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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.


Giving Thanks, Opting Outside, and Paying it Forward

By David Anderson, Founder/Co-Owner

We’re at the eve of Thanksgiving weekend, and the many holidays to follow. On this day, I’m reminded of the things I’m thankful for, and the reasons I got into this line of work. It began with the desire to help others navigate technology. Over the years, it grew into what Canvas Host is today.

The opportunity to work with each and everyone in our family of customers is incredibly rewarding. I want to thank you for being a part of this journey, and for supporting Canvas Host through the years.

During this holiday season, I’m also reminded of the commercial side of business, especially in American culture, and the negative impacts it carries. Our company is unique in that we rarely advertise our services. Much of our growth and sustained success through the years has been due to customer referrals and loyalty. Again, thank you.

I don’t care for the craze that turns otherwise well-intentioned members of society into shopping zombies, frenetically careening their carts down the aisles and treating other humans like bowling pins. Thankfully, I’m reminded of something else: The options to avoid those crowds, and make a difference.

First off, I’d like to encourage you to avoid Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and instead Opt Outside. Several years back, REI (an outdoor retailer) began this campaign and partnered with various park services. The idea is to visit a local, State, or National park, to get outdoors, breathe fresh air, and do anything but spend lots of money. The National Park Service has some great suggestions for activities you can do this weekend:

https://www.nps.gov/articles/optoutside.htm

If you are going to purchase products or services, I’d like to suggest you consider supporting local businesses on Small Business Saturday. For every dollar you spend on a local business, $.68 stays within the community. Compare that to shopping online or at a big box retailer, where your purchase supports a large corporation or distant business. You can learn more about Small Business Saturday at the SBA:

https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-initiatives/small-business-saturday

Finally, next week is Giving Tuesday. It’s a time to support and celebrate a cause, nonprofit, or other organization dear to you, and with a financial contribution, help them make a difference. This global movement rarely gets much publicity, but especially in the United States, I think it’s fitting to wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend with a day to help you pay it forward. You can learn more about Giving Tuesday, at:

https://www.givingtuesday.org/

On behalf of everyone at Canvas Host and Canvas Dreams, I wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend, and hope you find reasons to give thanks for all the good in your life.

 


Trouble Shooting Email Issues / Email Settings – 101 

By Lawrence Hearn, Canvas Host Support Lead

Email is one of those day to day luxuries that we all seem to take for granted (until it suddenly stops working). But don’t panic, because like most problems – this one likely has several possible solutions.

Here, I’m going to share with you some of our staple process of elimination trouble-shooting steps for diagnosing and rectifying most common email related issues.

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* Issues with third party Email Software:

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First things first… Restart your email program (if you’re having issues with any third-party email software) such as Outlook, Apple Mail or Thunderbird. 99% of the time, simply restarting your software will rectify the issue.

If that doesn’t yield the desired results, check to see if you can log into webmail using the same email address (and password) you are trying to connect with in your email software. Webmail can usually be accessed by going to yourdomain.com/webmail *as an example*. Of course, you would want to replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain, the one associated with your email address.

If your domain does not point to our network, then you can use the server name that your hosting account is on and port 2096. An example of this would be: If your hosting account is located on the server Kersey, then you would use: https://kersey.canvashost.com:2096

If you *can* log into webmail, then we know that the server’s firewall is not blocking your IP address (which can happen from time to time). If you cannot log into webmail and see something like “username or password invalid”, there’s a good chance your IP has been temporarily blocked by the firewall and there are several options for dealing with this.

Firstly, you can log into your customer account at https://support.canvashost.com and select from the top menu:  *Support > Unblock My IP Address*

This will bring you to a screen with a box that is automatically populated with the IP you are connecting to our network from and a button which will check for any blocks on your hosting server and remove them.

If you’re not in a position to do this, the next easiest thing to do is to go to http://canvashost.com/ip and copy the IP address listed on that page, then email that IP to support@canvashost.com with a friendly note to please check for any blocks and remove them. Our staff will quickly remove any blocks and add your IP to a list which will tell the firewall to ignore the IP in the future, so it doesn’t get blocked again.

Many people ask, “What causes blocks against my IP address?”

Well, the short answer is that machines are cruel and have nothing but contempt and loathing for their human masters.

To break it down a bit more granularly, most of the time, these blocks are what we call “false positives”. They can be caused by any number of benign activities such as the email software experiencing some kind of “hiccup” when making its connection with the mail server, or a temporary glitch in your router or modem, which the firewall can sometimes interpret as a possible attack or other type of malicious/harmful activity.

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* Email Settings:

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Making sure you have the correct settings can be a bit confusing for some people. Al-tho we do not provide direct support and/or training for any third-party software or hardware, the settings required to connect to our server for any email account are pretty much the same thing across the board for any of your devices, be it a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

In most cases, you can use your domain name as the incoming and outgoing server name. Alternatively, you can use the actual server name, such as kersey.canvashost.com (for example).

We recommend using IMAP because it will allow you to see the same messages on the server from multiple devices, whereas POP3 will download the emails to the local hard drive of the device you are connecting from. This is of course completely up to you.

The port numbers for mail will be the same across all devices as well.

For incoming (IMAP) you will want to use 993, and for incoming POP3 you will want to use 995.

Outgoing (SMTP) ports will be 465 or 587. We generally find that with any Apple devices, 587 seems to work better (for some reason).

The authentication type will be “Password” or Username/Password” depending upon the particular syntax of the email software you use.

The username for email will *always* be the full email address of the email account you are wanting to connect to.

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* Updating the password assigned to your Email Address:

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If you ever forget your email password, you can easily update it to whatever you like (assuming it’s a strong enough password) within your cPanel account using the “Email Accounts” tool (which is located in the “Email” section of your cPanel home page.

You can access your cPanel account directly via your customer account at https://support.canvashost.com by navigating to:

Services > My Services

-and then selecting the green “Manage” button to the Right of the hosting account associated with the domain/email account.

Otherwise, you can access the cPanel login directly by going to yourdomain.com/cPanel (replace “yourdomain.com” with your actual domain name). Alternatively (if your domain does not point to our network) you can use the server name with port 2083 which would look like https://kersey.canvashost.com:2083 (for example). This will take you to the same cPanel login screen.

Please keep in mind that if you update the password assigned to your email account in your cPanel > Email Accounts, you will also need to make sure that the “new” password is entered the settings of the email software you use.

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* Why can’t support teach me how to use/navigate my email software/device?

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This is a great question, and the answer really comes down to sustainability.

When you choose the device/software you wish to use, it is your responsibility to learn how to use said device/software, be it via the manual or instructions included, or, from the vendor you purchased it from. There are many types of devices and software available, which are constantly changing/updating, and our small staff does not have the time or resources to maintain our day to day duties of running the CanvasHost network (and) learning the ins and outs of every single device/software combination possible. Luckily, with a little bit of time, finding your way around your chosen device/software should be fairly easy to figure out (and it’s a good thing to take that time to become familiar with these tools, especially if they are mission critical for your day to day operations).

In special cases, our parent organization “Canvas Dreams” does offer (billable) consultations. Please contact sales@canvashost.com and a representative will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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* I’m experiencing an issue with email that isn’t mentioned in this article:

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When all else fails, please reach out to us via email at support@canvashost.com or call our customer service line and let us know what’s up. We’ll do our best to help diagnose the issue and find a resolution for you. There’s a lot of moving parts to website/email hosting and you can bet we’ve seen and resolve just about every issue imaginable.

Just remember… don’t panic. Problems have solutions, and we’re always here to help.