Monthly Archives: September 2014

Setting up Plesk Mail on Mac OSX Mavericks (10.9)

In this episode I’m explaining how to setup Mac Mail for use with Email Accounts created in Plesk 12.  I’m also explaining how to map IMAP folders from your email account to the relevant folders on your Mac.

It’s a rather complex setup (as dealing with email accounts usually is) and has caused me and my customers major headaches in the past, I hope this video can alleviate such pains. If setup properly, Plesk Mail is a pleasure to deal with and works very reliably.

Sadly however Mac Mail cannot discover the settings it needs to work with your Plesk Mail automatically, but with a bit of help and guidance it’s easy to get it working. Let me show you how.

I’ve created a similar screencast to show you how this works in iOS:

Catch this episode on my WP Guru Podcast:

How to open up your Samsung NC10

Here’s a great video by Floppydonkey on how to open up your Samsung NC10 (and NC150). This comes in handy if you’d like to replace the hard disk.

The tools we need are a small philips head screwdriver, a small flat screwdriver or spudger, and a tough finger nail.

In a nutshell, and VERY CAREFULLY:

  • turn your little buddy over onto a soft surface (lid closed, top down so that the back is facing you, headphone sockets face left)
  • take off the battery
  • loosen all screws, including those marked KEYBD (leave the ones for the memory flap)
  • where the battery once was, take the flat screwdriver and pop the two black plastic clips, just next to the two metal parts (inwards). Those are the two main clips that hold the tiny plastic body together.
  • take a tough fingernail and pop the back of the laptop where the battery sat (between those metal clips)
  • once done, lift the right side of the back first, leaving the headphone sockets
  • this is a bit fragile, but the whole back will lift off to the left
  • take out the cover from the headphone sockets
  • you’re done!

The hard drive is held with one screw, simply take it out and slide the hard disk to the right, off the connector. It’s enclosed in a shelf of sorts, which is held onto the drive with two screws opposed the connector.

Put everything back together in reverse order.

Good luck!

MySQL Databases and phpMyAdmin in Plesk 12

In this screencast I’ll show you how to access your MySQL databases from Plesk and where to find the phpMyAdmin tool.

I’ll also show you how to create MySQL users and copy databases in Plesk – this can come in handy when you’re about to make a change and you want to create a backup in case something goes wrong.

P2 Header Ad – Version 1.5 released

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.15.53

I’ve just updated my P2 Header Ad plugin with some new options:

  • you can now display the same ad again after the post content (before the comments)
  • you can do this on single posts, and additionally on the front page if you like

These options are not enabled by default and work best if you have longer posts on your site – the look a bit naff if you use your P2 site mainly for short status updates.

I’ve also spruced up the graphic assets that are used on while I was at it. Check out the new options in the Admin Interface (it’s still under Appearance – P2 Header Ad):


Note on Google Adsense ads

If you’re using both options above with Google Adsense ads, please note that those can only be shown up to 5 times on a single page. If your front page shows 5 posts or more, then the ad can no longer be displayed in the header (which is called last for performance reasons).

If you want to use the after-content-front-page-ad feature, and you want the header to show first, you can tweak line 293 of the main plugin file (p2-header-ad.php) from this


I may make this an option in the admin interface in a future update. Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy the plugin, you can download it from within WordPress, on on GitHub:

How to use the File Manager in Plesk 12

In this screencast I’ll show you how to use the File Manager in Plesk 12. It’s a very convenient tool that has largely replaced the need for an external FTP client.

The File Manager allows you to change files directly on the server via your web browser. I’m explaining the following things:

  • how to upload and download files
  • how to edit them via the integrated text and HTML editors
  • how to make files accessible to others via URLs
  • how to create and extract ZIP files directly on the server
  • and how to change file permissions


How to create a Plesk Backup from the command line in CentOS

Plesk-LogoEven in Plesk 12 we can only schedule a single backup, and we must decide where said backup should be saved: either on the local server, or on an off-site FTP server. Sadly we can’t have it both ways.

Many of us – me included – find this very limiting.

Both local and remote backups have their advantages though, and greedy as I am I want the best of both worlds:

  • an FTP backup is stored off-site, which is great for disaster recovery.
  • but a local backup can be create and to restore much faster, which is great for development
  • a local server wide backup creates individual domain backups automatically, whereas an FTP backup does not – great for convenience

The good news is that Plesk has a set of command line tools which we can use to create a backup manually. In this scenario you can schedule a local backup in the Plesk web interface, and create another one using a cron job.

The tool I’m talking about is called pleskbackup and it lives in the Plesk utilities directory. On CentOS this is in /usr/local/psa/bin.

If called without parameters you’ll see a long list of options you can pass to this command:

Usage Example: Local Backups

To create a local server-wide backup, all we have to do is this:

This will create a backup just like the Backup Manager would in the Plesk web interface. Those are stored in a variety of files in /var/lib/psa/dumps and also in the respective domains/resellers/customers directories.

To create a single domain backup, simply replace “server” with “domains-name” like this:

Add more domains on the same line, separated by spaces.

Usage Example: FTP Backups

FTP backups are slightly more complex to create. We must pass all our credentials as part of the –output-file parameter, which requires us to specify a file name. Since the tool will create a .tar file, make sure you add this as part of your file name. Let’s look at a full example.

Imagine we’d like to create a server wide backup, and our FTP credentials are

– server (FTP Host)
– user (FTP User Name)
– password (FTP Password)
– filename.tar (our backup file name)

then we can call the command like this:

If all goes well you’ll receive no feedback. This is a synchronous task which on larger installations can take several hours – but it should be done within seconds on systems with dummy domains.

First the tool creates a local backup, then ZIPs up the tarball and sends it to the FTP server. Once finished, the tool comes back to the command line.

Automatically deleting older backups from FTP

I love how the Plesk Backup Manager takes care of older backups and deletes them automatically. The pleskbackup command line tool on the other hand isn’t so friendly and instead is a low-level command that only does one thing. If we’d like to see automatic deletions we’ll have to employ a script that will do this for us.

I’ve written such a script in PHP and put it on GitHub – feel free to examine it, test it, use it, redistribute it:

To use the script, take a look at the top of the file and amend your details accordingly:

Save your changes and make sure you add execute permissions to the file:

Now you can call the file from the command line or via a Cron Job (Scheduled Tasks in Plesk). Execute the script as root and make as many backups as you like – in addition to what Backup Manager is doing from the web interface.

The one caveat I found is that the pleskbackup tool does not maintain the correct timestamp when it copies the tarball over to the FTP server. It’s an issue with pleskbackup rather than my script – I don’t understand how Backup Manager can do this fine in the web interface, which presumably relies on the same tool.

As a workaround I’m saving the date as part of the filename, i.e. BACKUP-YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS.tar. For the auto-deletion to work, make sure to use a dedicated directory for your FTP backups with no other files – otherwise the latest backup may be deleted.

To save your backups in a subfolder, amend the prefix like this:

And that’s how we can create Plesk backups from the command line!

What are the credentials to your AirPort Time Capsule

AIrPort Time Capsule

There is something I keep forgetting time and time again: the credentials to my AirPort Time Capsule. It serves as my router, Time Machine Backup disk and even as shared storage for internal use, thanks to an attached USB drive.

All our Macs connect to both drives automatically and without fail – but every once in a while we want to access something on the shared drive, either via Windows or another app like GoodReader. And every time I forget what those credentials are – particularly the user name.

Because there just isn’t a dialogue to set it up.

The password is fairly obvious because it’s something you’ve added when you set the device up. Chances are you can remember it. You can even reset it by pressing the reset button at the back of the device for one second – but not longer, or it’ll reset to factory settings). AirPort Utility will help guide you through this.

But the user name? What is it? Something generic maybe? The name of the attached drive? Steve Job’s daughter?

Turns out there isn’t one. Put anything you like. Seriously. I know it’s weird, and it’s just not how a computer brain works. The user name can’t just be arbitrary – but on Time Capsule it is. So use any user name you like.

It doesn’t matter what as long as you put something into that field. Your uncle’s boyfriend’s pet name, or the day of the week. Anything. Just for heaven’s sake don’t leave it blank or the universe as we know it will seize to exist in a moment’s notice.

But I guess nobody tells you this in the shiny brochure.

And in case I forget how to connect those drives in Windows, here’s a quick reminder for completion:


Connecting to the Time Capsule drives (Windows)

Technically you can connect to the Time Capsule drives via two protocols: Samba and AFP. The latter however is only used on Apple computers. So with Windows and Linux, Samba it is.

In Windows we can map a network drive by heading over to the

  • Windows Explorer
  • find My Computer (Windows 7)
  • or This PC (Windows 8.1)
  • select Map Network drive at the top of the window

This will bring up a dialogue that shows a drive letter drop down and asks for a server path:

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 20.27.51

The browse option won’t find your Time Capsule – instead find the IP address on your network (usually it’s, but AirPort Utility will verify this for you in the “LAN IP” field). Add it into the path/folder field like this:



Two backslashes, followed by your IP address, followed by your drive name. If you don’t specify a drive name the operation will fail. If your drive name has spaces (like “Shared Data”) then just write them out – no need to escape them. CapItaLisAtiON is important here though.

Hit finish and your drive should be accessible.

To find your drive names, consult your friend the AirPort Utility. GoodReader on iOS will find those names automatically – but Windows does not.

And that’s that: another puzzle solved. There is no user name when accessing a Time Capsule drive.

How to use File Sharing in Plesk 12

In this screencast I’ll show you how to use the File Sharing features in Plesk 12. File Sharing allows you to upload files and give links to others, or let others upload files to the server. You can do this with or without password protection and you can even map folders from your server to your desktop computer – so file sharing can be as easy as drag and drop.

I’ll show you how to share files via email, how to map folders from Plesk on Mac and on Windows, and how to setup additional users so that you can allow others to upload files and access protected content. I’ll also show you how to share files without protection so they can be embedded easily into newsletters, emails or websites.

With the right setup you can transform your Plesk server into an unlimited cloud storage system (much like DropBox, Google Drive, One Drive and the plethora of other services out there).

Plesk uses the WebDAV protocol for file sharing and you can use the principles I’m showing here on any device that supports WebDAV. If you’re interested to do this on iOS, look into Good Reader.

Let me know if you have any questions.

How to add Icons and Banners for your Plugins hosted on


Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 12.29.32

WordPress 4.0 introduced a new way to browse Plugins in the admin interface: beautiful icons show up that make Plugins looks like Mini-Apps. When a user clicks on one they get a description right there and then without the need to browse to the WordPress site in a different tab. This gives easy and instant access to important info without disrupting the user experience. Simply put: it’s beautiful!

It’s very simple to add your own icons and banners to this experience and stand out from the crowd. Let me show you how.

Plugin Icons

Create a square icon, much like you would for iOS and Android Apps. Avoid text and keep it simple. Icons can be either jpg or png (transparency is recognised in the latter format). You can upload two sizes with the following file names:

  • icon-128×128.jpg (or icon-128×128.png) for standard displays
  • icon-256×256.jpg (or icon-256×256.png) for retina/hi-res displays

The second file is optional and will show up if a suer browses on an iPad or Retina Laptop. Both files need to reside in the plugin’s assets folder. This is something that is not download when a plugin is installed and only lives on the WordPress repo.

Assets is the same folder that houses your screenshots you may have added which show up in the plugin descriptions. If yours live in the main plugin folder, perhaps now is a good time to move them into assets and keep downloads smaller.

If you don’t already have an assets folder, create one in your root directory of your svn repo (as provided by the WordPress Plugin Master), on the same level as trunks, tags and branches:

Commit your files using your favourite SVN Tool and now they’ll show up in the WordPress admin interface as seen in the screenshot above. It’s that simple.

Plugin Banners

Banners were introduced to plugin authors sometime in July 2012. Back then they were only displayed on the site as part of your plugin URL, like this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.48.04

The new feature in WordPress 4.0 is that those banners now show up when a user clicks your plugin to get more information.

And just like with icons, those banners live in the same assets directory and follow the same pattern for standard and retina displays. Banner sizes are 772×250 and 1544×500 respectively. Again both jpg and png formats are accepted:

Here’s what a banner looks like in the WordPress admin interface:

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.50.08

Installing legacy versions of WordPress in Plesk 12

In this screencast I will show you how to install an older version of WordPress in Plesk 12. This is useful if you’d like to test drive the WordPress Toolkit on a spare server before going live with its many new features. You can’t use the APS installer for this as it will always install the latest version of WordPress.

I will explain where to download an older version of WordPress from and how to install it manually by creating a database first and then running the WordPress installer manually. In total I’m installing three WordPress instances in preparation for the WordPress Toolkit (I’ve explained how to use it in the previous video – you can check it out here:


You can find all previous releases of WordPress in the Release Archive: