We are migrating our WordPress blog to a new host.
We will add the Woocommerce plugin and then migrate all the data from our current zen cart ecommerce store to the new woocommerce store
my short list is
I didn’t see pricing on hyve.com
I may go with 2 hosts because we have 4
‘hobby” sites that are really small but our current site gets 100,000 page views/mo and I like dedicated servers.
Flywheel is cool (I thought) because you can build your dev site on your desktop for free and when you’re ready to go live you can just push it to their servers – no muss no fuss,
They also have something called “Blueprint” which maps out any number plug-ins that you use on a regular basis.
They (the plug-ins) can be added to any new site with a single click
I’m old enough to have a Medicare card
Yet I Lord also over a dozen websites on three hosting platforms.
I make my living in have done so from e-commerce for 15 years.
Have 400,000 social media followers because of my expertise in captive bird husbandry.
I still have a thirst to learn something new every day.
My day gig is WindyCityParrot.com, which has been around since New Year’s Eve 2002 when my wife Catherine launched it.
Since then I’ve built dozens, maybe a hundred or more websites.
You get the picture. I know e-commerce.
3 WordPress hosts – reviewed
For a convoluted set of reasons, our current eCommerce platform is a hybrid WordPress/Zen Cart.
This combination is not working on a number of levels especially for SEO.
There are many reasons for it but I’ve suspected several which I’ve recently confirmed.
I know after a long Skype chat with Ahmed Kaludi who patiently explained to me that in spite of three weeks of effort with his top engineer my site was unable to produce a single AMP page.
(I’ve since given up on AMP as I think it’s not a match for e-commerce sites)
Because of the integration, I was unable to customize the look and feel of our WordPress blog which provides a huge amount of organic traffic.
I’m stuck with a WordPress stock 2016 theme.
Changing themes would break the site.
The only thing to do is refresh the site with a complete makeover replacing Zen cart with Woocommerce.
“No worries, I’ll move the site as I’ve done five times before”.
While waiting for flames to get bigger, sitting around our (imaginary) campfire listening to my story, I need to editorialize a bit.
Typically when looking for a new host you Google “WordPress hosts”
The results you will get are anywhere from 10 to 30 selections all with the same regurgitated content.
Page speed and site reliability all fundamentally useless statistics.
The data is worthless because you really don’t know anything about the site or the page that they are reviewing.
What if the $1.99/mo plan won’t handle my 4000 products, 1300 blog posts, and 100,000 monthly page views?
Is the page that they’re testing 500 words or 5000 words?
So there’s nothing to be learned from independent hosting platform reviews other than enriching their affiliate’s wallets
One of the great things about open source versus hosted e-commerce solutions is that once you find a host for your open source platform and say you’re working with developers you no longer care for you can easily change the developers without needing to migrate the site.
I felt the need to move to a new host because with the WordPress ecosystem there are more WordPress friendly hosts today than ever before.
The biggest problem I’ve always had with hosted platforms is support or the lack thereof.
Turns out this is true for the people who just do open source hosting.
Adding another quart or so of kerosene to the (pretend) fire.
The flames are up and were ready to roll out our tale of WordPress website migration.
My trigger to take action was spending a weekend at WordCamp 2018 Chicago.
Naturally many of the sponsors were hosts specializing in or exclusively hosting WordPress and Woocommerce.
I thought Flywheel had a lot of potential because of their model.
According to the articulate young man at the Flywheel hosting sponsor table, “you could host your staging site locally for $15 a month and push live with a single click”.
Flywheel also offered something called “Blueprint”.
We could build a library of plug-ins then with a single click, a particular Blueprint plug-in library could be applied to any new WordPress site.
I’m a plug-in guy (105 on the new site so far).
I build small sites just for friends and spend 40 minutes adding and adjusting plug-ins alone so that sounded peachy keen.
My first disappointment when signing up was the explanation as to why staging sites were no longer offered for $15 a month.
I would have to engage the $30-month plan if I wanted a staging site.
The $30 was for a single site.
$30 doesn’t sound like a lot of money but I’m currently on a dedicated server with SSD’s at $400 a month for white glove concierge service.
I’ve known my host for 10 years and I expect that he will protect me and my cash flow.
No website no cash flow.
I signed up with Flywheel not only for hosting but for their free migration service.
I was dubious because of the Zen cart WordPress integration and wasn’t sure how that was going to play out once all the data migrated.
This was called a clone migration.
The live site as it sits is moved in its entirety to a new host with the staging URL.
The collateral copy on Flywheel’s site said 1 to 3 days for a migration.
About 1300 posts, a little more 1.25 million words, 700 videos, and about 40,000 images took 5 days to migrate
As soon as I saw the staging site I knew there was a problem.
In order to integrate WordPress into Zen cart, our Zen Cart developer needed to delete the WordPress nav menu using a single “blog” URL as a gateway from Zen cart to WordPress.
I tried to log into the admin but was unable to do so I began a support Flywheel chat.
After 20 minutes I was absolutely nowhere, so I took a five-minute break and opened up another chat window.
After about 15 minutes of back and forth, support suggested that I refresh my password using email.
Not thinking about the email I used, I was now logged in as some author I had assigned as a user seven years ago.
This was useless as I needed administrative privileges.
After 10 more minutes I was into Flywheel chat for more than 40 minutes trying to log in to my site as an admin but unable to do so.
Now I asked rhetorically “If it took 40 minutes learning how to log in, pushing live could take how long?
I immediately canceled my subscription, 5 days into my 15-day free trial.
Host number two Pressable.
Pressable’s claim to fame is they are WooCommerce centric.
When talking to the folks at Pressable’s WordCamp table they made it sound as if WooCommerce urchins lived in the office supply cabinets that could provide answers on the spot.
It all sounded so good.
I signed up for the $45/mo Starter plan because it allowed for five sites and I figured I can move some of my hobby sites over and save money at the end of the day.
Once everything was fired up I took all the information they sent me, put it into a Google doc as I always do for a particular site or host then opened up my first three tickets.
My primary concern was doing a fresh install migration versus a clone migration.
I explained the problems with the clone migration.
It made perfect sense that if I had a fresh migration many problems would go away on WordPress like not being able to use the Elementor page builder.
I can make the new site look beautiful, add my woo commerce store, migrate the tens of thousands of objects from one e-commerce site to another.
I opened up three tickets with Pressable support.
One about the clone migration and 2 other topics on different subjects that I had concerns with.
That was Sunday evening.
Monday morning Mike got back to me.
First of all, (Mike admonished) I should never have opened up three tickets.
Apparently, they want all the information in a single ticket.
I wondered at the time if they wanted one ticket for the entire time I’m hosting with them which would end up end at 50,000 words???
I don’t get how that works – but I replied “okay Mike”.
I explained that I was going to use a vault press download to supply all the content and the SQLs.
Mike replied, “you can’t use VaultPress on Pressable”.
“Mike, you did not read the ticket well.
I’m not using Vaultpress on Pressable, I’m just using the data from Vaultpress press on the live site because I want a clean install not a clone migration .
Mike replied “clone migration is really the best way to go”.
I repled to Mike that “a clone migration doesn’t help me – I need a clean install”.
Mike replied “there is no difference between a clean install and a clone migration”.
“Mike you are a dumb ass – you need to find an adult to explain how the Internet works”
Note to support techs: Mike is probably old enough to be a grandson.
I’ve been on line since 1981
Arguing with an angry old white guy (I’m 66) who’s been on line for 37 years – is a fool’s errand.
I immediately canceled my $45/mo subscription.
Interestingly enough two hours later a sales rep from Pressable called me to ask me how it’s going?
Do you now see what I mean about how little you learn from generic reviews of WordPress hosting?
Now that the camp fire flames are roaring and I’m really into telling this story, it’s time to refresh your alcohol and get another hot dog hopefully broiled not boiled.
So how many articles have you read about WordPress migration?
It’s a nothing deal, right?
Of course, it all refers to a clone migration not a fresh install migration like I was seeking.
I went back and reread way too many hosting reviews.
Round three is with A2Hosting
I’ll call them A2.
I liked all of A2’s packages and the one I liked most was a bit pricey for me as a staging site at $60 a month but sometimes you just have to say WTF.
The $60/included VPS managed hosting and enough server horsepower to get started.
I could still bring over a bunch of sites for savings using their unlimited sites plan for $10/mo
It’s now clear to me that to set up a staging site you really have to get your hands dirty and have enough knowledge to be able to change certain information from within your cPanel.
The first couple of days with A2 was just clicking every link on the site for familiarity
Next, it became clear that if I was to do a fresh install I would need all the raw data which I knew I can get from a Vaultpress download as mentioned before.
VaultPress (JetPack) has this really cool feature where you can actually assign an alternate restore site and literally migrate the raw data from your live site to whatever other WordPress site you are moving to.
I set up the alternate site (the A2 staging site) using SFTP then tested my connection to make sure the data would pass, using the path supplied to me by A2 after creating an account.
After three unsuccessful attempts at using the Vaultpress alternate restore method of migration, I decided to go analog and move (restore to the alternate site) everything manually.
Here’s the manual restore Vaultpress instruction KB.
5. Your /plugins, /themes, and /uploads folders can be transferred via FTP to the /wp-content/ folders on your WordPress site – was a piece of cake
6. The /sql folder contains several .sql files – proved to be trickier.
The downloaded zip file contained more than 400 SQLs.
I was unable to crack the import code in A2’s cPanel.
Per A2 support (calls/tickets)
- The first Vaultpress migration failed because of a plug-in that contained databases Vaultpress did not care for
- The second Vaultpress migration failed because the path to the new staging site was given to me incorrectly by the first A2 support phone call and corrected on the second support phone call about 20 hours later.
I was able to find the database on A2’s cPanel but was not able to import all the SQLs into A2’s existing database that I think I created unknowingly.
By now I’m in day five of hosting with A2 & really need to stick this migration out.
I did not have the inclination nor the time to start from scratch again.
A2 replied in a ticket.
“I have imported the database with the following command:
mysql –init-command=”SET SESSION FOREIGN_KEY_CHECKS=0;” -uwcparrot_wp260 -p wcparrot_wp260 < /home/customer/www/geekwindycityparrot.com/wp_onlinebf.sql
This error was outputted after the import:
ERROR 1054 (42S22) at line 405689: Unknown column ‘ip__hex’ in ‘field list’
Also, the home and site URLs in the options table are listed as something you probably would want to change:
Those should both match and also probably not have anything after the “.com” part if this is for the files in public_html”.
But I couldn’t access the site so I requested the ticket be upgraded to a higher level of support.
After changing site names in the cpanel database – support ran a proprietary script while I was on the phone with A2 support which brought the site live
No magic script mentioned in A2’s KB library
Next, we had a conflict with Wordfence (pro) which I may not need based upon the level of server-side security offered by A2.
Finally, because I only had intermittent access to the A2 admin precluding me from well…anything, A2 support sent the following thread .
We have updated the site URL and home settings in the database, enabled allow_url_include, and set the site’s theme to oceanwp (it was set to the default twentysixteen, but that theme is not installed) and the site is loading now.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance”.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of login chaos, I was able to gain admin access securely to a freshly cPanel migrated WordPress site.
Why did I stick it out with A2 and not Pressable or Flywheel?
The support eco system.
Part of my resume includes more than 20 years of outside sales.
I conducted sales training for many years.
One of my favorite phrases is “God gave you one mouth and two ears which should be used in that proportion”
Support at A2 had been trained to listen.
When I asked a question there’s always silence waiting to find out if I have more to say.
I’ve tested for that jumping in as support begins to speak and they will immediately stop speaking and listen again.
That’s a single reason that I have now selected them as our host of choice for our new agency.
A bit pricey, but worth it.
Feel free to reach out I gotta go to work and build a new Woo commerce e-commerce website.
Next steps are organizing/designing the new blog – ecomm migration and more taxonomy changes and redesigns
Now that we are able to upload images and no longer see each to hosting W3 cache plug-in errors.
That took well, funny story:
Thank you to the 11 support reps and the 3500 word ticket it took to install and debug an A2 proprietary plug in and fresh site install
Zack S. – Advanced Support Team
Jamie J. – Advanced Support Specialist
Michael Carr – Support Team Manager
Jay Al-Qalyuby – Director of Support
Ratheesh K. – Advanced Support Specialist
Robert M. – Support Specialist
Jinx J. – Support Specialist
Nemanja D. – Support Specialist
Logan G. – Support Specialist
Jeff H. – Support Specialist
SergeyS. – Support Specialist
If you read through the threads about 30% of the answers were contradicted by subsequent reps.
It was also unsettling to see that it took 4 days to determine the server was misconfigured – missing an Apache server module
After15 years as a full-time webmaster, all I can say is – that was really sloppy
Can’t wait to see what crashes when pushing live
Another speedbump I’d hit was the installation of https://wordpress.org/plugins/mailchimp-for-woocommerce/ which requires PHP 7.
Checking my new A@ hosting cPanel I could see that I had PHP 5.6.3.
The A2 Hosting ticket had been extended requesting information about upgrading to PHP 7
File under “Don’t offer a solution without defining the problem.
I can see we have managed to correct a “few more errors” for you, could you let us know if you are still having problems?
It seemed you had run into some conflicts which needed minor corrections to get the site running, I apologize for that but the scope of the issues encountered are very simple.
In my personal experience, I would not suggest taking on the management of such a high grossing site without a developer or further experience.
We are happy to help you get pointed in the right direction, but that does cause delays.
A little about me.
Merchants pay me to build/run their sites.
I excel at SEO – http://superezsystems.com/
To be clear I am not “taking on” this site which is producing it’s lowest revenue in 13 years (ergo the move).
I have been THE webmaster for the site for almost 16 years – not my first rodeo
WindyCityParrot.com has resided on about 10 servers over the years including dev sites.
A2s on boarding was unsettling to say the least – I’ve never experienced that before.
The craziest thing, most issues were with an A2 proprietary module which at least 30% of your techs know nothing about based up their answers
It’s been on Actinic, Miva, GoEcart, 3dcart, ZenCart and WordPress
As it turns out you really don’t need a developer for WordPress/Woocomm today
The plugin eco system is so deep everything is plug and play
Plus because I use so many pro version plug ins developer support for functionality is all prepaid and no developer likes to see their plug in not working.
You’d be amazed how happy the folks are to jump on a Skype call to help resolve an issue
The Support from Automattic is nothing short of fantastic.
I don’t know a stitch of CSS but with the Elementor page builder, I’m creating 7 layers of home pages with video backgrounds and custom floating mega nav bars.
I’m the process of adding all my plugins (my blog has been on wordpress for 2 years – so i get it)
This is so when I add my 120,000 entities the dev site will be “under load” we will see what conflicts and crashes
I also have 2 WP test sites where I blow sh*t up before adding items to live sites
What I really need is the answer about migration – do I need to give A2 a heads up? Will your server scale automatically or crash?
As of 06/16/2018, we canceled our A2 subscription after the woo commerce plug-in uninstalled itself
So far as blowing something up, its hard to say.
We do large imports I like to break them up into small initial blocks and just watch the server load.
You can see all of your CPU and RAM usage from the control panel as well.
After a few tests runs I gradually increased the number of items imported at a single time and then tack a DB backup on each successful import until I find the breaking point.
Let us know if you need additional help.
What you’re saying is I could go viral for 6 hours but your servers can’t handle my benched marked load
If a host can’t scale on demand which A2 apparently could not, they are not a very good host.
Normally we look at our current server loads and make sure the target server is adequate, start the migration and then take a 13 hour nap
re: ” After a few tests runs I gradually increased the number of items imported at a single time and then tack a DB backup on each successful import until I find the breaking point.” Now that would be a clusterf*ck of epic proportions – I have developers in 4 time zones – no one has ever even suggested that
24 hours after a 3500 word ticket with 11 techs which was necessary to install ONE A2 designed plug in and allow media file imports – my woocommerce plugin un-installed it self – supports response was – “just reinstall it”
Which is fine with no load – thinking about the implication of that action with 1200,000 entities residing on the server makes my head explode which is why I’ve requested a A2 cancellation
Now that the campfire is burning out you don’t have to go home – but you can’t stay here.
Conclusion: Somehow Https://siteground.com appeared on my radar.
As of 1/17/2019 the boys and girls in Romania have earned the right to host me.
currently on their low-end cloud server ($80/mo) but will migrate to their 2nd tier dedicated server ($260/mo).
I don’t like neighbors
About Mitch Rezman:
I’m old enough to carry a Medicare card.
Yet I am a webmaster to over a dozen websites on three hosting platforms.
I make my living and have done so from e-commerce for 17 years. (since March of 2002)
400,000 folks follow me on social media because of my expertise in captive bird husbandry.
I still have a thirst to learn something new every day
It was only available as a desktop version you loaded from disks
Since then I’ve built dozens, maybe hundred or more websites.
You get the picture.
I didn’t know jack about moving WordPress sites but I know e-commerce.