How to Transfer a WordPress Site from a Development Server To a Live Server – Q and A

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This is the last part of How to Transfer a WordPress Site from a Development Server To a Live Server tutorial series. In this session we take on questions about the website transfer tutorial.

Video Transcript

Rick: So now what I’m going to is just open it up to questions because excerpting for a moment the fact that I did something wrong this morning. Let’s just talk about the whole database thing. I’m going to scroll down here quickly through the plugins.

Jared asks me, “What was the name of the captcha plugin?” And actually, the captcha was included as part of this other plugin, the search and… no, not Search and Replace, the plugin called Quick Post. It has its own captcha system so it wasn’t actually a captcha that we activated separately. It was included in the Quick Post widget. Let’s see…

And that’s the reason we did the previous… file because remember the captcha didn’t show up in the previous… and the other…

Yes, I do remember that. Okay Todd, I’m going to unmute your microphone because you’ve got some really good questions here. So you’re unmuted.

Todd: Well, hello.

Rick: Hi, how are you doing?

Todd: Can you hear me?

Rick: I can hear you.

Todd: Oh excellent.

Rick: Maybe turn the volume up just a little bit.

Todd: Oh sorry, yeah. I would have grabbed my headphones. Yeah so actually, my initial question, it appears is irrelevant. I have a few different sites I’ve run on a WordPress multi user and I had established those blogs using a domain mapping. And I’ve kind of run into a stumbling block with those different sites. I realized that my attempts at scaling my business by having… by using WordPress MU is kind of not the right strategy so I though what I needed to do is to basically pull those individual blogs out of MU, establish their own C Panel accounts inside my dedicated box and I’ll create a WordPress install and import all the settings. It would be kind of a pain in the rear but it looks like BackUp Buddy is going to be pulling in the entire database of WordPress and if it’s a WordPress MU install, it would pull that in as well and so it sounds like…

Rick: No. It’s actually not the way that works. The WP MU doesn’t actually create a single database. It creates a new database for each networked site. And so if you look at your database, you’ll see that you have a multiple database. It’s one of them for each of those network sites. You can use BackUp Buddy inside of an individual site to back up that one site. BackUp Buddy’s forum has some instructions on how to do that, how to use it both for individual blog or site within a network install and then how to use it on a big you know, a full network install. I personally have used it succesfully on individual network sites that I was working on inside of a big site. So I’m going to unmute you again here. I muted you because we have that little echo going on back and forth but…

Todd: Awesome, thanks. Yeah, actually I grabbed my headset here to hopefully reduce that.

Rick: Okay so you should be able to… well, I have succesfully backed up one site inside of a network install and copy it and move it to another domain. So…

Todd: Oh, that’s great news. Thank you very much.

Rick: Yeah, you’re welcome. And the latest…

Todd: I was actually writing down a full list of different steps I was going to have to take to do it all manually so that’s really good news. Thank you.

Rick: Well, it’s definitely a lot easier to use BackUp Buddy to do it that way. Actually fortunately, BackUp Buddy is recently supports a whole network of sites the same time as well as just individual databases. And because I’m working on a site right now that is in an old.. it’s an old 2.8 MU site that we’re going to be you know, once I’m finished with the programming on it, we’ll be converting to a 3.3 site. And it’s got 60 different individual sites inside of it. And what we’re going to do is once the programming is done, we’re going to test run it by creating a development version of it, putting all the programming into it, making sure it all works and then cloning that and bringing that back into the site as essentially deleting the old set of sites and replacing the old set of sites with the new clone. And that’s just you know, in the last month or so, been possible through BackUp Buddy.

Todd: Cool. Thanks. I was wondering if you’ve used or tried that X Clone plugin. I have it set up for a few of my different sites just as a back up and restore you know, just your basic thing but not for this type and purpose.

Rick: Yeah.

Todd: You think that might work at all or there’s massive differences?

Rick: I don’t know whether or not it will work at all. I have… one of our members is an advocate of that plugin except that every time he redoes the site you know, something goes wrong. And often, the answer I give him for having how to fix it is you know, essentially, what you have to do is replace your existing copy of WP admin and WP includes because you’ve just got some kind of an error in those files that is making your site behave the way it is. And invariably, it’s on one of these files that is cloned using that software. So you know, I understand that there are less expensive versions out there and there are you know, some of the get rich gurus out there who have been hawking you know, some other cloning tools that are less expensive than Backup Buddy. But I’ve generally had such good experience with Backup Buddy. Today, my screw up notwithstanding, had such good experience with Backup Buddy that you know, the difference between $150 and $75 is nothing as long you know, when you’re talking about whether or not the thing actually works the way it should. And so…

Todd: Right. In fact, that was the real reason why I was attending this webinar is just to kind of watch you do this live and thanks a lot for doing this. I know there’s a lot of stress involved in just doing demos, not to mention actually doing a production type of a situation here.

Rick: Yeah.

Todd: So I’m really glad I got to see it and thank you very much.

Rick: Well, you’re welcome. Any other questions there, Todd?

Todd: No. You rock. Thanks so much.

Rick: Okay, you bet. Have a good day.

Okay, let’s take a look. Let’s see, Charles. You’ve got a question. Where are you here? Charles, I’m unmuting your microphone. Good morning, Charles. Charles, are you with me? Let’s see, it looks like you’re there. Okay, what I’m going to do is mute your microphone again and come back to you. And if for some reason or another, it still doesn’t work, I’ll just try to answer your question without chatting with you. But you’ve got a bunch of them here.

Rick: Anna Marie, I’m going to unmute your microphone. Good morning, Ana Marie.

Anna Marie: Hi there. How are you, Rick?

Rick: I’m doing great. How are you?

Anna Marie: I’m good. I’m good. I’ve been a long reader of your stuff. Thank you so much for doing this.

Rick: Hey, it’s my pleasure. So what can I do for you?

Anna Marie: Well, it’s kind of a basic beginner’s question but I’m deep into Thesis and I’ve done a lot of work already but I’ve never been really clear of what’s in the database. So when I have a choice of backing up everything or backing up without the database and the reason that’s important me is that I think about redesigning my website on my local site but my live site is continuing and I’m getting news and so on and I’m not sure then how to bring my live site on my newly designed site to the live site. Did that make sense?

Rick: Absolutely. It does make sense. And the database contains all of the active stuff that happens on your site. So it contains all your posts, all your pages, comments, settings for plugins, Thesis settings, all of your user settings. Anything that you can set and adjust from your administrative dashboard or anything that comes to your site from the outside is stored inside of your database. And then you have your files. Now the only files you ever touch are contained inside the wp content. You’re never doing anything that affects the files either in the root of your site or in wp admin or wp includes. The only thing you ever do is in wp content and most of the changes in wp content really come from uploading plugins. And you’re not really changing those either. What you’re doing is installing plugins and those plugins get installed inside of wp content and their files get installed there. But their settings, when you activate them and do settings, those settings get saved in the database. And so then any customizaion that you do using custom CSS or custom functions PHP, those settings are always saved as files inside of wp content, themes, thesis_182 custom folder.

So what you’re trying to do is if you’re developing your site locally, probably the easiest way to do it is to sort of ignore the database stuff. And make your changes on your site locally and then transfer those to your remote site.

Anna Marie: You’re saying letting Filezilla just transfer a copy of the file as it were?

Rick: Exactly. And when you’re… and if you have installed new plugins then you would install them in both places. If you’ve added new images to your media library, you’d need to add them in both places.

Anna Marie: Understood.

Rick: That’s sort of the… that’s the simplest way to work on your local server and on your remote server… I mean, to work on a local copy of your site and then make those changes on your remote site. However, if you’re working on a site like mine, that doesn’t work very well. So what I do is I use Backup Buddy on my main site primarily to clone it so that I can make a local copy of it on my local lamp server. And then… and what I end up doing is throwing away my local site every time I need to make big changes. I just clone the live site. I essentially recreate that clone on my local server. I make whatevear changes I’m going to make to my custom files. I upload those custom files to the live site and then the next time I have to make a big change, I’d repeat that all over again. Because there’s no way for you perfectly synchronize your local site with your remote site because you can’t synchronize the databases.

Anna Marie: Right. You have to copy over the databases each time or create new databases.

Rick: That’s right. You end up copying over the databases each time. It’s really… that’s how I do that. And so you essentially begin to think of your local copy of your site as throwaway. And…

Anna Marie: That’s useful.

Rick: Well…

Anna Marie: That’s really useful. That makes sense. It also means that you want your local site… you’re not going to spend too much fiddling with something and then make a big change. It’s better to make changes incrementally as you go.

Rick: Yes, that absolutely the case. And also, you just… you plan on the development cycle always having those periods where whatever you’re working on locally gets erased and is restored to the current condition of your main site, of your remote site.

Anna Marie: That makes perfect sense. Okay, I think I got it.

Rick: Yeah well, and then…

Anna Marie: It’s just the database service now is… they always scare me. I mean, I have to recreate my local site on a new computer and now I have to do the map servers again and I just started going, “Oh okay.”

Rick: Well, do you have a bunch of sites that you do locally?

Anna Marie: No, I just have my one at the moment.

Rick: Then you should just Bitnami as your… to set up the amp system because Bitnami…

Anna Marie: Say that again?

Rick: Bitnami. Bitnami is really slam dunk for installing WordPress on a local machine, whether it’s a Windows machine or a Linux machine or a Macintosh. And it really is… it’s completely effortless. Its only drawback is it only works if you’re only doing it with one. If you’re like me with several local sites running at the same time because I work on client sites that same way and I have testing sites for my plugins and stuff like that… so I have lots of local sites. I can’t use Bitnami. I have to you know, manage it all through Mamp because that’s just the way it is. But if I was only working on one…

Anna Marie: I’m going to have 2 sites I’m back to Mamp.

Rick: Yeah, if you’re going to have 2 sites, you’re back to Mamp.

Anna Marie: Okay.

Rick: The good news is that after you do it a couple of times, it just becomes normal.

Anna Marie: It stops being scary, right. Okay, thank you.

It’s the first time that’s the hard part.

Anna Marie: I’ve done it once. Okay, thanks Rick.

Rick: You’re absolutely welcome. Have a good day.

Rick: Okay so let’s see, I think Charles’ microphone is fixed because I think I heard him come on earlier. Charles, are you there?

Charles: Can you hear me?

Rick: I can.

Charles: Right.

Rick: So fire away.

Charles: First, I’d like to thank you for this demo. I’m actually using Backup Buddy myself based on your previous recommendation and it’s working great for me.

Rick: Perfect.

Charles: I have a question though. Earlier, you were pegging in a bunch of passwords and it’s a little bit beyond the scope of what we’re doing here. But I was wondering, it doesn’t look like you’re using a password manager and I wonder if this is an issue that I have often. How do you keep track of passwords and at the same time, keep them secure using all the caps and the extra characters? It seems like a chore. You must have used some kind of password manager.

Rick: Well you know, I use mnemonic devices to remember my important password. So while they are strong passwords, they nevertheless have a mnemonic meaning for me. And then sometimes, I do… I write them down and I stick them in a you know, a file that sounds like it. It couldn’t possibly related to the passwords and I just know to go look for it there because I don’t really trust password managers.

Charles: That was the next question I was going to ask you. I knew the password manager called (19.12) and I’m not sure I entirely trust it. It claims to be very secure but we’ve all heard that before.

Rick: Sure. Well, what I rely on is just the massive data that resides on my computer. You know, I have an inocuous sounding file that doesn’t say password or username anywhere in it. And you know, you’d really have to know that’s what you were looking for.

Charles: Right. Thanks for that answer. I have another question about the Search and Replace plugin. Do you just get rid of that once you’re done? Is that just a one time use?

Rick: Yes.

Charles: Okay.

Rick: Because I don’t generally need to do anything like that on database anyway.

Charles: Right. I did use something… I just did it manually when I had a Thesis install and I have some custom code and then I went into the Thesis file and did a search and replace there and that seemed to work okay. But the search and replace looks like that would have been even easier.

Rick: It is very simple and I like that about it.

Charles: And I have one last question. I haven’t used the GoDaddy system too much but you brought up the actual server name. I’m curious, did that just come up when you opened up my php?

Rick: Yes. When you open up php my admin, the server name shows up at the top.

Charles: Okay.

Rick: So if we… let’s just do that in Bluehost for a second. It will do the same thing but we’ll just say local host and not anything else. So this is one of those instances where I don’t remember my password though.

Charles: Right.

Rick: There we go, no. And then you have the problem of you can’t really tell whether or not you forgot the silly thing or you just mistyped it.

Charles: Right. I did read somewhere that the magic number for the length of a secure password is 9.

Rick: Is that right?

Charles: Yeah. I guess it just has to do with the presentation. Once you get to 9, the presentations are so great that I guess it would take a hacker, if you include the extra character, the combinations are just too great.

Rick: Well and I guess I’m a little exposed because people can watch me log in to my accounts you onw, pretty regularly. And so they generally know things like username and length of password. There we go. so there it is up at the top. See where it says local host?

Charles: Right.

Rick: And this is that new php my admin interface so it’s a little different from the GoDaddy one.

Charles: Okay and GoDaddy’s the only one that doesn’t use local host that you know of?

Rick: It’s the only one I’ve worked on that doesn’t use local host. But it probably only worked on you know, 10 or so hosts though.

Charles: Right. And can you use WAMP for your local server for development usually?

Yes.

Charles: And doing… I haven’t done a WordPress install on WAMP but that’s pretty straightforward?

Rick: Yes as long as you have WAMP running properly, installing WordPress on it is very easy. I mean, it’s the traditional 5-minute install. It’s not a one-click install but…

Charles: Right. You have to transfer the file.

Rick: Well, what you have to do is you download the files, unzip them in the appropriate directory, create a blank database and then you run the install routine.

Charles: Okay. And when you were talking about a throwaway local copy, does that mean that you have to recreate a local database every time you create another copy?

Rick: No, I usually use the same database itself over and over again, even though I erase it.

Charles: So you’re just starting out with a blank but all these things installed.

Rick: Yeah. Let’s see, is WAMP running? WAMP is not yet running on my system but once it is… okay, what is my username? Okay, I don’t remember what this is. I was going to show you but…

Charles: That’s okay. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate all your info, Rick. Thank you very much.

Rick: You bet. It’s my pleasure.

Okay let’s see what else we have here for questions because there’s no reason to question… no reason to… I don’t want to quit before I have all of the questions answered. Let’s see, Duncan. Duncan, are you still here? Okay. Good morning Duncan.

Duncan: Yes, good morning.

Rick: Seems like I just talked to you. Weren’t you in last night?

Duncan: Last night, I did. Yeah, last night. You got it. Yeah, I just… well, a couple of things. One is I was going to ask in terms of you know, I had websites for a long time but I’ve always outsourced everything and I want to figure out how to do things myself. So recently, I’ve been using a little bit of WordPress and the DIY and so on. So I’ve got a website now that I’m working on but it’s live. I started it that way you know, I just did it, set it up as a development site and so on. So a couple of questions, one is you know, is there an easy way to take that live site into a development landmark, shall we say, that’s not… one that can’t be found on the internet than to make it live? You know, once it’s ready to go. And the subsequent question is you know, I’d rather say I want it developed so I’m just starting from scratch. It’s the easiest way just to work in a subdomain, even though to set up a subdomain than as a development site and then make it live in the first domain you know?

Rick: Well, when I’m developimg a new site for myself, I don’t bother with that. I just start creating the site in the place it’s going to be. And I also let search engines find it right off the bat. It doesn’t really matter to me. So I have a site right now that is under construction, that actually… it’s not finished being built yet but it does have had peole sign up for it, even people pay to sign up for it even though it’s not done yet. And you know, I just started building it and just let it go as it goes along. You know, I didn’t add a site map to it and start to set up a webmaster’s tools account for it until I was you know, pretty much there. But there’s not really any… I don’t think there’s… there’s not a big benefit in rom my perspective, in hiding your site and then unveiling it at the last possible moment. I think that you know, you’ll get some benefit out of gradually becoming visible with Google. And so I don’t think you really run any risk… I mean you know, as soon as we added a Join button and a Log In button, we connected up our auto responder and we made sure we had a you know, introductory email that went out to anybody who joined saying, “Well you know, we’re not quite there yet but keep your eyes open and we’ll send you out an email as soon as it’s 100%.” But otherwise… I mean, that’s how I approach it. I know other people want this thing to be absolutely hidden until they lift the curtain. But when they do that, they’re starting from 0 on the day they lift the curtain. Me, this site’s already getting indexed by Google you know, 3 months ago or however long ago it was when I had the idea and I started doing the work. And so it already has some traction even if it’s not a satisfying experience for somebody who shows up on the site today. You know, it does have some Google benefit from its repeated indexing and it’s growing content. So that’s how I do it.

Duncan: So I’m trying through the local server and you use that then mainly not for brand new things but for revisions of things that they’re currently writing it on?

Rick: I use the local server primarily for programming. When I have.. when I know that I’m trying to solve a programming problem then I use the local server for that because you know, I just don’t have the back and forth time of setting up a… of setting up the ftp and then you know, ftp-ing it and testing it and ftp-ing it and testing it here, you know, inside of Netbeans. And I’ve got videos on the site about how to do this, about you know, how to set up a Netbeans project inside of a you know, a local installation. But I do all my programming in Netbeans and so Netbeans isn’t just a code editor. It’s an integrated development environment which means it’s smart enough to know how well these files relate to each other. And so if I’m doing a… if I’m doing, for example, I develop all my plugins in this site called test bed. And if I need to check you know, something in a plugin, I can open up the file in Netgeans, make a test, I’ll run that test on a local machine and all that happens much more quickly than if I were say, making a test… making a change in Netbeans then uploading it via ftp and then testing it and so on and so forth. It’s just faster.

And so I generally only do it for sites I’m programming. So I do a lot of programming on BYOB Website so it’s there. You know, this is that big site I’m doing programming on and so is this one. Then I have my testing sites that I use or client sites where I’m doing a bunch of programming before I put it on a development server. And so if the work I’m doing is programming intensive then it goes on to the development server… on a local server first. And if it’s not programming intensive, if I’m just editing CSS and you know, adding a couple of miscellaneous custom functionts, if it’s not really tough programming then I’ll just do it on a live site some place.

Duncan: You’ve mentioned that Bitnami, if you’re doing one site, is it a good option/

Rick: Bitnami is really, really simple if you’re only doing one site. But you can see I actually have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 WordPress installs going on my local server at the moment.

Duncan: So what you’re using… was it… or what is…

Rick: I use WAMP, yeah. There are a variety of options. For Windows, there’s WAMP, ZAMP, and something else. I don’t actually remember. I just use WAMP because that’s what I’ve used for a couple of years. They’re very similar to each other. What’s that?

Duncan: That’s just WEMP, is it?

Rick: WAMP is WAMP. AMP stands for Apache MySQL and PHP and those are the 3 pieces of software that run a web server. And so WAMP is Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP and ZAMP is I don’t know, whatever it stands for. MAMP is Macintosh Apache MySQL and PHP.

Duncan: Thank you.

Rick: You’re welcome.

Okay, let’s see. Are there any other questions in here? Okay actually, Bee… Todd, you asked a question, “Is there a coupon code?” That coupon code is BACKUP2011 and it’s all uppercase. I should just type that here but it’s… let’s see, let’s just go back to the… I don’t know. I’ll just type it out for you. It’s BACKUP… actually, I can just type it in the chat window. It’s all uppercase BACKUP2011. That’s the coupon code. It doesn’t work today but it will work on the 26th until the 31st. Yes, if you click on that link on my site, this plugin, Buddy Link here then I’ll get credit for that sale which means they’ll pay me a little bit of money. But you know, it’s not the worst thing in the world if you don’t do that. But I would cdertainly apprecaite it if you did.

Rick: And then let’s see, Bee, are you still with me or have you given up on me? Where are you here? Oh, there you are, okay. Good morning, Bee. How are you doing?

Bee: Hi, how are you?

Rick: I’m doing good.

Bee: I’m doing fine. Thank you so much for doing this webinar. It is always amazing to learn all this with you. I have a question. I had a successful migration. I was using Backup Buddy. The only issue that I noticed was that the user’s database, when we have like most of our users were authors, when I imported them, the database into the new site for the development site to the new site, the users were convert all of them into subscribers. So my question is… and I have the original backup for the users type. What is the best way to restore that original users type on all this user that have more from authors to subscribers?

Rick: You know, what I would do is I would just… unless it’s too late, I would do what I was going to start to do here earlier which is just restore the backup of the database again and see if there’s a little glitch in that process that threw it off. That’s what I would do. So you don’t have to restore the whole thing. You just restore the database itself.

Bee: Restore that table?

Rick: Well, you could actually. If you’ve got the original database, you could just drop the user meta table and replace it with the old user meta table. So you could do that. And you know, that looks like this. Let’s just say that… let’s see. I want to make sure I’m not screwing up the database that really matters here. Well, let’s just say this one here. I don’t know if this is the one that matters or not. But… oh no, it doesn’t have a… if we look at this database here for a second you know, I could… if you look at the user meta… actually you know, maybe it’s wp user… no, it is user meta here. Is that what I’m looking at? I am looking at wp user meta. You can see it’s wp user meta that has the capabilities which is where that thing comes from. So you could you know, if you’ve got the old database still, you could you know, go back to it. Just drop that table and just cilck it and say that and…well, in the first place, you could export the old table and once it’s exported, it’s download to your site here and then you could go back to it, go back to your new site where it’s screwed up and select user meta. And then you can… well, let’s see. Would you drop the table or would you empty the table? Well, let’s just drop the table. What the heck. See what happens.

So we say yes, we drop that table and then we come back over to import and we choose our file and we just choose that you know, word 10 file. I think I must be losing… I must not be having enough patience with this. Where did it go? Okay so I’m looking for BYOB webs word 10 because there is a 19 so it should have just shown. It should be showing up right here. Oh, here we go. Import Buddy, oh there it is right there.

So then you know, I just hit go and it’s inserted it now and I can come back over here to the thing and look at user meta. And all that user meta will be back… is in there now, right? So it’s a fairly easy thing to do to replace an existing table, especially a WordPress table with the old data. So that’s probably what I would do actually.

Bee: Okay.

Rick: You know, I might actually try just redoing it again first using Backup Buddy. But if that’s the only problem area you have you know, then just exporting the table from the old database, dropping the table from the new database and importing the old table is probably the easiest wayt o handle it.

Bee: Alright. Yeah, that sounds great.

Rick: Okay. Anything else?

Bee: No, that will be it. I just wanted to mention that I made a migration with Backup Buddy and everything went fine. I didn’t have any issues with the path, either for images or URLs inside the content on the website. I didn’t use Search and Replace at all and everything just like transferred perfectly.

Rick: I haven’t done this for a while myself. You kow, I haven’t transferred a site like this for a copule of months or maybe even longer than that. And the last time I did it, some of the you know, the Thesis images get stored in the meta table in the meta… yeah, in post meta. And I found that once upon a time in any case that the Thesis images, the images that were stored in the post meta table for Thesis images didn’t update the URLs. And the same thing I thought was happening with my plugins that plugins when somebody would use a URL to identify an image that would go to one of the plugins I do, that that because of for whatever reason, it was stored inside of a serialized array, inside of the options table and thus the… and thus Backup Buddy didn’t replace it. But clearly, it did this time so it’s obviously moved past that.

Bee: Nice. Yeah and I was using WordPress 3.2.1 and I don’t know if maybe the new version is what is… like causing some conflicts or such. But you know, with the previous release or WordPress, everything was… you know, just went smoothly.

Rick: Yeah. Well…

Bee: Alright. That was it for me today. Thank you so much.

Rick: Okay, did you get the anser… I mean, did the answer that I gave you about getting the Curl library working properly… did that help?

Bee: Yeah, it worked perfect. Do you want me to post something on Facebook so everybody knows that that it does?

Rick: That would be great.

Bee: That way if they run into the same issue…

Rick: That would be great.

Bee: Yeah, that worked and I have installed it on my local server.

Rick: You know, you’re my star pupil now because you’re the first person who’s used that, that screener thing for asking questions. I love it.

Bee: Yay! Awesome.

Rick: Okay well, you have a great day, Bee.

Bee: You too. Bye bye.

Rick: Okay, bye bye.

Okay well it looks like I got all the questions answered here. So we will…

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