In my last article, I wrote about how we migrated our website from Hubspot to WordPress. The final phase was to move our WordPress installations to wpengine. Here is our take on the process and some recommendations if you are thinking of using wpengine (or any other hosting service).
1. Be clear why you are moving the site
Wpengine is a premium hosting service, so if you just want the cheapest place to put a WordPress site, this is not their target market.
What wpengine offers is a very fast and well-maintained WordPress hosting service. We put our sites on WordPress because they are critical to our business. We wanted fast access, good support and we did not want to spend a huge amount of our time maintaining the actual infrastructure. If you are looking for this, we can highly recommend wpengine! Access speed is excellent, and the support staff are both knowledgeable and friendly.
There is clearly a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make the hosting work seamlessly for clients. As a personal aside, it is also really pleasant to use a system which was created by people who really know what they are doing and have put a lot of thought into the design….
2. Read all the documentation carefully (TWICE)
The migration involves creating a database copy of the database used by WordPress on your current system, reimporting to WordPress on wpengine, copying across a directory from your current WordPress installation and making some DNS changes.
When I read up about wpengine on the Internet, there was a range of opinion on how easy it was to setup. There is a good migration guide and it really depends on your perspective. If you are expecting to be able to just export your WordPress site as a single file and reimport all inside WordPress, you will be disappointed. There are people who will provide a commercial service to migrate your site and this may be a better option for you.
If you have a reasonable technical background and not afraid to use a droptable command, the migration is fully documented and straight-forward on a single site. Make sure you generate your database backups from your current system first and then close all windows so there in no way you can accidently drop the tables on the wrong system!
3. Multiple sites are slightly more complicated
The migration guide is written for a single site. We were moving several sub-domains across and we needed a little clarification from support on how to do this. It would be nice if wpengine updated the documentation to cover both cases.
4. Review all plugins
You will find that you no longer need some plugins. Wpengine has some very high end caching so you can remove any caching plugins.
Wpengine also scans your new setup and tells you if you have any plugins which are not permitted on wpengine. You are given 7 days to remove them and then they will be deleted. There is a list on the wpengine site and they are generally plugins which might conflict with their caching and backups or cause database thrashing. We did not find any items which we still missed or could not easily replace.
We also found one plugin (MailChimp integration from InBound) which did not work on our new system. This was quickly fixed by InBound and now works perfectly.
5. Choose a quiet time to change the DNS
When you change your DNS settings, you will find that the site will ‘ghost’ between old and new for up to 96 hours. So try to choose your least popular time to make the change – as a business site, we moved it over Easter weekend.
Generally speaking, we found the migration very easy and if you are looking for a solid and fast platform to host a commercial site on, wpengine is highly recommended. What are your experiences with wpengine and WordPress?