23press: Easy Hosting Transfers

Switching hosts is a tremendous pain.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to be moving between two hosts that have the same control panel, meaning that you can simply backup and restore your entire hosting account, you have the hassle of waiting for DNS servers to propagate your new site’s information and that means that comments, posts and other information are out of sync between the two versions of your site.

If you don’t have that benefit, then things get even worse. You have to manually download your files, including your core files, plugins, themes, etc., backup your database, and then transfer all of that to your new server, tweak your settings and hope that it works. At best, you’re in for a few hours of headache and nail-biting – and that’s just for one site. If you have more you get to repeat the process each time.

However, 23press thinks it may have found a better way. It’s developed a new system, entitled “Move That Blog“, that is designed to make it easier to move WordPress blogs from one server to another and can even handle the DNS issues common with all site moves.

So how does it work? Surprisingly simply.

How Move That Blog Works

The basic principle behind Move That Blog is that WordPress is capable of updating and maintaining itself, so it should be able to update itself when moving to a new host.

To use Move That Blog one first registers for the service and then receives both a download link for the plugin and an API key. After setting up a default WordPress installation on the new server, you then install a copy of it there, being sure to select that it is the “receiving” blog.

You are then instructed to do the same thing with the current server, being sure to select that it is the “sending” server – it’s a simple click to then start the transfer.

Everything should begin transferring automatically. This includes the database, plugins, themes and even settings. The result, if it all goes well, should be that the new server is automatically populated with all of the old server’s required content; it should become an exact mirror, all without any user interaction.

However, Move That Blog actually goes one step farther. Because it takes time for the DNS servers to update, which means that different visitors will be directed to different servers for a time, Move That Blog keeps the two sites synchronized, ensuring that a comment or a post at server A also appears at server B – nothing gets lost!

Move That Blog is currently only for WordPress, although 23press is planning new versions for Movable Type and other blogging platforms. They even plan to make it easy to move between blogging platforms (IE: Moving a Movable Type blog to WordPress or vice versa) in the near future.

Move That Blog, however, is not ‘cheap’. One move costs $10, or there’s a $30 “All you can eat” plan that lets you transfer as many sites as you want.

Is Move That Blog Worth It?

Move That Blog is undoubtedly a great tool, but it’s worth depends on whether you have a better option for moving your site.

Many hosts offer free transfers. The majority of hosts that don’t offer this, use CPanel, thus making CPanel to CPanel transfers very practical. It’s easier than ever to move from one host to another, regardless of the type of site you run. While DNS problems are irritating, if you are able to schedule your move you can easily time them out so that the impact is limited. For example, you could start the move on a Friday night so the DNS servers update over the weekend.

In many cases therefore, the $10 just isn’t worth it. Using your new host’s free transfer is easier and, most likely, faster.

However, if neither a host transfer nor a control panel-based transfer is possible (for example, if you need to move between hosts with different backends), Move That Blog will more than likely pay for itself many times over. Even if you value your time only at $5 per hour, Move That Blog will more than pay for itself considering most moves, to get right, take much longer than 2 hours.

Most bloggers would probably benefit from the $30 unlimited plan. When moving hosts, it’s common to move more than one site and, if I had to make such a a move using the service, I would be moving at least half a dozen blogs, making it foolish not to get the more expensive plan.

The real benefit, however, may be in 23press’ plans for the Move That Blog service. If they are able to add other blogging platforms and make it easy to move a blog between them, that could prove to be a boon for webmasters who feel “trapped” on their current system.

Bottom Line

I think it says a great deal about a service when its biggest drawback is that you have to reset the password on your admin account. Considering the amount of time Move That Blog can save, it’s a very small price to pay.

That being said, moving between hosts is easier than ever and, with so many hosts offering free transfer services, $10 or $30 is a hard sell for many bloggers.

But that doesn’t mean that host transfers are, by any means, a solved problem. There’s still plenty of room for improvement and plenty of situations where a tool like Move That Blog may be incredibly useful.

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