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Moving websites between hosts

About a week ago I started moving a few of my websites – including this one – to a new website host here in Melbourne. I was moving away from my normal US host, because I’ve had a number of issues over the past year or so with the connection between their service in the US and here in Australia, where the sites were unavailable or just extremely slow.

The host provider is an online friend of mine, so I’ve wanted to be loyal to their service. I think I’ve been with them for over 5 years now. But since I’ve started a web design business, and most of my clients are here in Australia, and I started getting complaints about their sites being unavailable, I knew I had to do something drastic -like find a new website host provider.

So I’ve done that, and organised a reseller account with a Melbourne based provider. It allows me up to 30 domains for a low cost per month, and being local it’s super fast for me. But what’s really important is that the complaints from clients have stopped.

In order to move a WordPress site between hosts, it can get quite complicated. Lucky for me I’ve been using CloudFlare as a content delivery network. It provides the following benefits:

  1. it caches websites so that if they go offline then the cached version is still available
  2. cached websites are stored on servers around the world, so no matter where the visitor is, it’s as if the website is ‘local’ to them
  3. the websites use CloudFlare’s nameservers, so that if the IP address changes because the site moves to a new server, then DNS propagation is eliminated because the nameserver is the same

When transferring a site between hosts, it’s a ‘simple’ job of doing a full export of the database on the old server, and then doing an import of the database on the new server, onto an already-installed WordPress setup. You then have to modify its configuration file to connect to the database you’ve just imported. Voila! All the content is automatically transferred. Then I just change the IP address on CloudFlare for the DNS configuration to point to the new server and in just a few minutes the transition is complete.

The database for this blog was the largest of all the sites. It was also the only database I had a small problem with, as it corrupted when trying to import it onto the new server. Thankfully I was able to fix that with trying it again.

And then I had another problem – the website was completely blank. All the posts and pages were there, but the website was showing blank. It confused me for a moment until I did a Google search and found it would be a good idea to install the same theme FIRST on the new server before importing the database. The database was configured to show via a particular theme, so it wouldn’t work if the theme wasn’t installed first.

So after downloading and installing the theme as well as all relevant plugins, the website worked as expected.

I love this kind of stuff, and that’s why I think being a web designer is a very enjoyable ‘career’ for me. I love working with websites, designing them and administering them, and I love the challenges of breaking stuff and working out how to fix it in as short a time as possible.

It keeps me off the streets, at least.

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