Pros and Cons of Moving My Websites from Self-Hosted WordPress to WordPress.com

It took a while, but I finally got fed up with web hosts. I’d changed several times over the years, and, until recently, was hosted by NameCheap. This company had a serious security vulnerability that affected one of my sites, and their customer support is horrendous, but making the change on multiple websites is time consuming.

Since all my websites run WordPress, my options were to pay much more for dedicated WordPress hosting, or to move to WordPress.com, the hosting that is run by WordPress itself. I eventually opted for the latter, though this process was not without difficulty.

When I moved of this site, Kirkville, which has more than 2,000 posts, thousands of images, and a plethora of comments, I used the WordPress export and import features. I did this in late June, and expected the process to be smooth. I chose WordPress’s Business plan, which, at $25 a month, gives me a lot of options, such as the ability to use plug-ins and custom themes. It also is supposed to provide dedicated support.

What I found when I moved the site was that the paths of my images had not changed. As such, they were still being served from the previous site hosted on NameCheap. In addition, some didn’t display at all. Part of this was due to the fact that the path for my installation was not at the root level of the folder; for historic reasons, it was in a /wordpress/ folder, but part was because the WordPress import simply doesn’t seem to handle images very well.

To my disappointment, it took more than a week for WordPress support to fix this. My initial contact was via their online chat, but my issue had to be escalated, and there didn’t seem to be any “happiness engineers” available to fix it. I had to complain, over and over, every day, to get this fixed, and, in the end, it was resolved, but there was a lot of stress.

For two other sites I run, I chose less expensive plans. For a site I host for my friend Peter Robinson, author of the Inspector Banks mystery series, I chose the $8 Premium plan, to be able to use premium themes and some other features. And for my site about learning to play the shakuhachi, I chose the cheapest plan, Personal, at $5 a month, because I was happy using one of the basic themes.

One of the biggest problems with NameCheap was that their support for the XML-RPC protocol would break every few months, requiring a great deal of time to solve, as none of the support people really understood the issues. (They had something to do with security rules, and, while I told them to turn them off, they kept turning them back on.) I use this extensively, because I manage my blogs with MarsEdit, which communicates using this protocol. (Which is what WordPress’s own apps use as well.)

Now that everything is settled, I’m very happy. I don’t have problems posting or managing my blogs, and I don’t have to worry about server outages – which were frequent with NameCheap – or any of the back end stuff that I had to deal with in shared hosting. It was very stressful to know that every month or so I’d have to spend an hour in a support chat with NameCheap. In addition, the new sites are fast; much faster than NameCheap, even though I had a plan where my sites were hosted on SSD.

It’s always tough to move a large website, and I wish the move process had been smoother, but the results are satisfying. Shared hosting is a commodity, and most companies don’t care about their users, and support can be abysmal. I haven’t had any issues with my sites since those first bumps, so kudos to WordPress for their service.

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