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1/2/2019 Network Interruption Analysis

Whenever our network experiences an interruption or failure, we wish to provide a full accounting, to the best of our abilities. It is part of our B Corporation and Benefit Company commitment to operating our business with complete transparency.

This notice is in regards to the service interruption experienced by some customers on January 2, 2019.

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is one in which a network is flooded with millions of simultaneous requests, from numerous external sources, in a coordinated fashion so as to paralyze the network, and make it difficult for the network’s administrators to stop the attack.

Yesterday, one of our upstream carriers’ core routers was targeted by a DDoS attack, which resulted in over-utilization of a routing table. The attack was mitigated, but caused a physical component of the router to partially fail, resulting in the router sending one-way traffic.

Because it was not a complete failure, standard alerts for the router were not issued. Because of the type of fault, network redundancy was unable to counter the issue. Therefore, it became a process of elimination to manually identify the point of failure, and replace the faulty component.

This took time, and is why we at Canvas Host were initially informed of and reported on a resolution to the problem approximately 28 minutes after it began, yet continued to diagnose and troubleshoot connectivity issues for some customers throughout the afternoon.

No system is 100% fault-proof. It should be noted that the router had performed without issue for 906 days.

Per our Terms of Service, DDoS attacks are not subject to our 99.9% Uptime Guarantee. Still, we care that your service was interrupted for any reason, especially due to a third-party assault on our network. We take these matters extremely seriously, as we recognize any impact to your service can hinder business and communications.

As a side note, we have received a number of inquiries from customers stating their websites are not functioning properly. Please note that this is not related to a network interruption, which would prevent you from accessing all aspects of hosted services you receive from us. There have been recent updates to WordPress, as well as the PHP version required to run the latest codebase, and either could be a factor as to why your website is not functioning properly. If you would like a no-obligation assessment of your current website, please let us know, and we will be happy to assist.

On behalf of everyone at Canvas Host, we hope this message finds you well, and provides answers as to the recent network interruption.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Co-Owner


WordPress 5.0, One Week Later

If your website runs WordPress, the latest version is here. We emailed our customers last week about the new interface, the Gutenberg editor, and included troubleshooting advice.

Gutenberg isn’t for everyone. It may not be compatible with your theme or page builder plugins. It could simply break your WordPress installation.

With the benefit of one week’s insight, we’re pleased to provide four simple steps to upgrade to WordPress 5.0 safely, and with minimal risk for your WordPress website.

How do I Safely update to WordPress 5.0?

1. Make a complete backup of your WordPress installation. This is done using a plugin like BackupBuddy, or by importing your WordPress installation into Installatron within Cpanel, then choosing Backup. Or, if you’re subscribed to our Managed WordPress service line, we’ve already taken care of it for you.

Learn more about our WordPress Management here:

https://www.canvashost.com/wordpress/wordpress-support.php

2. Update your core WordPress to 5.0. This is done by logging into WordPress administration area, and then navigating to Dashboard -> Updates on the left-hand navigation bar.

3. Once WordPress is updated, you will be prompted to update your theme and plugins as well. This is because theme and plugin developers have created versions compatible with the older WordPress versions (4.9.x), which function differently than the versions needed to use WordPress 5+.

4. Finally, let’s be honest… the Gutenberg editor is different. It is used to build pages in blocks of content, which is more akin to platforms like Concrete5, but a complete diversion from the interface to which WordPress are accustomed. If you’d prefer to avoid Gutenberg, there is a plugin you can install, aptly named Classic Editor. It returns your WordPress 5.0 website to look like the older interface.

To install Classic Editor, navigate to Plugins -> Add New -> In the search bar, type “classic editor”. You will see the first one that comes up is named Classic Editor, and as of the time of this blog post, has been installed by more than 1 million WordPress websites! If you’d prefer to visit the plugin page directly in a separate browser, the URL is:

Classic Editor

With these four steps, you can mitigate the major issues of upgrading to the latest WordPress edition.

What if I still need help?

If you have questions or need help, Canvas Host is a full-service web agency. At $60/hour, our WordPress consulting services are far less than other agencies’ rates. And, as a B Corporation, we don’t nickel and dime you, and want you to get the most out of your website. We’re here to help.

Thank you,

David Anderson, Founder and Co-Owner


Weathering the Bumps and Turns

By Angela Anderson, Operations/Finance

Every journey has bumps.  Every journey has struggles.  Nothing is ever easy.  With over 20 years of experience in managing employees, I’ve seen almost everything.  I’m not surprised with much these days.  Some say I should write a book with all my experiences so that others can learn from what I have gone through.  If I ever did that, I think many of you would sit back and just laugh at the hysteria that is human behavior.

Through my many years of  experience in training and development, I had many positive and rewarding experiences.  I loved working with individuals on performance goals.  I loved watching them achieve new things and see themselves break out of their shells of reluctance and fear.  Many individuals I was coaching on public speaking in groups. Others I was coaching on effective listening and learning to clarify for understanding.  Some I was working with solely on understanding and meeting the expectations of their position.  Each member of my team needed something different.

Just like as any stream of water hits a rock and has to flow a new direction.  We are like that stream.  Our experiences shape who we are as a river of knowledge.  We ebb and flow based on hurdles, challenges, and successes.  They shape us.  They mold us.  We are who we are as professionals because of the rocks, twigs, and branches along the way.  Don’t be afraid to bust through an obstacle from time to time though.  I used to always use this amazing line on my team.  I know they hated it and cringed when I said it but it is very true…. “It is when we are most challenged or uncomfortable that we are learning.”  Be challenged.  Be pushed, but break through and rise above.


Is Your “Website Down”? 

By Lawrence Hearn, Support Lead

Never fear, problems have solutions. A handy guide to process of elimination trouble shooting.

Here in the support department, I and the rest of the team are in an interminable state of diagnosing and resolving all kinds of issues. It’s like the mail… it never stops, and no two packages are ever the same.

This is of course a bit hyperbolic; it’s not really that bad. However, I thought I’d take a moment to go over some of the basics of how we approach some common issues when we receive a trouble ticket. Hopefully this information might help you to get a better handle on things (should you encounter said issues).

Firstly, when it comes to “Our website is down”, 99% of the time the website is not down, not in the technical sense anyway.

If you try to bring up your website and it does not load, the most likely cause is that the IP address you’re connecting to our network from has become blocked in the server’s firewall (for any myriad of reasons). Common causes are a choppy internet connection, failed login attempts etc, but in most cases the blocks are temporary at best and only last between 5 to 15 minutes.

How can you know if (in fact) you have become blocked? The first thing I like to do is check to see if you can view the website on a device that is not connected to the WIFI network you are connecting from (such as a smartphone or tablet using a carrier signal like AT&T, Verizon etc). If the site comes up, then you know (#1) that the website is not “down” and (#2) that the firewall is blocking your IP address.

You have several options now from here…

#1:

You can use the “Unblock My IP Address” tool located under the “Support” menu in your customer dashboard at https://support.canvashost.comes

This tool automatically detects the IP address you are connecting from and queries the firewall of the server your hosting account is associated with and unblocks it. Very simple, very fast.

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#2:

Email support@canvashost.com with a request to unblock your IP address. In most cases the support system will flag the IP address you’ve emailed us from, but it’s good practice to provide the IP address in the body of your message. There are many ways to find out what IP address you’re connecting from, we have our own tool you can use at: https://canvashost.com/ip

Once we receive your ticket, we’ll unblock the IP and in some cases add it to the firewall’s “Ignore” list, which will prevent the firewall from blocking you in the future. This is performed at the discretion of our staff.

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#3:

Just give us a call. All though the other two methods are likely going to be faster, you may feel challenged by navigating the support system etc and we totally get that. As long as you can provide us with your domain name and the IP address you’re connecting from, we’ll get you unblocked right away. Our customer service phone number is listed right at the top of our website at https://canvashost.com Portland: 503.914.1118 | Toll-Free: 877.HOST.503 | UK: 0800 081 1815

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If your website is actually down for everybody then that is of course a totally different issue. Assuming there are no global issues with the web server and your website is the only one effect, questions our staff will ask in these cases are as follows:

When was the last time you recall seeing the website up and working properly?
Have there been any updates made to the website recently and prior to the issue occurring?
Has the person(s) who built and/or maintain your website(s) been notified and if so, what (if any) feedback do they have?

In most cases, websites break because of old, depreciated code or conflicts between different software installed on the website. The average WordPress site is an amalgamation of 2 to 3 software vendors writing code independently of one another. This is the nature of the platform and the finickiness of PHP.

Let’s use this an an example of a quick (process of elimination) troubleshooting technique…

In a WordPress file framework (which you can access via the File Manager in your cPanel) there are 3 to 4 core folders. One of which is named “wp-content”. In this folder is another folder simply named “plugins”. Renaming this folder (to whatever you like, I generally just do something like “plugins2”) will disable all of the installed plugins without effecting any other part of the WordPress framework. If you do this and then check your website and it comes up, then you know there is/are one or more plugins which just aren’t vibing with each other. Now you can log into your WordPress dashboard (you’ll want to name the plugins folder back to “plugins” first) and go to the Plugins screen to disable all active plugins, then reactivate them one by one, checking the site each time until you’ve identified which one(s) “break” the website.

Assuming there are no updates available for that plugin, it’s just a matter of uninstalling it and looking for a replacement, of which there will likely be at least 2 to 5 available depending on what kind of plugin it is.

And there you go! Now you’re an internet scientist and the envy of your friends and co-workers.


End of Year Finance Stress?? A Quicker Process

By Angela Anderson, Operations/Co-Owner

It’s the end of the year and many companies are going through analysis of their 2018 budget as well as forecasting of their 2019 budget.  This can be a pretty stressful experience and can encumber many long hours of meetings.  Not to fret….

We’ve been there.  We’ve lost hours of sleep.  There are solutions.

We have found that they best remedy to this stress is proactive and productive conversations throughout the year.  One of the successful strategies in finance is to analyze your budget through your Profit and Loss statement monthly as you balance your accounts.  We’ve turned this into a very efficient process for ourselves, as well have taught several of our clients.

  • Step 1:  Balance accounts
  • Step 2: Print off Month End Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet
  • Step 3: Analyze month-end numbers in correlation to last month, last year, and year over year trends

We do this for our own company every month.  Instead of looking at your monthly budget, look at your cyclical nature of your expenses.  Average them over the full year and then create your monthly budget.  Not every month is created equal.

Analyze your income separate than your expense.  Do you have systems in place to look at your revenue streams to counteract your cyclical expenses?

This whole process can be complicated if your expertise is not finance.  We are here for you.  We can walk you through it and set up templates and procedures to help you as well as your finance leaders.  A few hours of pre-planning can overcome weeks of stress.