Tips & Tricks

Although we’re in the business of helping organisations make the most of technology, we recognise that you may sometimes encounter issues which you’d like to deal with yourself, if only you could find useful documentation to guide you.

Documentation on almost everything exists on the internet, the problem is finding what you want; searching can be effective but what we hope to provide here is easy access to guidance to achieve useful tasks.

We are keen to expand this by adding information that is useful to our clients. Sometimes we write a howto, other times we provide links to good sources.

If you don’t find help on a particular issue that concerns you, by all means drop us an email and we’ll try to point you in the right direction.

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How to empty the Trash folder in Roundcube webmail

So you’ve responded to the warning message about your inbox being full; you’ve spent a while deleting old messages and your Inbox is now looking much smaller. But bear in mind that those emails are now lurking in the “Trash” folder, still taking up the same amount of disk space on your server! 

Here’s how to remove them completely to create the extra space you’d been hoping to gain:

1. Log into Roundcube.

2. Click/Select the “Trash” folder.

3. In the bottom left corner of the screen you will see the folder options icon.

4. Click the “Cog” icon to show the “Folder Options” menu. Then select “Empty”.

How to back up your Thunderbird email in Windows 10

Mozilla’s Thunderbird is a great email program (we use it!) but it doesn’t have any built in backup tools. If something goes wrong, or you want to move your profile to another computer, you’ll need a backup. 

First of all, make sure Thunderbird is not running.

Open Windows Explorer. In Folder Options, enable “Show Hidden Files, Folder and Drives” .

Then browse to C:\Users\yourloginname\AppData\Roaming, where you will see a folder named Thunderbird.

The Thunderbird folder contains all your Thunderbird settings and address book, as well as all your emails, so it is this folder that you need to copy to your external drive, desktop, or wherever, as your backup.  It’s likely to be a very large amount of data so expect it to take a long time!

When you’re done, don’t forget to disable the hidden files view in Windows Explorer by selecting “Don’t Show Hidden Files, Folder and Drives”.

Securing WordPress website from brute force attacks

Part One – Protect your wp-login.php file and wp-admin area, following this simple set of instructions:


Three basic steps:

1. Create a hidden password file.
2. Generate a login and password and add it to the hidden password file.
3. Modify your site’s .htaccess file to require your hidden password when logging into WordPress.

 

Step 1 – Create a hidden password file

Using cPanel File Manager or FTP, login to your hosting account and, in the root of your site, create a file called .htpasswd.  (make sure that you put a period at the beginning of the filename, so that it’s hidden by default).

 

Step 2 – Generate a login and password and add it to the hidden password file

  1. Go to https://www.htaccesstools.com/htpasswd-generator/
  2. Enter a username and password that you’ll use to protect the WordPress login.
  3. Click Create .htpasswd file to encrypt your password.
  4. .htaccesstools.com will return a string of text that looks something like this: wandreata:$prt2$vqg/gY..$Yold9aipE63lrcSpr1CDf0
  5. Open the .htpasswd file that you created in Step 1 above and paste in the .htpasswd entry you just created.

Step 3 – Modify your site’s .htaccess file to require your hidden password when logging into WordPress

Using cPanel File Manager or FTP, login to your hosting account and open the .htaccess file in your public_html folder:  Add the following to the top of the file:

# Protect wp-login
ErrorDocument 401 "Unauthorized Access"
ErrorDocument 403 "Forbidden"
<FilesMatch "wp-login.php">
AuthName "Authorized User Only"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /home/yourserverdirectoryname/.htpasswd
require valid-user
</FilesMatch>

(Change yourserverdirectoryname to match your server’s root directory name – you should see it in cPanel in the top left section when you’re in your root directory. Alternatively, check with your web host)

There’s some useful help with cPanel on this website: https://www.hostinger.com/tutorials/htaccess/how-to-locate-htaccess-file-on-cpanel-file-manager

 

Check attack logs (optional)

Add WordPress plugin “WPS Limit Login”
In the configuration, set up “Email to admin after 1 lockout”
Whitelist your own IP address (get it from whatismyipaddress.org)
Add blacklist IP addresses from any previous attacks
The log on this plugin is a quick way to check for attacks. Apart from displaying IP addresses used, it also displays whether an attack was using the WordPress Login page or a xmlrpc post script in attempting to hack into the website.

 

Part 2 – Disable your xmlrpc.php file

Using cPanel File Manager or FTP, login to your hosting account and open the .htaccess file in your public_html folder: Add the following

# BEGIN Disable XML-RPC.PHP
<Files xmlrpc.php>
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from all
</Files>
# END Disable XML-RPC.PHP

(see https://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=WiIaz-Ik3tE for more info and background)

 

Skype Alternative

We recently discovered this great free alternative to Skype which doesn’t need to be installed on your system.  You can access it directly on the web at https://appear.in/.  You can have video conversations with up to 4 people at once and guests to your “room” don’t have to register to join in.

It takes less than a minute to create your room and share the link with someone you want to join you for a video chat.

I suggest you “claim” your room by registering;  this allows you to “lock” your room to stop non-invitees from joining; it also reserves the room for you so that no-one else can claim it. There’s lots of information on their site but essentially it’s a very quick and easy process.

Accessing Android phone media in Debian

To get Debian to communicate with your Android phone so that you can download/backup your photos, videos, documents, etc onto your computer, you need to install a couple of packages. Open a Terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install jmtpfs gvfs-backends

Make sure when you connect your phone to your PC that (on your phone)  you choose Media device (MTP), not Carera (PTP).

You should now be able to access media on the device by just clicking it on Thunar (file manager).

Don’t forget to Unmount/Eject the drive in Thunar BEFORE removing the USB cable, in the same way you would do with a USB stick.

How to resize/convert images in Debian using ImageMagick

ImageMagick is a powerful image manipulator, best used in a terminal in Linux.

For complete instructions see:  http://www.howtogeek.com/109369/how-to-quickly-resize-convert-modify-images-from-the-linux-terminal/

In brief, for width (preserving the aspect ratio) (change the 200 for your desired width in pixels):

convert example.png -resize 200 example.png

for height (still preserving the aspect ratio):

convert example.png -resize x100 example.png

It is also possible (and easy) to process several images at the same time. For example, the following command would take all PNG files in the current directory, give the all a width of 600px and save a new copy of each with “-600px” added to the beginning of each file name. The directory will now contain the old and the new image files.

for file in *.png; do convert $file -resize 600 600px-$file; done

For complete instructions see:  http://www.howtogeek.com/109369/how-to-quickly-resize-convert-modify-images-from-the-linux-terminal/ (repeated for emphasis!)

See alsoman convert in your terminal or visit http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/ for a multitude of things that can be done with imagemagick.

Using pacpl to rip CD’s in Debian

First you need to install pacpl. Open a Terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install pacpl

Any dependencies, as usual with Debian, will also be installed.

Ensure that your CD is in the drive, and decide in which directory you want to put the resulting MP3 tracks – I would suggest your Music directory which will probably be /home/[yourname]/Music.  It’s a good idea to create a directory here with the name of the artist, so the files will be put directly into /home/[yourname]/Music/[ArtistsName] as they are copied & ripped.

Then type:

pacpl --rip all --to mp3 --outdir /home/[yourname]/Music/[ArtistsName]

If you want to check the manual, just type:

man pacpl (q to close it)
or
pacpl --longhelp (q to close it)

Updating and Upgrading packages in Debian

Open a Terminal

Firstly you have to update the package list. Type:

sudo apt-get update

Then, when that has run, you need to upgrade your machine:

sudo apt-get upgrade

Then to throw the wrapping paper away(!):

sudo apt-get clean

That’s it, although after a kernel upgrade (ie where a “linux-image” package has been upgraded), it’s a good idea to restart your system so the new kernel can be loaded.