For some time the server running this site had been acting up. Page loads were slow, access through SSH seemed lagging and something was absolutely misbehaving.
I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly was going on, but nothing really made sense. there were plenty of disk space, memory was reasonable utilized (no swapping) and the CPU load seemed to be less than 0.1 at any time – there were no good reason the server was “turtling” along at such a perceived slow pace.
Thanks to a tip from Henrik Schack, the server is now running at full speed again. it turned out that one of the DNS resolvers used by the machine was in a bad state and slow, unreliable or dysfunctional DNS causes trouble all sorts of places. The fix was quite easy, the file /etc/resolv.conf was updated to contain the IPs of the Google Public DNS servers, and once the file was saved things were back to the rapid normal.
All computers really need solid, fast DNS servers these days – be it servers or workstations – as the auto-updates and the utilization of “cloud-resources” of various kind much have DNS working to reach out to the destinations they need. If your system starts acting up without any reasonable explanation, checking DNS could be an easy place to start checking things.
One of the great features of WordPress is the wide variety of plugins available. They often enable a lot of interesting functionality and integrations to other services not native to WordPress itself. Most of these plugins are developed by individuals or small teams independent of the core community – and often not with a keen interest in security, but an exclusive focus on “making stuff work”.
I’ve been using the WordPress “Google AdSense Dashboard” for awhile, and after the recent host of password leaks, I’ve been changing and upgrading password all around. This change lead to expose what I would call a critical password exposure in the plugin and so far caused me to remove the plugin everywhere I’ve installed it.
The issue was the following:
If the password to Google AdSense fails in the plugin, your username and password is displayed in clear-text on screen – in the dashboard when logged into WordPress. Where’s the catastrophic take away – the username and password seems to be stored in clear text (or at least stored by the plugin in a format which can be converted back to clear text), and secondly, apart from storing it somewhat carelessly the plugin even display the information on the login screen – apparently for each and every user.
A new wordpress has been released (2.6). I’ve upgraded – took 60 seconds and caused no issues what so ever (- so far anyway). There isn’t one big new thing, but a fair number of improvements in many different areas. Get the latest version from the WordPress site.
Backups seem to be a constant pain for just about everyone. It’s something we know we should do, but somehow never get around to actually doing. Since switching to WordPress on this site, things have been different though.
One of my many installed wordpress Plugins is the WordPress Backup plugin. It runs once a day and makes a complete backup of my wordpress database (with all these precious posts) and sends it in a mail to my Gmail-account.
On my gmail account I have a filter, which sees these mails – it attaches a dedicated backup label and archives it (thus removing it from the inbox). Leaving a me with a backup of all the important data off site.
I have been checking the mailed files (that they actually are unzip’able and restoreable) and every once in a while I do delete all backups more than a week old (though I don’t need to with all the space available on the Gmail account).
It’s so easy, that there really wasn’t any reason not to have a current backup of the site, right?