debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


Moving Blog from to Self-Hosted


self-hosted-wordpressWell, in the grand scheme of things, moving my blog to self-hosted did not go too bad.

What I’d like to do is share with you my gotchas and lessons learned on what’s important.  Although I had done some investigation and reading before hand, there is a lot of information available but not one document that puts everything together in a linear but brief fashion.  I think this is important because some of my gotchas could have been avoided if I understood the end picture better.

Now I need to qualify that my gotchas actually had nothing to do with my hosting site.  My worst problems were caused by two-step authentication process and and issue I was having with accessing my blog’s gmail account.  I will go into these in more detail below, but as a result of these issues, I made decisions that I would later come to regret and if I knew the impact up front, I would have not done the actions I did.

So here’s a bunch of points I want to make which are following a sequential process and thought process about how I went about the migration.  I will summarize at the bottom the actual technical steps for easy reference, since some of the points below are not really actions but more decisions, I made.


Hosting Partner Choice

Big-ScootsI decided on BigScoots (non-affiliate link) after doing some research into the following hosting companies:  Blue Host, Host Gator, Dream Host, Liquid Web, Host Papa, Green Geeks, Go Daddy and Web Hosting Canada.  I wanted to get a Canadian firm, in all honesty, but I was unable to find one WordPress blogger who used a Canadian company host.  I also wanted inexpensive but not cheap.  Blogging takes enough time, without having it sucked away by technical issues and outages.

I also wanted a host company who was quite familiar with the WordPress application.  Upon a recommendation of another blogger, I decided on Big Scoots who are big but not too big and fairly inexpensive $24.95 USD for initial year.  Domain is additional (I think $10.95 USD), but my domain is paid up for another eight months, so even though it was tempting to sign with them now for convenience, my budget brain would not allow me to.  Hopefully I won’t regret this decision later when I need to renew my domain registration in early March.

Migration Support from Hosting Partner

self-hosted-wordpressA big shout out to Justin at Big Scoots who did some of the heavy lifting.  As soon as my account was opened he contacted me with a ticket, via email, offering support.  He was actually offering to do most of the migration, which I had not expected at all.   I specifically had decided not to pay $129 CAD to do it not only because of the cost but because I wanted to learn from the experience and so opted to do as much as I could on my own.  My feeling was that it would be helpful for me to support the blog if I did this work myself.

I opted to follow the steps in this article from WPBeginner How to Properly Move Your Blog from to to conduct the migration.   (Note:  You will notice in this document that offers to do the migration for free but I think they work with Blue Host, though I’m not sure if they only exclusively with Blue Host.)

Minor Point #1

The cPanel is the control panel that gives you access to your files and all other programs that you can use to manage your site.  Think of it like the backbone or middleware and then WordPress is the application layer on top of this.  Of course, I had never seen a cPanel before, because in this is all behind the scenes, all I could see was the WordPress application layer.

One thing I noticed as soon as I started snooping around cPanel, was that my home directory was set up as Home Directory /home/debtdeb instead of debtdebs with an ‘s’.  I was concerned it may have later repercussions so pointed it out to Justin in the ticket.  He said it was automatically named and shouldn’t be an issue but would change it none-the-less, which he did so expediently.  I had a little trouble logging into the cPanel after that (said login was invalid), which I thought might be related.  After a refresh, I was able to login.

Gotcha #1

There is nothing in this article about how to put your site in maintenance mode.  Justin @ BigScoots wanted me to install a plug-in to accomplish this.  But, one of the main drivers for moving away from is that you cannot use plug-ins, so that option wouldn’t work.

Deborah,You will want to put the site into maintenance mode, you can use a plugin like:


This way they will hit a splash page that says its under maintenance and will not allow them to post, etc.


– Justin

I did some research in Forums and found a suggestion to make a custom home page temporarily which I did.  The steps on how to do this are here -> Front Page.  I grabbed an under construction picture and posted it on the landing page.

I think that worked pretty well except that after I had exported my blog, E.M. @ Journey to Saving managed to sneak a comment in on my old site that would forever be lost in cyberspace except that I have captured it here :-) :


Minor Point #2

So anyways, I did manage to export my blog to .xml file and added the software through the cPanel option (BigScoots uses Softaculous -there is a link in the WP Beginner article linked above that gives more info on all the different Apps Installers used for WP). I also increased the import size levels temporarily to allow the blog import.  They are set at 2 MB, so usually you need to increase, although my blog at 4 months old with lots of pictures was only 3.7MB.  These were the instructions I got from Justin on how to do this:

You can increase the import size by doing the following inside cPanel:Click on “Select PHP version”
Select a version other than native, default is 5.3.
cPanel-increase-import-size-limitClick “Set as current”
Click “Show PHP Settings”
Click the gray setting next to the following options:

You need to change both of these to increase the file size limit.

So for some reason when I went in the default was 5.4 not 5.3 (notice now it is showing 5.5).  I don’t know why these are or the importance.  I opted for staying with 5.4 which Justin said was fine  Notice instead of saying “Show PHP Settings” it says “Switch to PHP Settings” which I figured out.  I changed the two settings which were at 2MB to 16 MB each (not shown).

Gotcha #2

Security-lockOriginally, Justin wanted to get into my site but I had trouble in figuring out how to do this because I had 2-step authentication turned on which although for security reasons is probably quite good, it is a PITA to work under.  I especially had a lot of problems with it (see  Gotcha #7  for consequences below), and have since turned it off on my site due to these difficulties.

Basically, once you put your password in, it asks for an authentication code and there is a button that you can click which sends the code to your phone, which you then enter.  But for some reason, and I’m not the only one, because I saw some Forum posts on on this topic, it gets into a loop where it keeps asking for your password and then authentication code and goes no where.  Eventually it locks you out for 30 minutes.  I had that happen to me twice.

Gotcha #3

DNS-propagationI was keeping the same blog name (domain name still to be hosted by and just changing hosts.  Therefore I needed to update the name servers in my account from the name servers to the ones provided by BigScoots.  It wasn’t clear to me at what step that change should be made.  I didn’t know if doing it too early would cause me to not be able to get into my old blog.

It only briefly touches on the topic near the end of the WP Beginner article above.  Justin said it didn’t matter if it was done before or after.  Sometimes it takes a little while (up to 48 hours) for the new DNS to replicate around the world, and this includes your own ability to access your new blog (Gotcha #5).  Therefore, from what I know now, I would recommend changing them sooner than later.    Justin gave me a link to an article explaining more on DNS:

Whenever I tried to access my new blog using, it would take me back to my old site and application.

Gotcha #4

So since, I could not get into my WordPress application software on my new site to do the import, Justin did it for me.  I was able to attach my exported .xml file to the ticket.  He also had to load my YOKO theme and I sent him a link on where he could obtain that.   He downloaded the .zip of the actual theme and extracted it into the themes folder on the server.

He said there were some failures which took him maybe 30 minutes to correct, but I can’t give you any more details than that.  In the end, he never needed to access my old site.

Gotcha #5

Even once he was done, I could not get into my software because of the name server DNS changes not fully replicated.  Justin suggested to force the DNS to change by flushing what is cached on your computer.

cachedIf you open up command prompt type the following:

ipconfig /flushdns

and hit enter

then type

and hit enter

You should see the new IP address replying back, being 123.456.78.999

This worked, but then stopped working because “Your ISP’s DNS servers are going back and forth, if you want to force the IP address you do so by forcing your computer to see the correct IP using your computers HOSTS file.”  Here’s the instructions, Justin gave me:

Once inside your hosts file, add this line to the bottom and save.


This worked well.  I was able to get in to my WordPress application and see what needed to be fixed, which is really par for the course, but I will summarize them on Gotcha #6.

Gotcha #6

The following things needed to be added / changed once I got into my new WordPress application:

  • Blog picture in header
  • Some widgets were missing and needed to be re-added:  Social Media icons and Status Bars (I needed to go back into my old site to copy the code for the html widgets), Recent comments (I eventually removed becaused the version available doesn’t have pictures with it) , Top Posts and Pages, Disclaimer, Buttons (Top Blogs, Yakezie)
  • Twitter and Facebook plugins (These couldn’t be added until I installed JetPack – see Gotcha #7)
  • Time Zone in General Settings (I didn’t notice this until I got Akismet plugin working)

Gotcha #7

Remember when I said that I was having trouble getting into my old blog due to the two-step authentication process?  Well, when I went to get an Akismet API I couldn’t get into my old site.  I was anxious about leaving my new blog without spam filter on, so I created a new email address and registered for an Akismet API through that account and email ID.  It worked fine.

So since I had this new email, I also installed Jetpack referring to my new WordPress account and email which was a mistake.  When I went to execute one of my last steps to migrate my existing subscribers over to my new blog (see Gotcha #8), I found out that you need Jetpack to be registered with your old WordPress account to be able to do this.  I have a ticket into Jetpack to find out if I should deactivate and redo, or if they can change something for me.  I don’t want to screw anything up further, so I am proceeding cautiously.  I’ve also left a ticket with Forum and the Forum and at the Jetpack Support site (though theres no public forum of my request, I just received and email back stating my request, but no response as yet.

Auntie-SPAMIn addition, once I realized this, I also realized that I probably shouldn’t have done the same thing for my Akismet registration either.  I launched a ticket for Akismet and they have advised:

You can login to with your old credentials and select a subscription there.  Once you’ve done that, click the ‘disconnect this account’ link on the Akismet settings page, then reconnect.

This has worked fine, and actually all my previous spam history is now merged with my new spam history, so we’ve got all the WHAM BAM thank you SPAM together, MAAM.  (Awww… that calls for a picture of Auntie SPAM again).

Gotcha #8

Followers-SubscribersHere are the relevant links for Transferring Follower and Subscribers which I haven’t been able to do yet until I hear back from Jetpack.

Subscription Migration Tool.  Technically, this may not be a gotcha, but it just feels like it is because I’m delayed.  Hopefully once I have JetPack sorted out it will go smoothly.

I have around 50 followers and would hate to lose them.  :cry:

I’ve already turned on most of Jetpack’s settings.  I’ve come to learn that Jetpack is the standard stuff that is in native.  The only settings I have not activated are:

  • Jetpack Comments
  • Jetpack Single Sign On
  • VideoPress

I have installed commentluv (so happy to have that feature) so I wasn’t sure if I would need the first two.  If you think I should enable, please leave a comment, luv ;-)  (they facilitate blogs and Twitter / Facebook commenters).

Gotcha #9

jugglerOh ya, the other thing that wasted my time was my gmail accounts.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the migration itself, but since it slowed me down, I’m calling it out.

So I have my main personal gmail account and two other personal gmail accounts that I use for playing lexulous, on-line forums etc.  Then I have my blog gmail address which is debtdotdebsatgmaildotcom.  So, you know in gmail how you can have them all kinda linked and switched from one to the other?  Ya, well I use that …. a lot.  So I mentioned in Gotcha #7 about creating a new gmail for my new blog.  Well I don’t know if 5 is too many or because I was working in just one browser, but everytime I tried to log into my old blog email it would open one of my personal gmail accounts.  I could not get into my old blog email and I needed to see if was sending me emails about my password recovery for my site etc.  It was so frustrating.  Eventually, I opened a chrome browser, so I had Firefox, Chrome and Internet explorer browsers open and trying to do all kinds of stuff with the three.  I felt like a juggler.

I don’t know about you but with Google+ now and all the gmails I just get lost some days.

Gotcha #10

But the pièce de résistance that I was able to fix on my own, was this little baby that I mentioned in my previous posting on Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure.   I was so freaked out about it because I thought I was not going to be able to get my beloved fraggle to show in my little browser tab.

How crazy is that, ay?  Well I was broken hearted when found out that the YOKO theme (which I love and am not nearly tired of yet since I’ve only been blogging four months) did not have a spot for me to load a favicon in the theme.

Thanks to this youtube video, How to Install a Favicon to Your Website, I was able to code the fix directly in css and I am such a SMARTY PANTS so PUMPED!

  1. Create a favicon.ico file here
  2. Load favicon.ico file into my directory folder “images” at self-hosted site
  3. Insert this css code using editor in the header section under title part:

<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”” type=”image/x-icon” />

replacing your site information and hierarchy (may be a little different), of course.

I’ve left a note on the Elmastudio Theme Forum (creators of YOKO).  Now isn’t YOKO such a great theme for this site because it’s so much like YOLO?  ;-)

The Recipe

So although it seems like a lot of points above, it really went well.   I just like to have an exact recipe with everything the right order and everything clearly named and easy to find.

  1. Procure a domain hosting service and verify you can access their site.
  2. Put your existing site on maintenance mode using tips in Gotcha #1.
  3. Turn off 2 step authentication in if you have it activated.  You will need you printed codes to do this. (Gotcha #2)
  4. Change your name servers in your old site (assuming you are keeping your domain with your old host). Store>My Domains> Edit Domains>Name Servers (Gotcha #3).
  5. Export your blog to .xml (Tools>Export).
  6. Log into your hosting platform and create the WordPress application from the cPanel.
  7. Access your new application via yourblogname/wp-admin.  If it is taking you to your old site, wait a while or follow steps in Gotcha #5
  8. Import your blog from the .xml file.  You probably have to install your theme as well in the WP-Content>Themes folder.
  9. Correct any errors/failures with the assistance of your hosting company. (Gotcha #4)
  10. Adjust widgets / settings. (Gotcha #6)
  11. Install plugins (e.g. Akismet, Jetpack, Commentluv) and activate settings on Jetpack features desired. (Gotcha #7)
  12. Migrate your subscribers.  (Ref Gotcha #8)
  13. Set your site to private and / or Redirect visitors to your new site by procuring Site Redirect ($13 Cdn)

I have not done Step 13 yet.   I haven’t figured out if I need to do it because my link addresses are the same since my blog name didn’t change.  Here’s what they say about it in the Store:

Do you want to move away from to your own self-hosted WordPress installation without losing SEO ranking and breaking links? Have you recently changed your blog address and need to move traffic to the new address? This upgrade redirects your blog to your new blog by performing permanent (301) redirects for all of your content.

If anyone can help a homegirl out and tell me if I should do this for a year I would greatly appreciate it.

Any tips and tricks I have forgotten?  Does this make you more confident to move your blog, or less confident?

like-postCREDITS – we’ve got credits!

Images courtesy of /
Stuart Miles / man carrying boxes, coloured blocks, jigsaw fan
cooldesign / men with boxes
David Castillo Dominici
/ construction
/ time and lock
renjith krishnan / Make Money Online. Internet Cable With Dollars
rajcreationzs / computer networks
Grant Cochrane
/ cartoon dog juggler
Master isolated images / like


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Author: debster

I am a fifty-something wife, mother and new grandmother, who admits to having their “head in the sand” about their financial situation until amassing $247,500 worth of consumer debt for a total debt of $393,500. We've paid $121K in 2 years with four more years to go. Join my journey at sharing ideas and motivation to all those coping with poor money management and bad debt decisions.

38 thoughts on “Moving Blog from to Self-Hosted

  1. WOW, I figured something was up as I was getting broken links to your blog on my site. I’m glad you managed to sort through it all. I’ll give you credit because I hired a designer to do everything for me and still have hired help because I just don’t have the time to sort it out. I hope you enjoy your new site away from .com. Mr.CBB :)
    canadianbudgetbinder recently posted…How spending money requires time: Our Family Budget June 2014My Profile

    • :eek: Thanks Mr. CBB. Hmmm, it appears I still have more to learn. I thought because my domain name didn’t change there would be no broken links. Will that be the same for anyone who has linked to me in the past?

  2. Oh gosh, I’m so glad everything is mostly up and running for you! That’s a lot of work. It sounds like BigScoots and Justin were great to have. I will have to look into them next – as you know, Host Gator hasn’t been the best!

    Too funny that my comment almost got swept away. I can’t speak to the broken links, but this post isn’t showing up in Feedly. The ones before it are. Sadly I don’t know much about this process, so I can’t give any advice on your last question. Congrats on getting through it on your own, though. I like to learn things by doing them myself, too.

    And yes, Jetpack is a pretty powerful tool for WordPress!
    E.M. recently posted…July Budget PreviewMy Profile

    • Thanks, EM! So far so good with BigScoots for the migration. We’ll see how they are for ongoing support and also outages.

      I noticed that my blog showing on feedly on my tablet now has the background image problem that I used to have when I first got my tablet and logged a ticket. Maybe they fixed it for but not other WordPress… dunno. I didn’t notice that this latest post was not there. I know that feedly is using faster than bloglovin’ for getting posts in the feed usually. I’ll have to look into that as well.

      So far I haven’t seen anything in Jetpack that wasn’t offered in, but I think that’s because it is based off What I am looking forward to exploring further are the plugins which up until now I have not been able to install.

  3. Holy overwhelming, Batman!!! All of this techy stuff is really confusing to me. By the grace of God I got it up and running – somehow – but I sure am glad to have Aaron and Charlie to partner with now as they do all of the back end stuff. Whew! :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…Fourth of July Greetings and Great Food IdeasMy Profile

  4. So impressed that you did this on your own. A great resource for anyone looking to make the switch!
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…Thank You For Your SuccessMy Profile

  5. I had SUCH a hard time understanding the process of moving to self hosting when I took the plunge last year. It seems to easy, but there are so many little variables (as you experienced!) that make it difficult.

    I did pay the $13 to forward my URL for the year and I got a fair amount of traffic from it. It was worth it to me, and super easy!
    Amanda recently posted…Forever WaitingMy Profile

    • Thanks for visiting, Amanda! When you changed last year, was your blog address changing? What I mean is did you go from to I had already bought my domain name from after my blog was up for a month or so. At that point the name switched from to So I’m not really sure what the redirect is getting me, but maybe I just don’t understand it. :eek:

  6. Great job! I wish I could have referred to this post when I made the switch earlier this year. It would have been super helpful, but I’m sure it will be a great resource for others. Thanks for sharing so many details.
    Addison @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…Roundup From the Ranch: Fourth of July StyleMy Profile

    • Thanks, Addison. You know I searched for something similar but the best I found was that Beginner WP article. Happy Independence Day! Thanks for visiting. :-)

  7. Wow Deb you went through a few moments there lol! I did my transfer my domain to self-hosting on my own as well and it also went pretty smoothly overall. I just need to transfer the followers from the old to the new wordpress site. Great post to catalog your experience for others who may want to do the same!
    Kassandra recently posted…Are You and Your Bank In Love?My Profile

    • Hey Kassandra! Good job for you too! Who is your hosting partner? Did they do any of it for you? I am still waiting to hear back on how to fix my Jetpack, then I can do the subscriber migration. How did you know that you needed to use your old ID to set up Jetpack? I didn’t see that documented in the initial stuff I was looking at. I only found it later. Are you subscribing to the $13/year site redirect? You had your own domain name before also, correct? Do you think it is necessary?

      • I used Bluehost since I already use them for my corporate website. I didn’t ask them to handle any part of it but I’m sure they would have been willing to assist. Well my login/ID is the same for both the free wordpress site and my self-hosted.
        My Jetpack is fully functionally but I am still not able to successfully migrate the subscribers yet! I’m about to troubleshoot that :)
        I had bought my domain via WordPress when I first began blogging on the free wordpress but I decided to transfer it to Bluehost also.
        I don’t believe you need to pay the $13 to redirect – all you have to do is change the DNS record to your new host info in the Domain section of the free wordpress to redirect. DM me on twitter if you need me to walk you through how to do this.
        Kassandra recently posted…Are You and Your Bank In Love?My Profile

  8. Wow! That is a ton of useful information. Must have taken you forever to do. A change like that would have been beyond what I’m able to to. Thanks for all the thoughts, ideas and tips.
    Brad @ How to Save Money recently posted…This Weeks Best Reads 4 July 2014My Profile

  9. The tricky part about blogs is that so much of the technical work is right up front. Don’t worry.. you won’t have to touch a lot of that stuff for quite awhile… until something breaks and then you go scurrying over to Justin saying “help, I don’t know what to do!” I’m glad to hear that it went medium-smoothly, anyway. I always learn something, whenever I need to muck with this stuff!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted…I’m on the Radio! Come Listen OnlineMy Profile

    • Thanks, Anne. Things worked smoothly over at so I get scared when you say things like that. I will just back away slowly. LOL

  10. Totally impressed you did this! I got a free transfer from wpbeginner, which was not without its own issues, but not ones that I had to solve :-)
    Kirsten @ Indebtedmom recently posted…A Personal Look at My Stay At Home Desire: Part 3My Profile

  11. OMG….thank you so much for the information. I am about to do the switch this week so your post is right on time. Thank you….thank you…thank you….wish me luck.
    Petrish @ Debt Free Martini recently posted…Ohhh….Look What I See!My Profile

  12. Wow that is an incredible write-up! I started with self-hosting so was able to avoid going through this process, but I’m sure countless people go through this process every single day. This will definitely be useful for them!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

    • Thanks DC! I wish I never started on but oh well. It’s done now. I’m just a bit concerned about my permalink format. I think I should maybe change it but not sure how I need to go about it because it will break all my links to other sites.

  13. Epic post! Self hosting your own site is the best move you can make IMO. You just have so much more control, and it really doesn’t cost all that much.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…When is the right time to buy a new mattressMy Profile

    • You know I was dead set against paying for anything when I started my blog. I felt I would be a hypocrite, trying to get out of debt and spending money on the blog. I realize it’s smallish, but it’s more the principle of it. Now that we are canceling cable, I can justify it more, and if I monetize my blog, hopefully I can cover my costs and maybe a bit more. Thanks, for swinging by, Glen!

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  15. It sounds like a good thing you had Justin! I didn’t have too much of a problem switching from Blogger. Took me 8 hours (a lot of that was site design) and 3 plugins, but no major issues. I agree with some of the other commenters…you shouldn’t have to pay for the redirect plugin. Congrats on making the switch!
    femmefrugality recently posted…Financially Savvy Saturdays: Forty-Fifth EditionMy Profile

  16. Woah, Nelly! I can’t believe you did all that one your own. Way to go!

    I was a total wuss and just paid a guy of Fiverr to switch over my account from to He was worth every single penny.

    Your way is much more impressive though!
    Mel @ brokeGIRLrich recently posted…10 Weird Ways to Make More MoneyMy Profile

  17. Minor point #2 isn’t so minor. Choosing a host with Softaculous will make your life exponentially easier.

  18. Congrats on taking this big step! I am with HostGator for my hosting, but I have heard great things about BigScoots. You will have to let me know how it pans out for you. Being self hosted is great and gives you a lot more freedom with your blog.
    Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter recently posted…3 Ways To Stay On Track with Healthy LivingMy Profile

    • Thanks, Daisy. So far so good with BigScoots but I really have nothing to compare to as far as self hosting sites. I have added Plugin for WordFence and it informed me that my site was down in the middle of the night for 30 mins a couple of days ago, but no biggie at this point.

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