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  • Jay Versluis 8:18 am on March 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DNS, ENOM   

    Categories: Plesk ( 70 )

    How to view Plesk websites even if your domain does not resolve to your server 

    Plesk-LogoIt’s never good if your server is working fine, but the domains that resolve to it are down for one reason or another. This has happened to me TWICE this year already, and both times it was out of my hands (yes @ENOM, I’m looking at you).

    Many of my clients use websites for data storage, and while it’s not nice when one goes down, it’s even worse if you can’t access information you may have saved as part of a web application. Thankfully there is a way to access Plesk websites even if the domain no longer resolves properly.

    Let me show you how in this article.

     

    1.) Accessing Plesk without a domain

    First let’s gain access to our Plesk server via it’s numeric IP instead of a domain name. Let’s assume that you’ve had access via https://domain.com:8443 before, but domain.com is currently down due to a DNS resolve issue.

    In that case, find out your numeric IP and access your Plesk server with https://12.34.56.78:8843 – replacing 12.34.56.78 with the IP of your server. If you can’t remember, login to your domain host’s control panel and find out what it is.

     

    2.) Preparing an external domain that’s still working

    We need a domain that still works and is not affected by the DNS outage. It doesn’t have to point to the Plesk server whose domains you want to access, but you need access to the DNS records. Perhaps your domain resolves via CloudFlare or DNSMadeEasy, or even your domain registrar’s control panel.

    Let’s call this domain working.com. We must create an A record that looks like this:

    *.12-34-56-78.working.com

    Replace your own IP for your Plesk server here, replacing the dots in your numeric IP with dashes. Don’t forget the asterisk in the front so all requests can be redirected properly.

    You will also have to supply the IP to your Plesk server with the A record. Don’t worry, this change will not impact on the other services hosted with this domain, we’ll simply make an addition.

    One last note: you want this to kick in as soon as possible, so set your TTL to something like 60 rather than 4000. TTL describes the “time to live” in seconds – and we want this emergency preview in place sooner rather than later.

     

    3.) Setting up Plesk with an external Preview Domain

    In Plesk, head over to Tools and Settings – General Settings – Website Preview Settings. If you can’t see Tools and Settings, look for the Server Tab.

    Define an external preview domain here, like this:

    Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 07.36.53

    This is designed for customers who want to see their websites before a domain has switched to this server. We’re borrowing this functionality in these troubled times.

    Plesk lets you choose a domain from the drop down menu, but assuming none of them are working at this point, our tweaked external domain should work just fine.

    Now head over to the customer control panel for a domain that is not resolving on this server. In our example it’s domain.com. Under Websites and Domains, find the Preview option:

    Screen_Shot_2015-03-09_at_07_47_54

    Clicking this will open a new browser tab which will attempt to display your website on a URL much like this one:

    If all works well you should see your website, all the while bypassing the broken domain, with full PHP scripting capabilities. You can also access subfolders by simply appending them to the URL like this:

     

    Caveat: Subdomains, Permalinks and Redirects

    This isn’t a perfect solution, and several things won’t work with this approach. Webmail for one thing, or anything that is accessed as a subdomain (like webmail.domain.com).

    Another thing that won’t work is permalinks: all Apache mod_rewrite rules will attempt to turn the URL back into its original state, and this means requests may be redirected to the broken domain.

    In addition, web applications like WordPress are usually aware of where they live and you may have to teach them their new (temporary) home URL.

    Here’s how you can fix a WordPress site. It will allow you to write new and access existing posts until the DNS problem has been fixed.

    Try to login using /wp-login.php instead of /wp-admin. Then head over to Settings – General and tweak the two values for WordPress Address and Site Address by changing them to the temporary Plesk Preview URL (see above).

    Before you do, make a note of what these values were before you hit Save. You’ll have to change them back when your real domain resolves again:

    Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 07.57.37

     

    Next, head over to Settings – Permalinks and simply click the save button. This will update the .htaccess files so that all mod_rewrites can be redirected to the correct temporary URL.

    As soon as the DNS panic is over, change these two URL values back to their original and once again click save under Permalinks.





     
    • Jay Versluis 8:34 am on March 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      What about emails?

      I just had a question in regards to accessing emails. There’s no need to change anything on the server for that – simply replace your incoming and outgoing email server settings with the numeric IP of your server.

      This needs to be done in your email client (i.e. Mac Mail, Outlook, Mail for iOS, etc).

      So instead of mail.yourdomain.com, use 12.34.56.78. This will bring up a certificate warning dialogue – ignore it and you’ll have access to your emails again!

  • Jay Versluis 3:21 pm on December 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DNS,   

    Categories: Windows ( 19 )

    How to change your DNS Servers in Windows 

    DNS is a service that translates a domain name into a numeric IP so that one computer can talk to another. We deal with it all the time, but most mere mortals are not aware of their importance. In this article I’d like to show you how to change your computer’s DNS entries in Windows.

     

    Why change DNS Servers?

    In a nutshell, if all works well on your system, perhaps you don’t need to tweak those settings. However, if you can consistently see some websites but not others, or you get weird intermittent connection problems, then your DNS entires may be querying servers that are not as “hot” as others.

    Faster DNS Servers can provide quicker answers, resulting in faster results when browsing.

    When the IP address of a domain changes, it takes a while for this change to propagate through the world. Some servers know changes quicker than others. Some servers may not see new data at all for several days.

    ISPs and corporate networks usually provide their own DNS Servers, but it’s never clear how good they are. Google and OpenDNS provide very fast and free services which usually outperform those provided by your ISP or corporate network.

     

    Change DNS Servers in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

    It’s not easy to find this hidden option, but the good news is this works on all flavours of Windows.

    Search for “Network and Sharing Center” which will bring up a window that lets you choose the option “Change adaptor settings”. This will bring up the list of networks, one of which is likely connected to the internet.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 15.15.01

     

    In my case it’s a LAN connection, but it could also be a WiFi connection. Right-click the appropriate one and choose Properties.

    The next window looks rather scary and isn’t very intuitive for humans. Scour the list for something that relates to Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) as highlighted here:

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 14.10.08

    Select this item and click Properties. Another scary window opens. This one has two parts on the General Tab, and it’s the lower one about DNS that we’re interested in (the top part is for obtaining an IP address – let’s leave it alone).

    The default is “Obtain DNS Server automatically” which means we have no idea who is being queried. Instead, select “Use the following DNS server addresses” and add both DNS Servers of your choice. In this screenshot I’m using Google’s DNS:

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 14.11.25

    As soon as you hit OK the changes will be in effect. You can close all other windows we opened during the course of this setup.

     

    Popular DNS Servers

    Google’s DNS Servers are:

    • 8.8.8.8
    • 8.8.4.4

    The OpenDNS Servers are:

    • 208.67.220.220
    • 208.67.222.222

    There are many other free and premium DNS Servers you can use. Search for “free dns servers” and see lists like these: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/tipstricks/a/free-public-dns-servers.htm

    Have fun 😉





     
  • Jay Versluis 9:59 pm on September 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: DNS,   

    Categories: How To ( 29 )

    DNS Servers from OpenDNS 

    I was on the phone to Apple Support the other day. Among many other things they suggested that I use the OpenDNS servers for local DNS queries on my system rather than mu router’s.

    An what do you know – they work faster indeed. Here they are – in case I forget:

    • 208.67.220.220
    • 208.67.222.222

    To add those on your Mac follow these steps:

    • open System Preferences (click on the top-left Apple logo)
    • under Network, select your local WiFi network and click advanced
    • under DNS click the little plus sign at the bottom and add the above servers

    Note that even though they resolve websites and domains faster, every now and again they do get it wrong. I guess they try for a certain amount of time, and if they don’t get a response from the server they just display an error message. In that case, delete them and go back to that of your router.





     
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