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 WordPress.com 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
I 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
A 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 WordPress.com $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 WordPress.com to WordPress.org to conduct the migration. (Note: You will notice in this document that WordPress.org 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 WordPress.com 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.
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 WordPress.com 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.
I did some research in WordPress.com 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.
Click “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).
Originally, Justin wanted to get into my WordPress.com 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 WordPress.com 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 WordPress.com 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.
I was keeping the same blog name (domain name still to be hosted by WordPress.com) and just changing hosts. Therefore I needed to update the name servers in my WordPress.com account from the WP.com 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: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/05/25/introduction-to-dns-explaining-the-dreaded-dns-delay/.
Whenever I tried to access my new blog using debtdebs.com/wp-admin, it would take me back to my old WordPress.com site and application.
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 WordPress.com site.
Even once he was done, I could not get into my WordPress.org 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.
and hit enter
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.
123.456.78.999 debtdebs.com www.debtdebs.com
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.
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)
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 WordPress.com 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 WordPress.com Forum and the WordPress.org 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.
You can login to https://akismet.com/account 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).
Here 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 WordPress.com followers and would hate to lose them.
I’ve already turned on most of Jetpack’s settings. I’ve come to learn that Jetpack is the standard stuff that is in WordPress.com native. The only settings I have not activated are:
- Jetpack Comments
- Jetpack Single Sign On
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 WordPress.com blogs and Twitter / Facebook commenters).
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 WordPress.com 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.
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!
- Create a favicon.ico file here http://www.favicon.cc/
- Load favicon.ico file into my directory folder “images” at self-hosted site
- Insert this css code using editor in the header section under title part:
<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”http://debtdebs.com/wp-admin/images/favicon.ico” 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?
- Procure a domain hosting service and verify you can access their site.
- Put your existing site on maintenance mode using tips in Gotcha #1.
- Turn off 2 step authentication in WordPress.com if you have it activated. You will need you printed codes to do this. (Gotcha #2)
- Change your name servers in your old WordPress.com site (assuming you are keeping your domain with your old host). Store>My Domains> Edit Domains>Name Servers (Gotcha #3).
- Export your blog to .xml (Tools>Export).
- Log into your hosting platform and create the WordPress application from the cPanel.
- 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
- Import your blog from the .xml file. You probably have to install your theme as well in the WP-Content>Themes folder.
- Correct any errors/failures with the assistance of your hosting company. (Gotcha #4)
- Adjust widgets / settings. (Gotcha #6)
- Install plugins (e.g. Akismet, Jetpack, Commentluv) and activate settings on Jetpack features desired. (Gotcha #7)
- Migrate your WordPress.com subscribers. (Ref Gotcha #8)
- Set your WordPress.com 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 WordPress.com Store:
Do you want to move away from WordPress.com 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 wordpress.com 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?
Images courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Stuart Miles / man carrying boxes, coloured blocks, jigsaw fan
cooldesign / men with boxes
David Castillo Dominici / construction
sheelamohan / time and lock
renjith krishnan / Make Money Online. Internet Cable With Dollars
rajcreationzs / computer networks
Grant Cochrane / cartoon dog juggler
Master isolated images / like