Changing Hosting

This time last year I had got fed up with the down time of my hosting company and decided on a change. It wasn’t too bad then. I had 3 membership sites where the content was pre-set and nobody was actually registered on them at the time – my fault as I wasn’t really promoting them. I also had a few other sites – 3 static HTML, 2 WordPress and I wanted to get some more lined up.

I looked through the various top name hosting companies and came up with iPage to move my sites to and set up my new empire. It required paying for a year up front but that wasn’t a problem so I signed up and began to get stuck in. My first mistake. I didn’t check the facilities available.

The first thing that struck me is that iPage doesn’t use CPanel. Don’t take this useful interface for granted people, especially when you see some of the alternatives! I also learned early on that doing backups from the control panel was a cost extra! Again, this is such a useful feature in CPanel that I didn’t question it until I found it wasn’t there. It’s not difficult finding alternatives for WordPress and static sites can be backed up via a good FTP client, but  it doesn’t have to be done that way if the hosting provides it.

There are a few other things missing from the iPage control panel – cron jobs, easy domain and sub-domain control and in my mind the shortcomings just kept adding up, so I resolved to move from iPage near the end of the year.

Which brings us to this point in time.

Having found a suitable hosting company and ensuring they had CPanel and all the other facilities that I regard as useful it was time to make the break away from iPage. Guess what. That’s not an easy job either. Every bit of information you need is somewhere in the help files, but it’s a bit spread out. There’s also some little nasties in the terms and conditions like – when you leave, make sure you clean up before you go, otherwise they’ll keep charging you rent. I’m glad I found that one!

So I backed up the sites that really needed it, from within for the WordPress sites and via FTP for the whole shebang too (obviously not the SQL databases, but all of the files anyway). then went through iPage’s File Manager and deleted every last one of them – directory by directory since it would allow me to select all and delete. It was there in theory, it just wouldn’t do it!.

Then I detached every domain I’d hung onto the hosting (except for the primary domain that everything was hanging from). I also went over to the domain registrars that these sites were registered at and changed the DNS settings to the new host. When you’ve done all that, it needs 24 hours for those changes to fed around the DNS world.

When I added my primary domain to iPage, they grabbed that domain name and made themselves registrars for it. Again something not made apparent during the sign up process. I wanted that domain name back under my control so I went to the registrar I use the most (Namecheap) and started the process to transfer it back. This meant another trip into iPage’s domain control panel to request an EPP – effectively permission to change registrars. Fortunately this is an easy process from both ends (iPage & Namecheap), at least to get started although it can take up to 5 days to go through. For me this took less than 2 days and that was over a weekend. This means I could detach the primary domain from iPage and move it over to the new hosting.

So to sum up the story so far. I’ve backed up all the files and databases then removed all the domains and files from iPage, changed all the DNS settings (for 15 domains) to point to the new hosts and I’m waiting for everything to go through the DNS system (Tuesday update – still waiting for some DNS settings to update. Getting DNS errors when I try to add some extra domains to CPanel. Might have to go to the respective domain registrars and reset the DNS status of the unattachable domains).

Once all that’s done then I can start to rebuild all the sites and decide what to do with my new site   Will it take over from as the main blog, or go in a different direction? As yet I don’t know, but I will do something with it. Watch this space.