Hello World! (Or, How To Transfer + Setup A WordPress Blog for 2016) Part 1

Yes, you’ve all seen it at the completion of a successful WordPress install:

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

Right up there with calling me ‘skippy’ during the install, it ranks as some of the most common verbosage in WordPress – every blog has one, and every blog (should) get rid of it ASAP.

In my case, I thought I’d piggyback off it in discussing my latest endeavor in transferring my blogs to Hostgator after a year away (I was at Namecheap – better deals, so I switched). I’m writing these down to remember the details for the next transfer I do, but hopefully you can benefit from them as well:

  • Get your tools ready. Filezilla is my FTP program of choice. I used cPanel on both sites, in particular the file manager and its compress/expand options for files (this allowed me to upload one WordPress zip file, copy it to each blog, and unzip it, all much faster than uploading each individual php file via FTP). If you’re not comfortable with them, research a tutorial, open it up and try it out before the big day. PHPMyAdmin is another, as well as cPanel’s email section, to name a few. As well, I used Irfanview for screen shots, but any screen clipping program will do (more later). And of course 7-Zip is the all purpose army knife for compressed file slicing and dicing. And if you think you might be working with the SQL database, the text files are huge, and I have had good success using psPad with them over the years (watch out for adware if you download the latest, however).
  • Keep things straight. For awhile, you will be working between hosts, with different cPanels (if you’re using them) and different site locations. Love your browser tabs, and open as many as you need. Better yet, open two separate windows, and keep the old and new apart. Otherwise (as I found), you might end up making changes to the old site it doesn’t need, and not making them to the new! Likewise, set apart a section on your file system using Explorer where you will work, with separate windows for old site and new site directories.
  • Check your email often. Any email left on your old site will have to be viewed by a web browser after you’re done – so to minimize it, I check frequently before the final closedown.
  • Backup, backup, backup. cPanel has an option to backup the whole site. Do so. Download it. Then get another copy. Use 7-zip to test that the file is valid (some zips can be damaged during download). I also like to unpack the whole site locally to make sure it’s a valid download. It also keeps files handy in case I need to upload a missing item.
  • Assume nothing. cPanel backups are complete, right? No. One directory (uploads) in my wife’s blog was almost entirely missing. I’m guessing packing up large pictures might be the issue, but I don’t know. So assume nothing, and check all the backups by opening them.

All ready? Then on to part 2, the transfer…

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