FlockHosting Blog

Posts, Posts and More Posts!

I have a few posts in the works, one of which is a series of posts which will then be a downloadable PDF on how to build a Church Website using Church Hosting – a lot of the same things would apply to a normal website, but with 110+ churches hosting for free now, really working hard to build some guides to help churches really build up their websites!

The old FlockUpdates may be back now and again to see this silly mug of mine, but rest assured more good things are coming! Soon too going to be re-opening the Crowd Funding site to see if anyone is up for helping grow Church Hosting even more! So excited to see so many churches getting hosted for free, one even told me a story of another provider offering “FREE” but by the end of the sign-up well over $100! Oi! Let’s get the word out about Church Hosting and keep our churches free on the web!

In Other News…

Yesterday on Facebook & Twitter today I posted this picture:

Acer Chromebook & 3 Chromecasts!
Acer Chromebook & 3 Chromecasts!

I’m giving these away as mentioned in a post wrapping up 2014, basically I’m looking to bolster up business without big advertising and I need your help, if you can help you may be one of the lucky winners to get some free hosting and these cool prizes! There is a mystery prize I plan to hand out too, again the target is 5 folks referred and it’ll be a random drawing, let’s just say, it’s rather exclusive and only 2 other people have it…. anywhere. Too if we get a HUGE surge of sign-ups then there will be additional “Thank You” prizes including but not limited to T-Shirts, Stickers, Account Credits and More! So help make this huge!

Want an easy way to convince folks to sign-up? How about some coupon codes for 2015! There’s one for Personal (2015-6M-PER) and one for Business (2015-6M-BIZ) – these are both 6 month packages! For personal it’s $20.15 for 6 months, and for business its $40.30 (Double 2015) all in all some great savings! And it sticks with you, not some one shot discount, you get it for as long as you have an account, so every 6 months great savings! Looking for a year to spread the word for? Our regular pricing is great as well, but more promos are coming!

So stay tuned for more posts! They are on the way!

Migrations are Done!

work-n-manSo welcome to your new homes! There has been some slight confusion about these migrations and folks having issues connecting – I do apologize for all the confusion please know you are not alone, these were some really large moves, and some of you have been used to your server names for some time and you have email apps, smartphones, and bookmarks which take you to a certain place, you just don’t worry about it, it works! Of course until the move!

Server names have indeed changed with the migrations and as they are complete you may need to do some adjustments to your links and apps, and here’s the breakdown:

If you were on: solomon.flockhosting.com — Your new server name is: lilly.flockhosting.com

If you were on: faith.flockhosting.com -or- shepherd.flockhosting.com — Your new server name is: grace.flockhosting.com

If you were on koinonia.flockhosting.com -or- fellowship.flockhosting.com — Your new server name is: church.flockhosting.com

Please address your URL’s for bookmarks to the new name, and with your email app, smartphone, etc. please ensure that you are using these new names as your incoming/outgoing mail server.

As always if you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

FlockUpdate: News Edition

The idea of the FlockUpdate is still alive and well in my book, but first year of marriage, big life changes, big business changes – a guy gets busy! But I wanted to get out some news on recent happenings and some changes still in motion!

First things first – a hot topic in tickets & chats… oh we are going up a font size for this one:

SPAM!

Oh yes, the dreaded canned meat of email (then again there are some which enjoy a good bit of spam… ) – anywhoo, it’s been bad! While ASSP did an amazing job of blocking, it really BLOCKED everything, let’s be honest, you were likely like some missing email entirely! Never fear, Cleaner is still learning, I’ve been training, today fed it over 20,000 pieces of spam, and about 10,000 pieces of good mail! It’s learning!

That’s not all, I’ve added a new firewall in front of Cleaner which blocks known spammers & abusers, and since the log is quickly filling up with notices of connections blocked! So hopefully over the next few days those of you using Cleaner will note a reduction in spam! If not do open a ticket, let’s find a way to fix that!

Now if you want to help, create a folder in your mailbox (only works if you are using IMAP or Webmail) called “spam” no upper case anywhere, just “spam” (no quotes either) copy or move any and all spam that gets by into that folder, with that I’ll monthly grab everyones spam folders, and use it to further train the filter what is getting by and needs to be cleaned up! On the other side if you have mail that keeps getting caught and is good, create a folder called “ham” and add a copy in there, it will allow me to use mail you find to be good to train the system further what’s good!

Now that we’ve covered a big topic, let’s go bigger still!

Grace

Things are going good! I got the hardware provisioned this week with this 8 core beauty, 32gb of ram, and 1 TB of storage-goodness running on the latest CentOS 6 running Cloudlinux! *taps the mic so the tech white noise fades from your ears* – The new server is running a lot of good software to give each of you the MOST you can get out of your website! Security is a big jump too running a system called CageFS which helps lock down each user even further for safety’s sake! Should eventually make SSH a option for some folks should they want it!

Final kicking of the tires tonight and tomorrow, moving sites starting on Sunday/Monday with Faith & Shepherd – should be a painless move! Rolling some moves tonight to get things started in the realm of testing and ensuring everything is running smoothly!

Website Building Services

Not sure how to get your blog, business, personal or family website up and running? Look no further! Next week I hope to unveil the new FlockHosting Web Page Building Services! It will help you leverage the power of FlockHosting’s easy to use auto-installed apps with great themes and even helping build it out initially & include some education on how to update what is setup! This service will start at $100 flat + cost of theme (there will be free and paid themes) – so in need? Now’s a perfect time!

The process will be simple, up to 10 pages you can upload text for, a few choice photos, a logo, and you’ll be off and running! Full details will be posted online next week, if you are interested please don’t hesitate to communicate with me!

All in all….

Things are going well, just wanted to update you guys on things moving forward, a lot of these upcoming changes should be pretty much transparent, no need to do anything on your end, email is the only change where if you are using say:

shepherd.flockhosting.com / faith.flockhosting.com

Once your migration day has come then you simply change the entry in your Smartphone/Email Client to:

grace.flockhosting.com

But don’t do it just yet! Still in the works – keep an eye out for an email! Changes should be happening fairly quickly! So stay tuned! Have a BLESSED Thursday!

Server Fleet, Growth,Crowdfunding & A Deal

Greetings! So it’s been 9 days since I said:

screenshotBetter late than never?

Server Fleet Changes

Well as of late my hours have been upside down and backwards, some days I honestly feel like I haven’t slept at all! A lot going on, but more on that area of my personal life another day, but a lot to talk about when it comes to services here at FlockHosting, things are going to be changing.

Many of our servers in our fleet work without issue, however they are growing older and software is getting to End of Life (EOL) and with these additional EOL deadlines coming up, but in some cases while core software is supported with updates, other softwares NEED a more modern version of the OS to give us the best features – So if you are saying “tech talk… ah the lovely sound of whitenoise!” let me break it down — It’s like our servers are running Windows XP, but the software I want to run for best features and growth require Windows 8.

I need to upgrade.

The fleet was originally built with the idea of specific resources to fit 50 customers per server, this allowed for low volume servers so folks all got the best performance, and use of resources they could ever need – however as customers come and go, we have hit a problem, many servers half filled, and not even reaching all the use of resources.

I need to cut the fat.

So with these two ideas in mind it’s time to retire some additional servers similarly to what I did with Solomon, and produce another set up like Lilly to better suit what FlockHosting needs moving forward. Room for growth.

A new server is being prepared called Grace. Hoping to have it’s hardware online by the end of this week and configured with the latest tech, and like it’s partner Lilly it will have gobs of storage, memory, and latest tech to ensure customers get a fair shake for their websites – this server will completely absorb the customers on Faith and Shepherd, two long-time standing servers which have served FlockHosting well, but it’s time to move forward and build the future!

A 3rd server will be coming online within the next 2 months called Church, and it’s use is to consolidate the Church Hosting servers into something more powerful and stable.

Another thing on-going are the following server changes which will become fleet standards:

  • NGINX installed in front of Apache to improve overall server performance.
  • Removed ASSP Filtering – Too many issues lately, if you feel too much spam is coming through now and Spamassassin isn’t doing a good job, open a ticket to get added to Cleaner or have Spamassassin tuned up a bit!

More things are on the way, but enough about fleet changes, onto…

Growth

Has been slow, summer is a 50/50 time of the year, either you have folks being homebodies and staying home to work on new project ideas, or you have everyone out and about – away from the computer and no new projects start up, so it’s been on the side of slow this year, apparently some great summer fun was had 🙂

But I need your help to really get things spreading the word abou FlockHosting services! While Church Hosting has never shown a real sign of slow down, I need your help to bring folks in to get the standard packages for their everyday needs! Here’s a few ways you can lend a hand:

  1. Share the FlockHosting Facebook page to your friends!
  2. Give FH a shout out on twitter!
  3. Give FH some love on your website, maybe say “Powered by FlockHosting” or maybe “Powered by powered-by-fh” make people wonder what powers your website!

I’m working on other things too, just only so many hours in the day, just a lot to do with everything above so if you guys can help spread the work as my marketing team a bit, that would be incredibly helpful!

Crowdfunding

So the option for Crowdfunding didn’t go as well as expected:

screenshot 2

Just never took off, had some fair traffic and folks visited, but never a single donation. It doesn’t mean the end of Church Hosting, just means growth is a bit slower than I’d like, but hey maybe God has a better plan than I do when it comes to how quickly Church Hosting should grow!

I will be giving things another go, maybe a bit more polish if time allows for a video, marketing a bit more, and see what we can drum up, but with the growth mention above if you have the desire to donate just to donate with no prize options in return, you can visit the site and donate using your Credit Card or PayPal!

A Deal

It’s been a while since there has been a deal posted, so why not now? Let’s “GETTALKIN” – spread the word about that coupon code, share GETTALKIN on your favorite social media outlet and be sure to tag FlockHosting with a hashtag or @flockhosting – lets spread the word about FlockHosting with a deal that gives anyone 50% off their first invoice! So a great way to get online and get a great savings on hosting! Doesn’t apply to domains, can’t be combined with any other offers, but a perfect time to sign-up for say two years for the price of 1! A great savings and it lasts through the remainder of this month!

Share it around, hopefully with your help we can shake off the summer and get speeding forward with the remainder of 2014!

More on the way!

There is a LOT going on behind the scenes, hopefully if all goes well (and I do things like sleep and eat) things will get done and online sooner than later and FlockHosting will continue to grow! Have a BLESSED Week! If you guys need anything at all, may be a little slow to reply, but I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Spam… Ugh.

spamYou hate spam, I hate spam… Let’s be honest – We all hate spam! Unless of course you are interested in this lovely can of spam and well, you are not alone, but for me, I’ll pass 🙂

On the rise lately Spam is! But too sadly antiquated scripts & virused computers are sadly marking some of our servers in the fleet as spam, and not the delicious canned meat kind. So some steps are going to be taken and it’s not being taken lightly.

What’s the plan? How do we stop it? A few different ways of which #1 is run a BIG security audit on servers, namely your files & applications! This will alert me to any known exploits and common hacked file types – say your old WordPress theme, or plugin, possibly some old mailing script the kid down the street made for your website before moving away to college, it’ll find things which are up to no good, at least a good chunk of them, sadly not all – so please on the other side of the coin, please update your scripts!

Next on the list is a test for the next week (possibly less if negative effects) is to Filter Outbound Email. This one wasn’t an easy choice, but out-dated scripts, folks whose computers have viruses or even worse easy passwords get things quickly blacklisted, so we need to change things up – so the same filtering on server that scans your email as it comes in to help prevent spam, will now scan outbound, it will process your mail through filters and if it finds spam – it stops it dead – hopefully this will keep us all off blacklists and our email running smoothly through the internet!

Other options? A few in the works, including reinforcing SPF & Domainkey records! These will come in handy, but too I’m doing my part to install some new application firewall rules which will help prevent exploits even if I do find them in my scans, hackers won’t have access to your files to do damage as your domain name!

So hopefully these few things all together will create a blacklist free environment for us! I’ve been working since yesterday on updates to the entire fleet, hopefully all servers will be updated and running smoothly by Monday, Tuesday I’ll re-run all servers against email blacklists and see how we are doing in the realm of being marked as spam!

Sorry for any issues you are having, please don’t let this post stop you from opening a ticket, hitting the live chat or catching me on any of the communicate methods! I’m here to help!