How to backup Windows Azure Web Sites

Windows Azure provides a reliable web sites hosting infrastructure where sites data is replicated in Azure data centers for redundancy. However it is still important to do regular backups of the site’s content and databases in order to be able to recover from a human error, problematic upgrade or a hacking attempt. With the Azure Store Add-On Cloud Cellar it is easy to setup automated backup task that will run on a predefined schedule and will backup site content and database. This post explains how to do it. Continue Reading »

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ruslany on October 24th 2013 in WAWS

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How to setup IP SSL on Windows Azure Web Sites

The information in this post is out of date and should not be used as a guidance when configuring IP SSL for Azure Web Apps. Specifically if your custom domain is a CNAME to the default web app domain (e.g. contoso.azurewebsites.net) then it is not necessary to do any A record or CNAME changes as described in this article. The web app domains will be automatically remapped to the dedicated IP address when you enable IP SSL.

Azure Web Sites started to support custom domains SSL functionality recently. There are two SSL modes supported:

  1. SNI based SSL. This is an extension to SSL and Transport Layer Security (TLS) that allows multiple domains to share the same IP address, with separate security certificates for each domain. Most modern browsers (including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Opera) support SNI, however older browsers may not support SNI.
  2. IP based SSL. This mode associates a certificate with a domain name by mapping the dedicated public IP address of the server to the domain name. This requires each domain name (contoso.com, fabricam.com, etc.) associated with your service to have a dedicated IP address. This is the traditional method of associating SSL certificates with a web server.

The SNI SSL setup is pretty simple and is documented in “How to enable SSL web site“.  The IP SSL setup is more tricky, and unfortunately an important step is missing from that article. Without performing that step the domain name configured for IP SSL will continue to work as SNI SSL. The Windows Azure team is looking into fixing the documentation and UI workflow to prevent this confusion going forward. Meanwhile this blog post explains how to make sure IP SSL is configured correctly. Continue Reading »

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ruslany on July 1st 2013 in WAWS

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Cloud Cellar: Azure Web Sites Backup Service

My site (RuslanY.net) is powered by WordPress and is hosted on Windows Azure Web Sites. I’ve migrated it from a private hosting to Windows Azure last year and since then I am pretty happy about the level or reliability and performance that I got on Windows Azure. The one thing that I’ve been missing though was the regular backups that I used to have when I self-hosted my site. I backed up the site content and the database regularly and those backups have saved me several times. Often when I upgraded some WordPress plugins, the newer plugin version got some bug or change in behavior that I did not like. On those occasions I just restored the site from the most recent backup that I took. I really wanted to have this capability even when hosting my site in Windows Azure.

That’s what prompted me and my friends (Bilal Aslam, Robert Lucero and Michael Dorian Bach) to develop a backup service for Windows Azure web sites. The service is called Cloud Cellar and is now live in beta at

https://www.getcloudcellar.com/ Continue Reading »

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ruslany on June 27th 2013 in Other, WAWS, WordPress

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Azure Web Sites – WordPress plugin update bug fixed

Windows Azure Web Sites has recently been upgraded to a new version. Among all the improvements and bug fixes in the new version there is one change that fixes a known issue with update of WordPress plugins. There have been numerous questions about this problem at the Azure Web Sites forum. Continue Reading »

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ruslany on March 20th 2013 in PHP, WAWS, WinCache, WordPress

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PHP Troubleshooting in Windows Azure Web Sites

The need to diagnose and troubleshoot application’s failures often comes up during deployment to a hosting environment. Some configuration settings in hosting server may differ from what application expects. Often it is not as easy to figure out the cause of the problem in a hosting environment as it is on a development machine.  I found the following techniques useful when troubleshooting errors in PHP applications hosted in Windows Azure Web Sites.

1. phpinfo()

This is the most obvious, but very often the most helpful diagnostics tool. The output of this function provides a lot of information about the PHP runtime. Use it to determine what PHP extensions are enabled, what are the PHP configuration settings and what values are stored in server environment variables. Continue Reading »

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ruslany on January 30th 2013 in PHP, WAWS

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phpMyAdmin on Windows Azure Web Sites

In my previous post about the migration of a WordPress site to Windows Azure I mentioned that I used phpMyAdmin to import existing blog data into a MySql/ClearDb database in Windows Azure. phpMyAdmin is a web based tool for administering MySql databases. It can be used to create tables, edit the data in tables, export/import/backup data and many other tasks. I found it to be an adequate tool for all MySql db administration needs in Windows Azure. This post describes how to install and configure phpMyAdmin on Windows Azure Web Sites. Continue Reading »

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ruslany on December 17th 2012 in PHP, WAWS

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RuslanY.net running on Windows Azure Web Sites

I have not been writing any blog posts for a while. That was because for the past two years I have been busy working in a team that develops the Windows Azure Web Sites – a scalable web hosting platform in Windows Azure.

Now that the Windows Azure Web Sites (WAWS) is publicly available I decided to try to move my site from private hosting  to Windows Azure. My site uses WordPress (with MySql database), PHP 5.3, WinCache object and user cache, URL rewriting and many WordPress plugins. With all these different technologies (many of which are not developed by Microsoft), I thought it would be a good test of how WAWS is capable of running web sites that use open source technologies. Plus I expect that my site will be more reliable and available, comparing to my previous private hosting.

I was pleasantly surprised that the migration from private hosting to WAWS hosting was relatively quick and simple. The site has been running successfully in a Shared compute mode for a while now and none of the site’s functionality has been lost or altered. In this post I’ll explain the steps I took to move my site to WAWS hosting. Hopefully it will be useful to those who are planning to migrate their WordPress based site to WAWS. Continue Reading »

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ruslany on October 22nd 2012 in PHP, URLRewrite, WAWS, WinCache, WordPress

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Command line tools for managing PHP in IIS

The latest release of PHP Manager 1.2 for IIS now includes Windows PowerShell commands that can be used to install, configure and manage PHP on IIS 7 from command line. In addition those commands can be used to automate the configuration and management tasks.

Here are examples of what can be done with PHP Manager command line tools: Continue Reading »

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ruslany on June 28th 2011 in PHP

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Using Piwik Real Time Web Analytics on IIS

A month ago I have stopped using Google Analytics for my site and instead gave a try to Piwik – an open source, PHP/MySQL based real time web analytics application. Since then it has been working well for my site and overall to me it looks like a better alternative to Google Analytics.

Here are the things that I like: Continue Reading »

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ruslany on May 16th 2011 in Other

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WinCache Object Cache plugin for WordPress

The WinCache Object Cache plugin provides a persistent memory-based backend for the WordPress object cache. An object cache is a place for WordPress and WordPress extensions to store the results of complex operations. On subsequent loads, this data can be fetched from the cache, which will be must faster than dynamically generating it on every page load.

The WinCache Object Cache for WordPress is available at the following location:

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wincache-object-cache-backend/

Note: if you use the old version that you have downloaded from blog post about how to Make WordPress faster on IIS with WinCache 1.1, then it is highly recommended to upgrade to the version from wordpress.org.

The plugin is based on the code written by Mark Jaquith for his APC Object Cache WordPress plugin. Thanks to Andrew Nacin for pointing me to that plugin and suggesting to publish similar one for WinCache.

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ruslany on May 8th 2011 in WinCache, WordPress

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