Better performance from WP Super Cache

If you use the WP Super Cache WordPress plugin (and you should, if you use WordPress), it has a settings page section titled “Expiry Time & Garbage Collection”. It sets the “Cache Timeout” to 3600 seconds by default, and warns that you should set it lower on a busy site.

That advice makes sense if you have a sudden surge of traffic to a single page. However, if your site is generally very busy across all pages (for example, if you have an archive of hundreds or thousands of posts that are constantly being indexed by search engines), we’ve found that you should do the opposite to improve performance: set it much higher. We recommend setting it to 172800 seconds (which is 48 hours). This can cut your CPU usage in half, which will speed up your site.

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WordPress 2.8.6 security update

If you use WordPress blog software on your site, be sure to upgrade to WordPress 2.8.6. The upgrade contains important security fixes. Upgrading is usually easy with the built-in WordPress “update now” feature.

Although all WordPress users should upgrade, we’ve added security rules to our servers to protect our Web hosting customers who haven’t yet upgraded. Other people may find the rules useful if they use mod_security on Apache Web servers. The rest of this post contains more technical details.

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WordPress 2.8.4 security update

If you use WordPress blog software on your site, be sure to upgrade to WordPress 2.8.4 as soon as possible. The upgrade contains important security fixes.

Although all WordPress users should upgrade right away, we’ve added security rules to our servers to protect our Web hosting customers who haven’t yet upgraded. Other people may find the rules useful if they use mod_security on Apache Web servers. The rest of this post contains more technical details.

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Easy Outlook 2007 setup using AutoDiscover

We are pleased to announce that we now support the AutoDiscover feature of Outlook 2007 to provide easy configuration of e-mail accounts. (We are the only e-mail provider that we know of who supports this feature!) When you need to configure an e-mail account within Outlook 2007, now you only need to enter your full name, e-mail address, and e-mail password. Outlook 2007 will then talk with our servers to get the rest of the settings needed to configure the e-mail account.

We have a support page available which walks you through setup using AutoDiscover.

WordPress 2.5.1 security update (and mod_security rule)

If you use the WordPress 2.5 blog software on your site, be sure to upgrade to WordPress 2.5.1 as soon as possible. The upgrade contains an important security fix. (We’ve updated our own blog, and it was painless.)

Although all WordPress users should upgrade right away, we’ve also added a security rule to our servers to try and protect our customers who haven’t yet upgraded. Other people may also find the security rule useful if they use mod_security on Apache Web servers. The rest of this post contains more technical details.

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Webmail “Thread View” is now a preference

One of the features of our new(ish) Webmail system is “thread view”. This groups similar messages together based on their “Subject” and other headers, which can occasionally be useful if you’re trying to see all the replies to a particular message and you want them grouped together.

However, thread view has a potential downside: it you have several active threads going with several messages each, new messages can sometimes appear on the second page of the incoming mail screens, instead of the first page.

That’s not a problem if you’re expecting it. However, since we introduced the new Webmail system, we’ve had several complaints from customers who accidentally clicked “Switch to Thread View” without realizing what it does, then thought some of their incoming mail was missing because they aren’t used to looking for new mail on other pages. Since thread view is “remembered” even after you logout and login again, this caused some people a great deal of heartache.

From our logs, we’ve found that very few people actually use thread view. Because it seems to cause frequent problems and few people use it, we’ve made it an optional feature instead of being always enabled.

If (like most people) you don’t use thread view, you don’t need to do anything. If do you want to use thread view, it’s still available: just click “Preferences”, then click “Display Preferences”, then change “Show ‘Thread View’ Link” to “Yes”.

iPhone e-mail setup instructions available

In an effort to keep up with the cool kids, I blew this year’s gadget budget on one o’ those fancy iPhones. It’s pretty darn nifty, and now that I’ve had a few weeks practice, I can almost completely prevent myself from collapsing to the floor, sobbing “I spent $600 on a phone! My God, what have I done?!”

Anyway, it turns out that Apple convinced some of you to take leave of your financial senses, too, and you’ve been asking us how to set up your iPhone to read your e-mail. So we’ve spent many hours voiding the warranty on our phone, getting it to the point where we could extract detailed screen shots showing exactly how to set up iPhone mail. If you have an iPhone, give it a try! Our servers handle iPhone e-mail connections just fine — and the connections are fully encrypted by default, making sure your e-mail and passwords stay secure as you roam the world on strangers’ WiFi networks.

Mailman monthly password reminders: not recommended

One of the features of our service is the industrial-strength Mailman mailing list manager. Mailman is a very good program in some ways (it’s built like a tank and reliably handles very large volumes of list mail, and it removes much of the drudgery of managing large lists), but it has a couple of undesirable “features”.

The most obvious is that the interface is terribly ugly (the Mailman developers are working on a big improvement to this, thankfully; just so it’s clear, we didn’t create the program, and we’re as horrified by the circa-1996 appearance as everyone else). Another problem with the program, though, is the option for “monthly password reminders”. This is a design flaw that’s being removed from Mailman, and although most of the lists on our servers don’t use password reminders, customers who do should probably turn them off now in preparation for that change.

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Which server is my account on?

Some of the posts on our blog mention specific servers. You’ll occasionally see things like “The web14 server will be rebooted at 11 PM”, “mail sent from the web01 server was delayed”, or “more memory has been added to the web10 server”. Your question, quite naturally, is “How do I know if they’re talking about the server that has my account?”

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Advantages of e-mail mailboxes over forwarding addresses

One of the features of our e-mail service is the ability to create e-mail forwarding aliases to forward messages from an address at your new Web site to existing e-mail account (AOL, Hotmail etc…). This is a useful feature if you need to receive e-mail from your new Web site and need to get it going quickly.

However, in the long term it’s better to use mailboxes on our servers (referred to as “POP mailboxes” on our setup screens, although they can also be accessed by IMAP or Webmail). In fact, one of the biggest advantages of having your own Web site and domain name is that you own it and all of its e-mail addresses. From our experience this is much better than being at the whim of a company that’s almost impossible to contact if you have trouble.

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