Monday, November 10, 2008

New Web Hosting Home for Slaw

After a long weekend of mysql databases, .htaccess files, blog upgrades, and php coding work, the Canadian legal blogging co-op, Slaw is now just a few hours away from moving into its new home at Fused Network.

I wouldn't normally blog about a web hosting transfer. Even in this case, the website's address remains the same, and in the end it's not all that noticable to the reader. But as any website owner will tell you, finding the right web hosting environment is an important process, and often, a difficult one.

Everyone with a website has a web host, and most people have faith in their provider, at least until that faith is broken... And then everything is back on the table - service, reliability, trusted backups, and so on. Making that decision, becomes an all encompassing task that includes both online research and seeking out personal recommendations.

Unfortunately, web hosting is one of the most spammed out areas online, and trusting anything you read is frequently difficult. More often than not, I assume the company is astroturfing the sales process. I also try to make a habbit of searching the host's name along with the words 'sucks' or 'problems' to identify potential issues. If any kind of valid case can be made, I tend to have reservations about retaining that service.

Now in the case of moving Slaw, we weren't making the process any easier on ourselves. Simon Fodden and I made the choice to upgrade the website to the latest version of Wordpress, knowing our rather large list of plugins may pose problems, at the same time as we were making the host switch. We were hoping this would give us some extra time to figure out custom code and plugins along the way; but in all honestly, we would have been better making this switch without upgrading the site concurrently.

We're only a few hours away from knowing how it all went (and what we missed), but what I can offer, is some praise for Fused's owner David McKendrick who helped resolve a number of 'issues' for us (I'll say us, but not really Simon... read: Steve). We can't know about the reliability of David's service without experience (though his web-record is pretty clean...), but if service is any indication, I probably won't be conducting another hosting review for a while. With sites of my own, or when others ask for a recommendation. He's earned his hosting fee on this one.

Finally, I'd like to say how great it was to tag-team on a project like this with Simon F. As always, he's been wonderful to work with, and his insight into building websites is something I really enjoy. So cheers to you Simon!

How will you know the new Slaw from the old Slaw? Well, if everything resolves properly, you will see author photographs next to the posts on the homepage, and on the individual post pages. Other than the backend upgrade, that was the only tweak we made.

Keep your fingers are crossed for us. :)

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