The Photium blog

Improved upload tool

Because browsers like Firefox are removing support for Java, our Java upload tool is now being phased out (but will remain available for those of you that can still use it).

Our new replacement upload tool doesn't need any plugins like Java or Flash. You only need a modern browser, ideally Google Chrome.

This new tool offers the same automatic client-side resizing that made the Java upload so popular. In addition, it also allows multiple transfers at a time, to speed up uploads. Perhaps the most useful new addition, is that you can now drag and drop folders of images, with multiple levels.

E.g. Say you're uploading an event shoot, you could have a folder with several folders inside, for different sections of the event. The single folder containing all the sub folders can just be dropped on to the new upload tool. It will then upload all the photos and will create portfolios for each of the folders automatically.

Customers on the Standard and Advanced packages can still upload the original files to be backed up or sell. However the speed benefit will be lessened, as the files will be larger and take longer to upload.

We hope you will give this new tool a try and let us know if you have any issues or feedback.

Secure mode beta

We've been working on all sorts of exciting new improvements recently. One that is just being launched as a beta, is a more secure mode for your website. You can now choose to have all pages served over https, rather than the less secure http.

This is something that's becoming more and more important, as Google are favouring https sites websites in search rankings and will also start flagging up non-https sites as "Not secure" in their popular Chrome browser. It is also possible that this could encourage more sales on your website, although the shopping experience was already secured by PayPal.

There's no extra charge for this new feature and you can read more about it after logging into your website admin area.

New domain redirection options

We've added a few new options to give you more control over any domain name\s you use with your website.

The first is you can now alter the main domain used with your website, via the Account options admin page, without having to contact us and wait (a short while) for us to make the change for you.

More usefully, you can now set up additional domains to redirect to the main domain, again without having to wait for us to make the necessary changes for you.

Last of all and really the most helpful of all, you can now choose to have your username.photium.com domain redirect visitors to your www.maindomain.com address and also maindomain.com redirect to www.maindomain.com. This ensures you will have no duplicate content issues with search engines (although we do have measures in place to reduce the chance of that).

You can find all these new settings at the bottom of the Account options admin page. Of course, if you encounter any problems or have any questions, please let us know.

Responsive design changes

Some time ago, we enabled a beta option to change your website design, to make it more mobile friendly. This became particularly important as google can sometimes show websites that are less mobile friendly lower on search results.

Many of you have been using this feature for some time but we have recently added a couple of improvements. You can now have the menu items hidden for visitors until they click a single "Menu" button. This can be enabled on the Responsive beta page.

Enabling this new setting also enables support for automatic mobile resizing of Vimeo and Youtube videos, which wasn't previously provided.

Lastly, it's important to note that this responsive design beta is only a stop-gap measure for the current designs, which are due to be replaced with completely new ones.

File system improvements

It's not something you will always notice but we are always working to improve the infrastructure behind Photium. One of the most recent improvements and one of the most significant and time-consuming in our ten year history, is a complete overhaul and re-think of the storage systems used to host your photos. Without going into all the technical details, the changes have resulted in faster loading of photos, greater scalability and improved resistance to outages.

As an example, to further increase speed, photos will now load from the server location closest to each visitor. So if a visitor in the USA is browsing your Gallery, the photo will load from a server in the USA, someone in the UK though, will have the photo loaded from a UK server nearer to them.

As always, we endeavoured to implement these changes with the minimum of interruption to service. Everything was completed successfully and has been in operation for some time now without incident.

We have so many new features planned for 2016 and future blog posts will be less about behind the scenes improvements and about more noticeable ones instead. It should be an exciting year...

Maintenance completed

The emergency maintenance has now been completed on schedule and downtime was approximately 5 minutes at 05:13 Wednesday 4th November 2015.

All websites are fully functional and there should be no residual issues from this network maintenance. Websites can be updated as normal again.

Maintenance downtime 4th Nov 2015

We have been notified of essential emergency maintenance by our data centre (to reload a core router).

It will take place between 05:00 and 11:00 GMT (00:00 and 06:00 EST) on Wednesday 4th November 2015.

As a result of the maintenance there is expected to be downtime of approximately 15 minutes. During the hours mentioned above, please avoid updating your website to avoid losing any unsaved work when the downtime occurs.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused by this extremely rare interruption to service and if you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch.

PayPal IPN email - no changes needed

Around the 10th September 2015, PayPal have been sending out emails to customers regarding some updates they are making to their servers that may require you or your developers (Photium) to take some action.

It is okay to ignore these emails as all necessary changes have been made for you and your website won't be affected.

Improved backup, deletion and downloads

We host many millions of photos and backing them up takes time and has always been system intensive. Occasionally these backups (which we do multiple times a day and to multiple locations) were causing slower than desired performance. We've recently completely rewritten how the backup systems operate and there is now no impact on other services.

We're also making some major changes to how we host files that will further improve performance and the first stage of this change has meant deletions of portfolios and photos are now more or less instant. Whereas before a portfolio with thousands of photos may have taken minutes to delete, it will now just take a few seconds.

We are now also able to undo accidental deletions (via a support request), if we are notified within 14 days of the deletion occurring.

Another related change made recently is that if you've uploaded the original high resolution files to a portfolio and need to download them, e.g. your local hard drive failed, you can now download them as a single zip, rather than having to download each individually. This option is available via the admin page for editing portfolios.

New email options

Previously, your Photium account would only have one email address associated with it (where notifications of new orders, gallery comments, renewal reminders, support replies etc. would go).

You can now enter multiple email addresses and also specify different email addresses that should be contacted by us for renewal reminders and support replies. This will be useful if you share the administration of your website or if someone else is responsible for managing the renewal of your website for you.

Even if no-one else is managing your website for you, we recommend adding more than one email addresses for the renewal reminders etc., in case we have problems reaching you on your main email address and to ensure your website doesn't expire by mistake.

The new options are available via the Account options admin page.
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