Setting up Mass Planner on a Virtual Private Server with ShapeHost

So, you’ve decided it’s time to set up a Virtual Private Server. Maybe you’re a Mac user, so you can’t run Mass Planner locally. Or, you just want Mass Planner running full time without using your laptop to do it. And, maybe you’ve tried the free Amazon AWS virtual server and you can’t take the slow speeds any more.

We’ve worked with a number of Virtual Servers (which we’ll refer to as “VPS”s from here on). A good VPS should be easy to set up, provide good support, and have a good performance to price ratio. The company that we’re currently using is ShapeHost. On the Mass Planner website you’ll see recommendations for IWStack, another provider, but that company has strict security policies that we’ve found makes it extremely difficult to get the VPS set up.  For this tutorial will walk you through setting up your ShapeHost VPS, installing Mass Planner, and connecting to it to get working.

To start with, click here to look at the product offerings from ShapeHost:

Click Here to Get Started with ShapeHost

You should now be looking at ShapeHost’s Products and Services Page:

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We’ll be setting up a SSD VPS. SSD is just an acronym for “Solid State Drive”, which refers to the hardware that the server will be set up on. Don’t worry – this is the only mention I’m going to have about geeky hardware information.

What IS more important is deciding between a North American or Europe location for your VPS. This depends mostly on where you’re primarily located. Some social media platforms get confused if you’re operating Mass Planner in one country and using your social media account in another. For our purposes here, we’re going to set up a North America SSD VPS.

ShapeHost offers a number of product offerings, with different prices and specs. We’re going with their basic option, the Triangle, which will be plenty to run Mass Planner with multiple accounts. You can easily upgrade in the future if you need to.

So, click continue!

Now you’ll see your order summary, in this case $19 per month.

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But, why pay full price? Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and click on the Promotions & Coupon Codes link.

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ShapeHost makes deals easily available to you. Read through the different options, and pic the best option. For us, the code LIMITEDSSD15 gave us 15% recurring off.

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Highlight the Coupon code, and copy it.

Now, hit the back button, to get back to your shopping screen.

Click on Use promotional code in your Cart summary

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The promo code window will open up.

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Paste in the code you copied before, and hit the blue button.

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Check it out. We just saved ourselves almost $3 per month, with about four clicks.

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At this point you might notice the error message: The domain you entered is in the wrong format. Don’t worry, we just haven’t gotten to that point yet. We’ll take care of that now.

Scroll down to the product configuration section.

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You have two things to fill out before we move on.

First, is the Hostname. This is basically the name you want to give your VPS. Mine (MP_VPS) isn’t particularly creative, so maybe you should name yours “Heisenberg” or something like that.

Second is the operating system (OS). Mass Planner only runs on Windows, so you’ll have to pick a Microsoft offering. Pick Windows Server 2012, so you won’t need to worry about upgrading an older operating system when Microsoft eventually stops supporting them.

You also have the option of purchasing additional IP addresses. One IP Address is fine if you’re starting out, but play with the scroll bar. Another IP address is only $2.50, and the 15% discount applies to this as well. But, just choose one. If you’re worried about additional IP addresses at this point, you’ll want to look into proxies, which provide additional IP’s for cheaper.

Hit Continue to proceed.

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Fill out your information, including creating a password (this is the password for your ShapeHost account, not for you VPS – we’ll get to that in a minute). Calling this a Personal Account Type is fine.

We chose to pay with PayPal (since we’ve never even heard of Skrill).

Make sure to check the little box next to the Terms of Service. You can even actually read them if you want.

At this point you’ll be redirected to PayPal (assuming that’s what you’ve chosen). Once you’ve gone through the payment process, you will be redirected to the ShapeHost website.

Now, you will need to be patient. It may take up to 2 hours to get your VPS set up.  You can check on it in the Shape Host client area, under Services.

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Your VPS will display as status “pending” until it’s ready, when it will show as Status “Active. Once it’s active, it should also show as “ON”. That means you’ve officially set up your VPS.

Now, how do you get to it? Just click on the VPS name itself – in our case, we clicked on mp_vps. You’ll probably be clicking on Heisenberg.

You’ll now be looking at status window for your VPS.

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This shows you basic information about your Windows server. Take note of your IP address – you’ll need this later to set up direct Remote Desktop access (I’ll go into that later).

Next to “Root password”, click on the “show” button. This will display the automatically generated Administrator password for your Windows VPS.You’ll need this password to log into your server in the next step. You can also choose to reset the password at this point.

To log onto your server immediately, click the “Console” button. A new window will open.

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This is the login screen for your VPS. You are essentially now looking at your server through the browser window.If you use Windows, or have used Windows, this is pretty familiar. Log in as Administrator with the password you remembered from the last instruction.

You’ll now be looking at your brand spanking new VPS.

 

Installing Mass Planner on your VPS

To get Mass Planner on your new VPS, you have three options:

  1. Install it from scratch,
  2. Copy from your existing installation
  3. Do a combination of the two.

A new installation of Mass Planner

If you haven’t set up Mass Planner before, or just want a fresh installation, installing it from scratch is easy.

Start by opening a browser on your VPS (Internet Explorer will be the default). If you’re unfamiliar with Windows (and particularly Windows 2012), hit the “command” key on your keyboard to see your applications, including the Internet Explorer icon.

In I.E., go to the Mass Planner download page. Choose Direct Download, and then double click on the MSI file to install it. Once it’s installed, there will be an icon on the desktop, and you’ll just log in with your Mass Planner email and password.

Move an existing installation of Mass Planner

But, chances are you already have Mass Planner up and running, and want to move from a local machine or a slow VPS to your new ShapeHost VPS. In theory, this is pretty easy as well. You’ll njusteed to copy your existing Mass Planner folder to your new VPS. Mass Planner by default is installed a folder called MassPlanner2. The easy way to find this folder is to go to the desktop icon of your existing installation, right click, and choose Open file location.

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This will open to the folder where Mass Planner is installed.

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Perfect, so now you know where your source folder is to copy. The problem is that you can’t just copy between two VPS machines. So, you’ll need a single spot that both virtual servers can access, and move the folder there temporarily. The answer for this is a cloud storage option, like Google Drive or Dropbox.

First, make sure you have enough space in your cloud drive. The mass planner folder can grow pretty big you create campaigns and add accounts, so check that first. Right click on the MassPlanner2 folder, and choose properties. You’ll get a Window showing you how much disk space it’s taking up.

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In my example, it’s 3.87 GB. As long as you have more than what’s showing available in your cloud drive, you’re good to go.

Before copying your existing Mass Planner, make sure to close the application. And, that doesn’t mean just clicking the X in the corner – this just minimizes the application to the tray while it continues to run. On the right side of the Mass Planner, next to TUTORIAL!, is a drop down arrow next to your MP login email.

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Click Exit the application to close Mass Planner.

Now, log into your Dropbox or Google Drive account through the browser on the machine (or VPS) where your existing Mass Planner is installed, and upload the MassPlanner2 folder and all of it’s contents. In Dropbox, you choose the Upload icon and then click choose files. In Google Drive, click New…Folder upload. Pick the MassPlanner2 folder, and….wait.

Go get a cup of coffee, make a sandwich, or re-watch the last season of Breaking Bad, depending on how long it’s telling you it will take to copy.

Once all of the files have been copied to your cloud drive, log into your new ShapeHost VPS, and do the reverse procedure. Log into your cloud drive from Internet Explorer, and download the folder. I just put the MassPlanner2 folder in the root C: drive, where it’s easy to get to, since I don’t use the VPS for anything other than running Mass Planner.

Time for another sandwich, or more TV, during the copy process.

Note: None of the files that you are copying are going directly from the VPS, to the cloud, to the new VPS. None of them are going to your local PC or laptop (unless you’re uploading from your local Windows machine), so you can feel free to disconnect from the VPS and log back in to check progress.

Second Note: I didn’t do it this exact way. I installed the Google Drive desktop application on both VPS servers, and copied the folder into the auto-sync area, so both the upload and download would occur at the same time. But, this tutorial isn’t about installing Dropbox or Google Drive, so if you want to do that, you’re on your own.

Once the files are copied, you’re basically done. Open the MassPlanner2 folder, and double click on the MassPlannerNew.exe file. This will start Mass Planner, and also create an icon on your desktop for future access.

Questions? Shoot us an email, and we’re happy to help.

Or, if this seems like way too much work, we can just grow your social media accounts for you, for cheap!

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P.S. I realized I had offered THREE options. The third option is to install a new version of Mass Planner from the install link, and then just copy over the following three subfolders from the your existing MassPlanner2 folder: BrowserCookies, CampaignData, and CampaignImagesData, and replace the folders in the new installation. Those three folders contain all your setup information, campaign information, and history.

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