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Topic: Service Updates

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


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.


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.


Your Business is a Canvas of Dreams

When I first started Canvas Dreams, I wanted to pair my artistic background with technology, and build compelling, creative website services for my customers. We came to realize that the services we provide to our customers, are not as important as how we deliver them. We have built a reputation for being a friendly, personable, and approachable web host. We care about our customers, and we try to help, beyond the point where most competitors would have given up.

We’re not perfect, but looking back on an almost 17-year track record, I’m proud of our accomplishments, and the thousands of customers we have helped. In 2002, I had no idea where this would all lead. I just knew I wanted to try.

What was your dream when you started your business? What did you set out to achieve? Did you write up a business plan or mission statement? Did you draw up an org chart to see how your staff fit together to form a complete picture? Do you actively work on your business, building it to the next level or iteration? Do you retrain yourself and your team, to keep the brains fresh and ideas flowing?

A business is a blank canvas that is never finished. You paint it with your dreams, and you have to keep dreaming. If you stop innovating, your business can hit upon stagnation, a loss of direction, and a forgotten mission. Without focus, a business may amble on for a while, but it runs the risk of going off the road. A business needs a leader with clear vision, and a team united around that vision.

To last, a business must evolve, and its leadership with it. It’s why those years ago, we rebranded to Canvas Host, to highlight our emphasis on web hosting as our primary offering. I am blessed with a personality that is adaptable to change, but I recognize not everyone can do it as easily, or at all. Nevertheless, the evolution of a business will determine its outcome.

Over the years, change brings challenge. We have seen many customers’ businesses grow and decline, start and end, succeed and fail. At the start of this year, we decided to do something about it, and now offer a complete range of business consulting services: Operations, HR, finance, sales, marketing, and IT, to name a few.

We’ve already helped a number of companies get back on track: Their books cleaned up, the team refocused, the leadership counseled, new strategies introduced, and gently nudged out of the nest and back into the world. There is a limit to what we can provide, and we can’t force a business to spread its wings, but we can lead by example, and show that real change doesn’t have to be feared.

We’re pleased to announce a reboot of Canvas Dreams, the parent brand of Canvas Host, to showcase our business consulting capabilities, tell the stories of the brands we’ve helped, and demonstrate how our services could help improve your own business.


Canvas Dreams Now Offering Business Consulting Services

Canvas Dreams, LLC is the parent company of Canvas Host. In 2013, we re-launched our brand as Canvas Host, to focus primarily on web hosting.

Since that time, many businesses have contacted us for assistance in a variety of areas.

It is a proven fact that many small businesses struggle through their first 5 years. We listened to you, and we’re thrilled to offer a range of new services designed to help your business!

As of August 1, 2018, Canvas Dreams LLC now offers business consulting services.

Our company has been in business for over 16 years, a Certified B Corporation for 7 years, and has been an Oregon Benefit Company since the designation was formed in 2014. We believe in balancing people, planet, and profit equally.

We have been where you are and have learned successful procedures to run efficient, sustainable systems. With more than 25 years’ experience in management and operations, our business experts can help you organize your business, creating efficient systems in human resources, inventory management, finance, and operations.

We feel that by making these consulting services available, we can better assist your company in its growth and stability.

Canvas Dreams is here to support you and help you make those dreams a reality.