In the Trenches: Getting IT Help

by Brett Snyder

3 min read

In recent months, my web host’s performance had grown increasingly worse. Downtime was up, and the time it took to load my blog, the Cranky Flier, had slowed to a crawl far too often. The time had come to switch to another web host, and I decided to make the switch happen all by myself. That may have been a mistake.

My goal was to move the blog but not my small-business website, Cranky Concierge. That’s because the blog receives way more traffic and is thus more affected by downtime. So my hunt for a new host began in earnest. It wasn’t long before I found Pagely, a company that specializes in hosting WordPress blogs. It was a perfect fit. Although Pagely would cost me more than my previous host, its speed and reliability made the investment well worth it. I signed up for an account which came pre-loaded with WordPress installed, and then I started tweaking the new theme I planned to use. (Since I was switching hosts, I figured I’d seize the opportunity to test a new theme and kill two birds with one stone.)

Once the design appeared to be functioning as I’d hoped, it was time to transfer over all of my blog’s data. This is where I ran into trouble. First, I encountered nagging little problems, such as stray commas preventing the file from uploading correctly. I had to work with support on multiple occasions to get it cleaned up correctly.  In the meantime, I maintained the old and new sites by posting to both sites simultaneously. That was a waste of time, because the post and comment data went into the database differently on each site. I ended up having to simply delete the duplicate data from the new install and re-import the data from the old one.

Finally, I thought the new host was ready, so I redirected my domain name to Pagely and … nothing. If I had read the fine print in Pagely’s instructions, I would have realized that the way I had redirected my domain required me to let Pagely know, so the company could set that up. Whoops! I had to revert back to my old host and try again. Next, I tried to use a different method for redirecting my domain (i.e., setting up a CNAME or an A record), but my domain name’s registrar doesn’t allow that. So I had to wait for Pagely to help me out.

Once my new host did a little work, the blog was good to go. But then, my email had stopped working. The only way to fix that was to change my Domain Name System (DNS) records. Unfortunately, my registrar doesn’t support that, either. That meant the only way to fix the problem was to transfer my domains to another registrar that would let me alter the DNS. So I did. But my email still wasn’t working. It turns out I’d set up conflicting DNS records that prevented my email accounts from functioning.

I could go on an on, but you get the point: I created a lot of unnecessary work for myself, and doing IT work isn’t what a busy small business owner should spend days mucking about with. In the end I’m happy with the switch.  The new design looks great and the site loads much faster.  Plus Pagely offers a lot of optimization tools that should help me keep the site humming for years to come.  But while the support staff has been very responsive, I’d rather not go through all this again.  Maybe it’s time that I start to think about getting IT help… but that’s another challenge.

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