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I love Plesk – it’s a work of art that makes my life easier. Rather than a “programme” as such, it’s a web interface that takes control of several thousand services on a web server and makes administering domains and hosting a breeze.

Since 2012 I’ve been a certified Parallels Plesk Automation Technician.

  • Jay Versluis 12:16 pm on April 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Plesk ( 32 )

    How to find out which user ID belongs to which domain in Plesk 

    Plesk-LogoThe other day I found that one of the domains on a busy server was sending unsolicited spam mail thousands of times a day. It happens: the nature of open source scripts is that they will get hacked if they’re not updated regularly.

    The clue was a full-up mail queue and Gmail no longer accepting mails from the IP in question.

    When I examined one of the spam mails I found a line like this:

    X-PHP-Originating-Script: 10040:listr3b.php

    Good to know the spam was sent from a PHP script… but from which domain? All we have here is the user ID of the domain in question (10040) but that doesn’t mean much to the average human administrator.

    Here’s how to translate that Plesk User ID into the domain it’s coming from:

    grep 10040 /etc/passwd

    Replace the user ID with your own, and the result is the user name, as well as the domain path in question.

  • Jay Versluis 5:56 am on April 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Plesk, Podcast ( 32 )

    Moving WordPress with Plesk 11.5 

    Plesk-LogoIn this screencast I will show you how to move a WordPress website from one Plesk server to another without the Migration Manager.

    We’ll extract the files on the source server and export the database. Then we’ll create a new WordPress instance on the destination server and upload the files and import the database. All that remains is to point the domain to the new IP.

    I’m doing this without the Migration Manager because the source server is an Amazon EC2 instance and does not allow root access with a password (which the Migration Manager needs – and Plesk doesn’t yet have a feature that allows me to use a keyfile instead).

    The workflow is entirely web-based and you won’t need anything other than your favourite web browser.



  • Jay Versluis 10:49 pm on April 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Plesk, Podcast ( 32 )

    Best Practices to Extend Plesk using the SDK 

    Apple_Podcast_logoThis is a presentation Andrey Kugaevskiy and I gave at Parallels Summit 2014 in New Orleans. We’ll show you what the SDK is and what it can do for you.

    If you would like to change the way Plesk behaves, or you want to integrate your application or service deep into the Plesk interface, then this session is for you. We’ll discuss the best practices for creating extensions that can be used to differentiate your services from everyone else or to promote your service to all Plesk instances online today.

    Links from the video:

    You can also check out my previous article on how to create an Extension in Plesk.



  • Jay Versluis 5:15 pm on March 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    Categories: Plesk, Podcast ( 32 )

    How to replace an Amazon EC2 instance running CentOS and Plesk 

    Apple_Podcast_logoIn this video I will show you how you can replace a running EC2 instance with a larger one. You may want to do this if you find that you need bigger and better hardware to serve your website, or to move from a development system to a more powerful production system.

    In this example my EC2 instance is an M1 Small which hosts a single WordPress website with about 500-700 hits per day. In the screencast I’m replacing it with an M3 Medium instance which really isn’t big enough to cope with the traffic.

    I have since found that a C3 Large is a better fit. The total downtime to perform this depends on how big your current instance is. You can bring up a larger instance alongside a smaller one and then swap the Elastic IP over for minimum downtime.

    Links referenced in this video:

    If you have any questions, please leave a comment.


  • Jay Versluis 7:12 pm on March 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Linux, MySQL, Plesk ( 45 )

    How to log into MySQL as root user in Plesk 

    Plesk-LogoYou may have noticed that there is no MySQL root user on servers running Plesk. That’s because Plesk renames this user into “admin” by default – for security reasons.

    The password for the admin MySQL account is the same as for the Plesk Panel admin account.

    Even so, when you try to login to MySQL – remotely or locally – you may be puzzled to find that your admin password doesn’t seem to work. Let me assure you of your sanity and your keyboard skills: it’s because Plesk encrypts the password in the database.

    It is the encrypted version that you must present to MySQL, not the clear version. For example, if your password was indeed “password”, then the following command will not grant you access to MySQL:

    mysql -u admin -ppassword

    You can check your unencrypted password by issuing the following command (on Linux servers):

    /usr/local/psa/bin/admin --show-password

    In our example, it will indeed show “password” – so why doesn’t it work? It’s because that command will unencrypted the password for us. MySQL however needs the encrypted version. Here’s how we can extract this from Plesk:

    cat /etc/psa/.psa.shadow
    // will show you something like

    This will give you a weird looking output as shown above. Believe it or not, that’s your MySQL admin password!

    If you’re already logged into your server as root and want to issue a MySQL shell command, you can login to MySQL like so:

    mysql -uadmin -p`cat /etc/psa/.psa.shadow`
    Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
    Your MySQL connection id is 4231837
    Server version: 5.5.36-cll-lve MySQL Community Server (GPL) by Atomicorp
    Copyright (c) 2000, 2014, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
    Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation and/or its
    affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective
    Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

    If you’re attempting a remote connection to MySQL then simply paste that cryptic looking password you got in the earlier step.

  • Jay Versluis 9:05 am on March 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply  
    Categories: Plesk, Podcast, WordPress ( 32 )

    How to install WordPress in Plesk 11.5 

    Apple_Podcast_logoIn this video I will show you the two ways of installing WordPress in Plesk 11.5: the “one-click” way and the “custom installer” way.

    Both options have their advantages: the first offers extremely fast deployment, and the other offers very fine grained control, all courtesy of the WordPress APS package.

    This screencast was inspired by a the on the Parallels Forum:


    If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, or add it to the forum post.

  • Jay Versluis 10:29 pm on March 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , passive   

    Categories: Plesk ( 32 )

    How to allow passive FTP connections in Plesk on Amazon EC2 

    AWS LogoPassive FTP connections should work out of the box in Plesk. If no other firewall or NAT is interfering with it.

    I’ve recently noticed that when I install Plesk on Amazon EC2 every passive FTP connection fails with an error such as “Server sent passive reply with unroutable address. Passive mode failed.”

    The reason for this mishap is twofold:

    EC2 instances are behind a NAT, and therefore have an internal (unroutable) IP, and an external (public) IP. When a passive connection request comes in, ProFTP – Plesk’s default FTP Server – tells the connecting client its internal private IP address, and in turn quite rightly fails to connect to it.

    On top of that, we need to make sure to open a range of ports we want to use for passive FTP connections and tell ProFTP only to use those.

    Let’s do all this this step by step!

    (More …)

    • jersoncito 1:37 pm on July 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I was facing the same problem after I updated Plesk 11.5.30 Update #47 (Centos 6.5 dedicated server 1and1)

      This worked perfect for me:

      1) Patching ProFTP according to the instructions given by Jay
      2) Creating the Firewall custom rule using Plesk control panel.

      Thanks so much Jay!

  • Jay Versluis 12:01 pm on March 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Backup Manager   

    Categories: Plesk ( 32 )

    How to change the default directory for backups in Plesk 

    Plesk-LogoBy default the Backup Manager in Plesk stores local backups in /var/lib/psa/dumps.

    You can change this location by editing /etc/psa/psa.conf. Find the following block in the file:

    # Backups directory
    DUMP_D /var/lib/psa/dumps
    DUMP_TMP_D /tmp

    Change the path for DUMP_D to your new desired location, then restart Plesk for the changes to take effect:

    service psa stopall
    service psa restart

    Alternatively, if you don’t want to make the change, you can mount another volume to the default backup directory (such as an Amazon S3 Bucket).

  • Jay Versluis 9:48 am on March 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    Categories: Plesk ( 32 )

    How to install Apache mod_pagespeed on CentOS with Plesk 

    Apache-LogoI bumped into Kristian Markroft from Simplyroot in New Orleans last week, and he told me about an interesting speed-up module for the Apache Webserver.

    mod_pagespeed is an open source project which speeds up page loads without having to change the code of the actual page. mod_pagespeed does this by adding filters before pages are served. For example it will resize images and minify CSS/JS files, which can speed up page load considerably. The project is hosted on Google Code:

    Let’s see how we can install it on CentOS, test to see if it works and how to manage it in Plesk.

    (More …)

    • Andy 10:56 am on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Jay, thanks for the write up.

      Do you know how well this works in Plesk 11 when you have nginx handling the static file requests? My Plesk server also runs on CentOS and I’ve been looking at installing Apache mod_pagespeed, but wasn’t sure how well this would work with Plesk’s nginx / Apache setup.

      • Jay Versluis 7:03 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Andy,

        glad you liked it! I’ve had mod pagespeed running on a test server for over a month and it works really well with Plesk 11.5. All my sites are WordPress installs, where NGINX only serves static files (graphics and plain HTML, including Super Cached files). Works a treat!

        I’ve just added it to my production servers and results are great – no adverse effects at all, but several sites with complex themes show a speed improvement (including this one).

        Let me know your experience – would be nice to get another perspective.

        All the best,


        • Andy 9:37 am on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          Hi Jay,

          Thanks for taking the time to reply. I finally got round to installing this and it seems to be working well.

          I don’t know too much about what mod_pagespeed does behind the scenes, but from what I’ve read it makes optimisations to images and other resources such as CSS and JS. Like you, I’m currently using Nginx (in Plesk 11.5) to serve the static resources such as images, so I’m guessing for these file types mod_pagespeed wouldn’t have any effect as the request would never reach Apache. But if you’ve noticed a speed improvement then it must be optimising other things which is good!

          I’ll try some more speed tests and see how I get on. Thanks again,


          • Jay Versluis 4:30 pm on May 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

            From what I understand mod_pagespeed parses all JavaScript and CSS files, and then serves each as one file rather than separate single files. So all CSS and JS is served together and is minified in the process. But the caveat is indeed that those files need to be served by Apache – so all static HTML files that rely on being served by mod_rewrite rules (for example, WP Super Cache’d files) will benefit from a speed increase – but anything served by NGINX won’t.

            I guess what would be really beneficial is a speed compare between these variations:

            • NGINX on / mod_pagespeed on
            • NGINX off / mod_pagespeed on
            • NGINX on / mod_pagespeed off

            all with and without WP Super Cache active. What’s a good website benchmark tool? Would be good to have some proper figures.

    • liamcareyLiam 2:17 pm on May 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      This is a great article. Am new to administering a cloud server with CentOS and Plesk. Would consider doing a short video tutorial for us newbies?

      • Jay Versluis 8:58 am on May 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Sure, in fact it’s perfect timing – Plesk 12 has just been released yesterday. Is there any particular aspect you’re interested in? Administering Plesk is a complex topic and probably deserves it’s own full length course to cover all aspects.

        • Liam 12:41 pm on May 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          I wil be interested in backing up my websites and emails correctly and how to upgrade my Plesk panel safely. Plus any other performance tips you might have including setting up Google’s page speed service. As I’m new to this it all helps :-)

    • eomatica 6:37 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I manage a plesk 11.5 with multi php and pagespeed is only working in 5.3.27 config. Any idea how to enable it for 5.4.3 and 5.5??

      • Jay Versluis 6:51 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Pass I’m afraid – I bet it has to do with the multi PHP setup which I’ve never explored on my servers. Im not even sure how Plesk applies those.

        I’m running PHP 5.4 and mod_pagespeed works fine – but all subscriptions are running the same version of PHP.

  • Jay Versluis 5:51 pm on February 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: extensions   

    Categories: Plesk ( 32 )

    How to create an Extension in Plesk 

    Extensions are to Plesk what Plugins are to WordPress. They allow developers to add functionality to the Plesk Panel via PHP, make CSS and JavaScript tweaks and allow a very fine grained amount of customisations.

    Creating modifications in isolated files instead of hacking Plesk core files also assures that upgrades won’t overwrite any changes you’ve made (much like the Child Theme philosophy in WordPress).

    Here’s a quick how-to guide on writing your first extension.

    Uploading an existing Extension

    Extensions come into Plesk as a ZIP file which you upload under Server Management – Extensions (in the left hand sidebar):

    Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 16.39.27

    You can get pre-built Extensions in three different ways:

    • from within Plesk, click on “Products from Parallels Partners”
    • from the Extensions Repository at
    • or create your own

    Let’s see how to do this next.

    Read the full article

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