Sometimes being the owner, operator, writer and editor of a blog isn’t easy. Most of us are writing about personal finance because we have a passion for the subject. Blogging is a great way to share information to help others and provide ideas or opinions around a specific topic.
But sometimes, as a weblog owner, you have to step away from blogging to operate and maintain your blog. For me, this proved to be a big learning experience recently. I thought I would share more about it in hopes to help others who might encounter similar challenges in the future.
What Happened To My Blog?
Well, to keep it short, I was simply working in the WordPress administrative module editing and cleaning up some posts for better readability. After making a few updates, my posts page refreshed and showed a total count of 0. After refreshing the admin page a few times and no luck I visited my website and found it to be missing most of my content and displaying older posts (nothing recent). I have over 200 posts, so obviously, something was wrong.
My Previous Webhost Was No Help
I knew I didn’t do anything to result in the issue just by updating a few posts, so I contacted my web host. And this is where my problems got worse. Without giving you all the details, let’s just say they weren’t helpful and did everything they could to point the finger back at me. I spent hours on the phone with them and much of the time sitting on-hold. One time it took over an hour to get through to speak to them. It was a painful and frustrating customer service experience.
Time To Make A Decision
Fed up with poor support, bad customer service and ready to have my blog up and running again (now down for 2 ½ days), I felt I had not choice but to find a new host. To me it was also the only way I could tell if my problem was with the host or my actual website. As a side note, I had been thinking about moving for a while because of what I felt like were performance issues with my weblog. I noticed other WordPress blogs screaming fast that seemed to have similar content, images, etc. as me on their pages.
At a high level, here is what I did to get moved over to my new host:
- Signed up at Media Temple (I chose the dedicated VM option)
- Contacted support to seek help in setting up the basics on my new server (domain, user, creating a database and uploading my back up). By the way, I was on-hold about 5 minutes which was very nice compared to over an hour.
- Downloaded all of my WordPress files to my desktop using my FTP client and then uploaded to my new host.
- Changed my wp-config.php file to point to my new database and input my new database username and password.
- Through Media Temples test tool, I was able to view my site before changing my name servers (see Pete’s eBook for more about name servers). When tested, I noticed all of my articles were displaying again. Yay! This confirmed the problem was with my previous host’s environment.
- I signed back into my previous host and changed my name servers to point to Media Temple’s name servers and waited about a 6 hours. Note: sometimes this takes 24 hours according to Pete’s eBook.
A Few More Problems
Okay, with the worst behind me and seeing I had a working weblog again, I ran into a few more set up related issues with WordPress. You can read about these issues in the resources section for WordPress set up issues.
Lessons Learned And A Great End Result
So, with any trial there are lessons that can be learned. More than just learning ad-hoc on how to move a weblog, there were some other valuable take-aways you need to be aware of if you’re operating your own blog or website.
Know Where Responsibilities Begin And End
If you’re running a blog, make sure you know the scope of responsibility for you and your webhost. While my previous webhost was completely unhelpful, most of them will not help you resolve application specific configuration issues. They are typical responsible for the environment.
Identify a few WP Consultants Just In Case
It may be a good idea to identify a WP consultant and possibly someone who can help you with MySQL if ever needed. I have no idea today what caused my weblog to crash, but again I can only assume it was a webhosting problem. Regardless, it might be a good idea to find a few companies that can provide WP consulting services should you need some hands-on help. I haven’t done this yet, but considering it. The WP forums are also a good place to look for help.
You Probably Get What You Pay For
As with many things, sometimes paying more means a more quality product or service. I’m paying more, but very happy.
Don’t Be Afraid To Escalate Or Switch Hosts
If you’re talking to anyone in customer service about a problem, don’t hesitate to escalate if the customer service representative isn’t helpful. If the escalation doesn’t work then consider making a move. While it was a learning curve, it was the right decision.
Always Have A Backup!!!
I can’t stress this enough. I wouldn’t be up and running today if I didn’t have scheduled back up sent to me everyday. Before reading Pete’s eBook, I was having a back up sent to me once a week. No, have one sent to you everyday!
Push Through It
I enjoy blogging so much I was prepared to start over if I had to. The interesting thing about such situations is sometimes they get your creative juices flowing. I completely prepared myself to have to start over again. I began asking myself what I would do differently and began brainstorming ideas. The cool thing is I’m up and running and can leverage some of those ideas now. But remember; don’t be intimidated about what you don’t know. The internet has a wealth of information and Google became my best friend.
Have you had a similar experience you’d like to share? Do you have any additional tips for others operating their own weblog?
If you would like to know more about some of the issues I encountered and how to resolve them, feel free to contact me. Obviously, I didn’t mention my previous host in this article because some people might have a good experience with them. It just didn’t work out for me. However, if you’re interested to know who they are feel free to contact me directly.
- Blueprint for How to Make Money with a Blog
- WordPress.org Forums
- Media Temple
- Backing up and restoring your database
- Installing WordPress
- Migrating your website to a dedicated virtual server
Resources to resolve WordPress set up issues
16th March 2010