Moving WordPress from a shared host to a VPS

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.

Web Host ManagercPanel guideFirst, 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.

  1. 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)
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

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