While many people were vacationing, relaxing, and whatnot during the three day weekend, I was taking the opportunity to do something that needed to be done for a long time. I moved my photography blog, my husband’s HDR photography blog, and several other WordPress sites that were on HostGator to GoDaddy. Yes, you read that right. And yes, I’m using an affiliate link as I use and support their services.
Why I Chose to Go All GoDaddy
I know that a lot of my readers have suggested HostGator over GoDaddy, and so I gave it a try for about six months. While I believe that a lot of people have had great experiences with HostGator and less than stellar ones with GoDaddy, my experience was much different so I thought I would give a little insight into why I made the switch.
Less Downtime with GoDaddy
This was the biggest motivator for moving my sites. Every site I had on my HostGator account would go down a minimum of what felt like once a week, and sometimes it would be in bursts once a day.
HostGator has a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and they were pretty darn close to it according to my Pingdom reports. I started this service on one of my HostGator sites (Photo Ninjas) and Kikolani, and the following are summaries of my websites for the month of April.
While 40 outages and a downtime over 2 hours still does make for 99.71% uptime, it’s just not good enough. Especially when a lot of the outages happened during the day which meant our photo sites lost out on a lot of traffic and comments. For this site, it would mean a loss of mailing list subscribers and sales, ie. not acceptable!
UPDATE on June 6, 2011: One thing pointed out by one of my commenters is that I should also be looking at page load times. I don’t have that report in the free Pingdom account (which will probably be the motivator to sign up for a $9.95 a month plan), but what I did have was response times. Again, these are banners showing average, fastest, and slowest response times for my site on HostGator (Photo Ninjas) vs. this site on Godaddy.
I would actually suggest that if you have a self-hosted blog or website that you sign up for a free account with Pingdom. You can monitor once website and get these monthly reports plus email notifications of when your site has gone down and additional details about outages that you can share with your host’s support team to troubleshoot any problems.
Better Support Service with GoDaddy
Now it’s not that I haven’t had my share of issues with my sites on GoDaddy. But GoDaddy had something that HostGator didn’t in those cases. Probably the biggest one was the major hacks to WordPress sites that happened almost a year ago. Since that, I had one issue where people using a particular ISP couldn’t access my site for some reason and, just this weekend, an issue with this site going down.
Just to note, the latter issue was actually my fault though as other sites on the same account were still live – Kikolani was just behind in updates and that finally came to bite it in the bum. After upgrading WordPress, Thesis, and the plugins I use, everything started running smoothly again.
When it comes to the support, GoDaddy was hands down much better. During the hacking spree last year, I had to contact support. A lot. Their entry level support team wasn’t quite helpful, and after a while I figured it was because they didn’t know what the problem was, let alone how to fix it.
After a bit, another member of their support team at a higher level became my personal go to guy and helped me diagnose a lot of the issues and put some things in place to prevent the problem. The hack has since evolved and hit many, many more sites, both on and off GoDaddy, but mine have since been pretty immune.
HostGator, on the other hand, never managed to do anything but blame me for the problem. After several chats (one of which was at 5 o’clock in the morning, took an hour, and was the reason I had to miss out on a great photo trip), I never got anything more from them than:
- Everything is fine on our end. Must be something wrong with your site. Surely this was because I had something identical to all five of the sites I was running on that account that broke them all simultaneously, and magically without me having to do anything, they would be fixed again.
- Please sign up for Pingdom and send us a detailed report. I signed up, got them a report during the next outage, and then they told me they saw nothing wrong with my sites through that report even though the report said the sites were down.
- The only thing we can suggest is an upgraded to your server package. Because there is nothing I want to do more than pay 10 times what I’m paying now in hopes that it resolves the problems.
For a while, I thought there was a teeny, tiny chance that maybe our photo blogs and the other sites on my HostGator account got so much traffic that they were just breaking the server’s limit since I only had the shared business hosting plan for $12.95 a month.
Then I realized that I have Kikolani on a $7.99 GoDaddy plan – both HostGator’s and GoDaddy’s plans are supposed to have unlimited bandwidth. Kikolani gets much more traffic in a day than all of the sites on my HostGator plan combined and certainly doesn’t go down because of it.
I think the exception maybe a brief lapse when I launched the Blog Post Promotion Guide, but I also feel that most people’s sites crash during a launch and that’s probably a good thing! No crash = you’re paying an obscene amount for hosting or you’re not getting enough attention to your launch.
Better Social Media Response from GoDaddy
Businesses should know that social media is becoming a hot bed for customers wanting service, especially amidst a crisis. For hosting customers, a crisis is any time their site is down. So whenever my sites went down for the umpteenth time during the month of April, I let loose this little tagged post.
Now granted, in retrospect, I should have just posted directly to their wall as they can’t reply to my post on their wall since it’s just tagged. But no one from HostGator even commented to their wall above it, which would have been their next best effort. As it turns out, according to a little Q&A with the founder of HostGator on Blondish.net,
We have a Facebook page, but really don’t do that much on it. …I personally feel the biggest benefit our Facebook page along with the rest of our social media presence has is with our search engine rankings along with reputation. Social media is becoming a bigger part of search rankings every day.
On the other hand, whenever I tweet that my sites are down on GoDaddy, whether or not I include the @GoDaddy or simply mention GoDaddy, I get a reply tweet pretty quickly asking for more details. The time I tweeted off business hours, they responded the next day and apologized for the delay. My husband tweeted that our photo blogs were moving to GoDaddy, and they welcomed him!
I have also tweeted @HostGator during times when my site was down and received no response, either immediately or down the road.
Moving WordPress – A Quick and Dirty Guide to How I Did It
So what did I do to move my WordPress sites from HostGator to GoDaddy? I can’t guarantee that I did this the best or fastest way, but this is just how I did it.
1. I created folders on my hard drive for each site I was moving to organize the backup files.
2. I exported the databases per the phpMyAdmin instructions. It’s also a good thing to do prior to upgrading WordPress and to simply backup your information now and again if you don’t have a plugin doing it for you already.
3. I used FileZilla to download my website files to my hard drive for my sites’ WordPress themes (…/wp-content/themes/), uploaded files (…/wp-content/uploads/), and plugins (…/wp-content/plugins/).
Alternatively, you don’t have to download your plugin files from your site – you can just download a fresh copy of the plugins from WordPress.org or the site you got them from. Since my plugins are a mix of free ones you can and cannot find on WordPress.org and some paid ones, I figured downloading them would be faster than finding and re-installing them again.
4. I added all of the domains I was moving to my hosting accounts on GoDaddy and had GoDaddy install a fresh copy of WordPress to each domain. Note that all of the sites I moved were already at 3.0 and they were just upgrading to 3.1.3.
If your WordPress installs are older, you might want to read how to upgrade WordPress first before trying this. Especially refer to the extended version of the upgrade instructions if your installs are more than two releases back.
5. I imported the database to my sites on GoDaddy using the restoring database instructions on WordPress.org. Also a good reference to keep handy if you ever have to use one of your database backups for any reason.
6. I uploaded the WordPress theme files, uploads folder, and plugins to my new sites on GoDaddy. For the sites using Thesis, I also changed the permissions for the layout.css and cache folders.
7. I changed one little thing on HostGator for each site I was moving, such as rearranging the order of the social icons or adding an extra word into the footer.
8. Last, but not least, I changed the nameservers for each domain from HostGator’s to GoDaddy’s.
Sounds short and sweet, right? In all actuality, it’s not too bad once you’ve done it about five times. But it does take time to import, export, download, upload, install, and so on.
What Happens Next
The next part is called the waiting game. You have to wait patiently for the namerserver change to happen so that the internets know when someone types in your domain name to route them to the site on the new host instead of the site on the old host. A few of my sites seemed to change within 15 minutes (something I checked via the one little thing I changed in #7), while a few took an hour or two. It is estimated to take up to 48 hours for the Internet to fully recognize the new destination.
What this means is, in the meantime, any comments or or other updates that happen to your WordPress site on the host you are leaving will not be reflected on the host you moved to. In my case, I added a new post on Photostry while thinking it had moved over, when in fact it was still pointing to HostGator. So when morning rolled around and everything was pointing to GoDaddy, my post was missing. I just exported the database from HostGator and imported it to GoDaddy to fix the problem which took about 5 minutes, so no biggie.
With comments, your best bet (unless you receive hundreds of comments) is to just manually input them to your new site once you’re sure it’s changed over. Since I did the changeover on a Sunday night during a holiday weekend, there wasn’t any issues with that.
Also, make sure that your analytics code gets moved over onto the new site as well. Not sure how it happened, but when I upgraded Kikolani from WordPress 2.9.2 and Thesis 1.7, my Google Analytics code didn’t make it over. Missed two days worth of traffic data for that oops!
So There You Have It
Now you know everything from why I changed hosts to how I did it. Here are a few last thoughts.
- Not everyone’s hosting experience will be the same. I have heard nothing but great things about HostGator from others, and nothing but terrible things about GoDaddy from others. My experience with both has been quite the opposite. The only way to know it will work for you is to give it a try.
- All of the instructions given worked with my sites, but may not with yours depending on your settings, themes, plugins, content, etc. Please proceed with caution as I hold no liability if your sites should not transfer properly using the above steps. Always seek advice from a WordPress or hosting expert if you are not comfortable with the technical side of things.
- If you are a hosting company, or any other business owner, for the love of all things holy do NOT create a social account if you don’t want to monitor your brand and reply to anyone who mentions it.
Have you ever had to migrate from one website hosting company to another? What has been your experience? Who do you recommend, and what plans do you use? Please share your hosting triumphs, migrations, and nightmares in the comments!