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Make way for a Spanking New Control Panel Dashboard!

For the past 2 months, our Control Panel team has been busy building an all-new Dashboard for our Users. Today, after countless iterations, designing, re-designing, coding, testing and bug-fixing into the wee hours of the morning, I am extremely happy to present to you a fresh, and rethought Dashboard for your Control Panel.

With this Dashboard we have optimized the home screen to provide essential data as well as crucial features that are used most frequently by Users. The design is simple and neat so as to create a task-oriented, intuitive and spacious interface.

We hope these changes make your work on the Control Panel more convenient and quick. So go ahead and play around with the new Dashboard and leave us your thoughts and comments – we’d love to know what you think!

301 Permanent redirects for parked domain names

If you have several domain names parked/pointed at your site it is a good idea to create permanent 301 redirect for them so for the search engines not to treat them as duplicate content.

Here is a sample .htaccess that will do that: 

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$ [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301]

And even more generic solution would be:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=301]

Force SSL/https using .htaccess

Sometimes you may need to make sure that the user is browsing your site over securte connection. An easy to way to always redirect the user to secure connection (https://) can be accomplished with a .htaccess file containing the following lines:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R,L]

Please, note that the .htaccess should be located in the web site main folder.

In case you wish to force HTTPS for a particular folder you can use:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} somefolder
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R,L]

The .htaccess file should be placed in the folder where you need to force HTTPS.

Disable Hot-Linking of images and other files

A hot-linking is when some other site uses images hosted on yours. For example has some pretty nice images. Then decides that instead of hosting these images on their server, they can just link from their pages to the images hosted on site

Hot-linking usually is bandwidth and of course content stealing. The site will not pay for the traffic used as the image is being loaded from site

So it is a good practice to prevent images hot-linking:

You can prevent the hot-linking of your images by creating a .htaccess file with the following content:

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www.)?*$ [NC]
RewriteRule \.(gif|jpe?g|png)$ - [F]

The above code will result in a broken image to be displayed when it is hot-linked. The example above works for .gif,.jpg and .png files, but you can add any file extension.

If you place the .htaccess file in the main folder of your site it will disable hotlinking for all your site. To block other type of files, just add their extension to the list above. For example to block movie files:

RewriteRule \.(mov|avi|wmv|mpe?g)$ - [F]

The Hot-Linking prevention is based on an Apache module called ModRewrite. So your web host should support it in order for you to be able to use these on your site.

We will be discussing ModRewrite in a separate topic.

Using .htaccess to block referrer spam

Lately referrer spam became a great annoyance for the webmasters. If you are not sure what referrer spam is you may wish to check this article:

To block these spam referrers you need the following lines in your .htaccess file:

# set the spam_ref variable
SetEnvIfNoCase Referer "^http://(www.)?" spam_ref=1

SetEnvIfNoCase Referer "^http://(www.)?" spam_ref=1

SetEnvIfNoCase Referer "^casino-poker" spam_ref=1

# block all referres that have spam_ref set
<FilesMatch "(.*)">
Order Allow,Deny
Allow from all
Deny from env=spam_ref

The first lines “setenvifnocase” assign a span_ref environment variable. Then we deny all access to such referrers in the FilesMatch clause.

You can also use wildcards with the above .htaccess directives to match a variety of hosts. For example, you can use:

SetEnvIfNoCase Referer "*some_word*" spam_ref=1 : to match all referrers that contain the word 'some_word'.

For example you can ban visits from referral sites that contain in their domains words like: phentermine, shemale, porn, nude, celebrity, etc.
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