Category: Howtos

Troubleshooting Website SSL  Issues – No Padlock

Troubleshooting Website SSL Issues – No Padlock

Having SSL problems? One of the most common issues our team handles is related to websites not properly displaying over HTTPS, whether it be the website either not loading entirely, or just not showing the green padlock:

Troubleshooting Website SSL  Issues – No Padlock 1

If you’re sure that the SSL certificate is installed properly, but your site isn’t showing as secure, there are many things that can cause this.

Note: If your certificate is not installed properly, most all browsers will prompt you about this prior to loading the website. This is typical in situations where the certificate is installed for a different domain than what you are accessing (a.k.a “domain mismatch”), the certificate is expired, or it’s invalid or self-signed. If this is the case, you need to install the certificate correctly first. See cPanel’s documentation for installing an SSL certificate or using AutoSSL. Need help? Contact us!

First, go to https://www.whynopadlock.com and enter your domain name with https:// in front of it. I’m a huge fan of this website, because it will pretty much tell you exactly what the problem is. If your website is failing in any area, it might not load correctly for some visitors. I’ll go through each of the tests below.

Force HTTPS

It used to be that you only had to load your site over HTTPS for things like login or order forms, but by current standards, that’s no longer the case. Your site should always load over HTTPS. The most common way to do this is via .htaccess. If you have WordPress or another domain-specific CMS, you may want to consider a plugin like this one. Some applications may require you to adjust their configuration to load over a specific URL.

Valid Certificate

As noted, this should be an obvious one, because your site will probably not load without a notice that the certificate is invalid. The URL bar in your browser may also show a red broken “x” or padlock icon to warn you about this. For your certificate to be valid, it must be signed by a certificate authority for the domain you are accessing, and must not be expired. A self-signed certificate is not acceptable. You can use LetsEncrypt or Comodo (provided by cPanel AutoSSL), though.

Domain Matching

I also touched on this, but the certificate has to match the domain you are accessing. There is a difference between www.domain.com and domain.com, but nowadays most all certificate authorities will automatically issue the certificate to both. Subdomains would not be included unless you specifically added them to your certificate or have a wildcard certificate.

Signature

At present, your certificate must use the sha256 hashing algorithm, or SHA-2. This usually will not be problem if your certificate was issued in or after 2016, but if for some reason it is, just have your authority reissue the certificate.

Expiration Date

As stated, your certificate must not be expired. If it is, you’ll need to renew it.

Protocols

This one is a server-side issue, and you may be surprised how many newer browsers have really tightened up on enforcing secure protocols. SSL protocols eventually become deprecated and non-compliant with PCI and other security standards. If your server supported connections on these expired protocols, some browsers may refuse connection to them over HTTPS.

To fix this for Apache on a cPanel server, edit /var/cpanel/conf/apache/local and make sure the sslprotocol line reads as:

sslprotocol: All -SSLv2 -SSLv3 -TLSv1

Then run /scripts/rebuildhttpdconf and restart Apache. You can also change this in the Apache Configuration section of WHM. This will specifically disable the currently-outdated SSL protocols.

If you’re running Nginx over Apache, you’ll need to also edit this in the nginx.conf file and restart Nginx. For Engintron users, the setting will be in common_https.conf.

Mixed Content

This can be one of the hardest issues to resolve, depending on the framework of your site. This error basically means that some parts of your website, whether its a CSS file or image, is loading over HTTP while the rest of your site is loading over HTTPS. The report should give you a list of these resources.

In the simplest of situations, this is usually a matter of just changing all instances of “http” to “https” in your website’s code, or using relative paths instead of full URLs (which of course, will only work for local resources). In more complex cases, such as with WordPress sites, you’ll need to do a search/replace within the database. This article explains the process, but you will need to do it from command line.

Other Problems

Most other issues are apparent by the client’s browser not being able to connect to the website over HTTPS at all, even when the above tests pass. In these cases, more often than not, we’ve seen it to be caused by the client’s environment. Older operating systems, like Windows XP, CentOS 5, simply cannot access HTTPS websites anymore unless the servers hosting them support very old protocols. These users are probably also seeing the same issue with accessing other websites as well, especially for banks or other highly-secured websites. We have also seen rare cases when user antivirus software or firewalls have caused a problem. If your tests indicate no clear failures but a client is not able to connect over HTTPS, it’s most likely an issue on their end.

In conclusion, most SSL problems can be easily resolved if you know what is causing them. As always, feel free to contact our team if you need assistance with your website not loading over HTTPS.

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How to clear eximstatus database entries

How to clear eximstatus database entries

Hello,

This post is about truncating eximstats database. The scenario is considered when the database size increase to large size. This can occur due to high mail queue or spam issues. If your eximstats database has gotten pretty large, chances are you have a spam issue and may want to check your /var/log/exim_mainlog log to see if you have any kind of spam activity going on.

So what is eximstats database?

Eximstats parses the exim log to produce text and graphical data, i.e. number of successful and unsuccessful delivery etc . From WHM we can analyze the email queue by from “Home » Email » Mail Queue Manager“. The eximstats normally analyze the exim mainlog and syslog files to generate a statistical output.

Here I’m explaining the way to remove contents from the database Eximstats.

1, SSH to server as ‘root’ user.

2, Enter to MySQL command prompt.

root@myserver [~]# mysql
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 14851610
Server version: 10.0.20-MariaDB-cll-lve MariaDB Server
Copyright (c) 2000, 2015, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.
Type 'help;' or 'h' for help. Type 'c' to clear the current input statement.
MariaDB [(none)]>

3, Use the database eximstat.

MariaDB [(none)]> use eximstats;
Reading table information for completion of table and column names
You can turn off this feature to get a quicker startup with -A
Database changed
MariaDB [eximstats]>

4, The DB eximstat mainly contains 4 tables:

MariaDB [eximstats]> show tables;
+---------------------+
| Tables_in_eximstats |
+---------------------+
| defers              |
| failures            |
| sends               |
| smtp                |
+---------------------+
4 rows in set (0.00 sec)
MariaDB [eximstats]>

5, Truncate all tables.

MariaDB [eximstats]> truncate table smtp; 
MariaDB [eximstats]> truncate table sends;
MariaDB [eximstats]> truncate table failures; 
MariaDB [eximstats]> truncate table defers;

6, Quit from MySQL prompt.

MariaDB [eximstats]> quit
Bye

7, Check the DB.

root@sng006 [~]# mysqlcheck -c eximstats
eximstats.defers                                   OK
eximstats.failures                                 OK
eximstats.sends                                    OK
eximstats.smtp

6, Restart Exim daemon.

Do check the exim main log and confirm that everything is normal. That’s all 🙂

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Steps to enable TLSv1.2 for PayPal /Stripe connections

Steps to enable TLSv1.2 for PayPal /Stripe connections

Recently, the following error was thrown whenever I try to process a payment in PayPal.

“Stripe / PayPal no longer supports API requests made with TLS 1.0. Please initiate HTTPS connections with TLS 1.2 or later”

on further investigation it is found that common payment gateways such as  PayPal are updating their API servers to only accept requests made using the new TLS 1.2 protocol for encryption. This is intended to secure all external connections made to the payment gateways. Interestingly the same issue happened during Stripe checkout as well, ruling out any issues specific to PayPal alone.

Even though the server is enabled with TLS 1.2, the default connections uses  TLS 1.0 for establishing connections with payment gateways and it creates the compatibility issue.

This issue was a good one. Took me 1+ hour to figure out. Google helped by lighting the path 🙂

Here is what I did.

1.Checked in the Qualys SSLLabs using the link https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest  and confirmed that TLS 1.2 is enabled.

2.Worked in the SSL settings of web server / virtual host to enable only TLS1.2 by using the following entry in my virtual host entry


SSLProtocol -all +TLSv1.2

You need to tweak it in accordance with your webserver settings. I also tried adjusting the priorities of TLS v1 TLS v 1.2 etc.

3. Checked for the latest version of OpenSSL and Curl

4. Tried matching the libcurl version in CLI and the phpinfo page and they turned out to be the same.

5. OpenSSL versions also matched in phpinfo and CLI

6. Tried running curl in the CLI with –tlsv2 option enabled. It worked there, but still not on the website.

I tried running the php script and it was returning me TLS 1.0 . So that was the turning point. For some reason system is taking TLS 1.0 and not trying to negotiate TLS 1.2


tls_version;
?>;

As anyone can guess, the issue is with the default version.

By default it is taking TLS 1.0. Issue would be solved if I can somehow get TLS v 1.2 to load. I tried setting CURLOPT_SSLVERSION, but unfortunately (or fortunately) it didn’t work 🙁

Finally an interesting discussion came as Bug 1272504 in https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1272504 .

Luckily, the server was a VPS and hence we could update the package. yum update nss.i686 and the issue got resolved. The above code displayed TLS 1.2 and I knew the problem solved. It did!!

Steps to enable TLSv1.2 for PayPal /Stripe connections 2

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Add a command/binary to CageFS

Add a command/binary to CageFS

Hello Pals,

My new blog is about adding a command or binary in the CageFS. For those who doesn’t know what CageFS is, I will start with a small brief on that.

CageFS

CageFS is a term related to CloudLinux and it is a virtualized file system and a set of tools to contain each user in its own ‘cage’ (can relate to chroot in Linux). Each customer will have its own fully functional CageFS, with all the system files, tools, etc.

So coming back to the topic, I will be adding FTP command to the CageFS.

First, we can check the binary ‘FTP’ and see if it’s present in the server.

root@myserver [~]# ftp
ftp>

Now that command is available on the server let’s see after switching to a normal user.

root@myserver [~]# su - manu
 
 
manu@myserver [~]# ftp
-bash: ftp: command not found

So its confirmed that the command “ftp” is not available to the users. Now we are going to add this to CageFS so that the command becomes available to users.

You can add any RPM’s if they’re installed on the server. First, find the full path of the command using the ‘which’ command:

root@myserver [~]# which ftp
/usr/bin/ftp

Once you have the full path, find out its package.

root@myserver [~]# rpm -qf /usr/bin/ftp
ftp-0.17-54.el6.x86_64

Now let’s add the package/rpm to CageFS

root@myserver [~]# cagefsctl --addrpm ftp-0.17-54.el6.x86_64

You need to update CageFS so that its added to every user’s cage.

root@myserver [~]# cagefsctl --force-update

Once the command is executed, switch to a user’s account and verify that command is available.


root@myserver [~]# su - manu
 
manu@myserver [~]# ftp
ftp>

That’s all and the command ftp will be available for the user now.

Hope this blog was helpful. 🙂

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Legacy File Manager : File Listing Issue Resolution

Legacy File Manager : File Listing Issue Resolution

Hello folks,

Today I am going to solve an issue with cPanel Legacy File Manager. I think you already know what a Legacy File Manager is. For those who don’t, Legacy file manager gives the look and feel of old cPanel File Manager. This is done for those who are finding it difficult with new cPanel file manager.

Please note that with newer cPanel updates, they have discontinued the “X3” theme and “Paper Lantern” has now become the default. So for those who have latest cPanel, this blog will be irrelevant as Legacy File Manager is only available in old X3 theme.

So coming to the issue, at times when you access Legacy File Manager nothing shows up. Below is an example of how it will look.

Legacy File Manager : File Listing Issue Resolution 3

Steps for solving the issue

Checking cPanel Error Logs

First, we will be checking cPanel error logs to see if anything shows up there. Following command is run on commandline while accessing the Legacy File Manager.

root@s1 [/home/manu]# tail -f /usr/local/apache/logs/error_log | grep manu

Unfortunately, there was no error. So we will move on to next step.

Checking cPanel Version

This step is to confirm whether the issue is a cPanel bug. cPanel version can be checked by using the following command

root@s1 [/home/manu]# tail -f /usr/local/apache/logs/error_log | grep manu

Take a Backup of the Account

This is a precautionary step. You won’t know if the user’s cPanel gets corrupted or not on proceeding with clearing the cPanel cache etc. For the purpose, I used the following command.

nice -n 19 /scripts/pkgacct manu

As I have mentioned earlier manu is the username of the account and nice -n 19 is used to reduce the priority of the process.

Clearing cPanel Cache

For clearing cPanel cache, you can move the ‘cache’ file from the cPanel folder in a user’s home directory. The command I used is given below.

#mv /home/user/.cpanel/cache /home/user/.cpanel/cache.bak 

After this step, I tried logging in again to the cPanel of the user. the issue was not resolved. 🙁

Renaming .cPanel Directory

For the purpose, I used the simple ‘mv’ command.

#mv /home/user/.cpanel /home/user/.cpanel.bak

On logging in again, a new .cpanel directory was created and everything seemed to be working fine. 🙂

Hope this post was helpful for you today.

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“SED” Options and its usage

Sed – The Stream Editor

A stream editor is used to perform basic text transformations on an input file. Sed command is mainly used to replace the text in a file. But it is a powerful text processing tool.

Some uses of sed command are explained below with examples:

Consider the text file “test” as an example

1) Replace all the occurrence of the pattern in a line

“SED”  Options and its usage 4

Here in the above example, sed is used to replace all occurrences of  “system” with “software” within the file test.

Let us have look into the switches used for the task

 Denotes
 s  Substitution operation
 /  Delimiter
 system  Search pattern
 software  Replacement string
 g  Global Replacement flag

Sed command by default replace only the first occurrence of a string in each line. The /g flag specifies the sed command to replace all the occurrences of the pattern in each line.

The table below shows some more options:

 Command  Purpose
 sed ‘s/system/software/’ test  Replace first occurrence of a string in each line
 sed ‘s/system/software/n’ test  Replace the nth occurrence of a pattern in a line
 sed ‘s/system/software/ng’ test  Replace from nth occurrence to all occurrences in a line
 sed ‘n s/system/software/’ test  Replace string on a specific line number (nth line)
 sed ‘n,$ s/system/software/’ test  Replace string on a range of lines (from nth line till last)
 sed ‘/as/ s/system/software/’ test  Replace on a line which matches a pattern (here pattern is “as”)
sed ‘s/system/software/w test2’ test Copy replaced line to another file
 sed ‘/your/ c Replaced line’ test  Replace the lines which contains a pattern (In this case, the entire line with the pattern “your” will be replced with “Replaced line”.)
 sed ‘/your/ a Replaced line’ test  Add a new line after a match
  sed ‘/your/ i Replaced line’ test   Add a new line before a match

 

2) Use a different delimiter


sed 's|system|software|' test

Instead of ‘|’ we can also use ‘_’ or ‘@’ as the delimiters. This is mainly used when the search pattern or the replacement string is url.

 

3) Use & as the replacement string


sed 's/system/& and &' test

Here in the above example ‘&’ represents the replacement string and hence replace ‘system’ with ‘system and system’.

4) Duplicate the replaced line


sed 's/system/software/p' test

The /p(print) flag prints the replaced line twice in the terminal. In this case the lines which are not replaced will be printed only once.

The following command generate the duplicate of each line in this file:


sed 'p' test

 

5) Print only the replaced lines


sed -n 's/system/software/p' test

Here the -n option suppresses the duplicate of the replaced lines generated by the /p flag.

If we use the option -n alone without /p, then the sed does not print anything.

 

6) Delete lines


sed '2 d' test

In this case, it deletes the second line from the file ‘test’.


sed '2,$ d' test

Here, it deletes a range of lines i.e, from second line till the last line.

7) Run multiple sed commands

sed -e 's/An/The' -e 's/is/was/' test

In order to run multiple sed commands either we can pipe the output of one sed command to the other or we can use the ‘-e’ option.

8) Sed as grep command


Case 1:
cat test
An operating system is a vital component of the system.
The operating system controls your computer's tasks and system resources to optimize performance.
An operating system is a collection of softwares.
An operating system is abbreviated as OS.

Case 2:
sed -n '/vital/ p' test
An operating system is a vital component of the system.


Case 3:
sed -n '/vital/ !p' test
The operating system controls your computer's tasks and system resources to optimize performance.
An operating system is a collection of softwares.
An operating system is abbreviated as OS.

Here in the above example,

Case 1 shows the contents of the file “test”

Case 2 executes sed command to print the lines which match the pattern “vital”. This is same as grep command.

Case 3 executes sed command to print the lined which do not match with the pattern “vital”. This is same as grep -v.

 

9) Sed as tr command


sed 'y/ATp/atP/' test

The sed command along with y flag acts as tr command. Here in the above example, the sed command use ‘y’ flag to replace ‘A’ with ‘a’ and ‘T’ with ‘t’ which is similar to the action performed by tr command.

 

10) Edit the source file


sed -i 's/system/software/' test

Sed command by default does not edit the source file for our safety but by using ‘-i’ option source file can be edited.

11) Take backup of source file prior to editing


sed -i.back 's/system/software/' test

In the above sed command, before editing the source file sed command takes the backup of ‘test’ as ‘test.back’.

sed command is case-sensitive. Use /I or /i flag for case-insensitive search.

 

There are many more examples of sed command. Here I chose these examples to illustrate some basic concepts. This concludes my tutorial on sed and I hope you enjoyed it.

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Some useful switches for “du – disk usage”

As we know, du command is used to check the disk usage of files and folders under Linux system. There are a lot of switches available for du among which here I am trying to explain the most common switches used.

As you know, one can easily checks the switches available for du by looking at the man page for du or by executing the command du –help .

Here I am trying to provide some basic guidelines about commonly used switches so that you can use them whenever in need.

Most commonly used form

# du -sch

h -> human readable format.
c -> display a total size usage at the end of result.
s -> display total size of a file or total size of all files in a directory.

Usage:

root@server [/home/abl]# du -s /home/abl
213932 /home/abl
root@server [/home/abl]# du -sh /home/abl
209M /home/abl
root@server [/home/abl]# du -sch /home/abl
209M /home/abl
209M total

Listing all files and directories, switch “a”

# du -ah

a -> this switch displays disk usage of all individual files and directories.

Usage:

root@server [/home/abl/etc]# du -ah /home/abl/etc | tail
0 /home/abl/etc/wis.com/quota
4.0K /home/abl/etc/wis.com
0 /home/abl/etc/ftpquota
0 /home/abl/etc/quota
4.0K /home/abl/etc/cacheid
0 /home/abl/etc/ablo.com/passwd
0 /home/abl/etc/ablo.com/shadow
0 /home/abl/etc/ablo.com/quota
4.0K /home/abl/etc/ablo.com
28K /home/abl/etc

Exclude something from the command output, using –exclude

# du –exclude

-–exclude -> This switch will avoid the particular file name that we have mentioned.
In the below example du -ah avoid files ending with .txt (–exclude=”*.txt”)

 root@server [/home/abl/etc]# du -ah –exclude=”quota” /home/abl/etc | tail
4.0K /home/abl/etc/wis.abl.com
0 /home/abl/etc/wis.com/passwd
0 /home/abl/etc/wis.com/shadow
4.0K /home/abl/etc/wis.com
0 /home/abl/etc/ftpquota
4.0K /home/abl/etc/cacheid
0 /home/abl/etc/abl.com/passwd
0 /home/abl/etc/ablogsite.com/shadow
4.0K /home/abl/etc/ablogsite.com
28K /home/abl/etc

Display modification time of files/folders, using –time

# du –time

–time ->This option shows the modification date and time of the file/directories.

root@server [/home/user/folder]# du -sch –time *
1.8M    2017-05-19 00:32    Folder 1
248M    2017-05-06 07:35   Folder 2
40K       2016-12-15 15:05   Folder 3
32K       2017-04-27 15:46   File.pdf
250M    2017-05-19 00:32    total

This switches should help you get the disk usage of the files in any directory.

There are few other options for du which are worth trying. You can view its details checking the man page of du.

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Install ImageMagick and Imagick on a cPanel Server

The ImageMagick installation steps are simple for a cPanel server. ImageMagick is an addon for your cPanel server which allows image manipulation. ImageMagick is a software suite to create, edit, compose, or convert bitmap images. If you are more curious about it then you can check the details on here

ImageMagick Installation via command line

For command line installation, you simply need to execute the cPanel script for the same


/scripts/installimagemagick

This will take a couple of minutes to complete. After installation you can check the version by executing the following command:


/usr/bin/convert --version

The output will be something similar to the one given below


root@server [~]# /usr/bin/convert - - version
Version: ImageMagick 6.7.2-7 2015-07-29 Q16 http://www.imagemagick.org
Copyright: Copyright (C) 1999-2011 ImageMagick Studio LLC
Features: OpenMP
root@server [~]#

In cPanel & WHM version 11.34 or earlier you can run the /scripts/installimagemagick script as the root user to install ImageMagick. But from cPanel/WHM version 11.36 or above, the “installimagemagick” script from the cPanel & WHM system  has been removed. This package installs ImageMagick to the /usr/local/cpanel/3rdparty directory.

Now cPanel runs version 64, so the above method can not be followed now.

In this case, you can install ImageMagick via YUM repository. The basic packages required can be installed running with the following command:


yum -y install ImageMagick-devel ImageMagick-c++-devel

How to verify whether we have installed ImageMagick or not?

You can check the existence of “convert” or “mogrify” binary to confirm whether the ImageMagick is installed or not.

Uninstall ImageMagick

It’s simple, do execute the following command to remove ImageMagick from your server.


/scripts/cleanimagemagick

Imagick

Imagick is a native PHP extension to create and modify images using the ImageMagick API. This extension requires ImageMagick version 6.5.3-10+ and PHP 5.4.0+.

Installation steps for Imagick via WHM control panel

Step 1 : Login to WHM control panel.

Step 2 : Do follow these steps:

Go to WHM -> Software -> Module Installers -> PHP Pecl (manage).
On the box below “Install a PHP Pecl” enter imagick and click “Install Now” button.

Step 3 : Restart Apache.

Module_Installers

Uninstallation steps for Imagick via WHM control panel:

Step 1 : Login to WHM control panel.

Step 2 : Do follow these steps:
Imagick: WHM -> Software -> Module Installers -> PHP Pecl (manage).
Click on Uninstall button for Imagick

Step 3 : Restart Apache.

In cPanel & WHM version 11.36, if you require PHP bindings with Apache, these bindings can be installed via the PECL utility:


/usr/local/bin/pecl install imagick

Installation of ImageMagick on CloudLinux installed server

In a CloudLinux installed server there is an additional step to enable packages to users on that server. Installing packages on the server won’t reflect in these cases. It won’t be available inside CageFS. You will want to install ImageMagick inside CageFS as follows to make those binaries available inside CageFS:

To see the list of RPMs currently installed under CageFS:


cagefsctl --list-rpm

To add a new RPM:


cagefsctl --addrpm ImageMagick

To pick up the changes:


cagefsctl --force-update

Enabling Imagick PHP Extension on CloudLinux server

You can enable imagick PHP Extension through cPanel >> Select PHP Version

That’s it.

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Part 3 : How To Choose a Good Support Company

So we had been discussing about the reasons to outsource the support and the necessary features for an outsourcing support.

Now the crucial question is how to determine or choose the right support?

Obviously there is no direct answer. Even with the best support companies issues can happen.Here I am trying to give you some indications which can be used to select an appropriate outsourcing partner for your needs.

Freelancer Vs Company

This is one of the most confusing question for a startup company who plans to outsource the support. There are a lot of free lancers and support companies are available in the Internet. Freelances are often cheaper than companies and it simply doesn’t mean that the support is sub standard. There are really good techs with years of experience under their belt, who works as freelancers. You can check for their availability in common website like upwork, fiverr, WHT etc. and check their reviews before proceeding with hiring them.

On the other side, outsourcing to a company is more expensive as they have to cover infrastructure and operational costs. But its advantage over a freelancer is that the company has more responsibility for the work than a freelancer. Its mainly due to the fear of a bad reputation or negative review about the company and its resonating effects through out its existence.

In the case of free lancer, if he has moved to another location or changed his contacts, its practically impossible to trace him and you will be totally clueless about the current status of the work assigned.

Now, how do you evaluate and judge the competency level of a freelance or a company under consideration?

Technical Forum or Blogs

Knowledge contribution is one of the key indicators of the caliber of a person or company. Active participation in various technical forums such as cPanel or WHT can be indicative about the level of knowledge and exposure of the particular person to the field. Same is the case with technical articles or blogs. You can subscribe to such blogs and evaluate contents so that you can have a fair idea about capability of the company/person in adapting to the latest trends and happenings in the industry.

Always check for social media activities and check for their reviews or references in various forums. I remember one incident where one of the web server vulnerability had been actively going on and a test conducted on the websites of the companies which offers patching for the vulnerability were found to vulnerable!!!

So always apply your logic and common sense to identify the veracity of claims given by the companies or individuals.

Active participation in Meet ups and Conferences

Trusting an online entity is always a daunting task. You don’t know anything about the person other than the web identity. Always try to attend technical meet ups and take the opportunity to meet the person or the representatives of the company in person.

Inter personal communications are much more effective in getting a fair picture about the level of technical competency or the work ethics one follows. This will help you to make decision about the direction of further proceedings.

A complete and professional website

A professional and complete website should testimony for the level of quality the company/person
follows. A well maintained and professionally managed website with active sales and marketing
strategies will indicate the work ethics and pattern of work the company follows. An incomplete and
broken website alone can turn down clients from proceeding further.

Reviews

The most important thing one must be careful before proceeding with purchase is analyzing various reviews of the company. You should consider reviews from existing clients as well as staffs too. Staff reviews are available on common platforms such as glassdoor which indicates the level of workplace pressure and comfort level for the employees.

An unhappy employee won’t generate happy customers.

However absolute satisfaction for employees or clients is unachievable and you should be realistic in your expectations.

How much the reviews are trustworthy?

That is one of the area clients become puzzled. You might be getting too much positive reviews about a company but has a certain level of negative reviews as well. So which one should be trusted?

There is no meaning in downplaying the presence of paid positive reviews.  For eg. Some companies follows the unethical way of paid reviews. They may provide some incentives or price reductions for each positive review from a client on a particular forum.

But majority will be genuine reviews. However you can consider negative reviews more dependable as it can only be done by a customer. In the case of a negative review from a non-client, the company will defend and it will be difficult for the reviewer to prove the authenticity of his claims.

So always check the reviews and asses its gravity. For eg. a statement about a response delay for a ftp account password reset is less severe than a complaint about keeping the server down for one hour.

Pricing

Some might be wondering how pricing can be an indicative of support quality?

I agree that pricing alone isn’t a thumb rule for service quality. There can be difference in investment and operational expenditure on metro cities while the same is relatively cheaper in parks due to various incentives given for start up ventures. So it is possible to have same level of support without burning your pockets.

However the difference in pricing should be reasonable and can even be lower during sales promotional periods. In case, if the gap is wider, be assured that something fishy is happening.

Let me get into the maths, for instance suppose a company offers L2 admin for $600, the average expense as salary for an admin with 1 year experience would be approx-$300-350 . Similarly the company has to meet operational, training expenses and periodic appraisals as well. So a plan price can’t go below $500.

If you have been offered an L2 for 400, it means the staff is working for other clients or is not in the league of promised technical level.

Some hosting companies make a try with the notion that “something is better than nothing” and later becomes great fans of the saying “Nothing is better than non sense”

Credibility

You should verify whether the details given by the company are genuine. For a company boasts about its decades of experience in the field you may check the details available in the public domain such as the company ownership date, domain registration date etc. Also you can confirm its existence and details such as phone number, infrastructure etc by physical verification as well.

Same is the case with employee strength, you may get a fair knowledge about their strength by checking various photos published in their site or in various social media platforms such as FB and twitter.

If you plan to hire a dedicated staff either from a company or a free lancer, get a resume and a photo id card. You may request for a copy of the passport. Also if possible conduct a skype/ video chat and check the veracity of the details provided

These are only some of the traits of good support companies. One needn’t be obsessed about these parameters alone and you should use your convictions and gut feelings to proceed further.

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Recommended Readings

In-house or Outsourced Support, Which one to choose?

Part 2: Things To Consider While Outsourcing

The post Part 3 : How To Choose a Good Support Company appeared first on SupportSages – Your IT Infrastructure partner !!.