Wrangling WordPress installations

I did some renovation on this site earlier this year when I changed the theme and created some pages under a Professional menu to replace the professional site I had been using while working prior to retirement. I had intended to do some more after we returned from our trip to South Australia but had not started until this week when my hand was forced.

When I decided years ago that I wanted/needed a hosted website I initially had a space hosted with Jumba (later absorbed by UberGlobal and now by Netregistry). At the time the best option for a domain name seemed to be on .net.au so I acquired the necessary ABN and registered pama.net.au. A year or two later my ABN was withdrawn because I was not otherwise using it but that never affected my domain registration.

Sometime in 2012, when I needed space to host course materials because the USQ options lacked necessary flexibility, I registered albion.id.au with hosting on GoDaddy. The quirky hosting interface and constant barrage of email about various offers drove me away from there as quickly as my initial subscription ran out. I transferred the domain and hosted content to Jumba/UberGlobal which did not pester me with email and offered a more standard cPanel interface.

That worked well with hosting around $60 pa until Netregistry took over last year and hosting charges doubled. A month or so ago my most recent bill for hosting was higher again and did not correspond to any of the hosting plans listed on the Netregistry site. I submitted a query and, after several exchanges that made little sense, finally got an answer telling me that I was on an older and no longer available plan. The response to my next question suggested that the only difference, for a 30% increase in cost, was the capacity to host multiple domains and that I could downgrade with a credit for the difference.

I don’t need to host multiple domains but in April I had transferred our travel blog from WordPress.com to the same host I am using for this blog. I used Installatron to install the blog and then exported from the original WordPress site and imported to the new location. With a bit of fiddling that worked but it resulted in the two blogs being served from two different databases. The Netregistry Starter package I was planning to downgrade to supports just one database and I did not like my chances of negotiating a special arrangement. I needed to get my two blogs into a single database.

The current package supports three databases so the obvious solution was to somehow get the two blogs into a third database, satisfy myself that was all OK, then delete the databases driving the separate blogs and request the downgrade. I have some knowledge of computers but I’m far from expert in most, if any, areas. I’ve described myself previously as a digital renovator, capable of tinkering to adapt existing systems to my purposes but without detailed knowledge of the systems.

I spent several hours on Monday and Tuesday attempting to get my two blogs into a WordPress network with the same subdomains that I have been using. I created and destroyed/deleted a multisite WordPress installation several times in the process. Exporting an existing WordPress site is easy but importing can be fraught if the new site has limits on the size of the file that can be imported and/or times out on slow processes. I encountered that when importing the travel blog earlier this year so I was prepared to segment the exported files and retaining those segments until success was declared meant that I did it once for what turned out to be multiple attempts at importing.

After several attempts following advice from various webpages I eventually gave up on the multisite approach. I thought the problems may have arisen from trying to create and import the new blogs on the same server as the old and then switch the subdomain settings to accommodate them. My limited knowledge of necessary settings and the syntax of .htaccess files probably contributed.

My eventual solution was to install two blogs in the single database. I hoped that Installatron might do that for me but it mangled the second install. In the end I had it install one blog and then installed the second manually. Once that was done and the exported contents of both blogs had been imported I was able to point the subdomains at the new locations, adjust the settings in the blogs to suit, download backups of what had been working, and delete the old blogs with their databases. With blogs working as they had been I can now seek the downgrade and credit. Beyond that I’ll be looking for new hosting to see if there is a better deal elsewhere.