I’ve been thinking about moving my website to a new host for a while now, WordPress.com has been a great hosting company but it does have its limitations on how much you can modify settings, themes you can use and plugins available.
So towards the end of last week and over the weekend I decided it was time to spread my wings and fledge from the comfort of WordPress.com nest and out into the big wide world (or over to Fasthosts)!
Happily everything went to plan (mostly) and I learnt loads in the process, I even ended up dreaming of WordPress!
The basic process involves the following:
- Export XML.
- Setup new WordPress hosting.
- Install and configure Themes and Plugins.
- Import XML.
- Check the new site.
- Backup, lockdown and secure the new site.
- Switch over DNS.
- Set original site to private.
I’d started my testing with the oneclickinstaller installation using a different domain earlier in the week. The setup seemed fine and I installed all the plugins that I wanted and after a couple of evenings of feeling my way around WordPress.org I was happy with my progress.
The biggest challenge so far was finding plugins with similar features to those in WordPress.com, as there are so many plugins available. Luckily there is loads of information online and after a bit of Googling I was in business.
In WordPress.com I exported my Blog (Tools-Export, selected all content, clicked Export) and i was the proud owner of a couple of XML files.
Over in Fasthosts I kicked off the oneclickinstaller process, but it crashed out because OxfordSBSGuy.com was still up and running at WordPress.com, which then left me in a bit of quandary of how to setup WordPress.org over at Fasthosts.
Buoyed by my earlier successful testing I decided to do my own installation from scratch. The WordPress install was very straight forward, download the program, extract locally then upload via FTP to my Linux server.
I created a new MySQL database from the Fasthosts control panel, and then kicked off the WordPress installer which allowed me to specify the correct domain, and in a flash it was up and running, but completely invisible to the Internet because DNS was still pointing to my site hosted at WordPress.com. I’d now effectively created an invisible duplicate of my OxfordSBSGuy.com domain.
I then download the correct themes and plugins, and imported the old site from the XML export I created earlier. I thought the import process was a bit flakey as it timed out a couple of times, but seemed to pick up from where it left off each time. So eventually I had the all my content across and ready to go.
I then made sure I had all the relevant DNS entries (A, MX, SPF, site verification TXT records etc.) setup on the Fasthosts DNS servers, and the final stage was to make the Domain Name Server switch on the WordPress.com site to point to Fasthosts DNS servers. Once I’d saved the changes I watched online using whatsmydns.net to see the website A records update across the Internet.
I left both the new and old sites running side by side overnight so that any cached DNS records still pointing to my WordPress.com hosting would work, and then once I could see the traffic die down in the statistics, I set the site to private.
So now OxfordSBSGuy.com is up and running from Fasthosts.
The final stage will be to transfer the domain registration, but at the moment I’m getting to grips with Google Analytics and the extra wealth of information that I now have access to!
One issue I have come across is that a lot of the images that got pulled across from WordPress.com all came across ok, but where they are used in posts, they have custom URLs that still point to the original location on WordPress.com and not the new location at Fasthosts.
The other thing I have noticed is how many more page views I am getting, compared to when i was on WordPress.com. I’m now using JetPack and Google Analytics and both show roughly the same page views, but the contrast between this week and last week is huge! It may just be a coincidence, but i hope it continues!