OIT Web Hosting

OIT Web Hosting
wrusk3 Mon, 02/16/2015 - 09:30

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) provides an on-campus web hosting service for official Georgia Tech units and projects.  This service can host many popular PHP based content management systems, including Drupal and WordPress.  For those looking to quickly setup a unit-level website, OIT Web Hosting now supports Drupal Express, which will give you a jump start on building a Drupal based website by installing Drupal plus a number of standard add-on components, such as the official Georgia Tech website theme.

OIT has provided documentation on web hosting via the OIT FAQ, and an administrator's guide for the hosting control panel system, Plesk, is also available.

OIT Web Hosting Sub-Topics

How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT

How to Request a Web Hosting Space from OIT klp Wed, 08/17/2016 - 15:15

Overview of the Process

  1. In a web browser, go to https://hosting.gatech.edu/.
  2. Log in, using your GT account and password (e.g. "gburdell1").
  3. In the grey horizontal section, select the Request a site on Plesk link, which will take you to a request form.
  4. Fill in the requested information that is needed to set up your site.
  5. Check the boxes that acknowledge you have read/understood both the relevant policies AND that OIT does NOT offer support for installing or maintaining your website.
  6. Select the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
  7. These requests will take up to 72 hours to complete. You will receive an email once the site has been set up.

Below is a detailed explanation of the sections of this request form.

Requestor Information

This is you. Happily, this is already filled out for you!

Web Site Information

  • Preferred Domain Name:  Enter the top-level domain name that you want.  Don't enter any development or testing related prefixes onto the name (e.g. dev.example.gatech.edu, test.gatech.edu, or s1.example.gatech.edu).  If you need separate sites for development, testing and production, enter those details in the "DNS setup" box, as described below.  For details about how domain aliases work best on OIT's web hosting, read this helpful FAQ about requesting Dev, Test & Production environments.
  • Notification Email Address for Website:  This is where all system generated notifications about the hosting account (e.g. SSH password has expired) will be sent.  You can enter a comma separated list of addresses, or the address of a mailing list that you have set up for the account.  NOTE: OIT Hosting no longer automatically sets up a dedicated administrator mailing list for new hosting accounts - you have to make/request such a list yourself if you want one. 
  • Student Organization:  Check this box only if you are setting up this site for a student organization as defined in this section of the request form.  If checked, your site will be put on a special web server dedicated to student organization sites.
  • DNS should be setup when created:  In most cases, you'll want to check this box.  Only leave unchecked if you (or your unit's IT manager) have access to the campus DNS for the domain in which your requested Domain Name is located, and you plan to setup your requested Domain Name in DNS yourself.
  • I am building a Drupal Express website:  Checking this box will pre-populate your hosting account with a fresh build of the Drupal environment distribution known as Drupal Express.  This will give you a jump start on building a Drupal based website by installing Drupal plus a number of standard add-on components, such as the official Georgia Tech website theme.
  • Preferred Host Server:  If you have any existing hosting accounts and would like the new account on the same server as one of them, select the server you would prefer.  This can be helpful if you really need to have two accounts access the same database (though this is not recommended and should be avoided with any new site development.)  Please note there is no guarantee that your account will be put on the server you select.

Policy Compliance

This is all of the legal fine print.  Be sure to read the linked policies and make sure you understand it before checking these boxes and submitting your request.

Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel

Add an Administrator to Your Web Hosting Control Panel
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 16:47

Important: Only the Web Hosting site owner (and OIT) can add or remove Web Hosting site administrators, and only OIT can change a Web Hosting site's owner.


To grant or revoke access for another person to access your OIT Web Hosting site's Plesk control panel, an owner of the site should do the following:

  1. Go to https://hosting.gatech.edu/ in your web browser.
  2. Select the Log In with your GA Tech account button in the middle of the page.
  3. After logging in, select the Plesk Web Admin link in the main menu bar.
  4. Locate the web hosting site in question in your hosting account list and select the cogwheel icon next to it.
  5. On the next page, select the Edit tab to modify the web hosting site's configuration.
  6. Update the entries in the Administrator's Primary GT Account section, noting the following:
    • You must enter each person's GT Account Username (no other identifier will work)
    • Use the Add another item button to add extra blank spaces if needed.
    • To remove an existing administrator, just delete the person's GT Account from the given blank (you can re-use the blank for a different person if you wish.
  7. Don't forget to select the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Owners (at least, some owners) can now update the owner information.  The process works exactly the same as it does for updating administrators.  If you have this access, make sure to keep your site's owner information current to maintain your site's security and allow OIT to contact the right people if any problems should come up.

Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)

Accessing your Web Hosting Site via SSH (Command Line)
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 16:50

Below are some helpful tips on how to use the SSH to get command line access your web hosting site via a Windows or Mac computer.

A sample command you might run to access your site is:

$ ssh my-ftp-username@my-internal-domain-name

Configure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web Hosting

Configure Automatic Backups on OIT's Web Hosting
klp Thu, 02/25/2016 - 15:52

The instructions below explain how to configure the Plesk control panel on OIT's web hosting to keep automatic backups of your entire site.


First, read this general FAQ on how to create scheduled backups.

Setting Recommendations

For a Georgia Tech Drupal site, good default settings are:

  • Backup period: Daily

  • Maximum number of backups in repository: 14

  • Backup content: All configuration and content except mail

  • Suspend domain until backup task is completed: Depends on whether you want your site to be unavailable while this backup is happening.

Who Owns an OIT Hosted Website?

Who Owns an OIT Hosted Website?
wrusk3 Mon, 02/16/2015 - 09:32

If you have administrative access to at least one OIT Web Hosting account, you can look up the owners and administrators of any other account.  Simply navigate to the Plesk Web Admin Tools page and use the "FIND OWNER / ADMIN / SITE" look-up box.

Unfortunately, there is no longer a means for looking up an account owner / administrator if you do not have access to at least one hosting account.  In this case, you will need to either contact OIT for assistance, or find someone who does own an account to perform the look-up for you.

Please note: The Web Hosting Plesk Web Admin Tools page can only be accessed from on-campus or via the campus VPN.

Enabling and Using SSL on OIT Web Hosting

Enabling and Using SSL on OIT Web Hosting kp37 Fri, 03/10/2017 - 13:02

SSL encryption is highly recommended for websites these days, not just because it makes user interactions with your site more secure, but also because the major browser manufacturers are starting to mark all non-SSL encrypted sites with some kind of red symbol (red padlock, red 'X' through a padlock, etc.) to better warn users not to enter sensitive information into these sites.  So, from a marketing standpoint, it's going to make your site look more professional if you turn on SSL encryption, which will keep those red warning symbols from showing.

OIT provides two Frequently Asked Questions articles that cover much of what you need to know to get started your site set up with SSL encryption:

In addition, it's important to know that OIT Web Hosting accounts come in two flavors: old-style, which were originally set up more than two to three years ago, and new-style, which were set up more recently.  Old-style accounts will have separate 'httpdocs' and 'httpsdocs' directories for your public files, which in essence means that you have two separate sites in one account.  The How to Force Your Site's HTTP Traffic to HTTPS OIT FAQ article doesn't address how to handle these older accounts - its instructions are only effective for new-style accounts.

If you own or have inherited an old-style account, and you want to make it run exclusively as an SSL encrypted HTTPS site, here are some options available to you:

  1. You can remove or rename the 'httpsdocs' directory in your hosting account and symlink 'httpsdocs' to the 'httpdocs' directory.  This will make the account act just like a new-style account.  You'll need a little familiarity with UNIX, however, as this has to be done via the SSH command line (the Plesk File Manager interface doesn't give you an option to create symlinks).
  2. You can open a ticket with OIT and ask them to make the appropriate changes for you.  (They'll likely just change the account's configuration to point both HTTP and HTTPS traffic to your httpdocs directory, rather than use the symlink method.)
  3. You can put a .htaccess file in your 'httpdocs' directory with the following line in it, replacing 'sitename.gatech.edu' with the actual DNS hostname for your site:

    Redirect / https://sitename.gatech.edu/

Setting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain Name

Setting Up SSL on OIT Web Hosting with an External Domain Name root Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:12

To set up an external domain name with SSL encryption on an OIT Web Hosting account:

Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) File

You can generate a CSR for an OIT Web Hosting site from the site's Plesk Control Panel:

  1. Log into hosting.gatech.edu and navigate to your site's control panel
  2. On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
  3. On the SSL Certificates page, select Add SSL Certificate.
  4. On the Add SSL Certificate page, fill in the requested information and then select the Request button (do not use the Self-Signed button!)
  5. That will generate a CSR that you can then upload to a third party certificate provider, and your Private key is auto-generated and stored in your Plesk Control Panel. 

Uploading and Enabling the Certificate

Once you have received your certificate from your provider:

  1. Log into hosting.gatech.edu and navigate to your site's control panel
  2. On the control panel page, select SSL Certificates
  3. Choose or Browse to the fileon your local computer, then select the Upload Certificate button.
  4. After the certificate has been uploaded, select Websites & Domains in the left-hand menu bar, then select Hosting Settings in the main control panel
  5. Look in the middle of the page for the Security section.   Select your certificate via the provided drop-down selector
  6. Select the OK button to save your changes.

OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists

OIT Hosting and Hosting Site Mailing Lists
kp37 Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:53

Prior to late 2016, OIT always set up a Sympa mailing list whenever it set up a web hosting account, and the 'hosting.gatech.edu' site automatically managed the membership of that mailing list, syncing the hosting account's administrators and owners to the mailing list.

This process changed with the late 2016 upgrade of 'hosting.gatech.edu'. Previously existing mailing lists remain in place, but new hosting accounts do not get mailing lists created for them, and owners and administrators are no longer synced to the existing mailing lists for existing hosting accounts. Instead, there is now a Notification Email Address for Website field where the site owner or administrator can specify an email address where Plesk server notifications (e.g. your hosting account SSH password is about to expire) can be sent.

Here's what you need to know about this new system:

  • If you have a previously existing hosting account and want to keep using the previously existing notifications mailing list, you should open a ticket with OIT and ask them to make you the owner of that Sympa mailing list. Then, you can manually update the mailing list as needed.
  • If you have a new hosting account, you can manually request a Sympa mailing list for the people who will own and administer that account. Once the list has been approved, enter the list's delivery email address into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field for the associated hosting account.
  • If you don't want to use a Sympa mailing list, you can enter any address into the 'Notification Email Address for Website' field. In theory, you can enter a comma separated list of addresses, although there have been conflicting reports as to whether or not this actually works.