recommend to use an email address based on your own domain, including branding, portability, tie-in with your website, but that’s not the focus of this post.

Gmail allows you to forward incoming messages to your gmail address to any other external address, and this is what allows you to flow your email to gmail and back to your domain based email address for filtering.  Here are the steps:

Setup on Gmail:

  • If you don’t have a gmail account, go to their website and create a free account
  • Log into your gmail account, and go to Settings page, and then to the Forwarding and Pop tab.
  • In the Forwarding option, set gmail to forward all email to your domain based email address, and keep a copy in inbox on your gmail account.

Setup on R4L:

In this example, I will use the example email address johndoe@gmail.com and john@doe.com (both not real addresses, so please don’t email them).  My apologies if Mr. Doe receives additional email as a result of this post 🙂

  • Log into your account on Register4Less.com and go to the cPanel (Paid Hosting > Manage Advanced Hosting) where you normally manage your email accounts.
  • Click on Email Filters, and then your email address (john@doe.com in this example)
  • Click the blue Create Filter button
  • Give the filter a name (gmail filtering)
  • Under rules, choose Any Header and does not contain
  • In the box below, enter in the text X-Forwarded For: followed by your gmail address and then your domain based address.   In our example, that would be  X-Forwarded For: johndoe@gmail.com john@doe.com .
  • Under Actions, choose Redirect to Email, and in the text box below enter in your gmail address.  Again in our example, you would enter in johndoe@gmail.com .
  • Click the blue Save button

That is the entire setup.  Your email will now forward to gmail (spam included), be filtered, and then forwarded back.  The filter in your R4L account checks to see if the email was forwarded from your gmail account, and only if it finds that the email did not come from there will it forward to gmail.

You may know that Register4Less.com automatically backs up all of our hosting accounts on a daily basis for one week, and on a weekly basis for four weeks.  Setting up this forward will also create an additional backup for you, as all of the email that is forwarded to your gmail account will stay in the inbox there as well.

Please give this a try and let us know how it works for you.