Fair warning: This post is heavy geek. The Net is a big part of how we’re trying to make the farm work. Having sites that stay up and a connection that doesn’t suck is as important as getting state meat inspection back. If it’s going to cause your eyes to glaze over, just pretend I wrote about tensioning my sawmill blade and move on.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been paying a hideous price for a T-1 connection, because, at least as of 2007, it was completely impossible to do my job as a software developer using satellite: Skype didn’t work, and I would lose signal just when I needed to put out a patch. There are no other broadband options here. (Canada and Australia have lower population densities than the US and far better broadband coverage. Tell me again that the US is a first world country.) One of the ways I kept expenses down was by hosting The Vast Richards Web-Empire (TM) on a box under my desk. Unfortunately we had continuous reports of people who could not reach our server, possibly because I never really got reverse DNS working.
Supposedly satellite is better now, and in any case I’m not currently developing from home, so we’re reverting to satellite. This means hiring hosting again. The price of that has gotten better. I’m paying $15/month for “unlimited everything”, including multiple domains. We’ll see of course what the actual bandwidth is. Add $80 for the satellite and I’m still well over $500/month ahead.
Because we were bloggers before blog was a word we use WordPress for pretty much everything. We’re also now standardizing on the Thesis theme from DIYThemes. Unfortunately despite all the progress since my first WordPress install at version 0.7, I’m still having issues. Thesis, especially with the Openhook plugin keeps all sorts of stuff in the database rather than theme files. It’s not in the custom files on the old box, but it’s not reaching the new box when I do a backup/restore. Far far scarier, Mmmmonadnock.com is losing its’ last two entries, the two written after I switched it to Thesis. I’ve tried twice, and the result is the same. Of course the old box still thinks it’s mmmmonadnock.com, so I can’t just cut and paste those entries, and all the custom code to the new one.
Ending on a positive note, here’s the workaround. Both WordPress and J. Random Hosting expect you to have DNS set up to point to them from second one, with no actual expectation that you’re migrating a running site but might want to make some changes on the way. How can you actually make this work? Load all your files and restore the database on your new box. Then have two workstation machines. Set the hosts file on one to resolve mysite.com to the new box, while leaving global DNS pointed at the old site. Then use Remote Desktop or your OS’s equivalent to cut and paste from the old server to the new. When you finally like it, change the nameservers. Don’t forget to count the entries.