Musings of Captain Justice a/k/a Gil Jones

Migration of my WordPress blog to self-hosted server

It’s complete … or mostly so. This blog has been run on www.wordpress.com (wp-com) until now. That is a (mostly) free blogging platform, and by far the best (IMHO) of many. There are additional charges for extra space, custom domain name (like www.captainjustice.net) and more. And it simply works with little muss or fuss.

But it has limitations nevertheless. A technical one is that on wp-com you cannot embed another web page that uses iframes. A favorite application uses iframes, that being Trip Journal. Click here for an example of that. A financial limitation is that hosting videos costs $49 annually on wp-com. And if you go for their video hosting, additional space (and $$$) will be required.

There is an alternative to run the WordPress software on a hosting service and have more control over the details. The WordPress software is available for free from www.wordpress.org (wp-org) and is run in a self-hosted fashion on a web host such as www.hostgator.com. I chose them because they are a wp-org recommended host and they have unlimited storage space and bandwidth at a reasonable price.

As with any self-hosted solution there are downsides. I previously had a content management system style of blog running on Drupal open source software and went to WordPress to avoid the maintenance problems. The wp-org solution has the same problems in configuration but avoids the software maintenance issues. Avoiding that maintenance is a big plus and the remaining configuration needs are manageable.

So what are the negatives?

  • Gaining functionality requires locating proper “plugins” and configuring them. The many choices can be confusing and some study is required.
  • Migrating a blog with many photos is not a trivial exercise. Hostgator supposedly does it for you, but if I had it to do over again I would do it entirely myself or even spring for the $$$ to have the wp-com guided transfer. I am not sure if they do the transfer for you, or just advise you in the process.
  • On wp-com your blog is backed up automatically. On wp-org you have to either use the web host functions (requires some learning) or find an appropriate plugin to do that for you. Stuff happens, so a backup is essential.
Those are the major issues, and the main benefits are
  • Unlimited space at no additional cost.
  • Host my videos on the site instead of uploading to YouTube and linking, and without additional cost.
  • Pages load faster.
  • Highly configurable including a wider choice of themes.
  • My domain name is hosted at no additional cost ($12/yr on wp-com).
Those are some of the main points about the switch. I will likely update this as more is learned.

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