WordPress Web Development

The Pivot To WordPress Plugin Independence

Self sufficiency

I’ve always had an uneasy feeling about being reliant on one source of anything. Never wanted to become dependent on a single thing, I’m a bit of a survivalist in that sense.

Growing up in New York City created a low level of always-there-anxiety – And I’m third generation New Yorker, my grandparents emigrated from Europe in the early 20th century through Ellis Island and put down roots in the city. I was born into the chaos that is Manhattan and for the first 33 years of my life never lived anywhere else.

But it never felt smooth for me. When you live in a city like that you are completely dependent on the supply chain. If it breaks, you’re screwed. No other options. Eight million people dependent on the same source of food and water. The grocery stores will empty very quickly and there’s no farm down the road to stock-up on life’s necessities.

What does this have to do with WordPress website development?

Well, I have a similar uneasiness when it comes to being dependent on plugins. I don’t like being too dependent on one. So this mindset lead me to this week’s experiment: Transferring a WordPress site manually.

For two year now I’ve been using just one plugin, All In One Wp Migration. I love it for its simplicity. Database and site files all compressed into one little file.

I’ve only used the free version but, I do admit, I went in and boosted the file size limit for uploads. I don’t move sites around that much to justify the investment so I never did.

I still need to move a site from time to time though, so I got started on my experiment.

Estimating how long a thing is going to take

I figured one hour, and not much more. Didn’t work out that way. Took about three…So far.

It wasn’t an entirely frustrating process though because I learned a few unexpected things.

I use FileZilla for FTP and part of the process was to delete all the files on the server with the site I was replacing. But no matter how many times I hit delete the files didn’t delete. In fact, I got a little red message line saying I don’t have permission. What? Why?!? Good, an opportunity to learn something.

I use Cloudways to host my sites these days, and if all things stay the same, I will never switch. Any way, i got on chat with them to see if they could point out what I was missing (don’t believe the critics, Cloudways has excellent customer service). They took a look and told me what I needed to do.

What I love most about this self-reliant approach is that even though there is a steep learning curve in some cases, what seems like a lot of lost time, has great payoffs. In this case I learned something about how the the Cloudways servers, FTP, and FileZilla work.

In Cloudways under Application Management > Application Settings there is a reset permissions feature. Once I clicked this I was free to add and delete from FileZilla as needed.

I also learned, for some reason, that copying files to FTP takes a little bit longer to do than if I used cPanel with another host. Why? Don’t know, I was way over my time allotment by now and didn’t care. but I do know to allow for the extra time now. I’ll revisit that later.

Since I have blocked off my days to strict time-blocks now at the time of this writing I still haven’t completed the process successfully. I still have to update the database. But no worries, I’ve scheduled a block next week to run through it from start to finish and practice it a few times and then I will:

  1. Know how to move a WordPress website manually
  2. Be independent of at least one plugin
  3. Have a deeper knowledge of my server, FTP and databases

All this will make me better at web development and more valuable to my clients in web design agencies who are looking to outsource their site builds

Conclusion

I know with WordPress themes, plugins and page builders all of this stuff is slowly falling to “don’t need to know this, let the developers figure it out and I’ll just buy their plugins.” But I don’t see it that way, when something isn’t working, it’s important to know at least where to start looking. Invest a little bit of time now will spare the headaches later.

Once I get this down and perfect the process I don’t really see why I’d do it another way. I’ll certainly get faster and more efficient the more I do it. And I know I’ll still use the plugins for backing up my sites, don’t really see a good reason not to. But this way now I have options.

Take care