Server Move Complete!
After 2 days, the server move is finally complete! I've been preparing for this for a while and now that it's finally done, I can begin to focus more on content and improving the site. But alas, it's been a journey and I want to share it with you!
The Old Server
The problem was that the old server was setup for me by my friend. I love having full control of my server environment, so going with something like shared-hosting wasn't going to work. Having a managed virtual private server (where support help you with issues) wasn't something I wanted to do either because their prices are expensive. So I settled on having an unmanaged VPS, where I set everything up and do all the managing of the server. To do this, you need a good solid understanding of Linux and Linux administration. I had a very basic elementary level understanding of how to do this, so I asked a friend to help me.
My friend was amazing and set everything up. The server was configured, DNS setup and loads of other cool server alterations that made it very easy for me to get going. I was basically having my own managed VPS, setup by my friend for the price of unmanaged. The issue was that whenever something went wrong on the server, I have no idea how to fix it. Which means I had to bug my friend, which means acting quite selfishly when all you end up doing is contacting your friend for help. It made me feel bad.
Learning As You Go
So really I needed to either learn how to manage the server myself or pay someone to do it for me. I went with the former option because learning how to use Linux is really fascinating to me. I love being in control of something and being able to customize it to my needs.
Don't get me wrong, learning how to setup my own server wasn't easy. In fact, I've probably been learning how to do this for the past year or so; slowly reading up on apache, how to configure DNS, how to manage user accounts, setup FTP, databases etc. I bought books and read tons of tutorials online; I even setup a cheap VPS to just practice on to see if I could do it. It probably wouldn't take someone else a whole year to learn all this stuff- but I was doing it in my spare time, mostly as a hobby than anything else. My current server was doing okay at the time- I didn't need to make too many changes to it. This all changed however, because in the past couple of months I have been focusing on blogging. The site was getting very slow and bogged down and I really needed to start considering moving the site and upgrading it.
So I began by buying the cheapest unmanaged server possible, for $5 a month. I started practicing setting up the DNS, FTP, the web server and all those things. I've ran into so many issues with it over the past month, literally spending hours and hours searching for the correct answers on the Internet. But things finally started to get better and after about a month or so, I managed to have a working website running on it's own server. I even managed to configure HTTPs for it, which is something I really wanted to do for Patchesoft for a long time but I couldn't because I had no idea how my friend had setup my server.
Once I had my working VPS for my practice domain, I decided I needed to bite the bullet and move Patchesoft. I still had/have loads to learn and I knew the only real way I was going to learn different areas was to actually put things into action. So I made time for myself in my schedule to move Patchesoft. Patchesoft comprises of lots of different sites- all the demo sites, the blog, the databases and lots of other different areas that I would have to move over, so it wasn't going to be as simple as just moving over my first practice domain.
But I managed it. Today, the site is running on a VPS that I setup myself completely. I know exactly how I did it and I know how to tweak various settings and have gained a huge amount of knowledge on how to run a server. I'm not done yet either because there's so many things I want to improve upon and learn about, so I'm definitely going to continue writing Linux tutorials. Perhaps one day you might want to setup your own server too and I'll have helped someone else. It has been a really rewarding experience because all the subjects and different pieces of information you learn about come together to form... this.
Of course, you could always not waste months of your time learning this stuff and just get a nice support-driven webhost. But where would the fun in that be?