Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Migrating my web hosting

I have been with FastHosts for years but this was because they were (relatively) cheap and UK-based. However, I have just moved to BlueHost, which (IMHO) is far far better.

Switching over

FastHosts has been ok but they do not (at the time of writing this) provide any Postgres facility. Databases are MySQL only. I actually want/need both. I use MySQL for Coppermine, but would like to use Postgres for DSpace. There are not many UK-based providers that have the Postgres option. The option is much more common with US hosting companies.

There is another reason for preferring my hosting to be done outside Europe. A new stupid law has been passed that forces web sites to declare if they use cookies. Yeah, right. Problem solved. My website is now outside Europe.

I did a bit of research and found that BlueHost has everything and is reasonably priced. I moved my website over and had a few slight technical issues at first. I used their online 24/7 technical help and found it to be excellent and free of charge. It is also available 24/7. Most UK support is only in office hours Monday to Friday and you have to pay for it via expensive phone calls with lengthly waiting times and obnoxious musak.

BlueHost do not allow a domain to be transferred to them. However, they can still host such domains. I found this a bit confusing at first. Domain registration is handled by certain official bodies across the world. In the UK a common organisation that does this is called Nominet. Web hosting providers that offer to handle your domain registration do so by dealing with Nominet. BlueHost do not deal with Nominet since Nominet is for the UK. However, that doesn't matter. What matters is how requests that are aimed at your domain get directed to the appropriate IP address. This is done using nameservers. When Fasthosts first set up my domain they configured my domain to use their own nameservers. But their webpages have configuration that allows this to be changed for when you wish to change who is hosting your domain. I changed them and in less than 12 hours my web site had changed over. Marvellous!

Migrating Coppermine

I hit a few snags when migrating my photos over to BlueHost. I use Coppermine to manage my photos, so I got the latest version, installed it on my own machine, set up a MySQL database and Apache with PHP, and started up the Coppermine landing page to verify that it would work properly.

When you land on a Coppermine home page for the first time, the PHP starts to configure your environment. It did this for me on my own machine (eventually) so I reasoned that the time was right for me to FTP all the files to my BlueHost area and it should work in just the same way. It didn't. It gave a weird PHP scripting error. Googling for the error message gave hits that made me think the problem was to do with the use of SSI (Server Side Includes). However, with some help from BlueHost support it was determined that the problem was to do with file permissions. Once the folders were set to 0755 and the files were set to 0644 all was well.