blogging

Sticking with self-hosting, v. 2 (Links should work properly now)

I saw a couple of subscribers try to come in to yesterday’s post, Sticking with self-hosting, but get a 404.  It looks like a result of a change in DNS nameservers.

That basically means I have a domain name and wanted to keep it, but my website itself moved, so I had to change the settings on the domain name.

It takes a bit before the rest of the world catches up, so people who have recently been on my site, still could end up on my old server.  The old “address” for my site was probably still in their computers: Computers hold onto that data for a bit.  It only affected new posts; they could still see everything else, because the old site is still on my old host.

But now it looks like everything is stable.  So here is my post again:

Instead of going to WordPress.com as I previously planned to do, I learned about a much better hosting company.

At least, I found a lot of reviews all around the Web saying Siteground is a much better company.  And the information I found on Siteground’s website–It sure seems much better.  The uptime is better, the pricing is better, they still use the ticket system, they’re responsive, and they actually HELP you with your website.  My previous host would only help with server-side issues, and leave you on your own for the rest.  In fact, Siteground moved my website for me–for FREE.

Because I have my own domain name, no URLs need to be changed.  Now let’s see if things are better over here.  🙂

So far–Just look how fast it loads!  😀

Argh! Sick of self-hosting!

My site was running beautifully–then starting hiccuping AGAIN.  I tried modifications which would work for a day or two, then HICCUP.  So I’d remove them, only to find they still lingered, so I’d have to hunt down and remove the fragments from my files and database.  I have replaced core files and fresh-installed plugins again and again and again.

It took two weeks to discover that my php version wasn’t working properly.  But all I can find about fixing it sounds like technical jargon which I can’t make heads or tails out of.  It’s supposed to be 5.6, but keeps going to 5.2.  Or I change it to 5.4, but all the plugins see it as 5.2, and here come the error messages.  !!!!!!!!!

Visitors get error messages; Google has trouble indexing; I get stripped-HTML pages in the backend, or various error messages or white screens, and, in between, the pages come up.

Meanwhile, my stats are in the frickin’ toilet because people and Google have trouble getting the pages up.  That’s it!  I don’t have time for this!  Last week, I spent days dealing with my dad’s death and the aftermath, and nights trying to figure out why my site kept hiccuping.  This week, I’m spending hours upon hours trying to figure it out, when I have other things that desperately need attention.  I’m keeping up with housework, but that’s about it.  I start working in the morning, look up and see darkness through the window.

It took two weeks to figure out that maybe my hosting provider has to sort this out on their end.  I’d rather open a support ticket and cut and paste all the error messages, but they don’t do that anymore.  (Do this over the phone?  Seriously?)

Sitting in chat–I’d rather just send an e-mail and let them sort it out, not sit in chat with someone who doesn’t know anything.  Last time I did chat, somebody screwed up my directories, and somebody else had to sort it out because I couldn’t get it to work.

But even if I contact them, something else will probably turn up later.  These troubles started three months ago, after three years of mostly easy self-hosting.  And just when I solve one problem, another one crops up.

I’m going to see how my site looks if I go to WordPress.com.  It would mean some sucky sacrifices–no Google Analytics, no javascript (so no redirects or other neat things I could do on Blogger), no Project Wonderful, no blocking, and a terribly basic Statcounter–but it appears far easier than going back to Blogger.

And it looks like I can post links to Lulu for my own books, though I can’t use my site to handle actual selling of them/orders (which I don’t want to do anyway), or affiliate links.

I tried setting up again on Blogger, but there were too many issues with importing and making things look right.  And I can keep the 2016 theme, which I love, so the site would look mostly the same.  I still have time on my host to set up redirects so Google can re-index me, so I don’t lose traffic.

And just think of the $200 bill I won’t be getting in April!  😀

 

My gosh, now my site is running like a dream!

A week of aggravation and banging my head against a wall, and now it’s running beautifully.

And doesn’t it look awesome with the WordPress 2016 theme?  I don’t know why I didn’t upgrade earlier: It fixed the issues I had with the last one–namely, the lack of color in the links, and putting the sidebar on the left instead of the right!  (Come on, we’re English-based, and read from left to right.  The sidebar belongs on the right because it’s less important and needs to be read last!)  It’s also even more mobile-ready than the last one, even puts the sidebar at the bottom instead of putting it into an icon people never click on.

It was that danged firewall in the WordFence security plugin, something they added to WordFence in the past several months.  It doesn’t play well with my site, though the rest of the plugin works fine.

I replaced the core WordPress files with brand-new ones from the new version 4.6, and re-installed WordFence with brand-new files as well, but then forgot to switch off the danged firewall, which automatically goes into “Learning Mode.”  And then by morning, the danged firewall was screwing it all up again.

Danged firewall.

But I re-installed WordFence and then immediately clicked off the danged firewall this time.

Maybe I’ll keep this site after all.

 

About pondering moving from self-hosted to Blogger: Next Morning

Okay, now I wake up and see a site which appears to be running fluidly again.  Maybe I did finally figure out the problem.

But it took a week to do it, a week of not much else getting done.  No reading.  No studying.  No researching.  Very little daydreaming about my novel.

And yeah, I have family obligations to tend to.

Anyway, last night I went over to my old Blogger site and started adding some pages, to see how well that works.  I have to do it one-by-one because while it’s easy to export from Blogger to WordPress, Blogger doesn’t play well with WordPress imports.  You have to go through another site to convert your WordPress database, which I tried a while back, only to find that it didn’t work on my stuff for some reason.  And you can only export it ONE MB at a time.  That’s not much for a site like mine.

Still, Blogger would be my best option: I can indeed put my pages as well as posts over there, and they let you customize.  WordPress.com won’t let you use Javascript (so no Analytics or more than a mostly-useless Statcounter, unless you pay $$), won’t let you post affiliate links (so no Project Wonderful ads), and then says, “All your content R belongs to US.”  I’m not entirely sure if I could post links to my books on Lulu, though maybe.

However, because of the trouble importing, and the size of my site, and the huge number of internal links and anchors (those things which allow you to jump farther down in a page) which have to be converted, and the stripping of all my paragraph breaks, it would take considerable time and energy to move my site back.

If this website is now working again, then I will probably leave it alone, at least for now.  But leave this open as a future option.  I can give this self-hosted deal ONE MORE CHANCE.

But I tell ya, they don’t tell you when you do this, about all the long hours non-techies spend trying to troubleshoot their websites.  It’s not as easy as they make it sound.  Sure you can figure out things like FTP, which isn’t really that hard.  (It only seems intimidating till you get the hang of it.)  But when your plugins start acting up, or somebody hacks you, the trouble really begins.

Some googling last night brought up a bunch of blog posts from other people who have made the switch BACK to Blogger from self-hosted, or comments complaining of the long hours spent troubleshooting and maintaining.  I also found a post which recommends non-techies think again before doing this.  But most of the results switched my Google search terms around to going FROM Blogger TO self-hosted.  Because who would want to do that?  [facepalm]

Well, here you go, another blog post warning non-techies to think again.  Unless you’re willing to spend extra $$ to a webhost who manages the site for you, such as WPEngine, which looks like it would be perfect for me–IF I had $30/month, which I don’t.  Or you can pay somebody to manage the site for you.  Or if you’re setting up a business website or a forum or some other such thing that needs more versatility than Blogger or WordPress.com can give you.  If you want a page with order forms, shopping carts, etc., you’re better off self-hosted.

But just a simple website like mine, where the only “selling” directs people to third-party websites who do the orders/money managing for me, I could easily have stayed on Blogger.

So let this be one little blog post, in a Web full of posts extolling the virtues of self-hosting, which tells the truth to non-techies.

If you just want a personal blog/website showcasing your writing, which I have here, and don’t want to spend long hours troubleshooting plugin malfunctions instead of creating,

If you aren’t particularly technical, or maybe you’re good with computers but a page full of code and techie language makes your eyes bug out,

Then think long and hard about self-hosting.  You may be perfectly happy with Blogger or one of the other platforms.

 

Pondering moving back to Blogger

After the big crash nearly 3 months ago, I thought I had this site purring along like a kitten.

Then the past weekend came along and I discovered old problems returning.

After spending days and days tinkering with this website and trying to get it to work properly on both the front end and backend, I’m about ready to give up and go back to my old Blogger blog.  I can easily set up redirects and let my hosting plan run out, so that’s no problem.

My site looks great here, and I have so many options–but that does me no good when I spend more time troubleshooting than working on the content itself.  I have some tech knowledge, but a lot of that code makes my eyes bug out.

They tell you, go self-hosted!  It’s best, and you’ll never regret it!  Well, I don’t know about that, when I’m spending hours upon hours trying everything, following every bit of advice I can find on the Web, and still get a goofy site that loads up white screens or stripped-HTML every other pageload.

These site problems have also caused my hits–usually 200+ a day–to TANK.

Even if it is the server and not me, good luck finding it out.  This host used to be good at helping me out, but lately all I get is, “We don’t do anything with that, so you have to sort it out yourself.”  Or they can take weeks to respond to a ticket.

My church website has tech support.  I have trouble, they sort it out.  Three years and that site has given me very few headaches.  It’s also free.

I have trouble here, I sort it out.  Maybe.  I have spent countless hours troubleshooting this site over 3 years.

I didn’t have this problem with Blogger.  I had a blog there for years and did very little to it other than posting/editing content.  It didn’t go down, didn’t take 20 seconds to load for unknown reasons, and unlike WordPress.com, they let you use Javascript and tinker with the template code.  So I could set up my own redirects or track stats just the same as I do now.  I couldn’t block people, but these days I don’t care about that so much.  I didn’t have to worry about hackers, either.

I have a novel I want to work on.  I have a family, a house to take care of–and, I’m now told, I have emergency family obligations to attend to because of my dad’s declining health.  I don’t want to spend days, my head aching, my arms aching, worrying about my site and why it won’t work no matter what the frick I do to it, and meanwhile barely see my family or enjoy my usual pasttimes.

Screw this.  I’m going to start tinkering with my old blog, writing up code to redirect to it, and see if I can make this big site look good back there again.

I’m a writer, not a computer geek.  Sometimes I think, Would I be good at coding/tech support/IT?  Or am I just better at it than the other people in my family/church?  I look at coding and all the stuff the professionals do, and think, no, code just makes my eyes bleed.  I get along with techies, with computer geeks, but I’m a writer.  I want to spend my days taking care of family stuff and nights on studying/researching/writing.  I want to write posts, not code.

Keep that in mind whenever you read the sites that say, Go self-hosted!  You’ll love it!–Maybe you will, maybe you won’t.

Oh, yeah, and it costs a lot of money.  I never had to pay for hosting with Blogger.  Apparently my host is one of the cheap ones, too, and managed hosting (where somebody else fixes it for you, like my church website) costs even more.