December 23 2015

Remote FTP Backups with Plesk

A common control panel that’s being sold at providers such as 1&1 is the Parallels Plesk Panel. It’s fairly simple and straight forward to use, and is provided at a discount compared to the popular cPanel. Like cPanel, Plesk allows an Administrator to configure domains, customer subscriptions, and provide web hosting services to their own customers. An important aspect that any webhost needs to provide for their customers, and for their own infrastructure, is a backup solution.

I’ve previously gone in depth about Backup Solutions and ideas for the 1&1 Cloud Server, which is a perfect place to start since it has the most backup options self contained at 1&1, but you may want something a bit different, something where the backups are kept with you and are in your full possession.

Typically, Plesk’s Backup Manager can be set up on a schedule which stores either Full or Incremental backups in the /var/lib/psa/dumps directory. This is great if we’re on a dedicated server and have hundreds of GigaBytes of disk space, but with the Cloud Servers, every GB is valuable to us and space is limited. Most of us have a local computer that has almost a TB of space available to us, even more if we look at having a USB Harddrive. We’ll want to leverage that space by configuring Plesk to send backups to that drive using free software such as FileZilla FTP Server.

Right off the bat, I don’t like FTP, due to many reasons of security which I won’t delve on, but it’s all that Plesk allows right off the bat. Later, I’ll write alternative setups to try to get rid of FTP from the equation and use something a bit more secure.


  • Plesk
  • FileZilla FTP Server
  • Know you local IP Address
  • DynDNS (optional)

Plesk Guide

Please read up on the Plesk Admin Guide to understand how to setup and use the feature in depth. I’ll only be covering the basic jist of setting it up.

IP Address Concern

Many ISP providers choose to provide IP Address dynamically which means that they are constantly changing. This provides a huge issue for trying to configure FTP Schedules when Plesk doesn’t know the IP of where to connect to.

If this is the case, I recommend looking into a service like DynDNS or No-IP. These services will create a domain like “” which is pointed at your IP. A client program is ran on your computer to update this domain whenever your IP changes. We provide this domain to the FTP Storage setting instead of using just an IP address, and won’t have to worry about this IP concern.

FileZilla FTP Server

Right off the bat, you’re going to want to get FileZilla setup and running, Firewall Exceptions added, and as needed, port forwarding completed. is a great site that explains steps for various routers and configurations to forward ports. Forwarding is needed in this world of multiple devices connected to a single gateway like your Cable Modem.

Create a user, password, and Shared folders of where you’re going to place the files and call that storage the user’s “home”. Password authentication is at least a piece of security, another piece is to  add IP Filtering to block all IPs except for your server. This at least means the only way someone is accessing these files are to be coming from your server. That’s a start I suppose.

In the “Settings” configuration of FileZilla, set the “IPs are not allowed access..” and give it a “*” which basically is a wildcard saying All IPs are not allowed access. “Exclude the following IPs…” and give it your server’s IP.

Backup Settings in Plesk

After you configure Plesk for FTP Storage, you’ll want to start looking at the Schedule for an option that fits your business model. Personally, I like the idea of doing a Full backup every week, with incremental backups everyday.  The incremental will make sure that only small changes are recorded and saved, which will help keep filesize down. You should check the “Suspend Domains” while the Backups get processed. This will ensure there’s no file conflicts of files being in use or changing, but it will also mean that you’re sites on that domain will be unavailable, so schedule during the late night hours when your business can be safely taken offline.

December 21 2015

Reset Windows Password on 1and1’s Cloud Server

Let’s take a scenario:
You created a Windows Server VM at and decided to use your own super secret password. Since you specified the password, it doesn’t show up in the cloud panel. Since this is a windows, we can’t just load up a LiveCD of Linux, CHROOT and run the command “passwd” and be done with it. We also don’t have the ability to use our own ISOs which may have a nice Bootdisk to that resets passwords in the SAM file. We need to get this data somehow, and I figured out how to do it.

The golden ticket here is we need to be able to run Command Prompt and we need to change our password. Since we have KVM access, we only need to rename the Command Prompt “cmd.exe” to a system program like “Utilman.exe” or “Magnifier.exe” so we can run it at the logon screen.

For the new Cloud Servers, which has the “Cloud Panel” and dubbed “NGCS” or “1&1 Cloud Server”, the only DVD/Application available that works seems to be GParted which is Debian based. For older 1&1 Cloud Servers, which went under the names “Dynamic Cloud Server”, “Virtual Dedicated Server”, “VDS” / “DCS”, you can use the “Recovery Tool” in the 1&1 Control Panel as the “Linux Rescue” both stable and unstable are Debian Based as well.

For the NGCS:
– Go ahead and load up the KVM from you Cloud Panel by going to “Actions” => “Access KVM Console”
– In the Cloud Panel also load the GParted by clicking “DVD” => “Applications” => select “GParted”
– Reboot server and watch it in the KVM Console
– When you follow the prompts, you’ll get to a desktop, choose “Terminal”

– Go to 1&1 Control Panel => 1&1 Servers => Recovery Tool => choose either Linux Rescue
– Use your VNC Console or SSH into your server using IP address, Root, and the Recovery password created
– Either option will bring you into the server’s Terminal


In Terminal

  1. Mount the Windows partitions
    1. NGCS
      1. mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
    2. VDS/DCS
      1. mount /dev/sda1 /mnt
  2. Change Directory to “C:\Windows\System32”
    1. cd /mnt/Windows/System32
  3. make backups of Utilman.exe or Magnifier.exe
    1. mv Utilman.exe Utilman.exe.bak
  4. Copy and Rename CMD as previous application
    1. cp cmd.exe Utilman.exe
  5. Reboot Server with back to regular mode
    1. NGCS
      1. Remove DVD from CloudPanel
      2. Restart Server
    2. VDS/DCS
      1. Recovery Tool => Windows Server (normal)

Now the server should be starting up and getting to the Logon Screen. Both the VNC Console and the KVM console should show you at the Windows Login Screen, and in the bottom left there’ll be a little square button. This is your “Ease of Access” button or “Utilman.exe”. If you renamed CMD to Utilman, then clicking this will bring up a Command Prompt, otherwise Open that and click on your Magnifier to bring up the Command Prompt

In Command Prompt

Change User Password

  1. net user <USER> <NewPassword>
  2. Login with User and it’s new password

Create a new user with Local Admin Rights

  1. net user <USER> <Password> /add
  2. net localgroup Administrators <USER> /add
  3. Login (no need to reboot)



  • Always remember to change the applications back to the originals with the backups you made. While unlikely someone would get KVM/VNC console access, if they find an exploit (like the one needed for Dedicated Servers) then they can reset/add Admin users.
  • Changing user passwords this way may cause loss of access to “Encrypted Files/Folders”. Do this as a last resort when the only other option that’s been given is to Reimage.