Travels of the Hairy One Moved to SiteGround
Getting away from photography, here’s something from my other, more technical, persona. Travels of the Hairy 1 is now hosted on SiteGround. And they have impressed me. Now, let’s give that a bit more context. As an IT Manager I have established and manage a 24×7 system based on Managed Services. I deal with service providers at a number of levels. Good IT service is something I deal with every day. Poor service is something I have zero tolerance for. I am NOT easily impressed!!
The migration to SiteGround impressed me!
Moving my Website – Why?
There are many pitfalls, problems and issues in migrating a website, even a basic WordPress site. Having run WordPress on a few hosts, including self-built internal servers I have had a bit of experience in on this one. A move to a new web host is not something to jump into without thought.
Last year I realised that my site’s performance was not great. In particular I noticed the following issues:
- The site was slow. Not frighteningly slow, but slow enough that it was noticeable;
- Google speed insights consistently warned about poor server performance;
- WordPress editing had become consistently frustrating. It was slow and often threw 500 – Internal server errors;
- XML-RPC errors were the norm. This especially causes problems in the mobile WordPress app, and tools such as IFTTT.
The site is not (yet?!) in the realms of needing high-end, pro, and therefore expensive, hosting. When I had a chat with my then current hosting service’s support line I was told that I was still using an old, no longer efficient, platform. The solution: write off my existing hosting package, buy a new package on a newer platform, and pay (around $100) to migrate the site. And I am not joking!
Moving my Website – Where?
A bit of research showed that my then current hosting company was not that highly rated. Time to move on!
In the past I have had other experiences of a couple of hosting companies. Reading reviews and research highlighted two. Both are well known. One comes highly recommended and is host to a site which I manage.
SiteGround looked interesting. Good reviews. Many claims about their service levels. All in all an interesting proposition. I like “New”, so SiteGround moved to the top of the list. Four key issues stood out:
- Low start-up cost, saving me a good bit for this year’s annual renewal;
- 30 day money back option. If it didn’t look good at the start I could back out;
- Free migration of my existing site, without being forced to migrate the domain. This is seamless and can be rolled back;
- A broad range of services, well able to meet any of my future requirements.
Moving my Website – The Process
There are a number of articles on the web covering compatibility of certain WordPress themes and hosts, as well as the compatibility of WordPress with various hosts. I ran a few checks:
- On WordPress.org the hosting page was very useful. The forums showed me nothing which raised any concerns;
- A check with my theme provider’s support line (that’s Siteorigin) suggested some problems which could arise and recommended a tool to do the migration. I checked it out but decided that it could cause more problems than I wanted to deal with;
- An online chat with SiteGround’s support revealed a few facts:
- Starting with the basic hosting plan, I could upgrade at any time and have my existing subscription taken into account. So my investment in their services is protected;
- The free migration offered by SiteGround is seamless, so there is no downtime as the site migrates;
- Support for both SiteGround and WordPress would be available at all times.
At that point there was no reason not to move.
Starting the process
When I started the migration process I was cautious. I started a conversation with the helpdesk one Friday lunchtime with a view to starting the site migration. That meant filling in the forms online and paying for the new hosting. The support person was very polite and helpful, and very patient as I did that. There no silly complexities and issues in the forms, so that was dead easy.
Once the formalities were done, I was told that I would be notified, within 24 hours, when the move was complete. On the Saturday morning the completion message was in the SiteGround notification area. It contained very clear instructions on how to test the new site (using the PC hosts file), and then how to bring the site live by changing DNS. So, at this time, the old site was still the live one. There were also links to very simple instructions and tutorials. I did have a look at those, but I already knew how to do all of these tasks, so didn’t worry too much.
I opened the new site. Shock and Horror! Many graphics were missing! there were problems.
On opening the WordPress dashboard there was a very clear message from Jetpack – the Jetpack security had identified the duplicate site, and locked out, awaiting confirmation of the move. Who knew that was there? Once the move was confirmed on Jetpack, everything worked.
After checking the site, and making some changes to prove the move, changing DNS on the domain host was simple. In a few hours I was seeing the transferred site up and running. Job Done!
It’s important to note that the use of the PC hosts file to test make sure that the original site is up and running. So the transfer is actually seemless. It does mean that you can’t do this in the same way on a table, however there were instructions for alternative methods, which I ignored.
Only one problem exists, and I am reasonably certain that lies in a plug-in update and the switch to PHP 7.0, rather than the free transfer.. A few of the NextGen photo slide shows had invalid settings. That was easily fixed.
SiteGround offers both an affiliate scheme and a referral scheme. Reading the T&C’s it’s not worth joining the affiliate scheme unless you are going to put some effort into marketing the SiteGround products. The referral scheme allows you to refer customers via a simple link. Referrals are repaid by credit against your account. Refer enough people and your hosting will be free!
Summing It Up
The low start-up cost, along with a bit of research gave me the confidence to make the change early. If it had gone badly, or any problems develop in the next week or two, a simple DNS change will restore the original site. The result so far leaves me confident that I will not need to do that.
The problems I outlined above have gone away.
Put simply, I would recommend SiteGround to host your site, based on my experience.
This is an outline of my experience in migrating to SiteGround, which has impressed me.
I am a SiteGround affiliate. Clicking on the SiteGround links and banners will help me support The Travels of the hairy One.