After recovering from the backup disaster last week and after switching into a new blogging platform from Expression Engine (EE) to WordPress (WP), I realized ti would be nice to share some of the things we learned from that migration process.
So here’s my 10 Tips when changing Blog Platforms:
- Double check if the new blog platform you are migrating to has the features you actually need or wanted. If you are still unsure which one to use or if you want a second opinion, go check the Blog Comparison Chart here. It lists down some of the more popular platforms you might want to consider – TypePad, MovableType, Blogger, Blogware, WordPress and Expression Engine. For a more comprehensive list of blogging platforms, check out the Google Directory for Blog Publishing Tools.
- How much are you willing to shell out for your new blog software? While most of them are free (like WP, TP, Drupal) others require you to shell out as much as $149 for Expression Engine and $99.95 for MT’s personal unlimited license. I recommend you go for WordPress.
- Make sure your new blog platform has an import utility tool that supports the old platform. WordPress has several built-in import utility tools for b2, MovableType, Blogger, Greymatter, LiveJournal, TextPattern and RSS feeds. Otherwise, you may be forced to write your own import scripts, hire someone to code it for you, or worse, manually copy and paste all your blog entries.
- Backup your blog before migration. There are half a dozen ways to do this. Your cPanel has one, use it and download a full copy. If you know your way around phpMyAdmin, export all the databases into a zip file and keep a copy in your local PC. This is a good method if you have other scripts installed, like a photo gallery or WordPress hacks and plugins that use the database. Install a WordPress DB backup plugin (if you are running WP). This way you can download a backup everyday with little or no effort at all. (see related entry on How to Survive a Blog Crash)
- Compatible permalink structure. Check if the new blog platform is able to duplicate the permalink structure of your old blog. You don’t want to loose all that traffic from search engine do you? If you are using MovableType or TypePad with their static and truncated pages, WordPress might not be able to duplicate it since it’s using standard/custom URLs. Expression Engine, TextPattern, WordPress and Drupal seems to be compatible with each other on this aspect.
- Seek professional help if possible or at least ask someone more experienced to assist you just in case you screw things up in between migration. That’s self-explanatory.
- Check out the support forums for both the old platform and the new one. Look for other bloggers who have gone thru the same process before you. They could provide valuable first-hand tips and information that you’ll need. You could also get feedback if the stock import utility you are planning to use runs perfectly well or still has some bugs that needs fixing. That should tip you off for a possible work-around.
- Schedule your migration well. By checking your monthly stats, you will have a good idea which day of the week and what time it is best to do the migration. Map a timeline from the start of your export to the time of your import and make an estimate on how long it will take you to do the whole process.
- Make sure you have reliable and fast internet connection. While broadband is widely available, there are still a lot of people connected thru dial-up. It would be agonizing to do the migration when you’re on dial-up so go get some broadband first or ask a friend if you can visit them one day and use his PC & DSL line.
- Inform your host about the migration. The migration process could shoot up the server’s load especially during cPanel backup/restore. This way, they are aware of it and could even give you some slack or an extra hand. Some web hosting providers put a cap on how much load you can put on their shared servers (somewhere between 10-20% if the CPU resources)
and they could suspend your account if that happens.
Always have a Plan B. If the migration fails, you can always restore back from your backup, review your process and see where you got it wrong, and do it some other day. This is to minimize your blog’s downtime which could cost you more in lost of revenue.