Many of the lessons I learned moving to my new VPS could apply to moving between any shared webhosts. I’ve got a separate post on that here. This post is all about the additional lessons relevant to moving up a step on the webhosting ladder.
First, an obvious lesson. It’s scary. In my first attempt, I bought some VPS space at what I thought was a first-rate host, found I couldn’t make head nor tail of the software (it was Plesk), found also that the support people weren’t geared up to dealing with novices, so I closed my account. That was Webfusion, part of Pipex. I then bought some space at a VPS host which gave software I’m used to – cPanel – which was a step in the right direction to start with.
I needed to buy two books to start getting familiar with being my own webhost rather than being a customer. I didn’t read them too closely because I just wanted to get stuck into moving my site from its existing host. Maybe the move would have gone better if I had read each book in detail, but somehow I doubt it. But the books were useful reference for fixing things afterwards!
Three things I needed to fix at my VPS, which meant tailoring the default set-ups there.
- My PHP configuration needed multibyte string support. My RSS feed reader wouldn’t work without it (mainly I think because of the Asian script). Easy enough to fix using the “update Apache” module in Web Host Manager (provided you have at least 256MB of memory)
- My PHP had been set up as an Apache module, but needed to be set up with SuExec. Or something. Anyway, it meant that every time I tried to upload files or change templates with WordPress the permissions on my directories blocked me – it thought I was a member of the public rather than the guy who owns the blog. So in order to get anything done I had to change the directory permissions to 777 – accessible to all. Not a good idea. So the support guys recompiled PHP with SuExec support and made the necessary changes to the .htaccess and php.ini files. Now the blog works with a sensible permission structure (755 / 644).
- Memory. In order to have PHP with SuExec you need more than 256MB of minimum RAM. I doubled it to 512.
It would have been nice to have known the above before moving. I would have set the PHP up right first time rather than just taking the default settings. And I wouldn’t have had to move back to my old webhost while I fixed the new VPS settings. But probably I would have ended up knowing less about how WordPress works.
Oh, and I can recommend the support you get at Knownhost.