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A2 HOSTING – HOW TO SETUP WEB HOSTING AND DOMAIN (CPANEL ONLY)

Log in to your A2 Hosting account and you’ll land on the dashboard where you can check out consolidated information regarding services, domains, tickets, invoices, coffee delivery and your wife’s accessories wish list. Well, maybe not the coffee delivery.

Unless a tedious fly crosses your way, this is the main page you’ll be looking at. There you can access different environments, which I strongly recommend you to surf and learn the insights of A2 Hosting client area and understand where the information lies.

Hope you are doing great so far! In the following steps, I’ll walk you through an overview of every detail about what are truly essential things that you should implement from the start. Hang on to something because this ride begins now!

SET UP YOUR DOMAIN

I know you noticed I have one domain already set up. Talking from experience, registering a new domain is more of a straightforward process than solving a Sudoku, even if you type with your feet. Try not to do that though.

You can work it out with two options:

  • Register a New Domain
  • Transfer a New Domain

 

REGISTER A NEW DOMAIN

Proceed with the registration step if you don’t have one to transfer yet.

Simply fill in your domain name and click “Register”. Awesome, but how should I name my website? Don’t worry; I created a very good article (#humble) to help you on How to Choose (the PROPER) Domain Name. I recommend you to take a peek before proceeding.

Already? Great! Once again you’ll have to fill in the blank space in the search field with your preferred domain. I know it’s dumb but hey, we can live with it, so hit “Search” and A2 Hosting will check if your domain name is available or your archenemy has hijacked it and soon will be asking for ransom. Keep your phone close just in case.

In case yours is taken, don’t worry too much about it. Do some brainstorming and, as I tell my niece, sooner or later you’ll find the one.

The path to buy a domain name is very similar to online shopping:  add it to your cart and proceed with “Checkout”.

I checked “ID Protection” because that’s the extra feature I always recommend, as it will provide an enormous help maintaining the domain owner’s information locked in a box and hidden from the Wild West. Keep your gold safe.

When you check domain information by any of the WHOIS service it should be labeled as “Data Protected” or some similar term. Keeping you away from annoying spammers, ID Protection is worthy of the extra investment.

Wait a sec! We chose the registration plate but we don’t have a car yet. Not even a bicycle.

Let’s add one right here. Please click on [No Hosting! Click to Add] and the list of available hosting preferences will appear.

I suggest you review each option to find the one that fits best to your needs. Every category has different options to choose from that you can upgrade or(if you’re up for adventure) change to new services at any time. I sincerely think you should start low and grow along with your hosting needs. Lite Web Hosting would be my first choice. You don’t need a Mustang if you’ll hide it inside your dad’s garage, but I know you’ll get your own soon. Starting from the bottom, now we’re here!

Go for the monthly payment option as you may order more parts and sooner or later you’ll upgrade to your desired Mustang!

I will register fixed number plate when I have a need for this.

No nitro package for your Toyota yet. You can buy it later when pushing it down the streets.

I have all my wrenches with me and I do not trust any other mechanic…yet.

Why? I’m not even racing.

I’m dreaming of participating in a Arizona desert race.

I can change when I finally start racing.

Well, I love WordPress body with A2 tuning. So much style!

Please make sure you write down these credentials!

No CloudFlare spoiler neccessary right now!

Of course I will ask racing organizers about all the possible customizations for my car.

You have reached “Review & Checkout”, a place where you can (obviously!) review all your selected products and the total cost. Keep your eyes open to the currency and VAT amount that may vary by country.

Feeling good and confident about the content in your Shopping Cart? Awesome! Proceed to “Checkout” and fill in all the payment requirements. And if you’re placing the order on behalf of someone else, I suggest you add “New Contact”…or annoy your friend until he pays you back!

But it’s better if you add “New Contact”.

Fill in your friend’s details and click on “Complete Order”. Congratulations! Now you have completed the register of a new and your very own domain name. Considering everything goes as expected, A2 Hosting will send you an e-mail with further details.

TRANSFER A NEW DOMAIN

Bear in mind that you cannot transfer a domain you do not own, so don’t try to take Facebook away from Zuckerberg even if it’s the right thing to do. After you transfer the domain, its billing and administration options will also move to A2 Hosting. Click on “cPanel”, and then navigate through “Domains” up to “Transfer Domains to Us”. Fill in your domain name and the authorization code, which you’ll get as soon as you unlock the domain from your current registrar. Get in touch with the domain's current registrar if you’re having some trouble with the unlocking process.

Sometimes, the authorization code changes its name to EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol) code, perhaps to go on an undercover mission, but it’s the same thing. Usually, either this code, used to verify your domain transfer through global registries, will be send to you by e-mail.

Each domain is like a snowflake with its own, unique authorization code, but enough about it. I’m sure you got the point. Now let’s move on to “Add to Cart”!

Head back to “Register a New Domain” section where we begin adding hosting and proceed from there. When everything goes well (as it should unless a storm shatters your Internet service), A2 Hosting will provide further details through e-mail. I promise you it is like riding a bike with auxiliary wheels. You could use kneecaps, but there’s no reason to worry!

POINTING DOMAIN NAME TO ANOTHER HOSTING

There is also a third option, so you know, and it means that you don’t need to transfer the domain name at all. Instead, simply update the domain’s name server (DNS) settings to point to A2 Hosting. All you need to know is A2 Hosting DNS server addresses, which you can find along with nameservers and IP addresses at the dashboard, listed in the “Product Details” for each product.

Bear in mind that billing and domain administration services would remain with your current domain’s registrar and that you need to use the same server settings in it.

In most cases, all domain registrars offer some sort of control panel where you can manage a domain’s name serving settings and, if you have no idea how to do it, just contact the company and ask them how to change your domain's name server, DNS settings, or travel visa. Maybe not that one. Please, be patient, as changes may take 24 to 48 hours to fully complete. In the meantime, use your time wisely and play videogames.

STAGING SETUP - WORDPRESS ONLY

Nobody wants to accidentally reveal his or her spaceship when it’s no ready yet. Not even Elon Musk. You would like to properly adjust your prototype in the basement till launch day, right? A2 Hosting provides staging tool for such purposes.

When you are setting up a site for the very first time, I recommend you to customize and polish every little detail from your staging environment first and then deploy it to live with just one click. Here is why I suggest you do it:

  • Try out different options without worrying about what the audience can or can’t see. Spoiler Alert: They can’t see anything yet.
  • Delete the stating environment and build a new one from the scratch if you feel you’ve messed up everything and have nothing to lose. Otherwise, make constant backups to restore some pieces of your environment.
  • Play with a variety of configuration options for staging tools to make sure that the real disposal will succeed and reduce the risk of breaking the “Live” environment.
  • When you deploy to LIVE, the site will perform an automatic backup for you

Join me and let’s create our very first staging environment! Head to the A2 Hosting dashboard and click on “cPanel” button and you’ll be redirected to “cPanel” setting. A2 Hosting uses SSO (Single Sign-on) service, which means that you are automatically logged in. Feeling as it gets more complex? Never mind and move on. I’m here for you.

Fill in the subdomain name (“staging” for our case) and click “Create”.

Now that we have a subdomain for our staging environment, we can proceed. Of course you can choose whatever name you like, except Harry Potter due to copyright issues. Now, let’s use the search box and try to find “Softaculous”.

“Softaculous Apps Installer” appears in the search options, click on it and…wait a second! What the hell is Softaculous Apps Installer? Sounds like a disease you’d get from monkeys.

It’s not. To keep it short, Softaculous automates the installation of website apps through predefined scripts. Fortunately the required application is already installed for us. Give a peek at “All Installations”, fourth icon on the right-top menu.

Click on it and you should see the following:

Now, simply select “Create Staging” icon in the options column, choose the domain and fill in database name and voilá. Since we are using sub-domain for our staging environment, we don’t need to fill in the directory name.

You should be looking at two links after clicking on “All Installations”.

Congratulations! You have staging environment now. Feel the rush for adventure and explore it together!

For the most part, three different environments belong to the development cycle: LIVE, PRELIVE, DEVELOPMENT. There can actually be even more, but let’s stick to those three for the moment. Hence, I advise you set up two extra environments instead of one.

  • LIVE –Also known as “production environment”, this is the one your audience will see and enjoy.
  • PRELIVE – This is LIVE copy + new features. Our staging. Here you can test and verify everything before LIVE deployment.
  • DEVELOPMENT – This is PRELIVE copy + experimental features. I personally like to call it a “polygon” environment where I can experiment new things and blow stuff up with no risk. Kind of like the desert.

 
We’ve reached the point where we can go back to our staging tool and see how the whole process should work now. After you’re done with your experiments and your new features are ready for testing, you can deploy DEVELOPMENT environment to PRELIVE. Remember that our staging tool has different levers to pull; hence, we can’t take any risk and should test even our deployment step before LIVE deployment. Or do you want to take more risks? Try snowboard.

Please, click on “Push to Live” icon to advance and you should see the following screen.

Remember that, by default, all the files and database will be overwritten, but this is something you may like to avoid when you have already deployed PRELIVE to LIVE. Might be that you would like to keep LIVE state for some tables. Therefore, always consider this your options before going LIVE.

Also, keep your new feature changesets small and deploy as often as possible, since doing it with large changesets usually ends up in a big hassle. Try to avoid it.

DEVELOPER ACCESS

If your acquaintance Steve, a professional developer, has an A2 Hosting account and he is happy to help you (or owes you one), you can give him “Developer Access“. Open A2 Hosting client area page and navigate to “Account“ > “Developer Access” on the main menu. Here you can click on „Grant Access“ and fill in Steve’s e-mail address and he should have this blue arrow inside button on the same page to access your client area.

If Steve recently cancelled the A2 Hosting account, there’s a way to set up a new client area user account for him, but please make sure that Steve is trustworthy guy as he gets full access to all of your secret places now. Well, not all of them (I hope). Navigate on the main menu to Account > Contacts/Sub-Accounts and select “Add New Contact”.

You can change permissions afterwards if Steve is complaining that he can’t do this and that. Let him know who’s in control! Though if you prefer Steve pays your invoices, then you can add corresponding permission. How much was Apple’s stock price yesterday?

There is another option, but it’s not that simple, as it requires more work from you. You can grant a more restricted access to Steve when you are not comfortable with him looking around your secret places. Take a close look at the next section.

SETTING UP FTP AND WORDPRESS USERS - FOR STAGING

Most developers access to FTP only to change or overwrite files and to WordPress to install plugins and create new pages. Head to “cPanel” and you’ll find “User Manager” under preferences section.

When navigating through users page you can add new ones simply by clicking on “Add User”.

Please fill in all required information, like full name, username, proper subdomain. You can either allow the user to set a password when you provide the e-mail address or you can set password yourself. Make sure it is strong enough and not your favorite food, unless your favorite food is cauliflower. No one would ever guess that. A color bar indicator should reflect your password strength. In this step you can also enable FTP for the user. Make sure that the root folder for FTP user is also the subdomain’s root folder (without any child folder). When you are sure about everything then proceed with „Create“ and you should see your created user in the users list

Congratulations! Steve has FTP access now. Steve can take some free FTP client, FileZilla for example, and connect to your staging file store. The username should be in the following format: [email protected], using the same password should allow him to successfully access staging environment now.

Now Steve gently asked a WordPress account for staging environment from us. All right Steve, you will get it. I’m not Jobs. We’ll have to login to our staging URL https://staging.yourdomainname.com/bmug with „admin“ user credentials (A2 Hosting has previously sent you this information via e-mail).

In WordPress administration interface go to “Users” and select “Add New”.

Then, grant the „Administrator“ role to Steve as he’s probably begging for it anyway. After clicking “Add New User”, Steve will receive an e-mail from A2 Hosting with further details. You can send SMS greetings to Steve, who, by the way, doesn’t share Facebook account.

REMOTE DATABASE ACCESS - WITH DEVELOPER ACCESS

In this section I will demonstrate how it is possible to connect remotely by using my favorite MySQL database client. My security delegate would like to see a new database user in the system because sometimes he seems to be very suspicious about new guys. Classic Sherlock.

Go to “cPanel“ and you will find “MySQL® Databases” under databases section (this applies for PostgreSQL also).

Create a new user by filling in username, password, password, and password once again. What? Why? If you feel these are too many passwords for one day, you could use a generator to help you out…and finally select “Create User“.

You can assign the user to your database now!

We can notify Steve that he can access staging database remotely after adding his user to database by selecting the corresponding privileges.

REMOTE ACCESS TO DATABASE

First of all, we need to whitelist the IP address where we would like to allow connections from. On the “cPanel“ in the database section look for „Remote MySQL®“ and click on it.

Here we add IP addresses from where we would like to allow connections. Jump to Google and type: “What is my IP address“ and you’ll find some online service that performs the job for you. Now we should just type the IP address by “Add Host“

As for now, there should be a web address where Steve can connect remotely from, am I right? Yes, I am (#humble). We move on to “cPanel“ dashboard and find “Account Details“ under connection details.

Here we can look at many domain addresses. Hostname is the one we are interested in and everything else that is marked by SSH, such as port, username and password. Copy this information to file, as Steve needs this in his next step. You can see the password by clicking on the eye of providence. I swear this has nothing to do with Illuminati.

Steve may use a different client, but I personally prefer “MySQL Workbench” to connect remotely. All that is left to do is create a new database connection. Let’s call it as accurate as possible so we know it’s for our staging environment. It’s very simple: fill in all the required fields and “Test Connection”. Whether you prefer storing passwords in vault or like to insert them each time you connect, it’s all up to you.

Did you succeed? Awesome!

Oh, you did not? I’m sorry, but that’s okay. You will succeed because I’m here to help you.