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  • The Ultimate Guide to DNS for WordPress

    The Ultimate Guide to DNS for WordPress

    DNS can be a headache. It’s one of those aspects of website management that can either be a breeze or take days to sort out.

    I should know – I recently spent a week trying to transfer a domain name, which eventually involved failed redirects, htaccess editing and the site going down! Luckily it’s fixed now.

    But my experience shows that it helps to understand exactly what DNS is, what aspects of domain management do what, and the correct way to go about managing, moving and redirecting your domains.

    In this post I’m going to cover everything I believe you need to know about DNS to manage your WordPress site. I’ll define the key terms and give an overview of how to go about doing different things. I’ll include nameservers, MX records, parked domains and lots more.

    Domain Registration

    The first thing to do before you can carry out domain management is register a domain with a domain registrar.

    A domain name is a system used by browsers to access a specific IP address. Your website will actually be hosted at an IP address, but by buying a domain name and pointing it at that IP address, anyone typing your domain name into a browser will be taken to that address. This will be done automatically by your provider.

    This could be the same as your hosting company or it might not. The domains I manage are all registered with a different company from my hosting provider. This is because over the years I’ve switched hosting providers as my needs have changed, while my domain registration needs haven’t changed. I’ve always preferred to use UK-based domain registrars as most of the domains I buy are .uk ones, and it’s sometimes not possible (or too expensive) to buy those with registrars in the US. But my hosting providers have been based in Ireland and the US – although I now use SiteGround in the UK.

    Most people will have their domains and hosting with the same provider. This makes sense, especially if your hosting provider gives you a free domain with your hosting package. It also means you’ve got only one provider to deal with. But if you experience problems with one or the other, it can help if they’re separate.

    For example, last year my old hosting provider was taken over and their service went downhill fast. For a month I couldn’t access my hosting account. A whole month! Luckily because my domains were registered elsewhere, I was able to access those and direct them to a new hosting provider. It was a headache, but not as bad as it could have been.

    So whether you keep your domains and hosting together or separate is up to you. If you’re just managing one site, I suggest doing both with the one provider – it’ll be cheaper and easier.

    Managing Domains with Your Registrar

    Once you’ve bought a domain, you’ll have access to DNS via your provider’s website. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it’s the tools you use to control where your domain points to.

    Before you buy a domain name, check that your registrar gives you full DNS access. Some of the bigger or cheaper providers don’t. I believe every website owner should have full access to all the tools they need to manage their domain, hosting and website – so I strongly recommend you avoid providers like these.

    DNS management screen

    When you access your provider’s DNS management interface, you’ll have a few options. These are the ones you’re most likely to use:

    • Nameservers – use this to point your domain at another provider. This redirects everything: website, email, FTP – everything. I add custom nameservers to my domains because I have my hosting with a different provider. If you don’t change the nameservers, they’ll default to your registrar’s servers. This is what you need if you also have your hosting with them, so you won’t need to change anything.
    • A record – by editing the A record, you can direct your domain at an IP address. Use this if you want to direct your domain to an IP address other than the one provided by your domain registrar. It only affects the website, not any email accounts on that domain.
    • CNAME – the CNAME record works in a similar way to the A record but instead of typing in an IP address, you use a domain name. So you would use this to direct your domain to another domain. An example might be if you’ve registered a .com and a .net address (or a local address such as .co.uk) and want to redirect one to the other.
    • MX record – this specifies the server where you have your email hosted. I always use Gmail for email with my own domain, rather than hosting it at the same place as the website.

    All of these can be edited via your registrar’s system, and some can also be edited via cPanel. I recommend using cPanel where possible as it gives you more flexibility.

    Redirecting, Adding and Parking Domains

    For most website owners, you’ll keep your domain on the servers provided by your registrar and hosting company, and won’t need to make any changes. But if you have multiple domains pointing to the same site, you’re using a different hosting provider and registrar or you’re using WordPress Multisite with Domain Mapping, you’ll need to know how to redirect your domain(s).

    Changing the Nameservers

    If your website isn’t hosted with your domain registrar, you’ll need to set custom nameservers. Each domain registrar will have a different interface for doing this; my registrar has a dedicated page for each domain that I access via my client area.

    Your hosting provider will give you details of the nameservers you should use when you create your account with them: there will be at least two.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1176


  • What’s the Difference Between a “Trojan Horse”, a “Worm”, and a “Virus”?

    There’s no shortage of confusing terminology in the computer biz. With the advent of malicious software, more terminology has been created that only make things less clear.

    The good news is that it’s not really that difficult; in fact, you needn’t understand most of the details (besides, not everyone agrees on the exact meaning of each definition).

    Let’s run down a few terms.

    Malware

    The most important term to know is malware, which is short for malicious software.

    The name says it all: malware is any software that has malicious intent — destroy data, send spam, hold your data for ransom, steal your information — it doesn’t matter. It’s all malicious, it’s all software; thus, it’s all malware.

    You’ll find malware used as a catch-all term for all flavors and varieties of software that intend some kind of harm.

    Virus

    In the human body, a virus is an organism that replicates, or makes copies of, itself and overwhelms the body’s defenses, making it sick.

    When applied to computers, the term “virus” is very similar.

    • A computer virus replicates itself in some way so as to spread within the computer, usually injecting itself into other programs within the computer.
    • A computer virus makes the infected computer “sick”. In the computer sense, “sick” can mean poor performance, crashes, lost files and data, or more.

    Very technically, the term virus does not necessarily imply that a piece of malicious software will replicate itself to other systems. In general use, it’s assumed.

    Spyware

    Spyware is a type of malicious software intended not to do damage, but to collect information, or “spy”, on you. Spyware might monitor and report back on your browsing habits and the programs you run, or access and send other information stored on your machine. One canonical form of spyware is the keystroke logger, which, as its name implies, records your keystrokes (and often more) and uploads this information to a third party.

    Worm

    A worm is a program that replicates itself to other computers. It does so by infecting media, such as USB drives, that make contact with multiple systems, transmitting itself over a network somehow, or otherwise copying itself from one computer to another.

    Very technically, again, the term worm does not necessarily imply malicious intent or behavior, other than the replication. In practice, malicious intent is generally assumed.

    Trojan Horse

    A Trojan horse — often just a “trojan” — is a program that claims to be one thing but is, in fact, another. It uses that deception to gain access to a system that would not be given, were the true intent known.

    A trojan horse is not a virus per se, but it may carry them. For example, there are trojans that claim to be patches for various problems, but instead (or in addition) install malware. Software obtained from many download sites is often a type of trojan, using the promise of the software that is desired to install additional malicious software that is not.

    Phishing

    I think of phishing as a kind of email-based trojan horse. It’s email that looks like it comes from some official site, such as your bank, PayPal, or eBay, but actually comes from someone pretending to be them. They typically use some technique to fool you into thinking they are an official site of some sort, so you hand over sensitive information, like your username and password. Once you do so, they steal your other information, often leading to hacked accounts, identity theft, or worse.

    Regardless of the terms used, protect yourself

    The terms are important, but they’re less important than being aware that malicious software — malware — exists, and taking the steps you need to take to keep yourself safe.

    We shouldn’t have to, of course. Hackers shouldn’t exist, and operating systems and other software should be designed to perfectly protect us. The pragmatic reality, however, is that it remains our responsibility to keep our guard up.

    What does that mean?  — it all boils down to using common sense, keeping your software as up-to-date as possible, and running up-to-date anti-malware tools regularly.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1176


  • Update to Windows 10 for FREE

    Windows 10 Free AssistivechnologiesT

     

    Upgrade Ending Soon

     

     

    M icrosoft offered W indow s 10 as a free upgrade for som e tim e after it’s introduction, and in fact there is still a no-cost upgrade path if you have a legitim ate W indow s 7 or above key, or you can also visit the “assistive technologies” page and get an upgrade if you claim to have a need for such technologies.

    The “assistive technologies” m ethod w as som ething M icrosoft w inked at, not requiring any sort of evidence that the person upgrading actually required any kind of special accom m odation.

    N ow , how ever, that option appears to be com ing to an end in a couple of m onths, according to the site itself:

    If you use assistive technologies, you can upgrade to W indow s 10  at no cost as Microsoft continues to improve the Win 10

    experience for people who use technologies.

    Take advantage of this offer before it expires on December 31 2017.

    Here is the Link.

     

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows10upgrade

     


  • Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10

    Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10

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    Forced updates is Windows 10’s boldest feature. It takes the responsibility of updates off your shoulders. At the same time, mandatory updates make life more difficult for those who like to tweak their system. And you won’t ever be safe from broken or incompatible updates. Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Pros & Cons of Forced Updates in Windows 10 Updates will change in Windows 10. Right now you can pick and choose. Windows 10, however, will force updates onto you. It has advantages, like improved security, but it can also go wrong. What’s more… Read More

    The new Windows Update also covers hardware drivers:

    “In Windows 10, your device is always kept up to date with the latest features and fixes. Updates and drivers are installed automatically, with no need to select which updates are needed or not needed.” –Microsoft Support

    When you’re using non standard hardware, this process can introduce issues. Moreover, drivers provided by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) are not always the best solution.

    If you’d like to keep your custom drivers or if you’re not keen on updating a running system, let us show you how to lock in your drivers.

    Undo & Temporarily Prevent Driver Updates

    Microsoft admits that “in rare cases, a specific driver or update might temporarily cause issues with your device.” To prevent the troublesome driver (or update) to reinstall automatically, Microsoft offers this solution.

    Roll Back Driver

    First, you need to remove the irksome driver. The best option is to roll back to the previous version. Right-click the Start button, select Device Manager, right-click the respective device, select Properties, switch to the Driver tab, and click the Roll Back Driver button.

    Roll Back Driver

    When you’re done, move on to blocking the automatic driver update, which will inevitably be initiated during the next Windows Update cycle.

    Remove & Replace Driver

    Should the roll back option not be available, a workaround is to uninstall the driver and replace it with your preferred version. Before you proceed, obtain the desired driver version from the OEM or a third party supplier.

    Note that some manufacturers offer utilities to uninstall old drivers, ensuring a clean removal of all driver-related files from your computer.

    If you need to manually remove the driver, right-click the Startbutton, select Device Manager, right-click the affected device, and select Uninstall.

    Device Manager

    In the following dialog, check the box Delete the driver software for this device and confirm with OK. This removes the driver file from Windows Update.

    Confirm Device Uninstall

    Next, you need to block future updates for this driver.

    Block Driver Update

    To prevent this driver from being reinstalled the next time Windows Update runs, you can use the Show or Hide Updates Troubleshooter (direct download), which we have introduced previously.

    Briefly, download and run the troubleshooter from Microsoft, on the first screen click Next, then select Hide updates, check the driver/s you would like to hide, click Next again, and you’re done.

    Windows 10 Hide Updates List

    You can reverse this setting. Select Show hidden updates from the troubleshooter, check the update/s you want to unhide, and click Next.

    How to Stop Automatic Driver Updates

    To stop Windows 10 from automatically updating your drivers, you have several options. Note that the Local Group Policy Editor is not available to Windows 10 Home users.

    Control Panel

    For this solution, you need to head into the System portion of the Control Panel. Right-click the Start button and select System. In the Control Panel sidebar, select Advanced system settings.Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified If you want to be the master of your Windows experience, the Control Panel is where it’s at. We untangle the complexity of this power tool. Read More

    Control Panel System Settings

    In the System Properties window, switch to the Hardware tab and click Device Installation Settings.

    System Properties

    You will be asked whether “you want to automatically download manufacturers’ apps and custom icons available for your devices.” Select No and Save Changes.

    Device Installation Settings

    Note that if it works, this setting disables all your driver updates.

    Local Group Policy Editor

    On Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions only, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor to disable updates entirely. Some users report that this is the only setting that worked for them. The advantage of this method is that you can also disable updates for selected devices only.

    First, you need to collect the device IDs for hardware you don’t want Windows to manage for you. This could be your graphics or sound card ID.

    Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager. Double-click the respective device, switch to the Details tab, and select Hardware Ids from the drop-down menu under Property. Using one of the values in the next step should be sufficient.

    Driver Hardware ID

    Now we’ll head into the Local Group Policy Editor to exclude these devices from Windows Update.

    Press Windows key + R, enter gpedit.msc, and hit Enter. In your Local Group Policy Editor, head to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Device Installation > Device Installation Restrictions. Here, double-click on the setting Prevent installation of devices that match any of these device IDs.

    Local Group Policy Editor

    Enable the Setting, click the Show… button, then for each device, enter its Value, and finally OK all your changes.

    Prevent Driver Installation

    Attention: Once you have restricted a driver using the Group Policy Editor, you won’t be able to manually update that driver. To change a restricted driver, you need to disable the setting in the Group Policy Editor, make your changes, then enable the restriction again. Thank you for the hint, Guillermo!

    Alternatively, if you would like to disable all driver updates, you can also Enable the setting to Prevent installation of devices not described by other policy settings. However, we recommend only blocking updates for selected drivers, as described above.

    Registry

    The Windows registry is your last resort. Press Windows key + Rto launch the Run dialog, enter regedit, and hit Enter. Now navigate to this registry string: How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother How to Fix Windows Registry Errors & When Not to Bother In most cases, fixing our registry will do nothing. Sometimes registry errors cause havoc after all. Here we’ll explore how to identify, isolate and fix registry problems – and when to not bother at all. Read More

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\DriverSearching

    Open the SearchOrderConfig value and set Value data to 0. Confirm with OK and reboot your computer.

    Registry Value

    Like other methods described above, this setting disables all driver updates and should only be used if Microsoft’s troubleshooter does not allow you to hide specific updates from Windows Update.

    Keep Your Drivers Under Control

    A bad or corrupted Windows driver update can ruin your PC experience. We’ve shown you how to prevent or reverse such a tragedy caused by automatic updates in Windows 10. This is not to say that all updates are bad, though.

    Updating your drivers is essential for maintaining performance, security, and accessing new features. When you do block automatic updates, remember to manually check for critical driver updates every once in a while. How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? First, don’t fix it if it ain’t broke! If drivers do need updating, though, here are your options.

    Continue reading  Post ID 1176