Moving website host, and home

A photo of packing boxes ready to be moved by Frank Gruber

Earlier in the year a couple of visitors to this blog mentioned to me that it took a long time for pages to download.

It’s a truism to say people expect sites to load quickly. Too slow and (potential) visitors are gone before you can say “page load”. I’m not aware of specific benchmarks, but anything longer than a few seconds is too much.

Looking at the “Site speed” statistics on Google Analytics I noticed the average page load time during April for people in New Zealand was nine seconds. The figure is an average, so for some people it would be slower.

Comparing this figure with another website I look after, I noticed the average page load time was seven seconds faster. Admittedly the crèche website has considerably less content, but the time difference is marked.

After sleeping on these two bits of data I decided a switch my website hosting provider was with looking into.

I know what prompted me to shift my hosting offshore to Go Daddy based in the USA: the blog had been hosted on the webserver I was looking after for my brother in-law. It would occasionally stop purring under my desk. The reasons I choose Go Daddy have long since faded away. Regardless of my thinking, Go Daddy is cheap and easy to use.

After more sleep, I decided that move website host I must. Settling on locally owned OpenHost, based in Auckland, the time for the big move was upon me.

I didn’t want to manually recreate the website as I had done a few years ago. Widget by widget, it was a painfully slow process.

This time, emboldened by the simple sounding instructions on the WordPress website describing how to transfer a blog, I decided to do this myself. Usually when editing a config file is mentioned, I dive for shelter and get some help.

Despite getting some great support from the helpdesk at OpenHost, the blog pages you’re now visiting have yet to move to my new host.

Somewhere, deep under the hood, lies a gremlin. Whether it’s a mod_rewrite rule, .htaccess file or something else, I am stumped. In fact, way beyond stumped. I know my limits so I’m calling on my friendly WordPress support guy Cody Rapley.

Once the shift has been completed, I will keep an eye on the site speed statistics. Regardless of the results, I’m pleased to be supporting a local company with quality service.

Fortunately, my other recent moves have gone much more smoothly.

For unrelated reasons I’ve also transferred where my email is stored and processed. I opted for Mail as part of my existing Google Apps account. I could still use IMAP mail, which I prefer, there is a heap of free storage (10 GB per user), and there’re loads of other integrated features.

Now I’ve scratched more than the surface of Google Apps, I reckon it is a very good option for smaller community groups who want an email service, calendars, shared directories and more.

I was able to make the transfer myself with a minimum of fuss. It was only me, not 10 users, so it was fairly straight forward. If I was doing this for an organisation I’d definitely get help.

The final move I’ll mention, involved dealing with plumbers, a moving company, the bank and real estate agents. It’s three weeks ago now my family moved from inner city Wellington (where I’ve lived within spitting distance of Civic Square for 19 years) to Raumati South. We’re a block from the sea with a fabulous garden but now 40 km from the city.

In the process I’ve temporarily lost my home office. Discussions last late into the night about grandiose plans for a studio/ sleepout at the bottom of the garden. I know good things take time, so in the meantime, I’ve signed up for a desk at the Powa Centre in Ghuznee Street. Between 7am-8.30am and after 5pm the Centre is a yoga studio, at other times it’s a co-working space.

I’ll be in town Thursday and Fridays if you’d like to catch-up over a cuppa. I can show you where to find the site speed details, and swap notes about the trials and tribulations of moving website host, and home.

PSPerhaps it goes without saying, I’ve had good reason for being silent on this blog. Now I’m settling back into things, you’ll likely hear from me more frequently.

Update (25 July 2012): The site was transferred by the aforementioned Cody Rapley, who didn’t break into a sweat. According to a reliable ping the site is now loading faster on its new OpenHost. Yay!!

Photo credit: Frank Gruber