Transfer Your WordPress Blog Between Web Hosts

Import your wordpress blogI had the bright idea to transfer this here WordPress blog from one Web hosting provider to another that I also use. I was not sure how to go about this so I did a lot of research and decided it sounded easy enough to do. Ready to make my move, I did all the preparation and started my WordPress blog transfer to a new Web hosting provider. It was not a smooth transition but I got the job done. Here’s what happened:

  • Download the uploads folder (wp-content/uploads) to my computer harddrive. The uploads folder contains all the images that you uploaded to individual posts. Without this folder, your blog articles will be missing all their images. Use an FTP program to grab the folder and files.
  • Download the Themes and Plugins folders. You’ll need the latest version of your theme in case you modified it. Take note of what’s in the sidebars if you use widgets. You will have to rebuild the sidebar widgets on the other side. To accomplish this, I grabbed the source of the blog to ensure I had the latest sidebar information ready to pop into a widget. Don’t forget your plugins! If you have customized certain options in the plugins, be sure to write down what you did or take screen shots. Else you will be scratching your head about it later.
  • Export the blog and save to my computer harddrive. Be sure to export the most updated information from your blog. In the WordPress Admin panel, select Manage > Export. WordPress Export will create an XML file that you save to your computer. This WordPress eXtended RSS or WXR file will contain your posts, comments, custom fields, categories, and tags (tags are a HUGE problem!)
  • Set up the domain on the new Web host provider and install WordPress. Here is where some of my problems began. Once I installed WordPress, I was unable to access the Admin panel because behind the scenes, WordPress is looking for, when at that moment, I have not yet transferred the DNS so I want it to look for an IP address only. I was not able to do accomplish this. So, I did what any good techie would do, I took a leap of faith! Read on.
  • Transfer the DNS for the domain to the new Web host provider. I sat in front of my computer and kept reloading the page waiting for that magic moment when the DNS pointed to the new Web host. Not fun.
  • Transfer the uploads, Themes, and Plugins folder to the new server. While waiting for the DNS to propagate, I uploaded, via FTP, these folders to their proper location on the new Web server.
  • Import the WordPress WXR file. Ahh…almost there! In the WordPress Admin panel, select Manage > Import, then select WordPress from the bottom of the list. Once the DNS propagated, the domain kept flip flopping back and forth between the two Web host providers – that was fun. I was able to import the WordPress WXR file to the new WordPress blog but got the dreaded error message: “the upload file cannot be moved to <long path name>. This continued to happen so I did some quick research and discovered many people had this same problem. No one person seemed to have a clear solution so I tried a few things and finally, after changing the permissions  of the uploads folder parent, the file successfully imported.

It didn’t end there. I had to select the WordPress theme, enable the sidebar widgets and ensure that the correct content was showing on my blog, activate the plugins and setup any custom options, and then tweak!

All in all, it was not a horrible experience but not the best. A lot of what I read made it sound like snap, crackle, pop and you are done! Not so! It take a lot of organization, time, and patience to transfer a WordPress blog using this Export/Import method.

Wordpress tagsNow the best part. After everything settled down, I  randoming looked at some posts from inside the WordPress Admin panel to make sure everything looked right. And what do you think I found? My tags, that I so carefully created for each post had turned into numbers. As you can see in the image to the left, that says it all. This example previously had four tags. Now it has four numbers. Now I have to go through every post and delete the numbers and add the tags.

I did a little research and found that this is an issue that many people have experienced.

Lessons learned. Enjoy.

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