How I Switched My WordPress Blog to a New Web Host

Since May 2007, my Hold It Up For Ridicule site, a WordPress blog, had been ridiculously slow. It wasn’t the only slow site hosted by Powweb. The Powweb community forum was full of complaints: as slow as molasses, they said! Saving a new post would take ten minutes, and sometimes it would just give up altogether.

Powweb’s Technical Support would send a message saying things would get better after a couple of weeks. By August things were still painfully slow. Then Powweb upgraded to MySQL 5, and things didn’t work at all.

I have two sites at Powweb, so I decided to switch the slow one, Hold It Up, to another host. My other Powweb site, this one, works fine.

WordPress have a list of hosts. Top of the list was Bluehost. I joined Bluehost and paid $160 for two years of hosting. The money went out, but no welcoming emails came back. I found out how to set up the FTP client using their online help. I sent Bluehost’s technical support an email to say the FTP client wasn’t working. Was I entering the correct server name? 24 hours later, when the client had started working, the reply came into my Bulk Mail folder.

I had to email them again. How do I transfer the database? cPanel only had a button for creating a new database, and I already had a database. Where was the import button? Over 24 hours later they emailed my Bulk Mail folder again saying I had to create the database at Bluehost, and then import the .SQL file from Powweb.

Back at Powweb, phpMyAdmin, the software for saving databases continued to time out so I couldn’t get a copy of my SQL database. Some helpful Powweb community people said the .DMP file that Powweb created automatically would work. Bluehost said it wouldn’t.

That evening, my Bluehost cPanel started running slowly. Next day, it wouldn’t load at all. So I decided to quit Bluehost. I took the 30 day money back option, and sent an email to the Billing Dept. They came back with security questions, and that was that. My short time at Bluehost ceased. I emailed WordPress with the sorry saga.

I went back to WordPress’s list of hosts. Down at the bottom, I saw Laughing Squid. Tony Wilson, the music entrepreneur and broadcaster who died this month, discovered the great south Manchester band Joy Division when they came last in a Battle of the Bands contest. So I went for Laughing Squid. I sent them an email telling them I wanted to change hosts. They came back in an hour saying things would work. Yes!! I liked their confidence. I signed up straight away. My money would not change hands until I was connected. Better still, I would be charged month-by-month, not two years in advance.

A welcome email arrived straight away. Top of the list was a link to a cancellation form, so if the worse happened, I didn’t need to go looking for how to quit. The email documented steps I needed to follow to set up my site. There was a great Preview link. I didn’t know the host server name for wp-config. Help came within the hour. The hosts server name was localhost, the default in wp-config. Wow! A company that used the WordPress defaults. Things looked good.

Back at Powweb, they went through the four stages of fixing the phpMyAdmin problem: denial, acceptance, seek expert advice, solution. phpMyAdmin came back to life. I hastily created a copy of my database, and went to bed. At three a.m. I woke in a sweat. Powweb had upgraded their servers to MySQL 5. Laughing Squid were on MySQL 4.!! My database would not work at Laughing Squid. I sent them an email. They confirmed it would not work, or at least it was “a concern”. However, they said I’d find an Export button buried in WordPress’s menus. They were right. I thought this was for switching between blogging software, but down at the bottom was an option for switching between WordPress installations itself. I created an XML file.

I downloaded the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org. There was no point installing an old version. I merged my altered sidebars and backgrounds. I went into my Laughing Squid Plesk control panel and created a new database. I added the details to a new wp-config, and uploaded the lot to my new Laughing Squid account. I ran the installation program. I imported the .XML file. My posts, categories, and comments all appeared. I wrote a new post. It all worked.

At Powweb’s community forum, I started a new post saying, “watch out for backward compatibility”. The great people there said Powweb would create a backwardly compatible version in those cases. I was lucky. I only needed the XML file with the posts and comments.

I went to cancel the Powweb account. I had to ring the states. After hearing an ad for Powweb and Paypal, I spoke to a man who took my details, and asked me why I wanted to leave. I told him. Then he explained that Powweb is owned by the same company as my domain registrar, Tucows. I had to downgrade my account to a holding account at Powweb, and that would allow me to renew the domain through Powweb. Tucows wouldn’t entertain me directly. Fine. I refreshed the Powweb control panel, and the account went to amount due $0. The hosting was due to run out in November. The refund would be small, but it would cover the 15 minute call to the states!

I went back to my new blog. Internal Server error 500. No logging on. No site. I stayed calm. I emailed Laughing Squid. They couldn’t see a problem. Next day, the site worked fine. It must have been some kind of temporary propagation issue.

Then I noticed my feed wasn’t responding. I subscribe to my own feed through Netvibes, and the feed wasn’t working. In fact, when I added a feed on the new site it said there was no feed at that URL. I would have to be patient, but a day later, I tried the Add New Feed again and it worked. So I had two feeds, one that worked, and one that didn’t. I wondered about existing subscribers, the people at Humour Gator, for example. I checked, and their feed was fine.

Powweb then sent me an email saying my site was breaking the bandwidth allowance. I emailed to say I’d downgraded the account and was hosting the site elsewhere, so there was no bandwidth issue. They came back trying to sell me increased bandwidth! I looked at the holding account, and there it was, bandwidth allowance 1GB! “Tiny Squid”, the option I chose at Laughing Squid, gives me 10GBs!

I’m sure it’s just a glitch. I’m sure it will sort itself out. I’m blogging this a week since I started the transfer. I just emailed the great people at the Squid to find out about the bandwidth messages, but I’m sure it will just be another one of those things. Not worth worrying about. Now, I’m going to get blogging.

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