Hawkhost Shared and Semi Dedicated hosting review

Hawkhost is Canadian hosting company founded in 2004 offering shared, Semi Dedicated, Reseller and VPS hosting with servers in the USA, Europe and Asia. I have been hosting with them for over a year renting three different packages, one cheap shared hosting account I was using for my adult websites, a Semi Dedicated hosting for a high traffic site and a reseller package.

Hawkhost positive points

  • Competitive prices, the same or better value than big hosting companies
  • Lifetime discount vouchers instead of increasing prices after a discounted first month
  • Adult websites are allowed
  • Free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for all hosting packages, including shared accounts
  • You can choose in what continent you want your server at no extra cost
  • They are not part of EIG, a lousy hosting multinational operating with multiple brands (HostGator, Bluehost, Arvixe,Justhost,etc) hiding from customers that they are all the same parent company
  • Support is in-house and they reply in a timely manner, within 12 hours which to me is acceptable
Hawkhost control panel
Hawkhost control panel

Hawkhost negative points

  • You will always be stuck with the same pricing structure, even if they reduce prices for new customers
  • No phone or live chat support

Hawkhost one year review

I had six adult WordPress blogs hosted in Hawkhost cheapest shared hosting package, it felt a little slow when I visited my sites I could feel what I believe was some server lagging. Downtime was rare, there were a few incidences of a few hours but nothing serious.

I am not including the problems mentioned above in the list of bad points because you have to be realistic. A hosting package with unlimited bandwidth and a ton of gigs of space for under $30 a year can never function perfectly unless the company is losing money, they must cut corners somewhere, I am guessing that by stuffing a ton of customers in the same server.

If you want a quality hosting that will stand a high load you need to go for the Semi Dedicated package in Hawkhost, the shared package is fine for a personal or hobby blog but I would not buy it for a business site, and if you run a real business that earns you money you probably can afford more than $30 a year for your hosting.

The other one site I had in the Semi Dedicated server loaded really quick and I don’t recall any downtime happening, the expenditure was triple than what I paid for a shared hosting but it was worthwhile, I knew that I did not have to worry about the server not coping with traffic spikes or going down, I was really happy with the Semi Dedicated server.

The only mistake I made was paying yearly for the hosting using Paypal recurring subscribion, after cancelling one of the shared hosting packages Hawkhost still charged me,  this is done automatically and the only way to stop further charges is by logging into your Paypal account, find the hidden subscription settings and cancel the subscription.

Cancelling an account using Hawkhost control panel will show it as cancelled but charges still take place, I am definetily not subscribing again to any payment using Paypal unless it is a monthly charge, it is far too easy to forget about those charges one year later.

Conclusion Hawkhost review

If you run a blog that is not making you any money and you don’t care about the server being a little slow, go with their cheapest shared hosting. For a serious site that needs speed and crucial uptime, upgrade to the Semi Dedicated package.

Don’t host a business website on a cheap shared hosting account because you will lose money in the long term if the site does not load as it should and your visitors tired of a site that takes too long to load, go elsewhere.

Overall I found Hawkhost prices and features extremely competitive and support is decent for the average webmaster. I would only advise people not to go with Hawkhost if you need phone and live chat support.

Visit Hawkhost homepage

Encrypted external hard drive letter not showing up in Windows

It can be extremely frustating when you know your external hard drive is working but it will not show up in Windows. It just happened to me not long ago, I tried everything under the Sun, driver update, properties, etc.

My device, a USB 3.0 2TB Western Digital HDD had been plugged in multiple times in the past without any problems, suddenly it was not  being recognised by Windows 7. I have it fully encrypted with Truecrypt but the same problem might happen if you use Veracrypt or any similar software, this is a Windows problem.

The first thing to do is to make sure that Windows has acknowledged your device, it can be done three ways:

  • Launch command prompt entering cmd.exe in the search box. Now type: diskpart a new window will be launched, now type: list disk you should see your deviced listed.
Diskpart list disk command line Windows
Diskpart list disk command line Windows
  • Open Windows Device Manager typing Device Manager in the search box, click on it check the arrow that says “Disk Drives”, your external hard drive should be listed there.
Windows Device Manager
Windows Device Manager
  • Go to the “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” icon in the Windows taskbar, click once on it, your USB device will be listed there if it has been recognised.

Whichever way you use, now you know for sure the device is recognised.If it does now show up the problem will be hardware related, cable, USB port, fried device, etc.

Now you launch your encryption sofware, in my case Truecrypt, I clicked on “Select Device“, it lists the external device listed as Hardisk 1 (screenshot below). 

Windows will still not show up the drive letter but since it is listed with your encryption software, selecting it and mounting as normal entering the password your encrypted drive will be displayed as it always has, it will work.

Encrypted external device
Encrypted external device

The problem appears to be that with the time your operating system becomes more unstable due to junk left behind and Windows has problems with drivers and what not. The only solution to have again an operating system that boots fast and recognises all external devices at once is reinstalling Windows.

Cleaning junk will help speed up Windows, I use WiseCare365 for this (freeware version), but nothing will never be as good as a clean reinstall.

Remove Firefox browser hijack: Yahoo Search, SearchMoreKnow and Fluey.com

From one day to another my default Firefox search engine changed from DuckDuckGo to Yahoo, with a URL that included an affiliate code, and the default Google Adsense advertisements on pages had been replaced by very similar looking adverts that on closer look had the tag “SearchMoreKnow”, I also had searches redirected to a page called Fluey.com, some useless site which main purpose is to make money displaying advertisements to people redirected there by force.

If you wonder how the adware got into your computer, the adware it is commonly bundled with freeware programs, most likely you have installed a program during the last week and did not uncheck some very tiny box informing you that adware would be installed too.

remove browser hijacking SearchMoreKnow
remove browser hijacking SearchMoreKnow

This is how I cleaned my computer in five minutes from all of these adware:

First of all go to Firefox “Extensions” in settings, you will see something called “SearchMoreKnow“, disable it and remove. Close your browser and now go to Windows>Control Panel>Programs>Uninstall a Program you will see something called SearchMoreKnow, click on uninstall and it will go away. Make sure you remove both, the browser toolbar and the program installed in your computer.

Having removed SearchMoreKnow, you will still see that your homepage is set up to Top-Arama or some other adware, go to Firefox settings about:preferences and in the General tab you will see your homepage, to change it click on “Use BookMark” and set it to one of your pages.

Last step, go to Firefox Search tab in preferences, remove all adware search engines, you will see a drop down menu on top that says “Default Search Engine”, set it to your prefered searcher.

That is it! This adware is dangerous for your privacy, it records your search queries, but it is not extreme malware of the kind that blackmails you and introduces code to make it impossible for you to remove, definetily unethical, but I am not sure it is illegal.

Tip: If you are fed up with malware, consider installing Linux in your computer, there are far less malware for Linux than there are for Windows.

The best free comic apps for Android and iOS

The manga and comic apps below have all been installed in my Android tablet, they are best ones I have found to read whole comic series for free. If you know of any other good app please share the name in the comments section.

You don’t need an app to read comics in your tablet, there are hundreds of websites with weekly updates of comic strips and chapters, but the app experience is far better than reading manga using a web browser. Bear in mind too that reading online comics can be demanding for your Internet connection, unless you have an expensive unmetered data plan on 4G, I would only download comics while on Wifi in a home ADSL connection.

LINE Webtoon: It publishes original licensed comics, full manga series, author submitted comics, drawing contests, voting polls and it has a comments section. Some of the comics, like “Cyberforce” have been outsourced from  known publishers like TopCow Productions, the full Korean Manga series of “Hive” are also available for reading online or downloading, it should take you some weeks to read over 80 manga comics from the “Hive” series alone.

To be able to post a comment, save your settings and bookmark favorite comics you have to open an account with the messenger LINE, a popular chat app in Japan, and the owners of Webtoon. I uninstalled LINE from my tablet after registration and the Webtoon app still works, it can also be accessed with a desktop computer.

WebToon LINE free manga app
WebToon LINE free manga app

Zingbox: A Manga reader app with thousands upon thousands of free manga comics. Easy access tabs let you see which are the most popular manga and access specific genres, including romance, horror and adult or martial arts and music. Whatever it is you are looking for, you will find it here for sure.

Zingbox has eight different manga sources from where to download comics from, some of the sources contain well over 10.000 titles, I am really impressed with the catalog of  this app.

Free Manga reader ZingBox
Free Manga reader ZingBox

Farrago Comics: If you prefer full colored Western comic over Manga, this is the app to go for. Farrago comics is neatly designed, it contains a “Featured“, “Series” and “Library” tab, with free kids and adult comics, you need to register and confirm you are over 18 to be able to access the adult section.

The app contains the full “America’s Army” series at the time of writing. You will find one or two advertisements when you slide your pages, it was acceptable to me, as it wasn’t too invasive and the adverts featured comic related websites and titles that were of interest.

Android comic reader Farraco comics
Android comic reader Farrago comics

Manga Rock: Nicely built manga reader with a back up and restore data across devices options that requires you to register an account. The app displays a permanent small banner advertisement at the bottom of the window, and full page adverts also appear when sliding pages across the screen.

If advertisements annoy you, you can buy the premium version of the app to remove all ads in the viewer, giving you unlimited downloads and download new chapters of your favorite manga comics automatically, or you can install ZingBox instead, I did not think that Manga Rock had any manga that ZingBox had not, and ZingBox does not have a banner on the reader.

Manga Rock smartphone manga reader
Manga Rock smartphone manga reader

Review Payoneer to get paid in MetArtMoney

I had to open a Payoneer account because one of my sponsors in the adult websites I run, MetArtMoney, sent me an email saying that the CCBill program they run was being placed on hold and I was advised to sign up with their own in-house affiliate program. I rather run everything under CCBill because they are a third party with no incentive for skimming and have always paid me on time for the last years, but it didn’t look like I had a choice.

In MetArtMoney own affiliate program if you do not live in the USA the only way to get paid is incurring a $50 fee for every check they send to you, plus another $40 fee from my local bank account for cashing in an international US check, that makes close to $100 vanished in thin air for nothing. I suggested to MetArtMoney to pay me with Bitcoins, since they already allow customers to pay using this currency, MetArtMoney affiliate manager very politely thanked me for my suggestion, but that is all, so I decided to open an account with Payoneer, as if I didn’t have enough online accounts.

The application process in Payoneer makes sure that you are not laundering money and the company knows who you are, you have to be over 18 and provide a valid government ID or passport with your name and date of birth visible, all of this has to coincide with the information in your Payoneer account. Your address can not be a PO Box and you may be asked to verify the phone number you have provided, which in my case was not necessary.

Payoneer prepaid credit card
Payoneer prepaid credit card

You will be asked for two security questions, make sure not to forget about the answers, the best would be to have a password manager like KeePass or StickyPassword where you can store this information. Payoneer staff asked me one of the security questions before providing any support, the same questions are used to reset your password if you forget it. The questions are as essential to remember as your password.

During the signing up you are also asked where the money you will receive comes from and the address of your website or online shop, so that it can be reviewed. Withdrawal of funds in Payoneer is easy if you are in the US or EU area, you can have local currency at your local bank or, if living a country not covered by the US/EU Payment service you can use a prepaid Mastercard, for a small fee, and withdraw funds at any ATM worldwide or spend the money online.

Here goes my first criticism for Payoneer, besides no 2 factor authentication being available, I find it unbelievable that a company processing payments will not allow me to use special characters in my password, only letters and numbers are allowed, this will greatly help malicious hackers trying to break into my account using a brute force attack.

The last Payoneer sign up step asks you to enter your bank details and tick a small box that says  “I agree to the Pricing and Fees“, with two tiny links at the bottom, they open a new page listing the fees, which in turns contains another tiny link with an asterisk that says “Learn more about our competitive rates” which opens yet another page with conversion rates information posted on an old blog post. I found it very unprofessional having to click across pages and tiny links to find out what the fees are, and yet another tiny  link takes you to another blog post with instructions on how to link a partner to your account.

After completing the application a brief message is displayed saying that review is in process and you will be contacted by email, the message can only be viewed for a few seconds on the screen before being automatically redirected to the main page, I am sure some people will not have the time to read it. The good news were that, although Payoneer says the application can take a few days, I received an email within an hour saying that I had been approved.

Another complain I have about Payoneer, on top of the enforced weak password, is that there is no checkbox that allows you to remain logged into your computer and you are constantly asked to enter your password an even a captcha, this is really not practical. I use Paypal too and they allow you to remain logged in if you are in your home computer, surely people are grow up enough to know if checking the remain logged in box is suitable or not.

The next step to get paid from MetArtMoney was to link my existing Payoneer account, and that is where they started to drive me crazy, every time I tried to link my Payoneer account I would get the cryptic message : “Unable to associate this funding source with your existing account. Please submit a new application, using an alternate e-mail address.

Payoneer account
Payoneer account

After wasting some time reading Payoneer FAQ and not finding any information about this error, I decided to contact Payoneer support. I was happy to see they have live chat,  which Paypal hasn’t got, although is not easy to find the link to the support chat, be warned.

I logged into Payoneer support chat and I was informed that there were 34 people ahead of me and I would have to wait around 40 minutes. Luckily you can browse the Internet and keep the window open while waiting for an assistant,  40 minutes later, and 20 more minutes of wasted time asking for my date of birth, being placed on hold, and a security question and being placed on hold yet again, I was told what the cryptic message meant.

Lo and behold, it turns out that in order to be able to get paid from MetArtMoney via Payoneer, I have to open the Payoneer account using the link MetArtMoney has on their site. I can’t just type into my browser Payoneer.com and open the account like I did, the account has to be opened using MetArtMoney link, otherwise Payoneer will not process the payments. Really? This is a joke, you tell me this now? WTF!

I now have a worthless Payoneer account that can not be used for the only reason I opened it for, and what is worse is that, although, the Payoneer account can be deleted, the email remains on file for ever and I can’t open any new account using that email address. This is not a serious way to run a company, they wasted my valuable time, asked for a copy of my passport and because I didn’t fliping use a referral link, that nobody told me to use, I have to resubmit everything again, just a like a banana republic.

A serious company does not behave this way, and a serious financial company allows for special characters in the password. I wish I had been able to review more of this company, too bad the account I opened with them is useless.

Update! I tried to open a second Payoneer account to receive MetArtMoney payments and if you use the referral link in their site the redirect you to a Payoneer Prepaid card, which is not free, not expensive, but the point being is that you have an activation fee and monthly fee to pay without having received any funds yet.

If you are a small international webmasters enrolled in MetArtMoney, I would set up the check payment option, this incurs a one off $2 fee when they issue the check, not before that.

Visit Payoneer homepage

Fix HP Envy 4500 printing missing lines with faded ink

I upgraded my four year old HP Deskjet F4180 printer, it was still working but I figured out that since new printers come with a free ink cartridge, for slightly more money I could have the HP Envy 4500 multifunction printer that can be set up wireless, which is what I wanted the most.

It was all perfect with my new HP Envy 4500 right until a month after, when the blank ink started to fade out on the pages every other line, printed pages looked fine except for three or four unreadable faded out lines, this meant that I had to spend more expensive ink and paper printing again and again for like ten times until the pages came out printed properly, it became crooked costly to print just one page.

HP Envy 4500 ink cartridges
HP Envy 4500 ink cartridges

I ruled out the usual suspects, like low ink, which I knew was not possible because the cartridges were new and the software ink level was telling me that they were full, I also excluded bad quality cartridges as I only buy original HP cartridges and I source them from a trusted source like Amazon. I discovered that the problem is that black HP ink for cartridges 301 totally sucks, if you don’t print with them for a month the nozzles dry up and block the exit, this is what causes the faded out pages, an Internet search shows that many other customers suffer the same problem and cleaning the cartridges will not solve it.

There are only two ways around the aggravation:

  1. Print a couple of pages a month to keep the cartridges nozzles fresh and stop the ink from drying them.
  2.  A cheaper solution is that before printing you take the cartridges out of the printer and leave them on the table with the nozzles facing up, like you can see in the photo, leave them like that for at least five minutes, not less than that, this will solve the problem.

I am very disappointed with HP, my old printer went without printing anything for months and not once I suffered this problem. If I had known I would not have bought this home printer, people are not supposed to use it every single week!

What a pity because I love every other aspect of the HP Envy 4500 multifunction, the good news is that is not a problem with the machine and I hope that HP will be able to improve the quality of their cartridges if they get enough complaints, if this does not happen I will not buy their original refills any more, I don’t want to pay premium for bad quality.

Why backlinks to adult sites show in statistics

It is common for webmasters to check visitor logs, the detailed information provided there in the form of keywords and backlinks, it is invaluable when you optimize a website. Looking at what articles are the most successful and where people come from can help you increase the number of visitors.

I use two free tools to measure my traffic, StatCounter, an alternative to Google Analytics that in my view performs better, and AWStats in cPanel, provided by my hosting company, it can be looked at in cPanel, normally there is no way to disable AWStats in shared hosting accounts, everybody should have this.

After noticing multiple visitors referred by adult, black hat SEO and piracy related sites,  I did what most webmasters would do, I visited those sites to learn the reason why they were linking to my tech site and, inexplicably I was not able to find the backlinks to my site.

AWStats adult backlinks log
AWStats adult backlinks log

I have now learned that the referrals from porn websites that you see in your logs are not real, they have been created by bots crawling your site, it is a form of spam to get webmasters to visit those sites. Since a bot can visit thousands of sites an hour, with as little as 5% of the webmasters checking out the referral links, it can amount to a huge amount of traffic for the Russian porn sites.

You don’t have to worry about those backlinks impacting you negatively in SEO because they don’t really exist, but you can block them if it bothers you that they artificially inflate visitor count. This can be done adding to your .htaccess file code to block referring domains.

If the backlink spam physically exist, a blackhat trick to negatively affect your SEO, you can tell Google to disavow those backlinks sending the links to the Google team, visit the help page below to learn more about how to submit them.

Google disavow backlinks