The “Error 503: Valid RCPT command must precede DATA” happens when sending email. Outlook is telling you that your SMTP (outgoing mail) connection was not properly authenticated by your email server.

The two most common causes for this error are:

  • Your email server requires you to check email first before sending email (checking email first is one way your email provider manages the security of your email account).
  • Your email client isn’t set up for SMTP Authentication.

Checking email before sending

When you first open your email client, it automatically checks email first. However, if you attempt to send email after about 30 minutes and you see this message, simply check your email for new messages. You’ll then be able to send email if this is the problem (most common with Outlook). This occurs because some email servers allow sending of email after a successfull authentication to receive mail, while this can be good it can be a security issue.

More often than not, when you get “Error 503” Outlook is telling you that you need to set up SMTP Authentication in your email client.

Setting up SMTP Authentication

Configuring SMTP Authentication in your email client requires you to edit your email account SMTP (outgoing mail) settings. Add your email address and password to the SMTP settings and you’ll receive no more Error 503 messages.

How you set up SMTP Authentication depends on the email client you use. Here’s how to set it up in Outlook 2016:

  1. Open Outlook 2016.
  2. Open the File menu and select Account Settings –> Account Settings.
  3. In the Account Settings window, select the email account you wish to set up and select Change…

     
  4. In the Change Account window, click More Settings…

     
  5. From the More Settings window, select the Outgoing Server tab. (1.)
  6. Check My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication. (2.)
  7. Select Use same settings as my incoming mail server. (3.)
  8. Click OK.
  9. On the Internet E-Mail Settings window, click Next.
  10. Click Finish.

If, for some reason, the above steps fail, please contact Aspire Web for assistance.

 

Have an old or current Classic ASP project that needs converting to PHP?

This is recently just what we did for an internal system, it took a while but we finally got there and launched (Hurar!), I’ll be explaining our process and issues along the way in this blog post. Hopefully this will help someone wanting to achieve the same, what to watch out for and general tips and tricks.

A bit of history first, I started with classic ASP back in around the year 2000, creating some simple websites connecting to an access database. I’d already been programming in VB6 for a couple of years and being able to create dynamic websites in a very similar language was great. ASP did get a few upgrades but essentially it didn’t really change like PHP or ASP.NET has. Having programmed in PHP and C# (ASP.NET and desktop) I knew what was possible (for a sometimes programmer) and the now aging Classic ASP launched around 20 years ago just wasn’t enough. To be honest I’m still surprised that classic ASP lasted so long and has given us such a good run.

 

Here’s a few details about the website, it was a mostly internal website to manage parts of the business and contained about 200+ ASP files and around 50k lines of code including comments and some HTML.

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How do I set up file permissions in Windows for PHP?

When using PHP permissions are misunderstood and common response is just giving too much access which is a security nightmare!

This is extremely important when configuring IIS manually on a VPS or Dedicated server, you want each site isolated from each other. This protects your server and other websites if one site is hacked or compromised.

If you’re just developing locally this isn’t too bad but it’s good practice to always configure it correctly, this will help find errors you may encounter in production but also that we should always be thinking about security.

Any reputable Windows web host would also be configuring their servers automatically using a control panel to configure secure permissions and website isolation so there is no need to worry about this if your with a shared website host. Most control panels will allow you to change if write permissions are enabled or not, this is a common fix for shared hosts and write permission issues.

Web development has changed a lot over the years and security is now a big focus point for web developers so while some would like to leave the IIS & Windows configuration to their server admins it’s good to understand and take responsibility.

It’s not hard to configure and after you’ve done it you’ll feel great knowing that you’re website is substantially more secure so let’s go.

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A great way to test PHP is by creating a PHPInfo page.
This is a simple page that displays PHP settings and easily proves if PHP is working or if a specific feature is install or should be working on PHP.

We’ve made a simple tutorial with images to make it easy to get started using this nifty file.

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If your running PHP on Windows and using PHP 5.5+ including PHP 7+ the Zend OPcache comes built in by default but isn’t enabled.

You will get massive improvements on any sequential execution of a PHP pages and there is really no reason not to use the Zend OPcache.

 

So lets enable the PHP OPcache and gain a whole lot of PHP speed!

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Httpoxy Protected

Good news if your site is hosted with Aspire Web you are already protected from the latest vulnerability,  httpoxy CVE-2016-5387.

If your interested in more technical details see: https://httpoxy.org/

As all our current customers are running on Windows using IIS and the FASTCGI interface for running additional scripting languages (PHP/NodeJS) our services are protected!

Microsoft have released a KB explaining how this affects IIS and how this is only an issue if you are running the old CGI interface which we have never used, see more here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3179800

 

 

Wordpress on Windows IIS

The simple truth is….

YES

What you may be told may differ… most likely either “Why would you want to do that?” or the usual “yeaaaa….. but linux is better”.

There is nothing wrong with WordPress on Windows and here’s why

 

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Us here at Aspire Web feel that Windows and Linux both have a purpose within the hosting space but that Windows is neglected somewhat in the shared hosting space. And that is why today we will be discussing the Top 7 Reasons why Windows Hosting Rocks!

Before getting into the countdown let’s clear up something, we aren’t taking anything away from Linux and in some cases Linux will also have this reason or could possibly do it better, but this doesn’t take it away from Windows Hosting and will only be focusing on Windows.

So let’s dig in!

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