This past Monday I was lucky to have the opportunity of giving a talk at the Boston WordPress Meetup. This was my first time giving a talk of this nature, and overall it was a fun experience. I enjoy talking about controversial topics within the WordPress community, and migrating WordPress can definitely be one of those topics. The reason being that there are many different methods of doing it, and each have their pros and cons.

A lot of the feedback and conversation I had with attendees during the presentation was that there are plugins available to do some or all of the steps I performed manually in my live demo. And I can appreciate that, because everyone is at a different level with their WordPress skills, or willingness to get down and dirty in the database to do some rearranging (which can be scary at times!).

My fear with plugins however, is this: They won’t serve 100% of the purpose 100% of the time. Even the best of plugin developers can’t account for all configurations of hosting and databases, though I do give kudos for taking on such a big task. The other issue is that some plugin developers stop supporting their plugins after a while, especially free ones. Sometimes that’s ok if it’s a simple plugin that doesn’t rely on too much, but something like migrating WordPress would depend greatly on WordPress Core. And with even the slightest change in a new version, the plugin could instantly become a digital paperweight.

The benefit of migrating a site by hand however is that it applies to all hosting. As with many things WordPress, you’ll run into variations depending on your hosting environment, Core version, plugins, etc. But with a little knowledge and practice you can easily get around those types of things, and not need to rely on plugins or paid services in the process. A fellow WordPress enthusiast said it best: “I can build a career off of experience, I can’t build a career off of someone’s plugin.” Well said sir!

One thing I wanted to be sure of addressing here is the issue I ran into with importing the .SQL file during the live demo. The strange thing is that it worked properly that morning, but not when I needed it to… just my luck! Anyways, once I changed over all of the URLs in the .SQL file to the new structure, some of the theme options didn’t carry over. This is because some themes and widgets store info as serialized data and don’t use the URL in the .SQL file. A fix to this (as quoted from the Moving WordPress Codex page) is:

  1. Only perform a search and replace on the wp_posts table.
  2. Use the Search and Replace for WordPress Databases Script to safely change all instances. (If you are a developer, use this option. It is a one step process as opposed to the 15-step procedure)

I’m glad I had the opportunity to present at the meetup and look forward to doing it again soon. It’s always nice to get feedback from the crowd, and I intend on tweaking the sticky points before presenting on the topic again at a future WordPress Meetup.

Did you attend the talk on Monday? Please take a moment and rate me on SpeakerRate. I’m also always open to feedback and suggestions on how to make my presentations better. Just drop me a line. Thanks!

Collin Matthews

Collin Matthews

Entrepreneur. Runner. Content Creator.


  • Avatar Jerry Milo Johnson says:

    Good talk, and thanks for posting your slides.

    We are going through a round of redevelopment for our websites, and I think there are a couple of ideas here we are going to use.

    • Avatar Collin says:

      Thanks Jerry, glad I could be of assistance. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any tips or want to discuss further.

  • Avatar Jerry Milo Johnson says:

    The slides were working fine yesterday, but today they seem to cut off after slide 3. Am I doing something wrong?

    What plugin are you using for the reviewer comments?

    • Avatar Collin says:

      Hi Jerry,

      I’m not sure what’s going on with the slides. I just tested it in Safari, Chrome and Firefox on a Mac and everything loaded properly. Are you still having trouble? If so, what operating system and browser version are you using to access the slides?

      For the reviewer comments, do you mean this system here for the blog posts? If so, it’s just the default WordPress commenting system with the JetPack plugin installed for hovercards etc. Then I have some CSS set up in my theme to make it look nice with the nesting and such.

      • Avatar Jerry Milo Johnson says:

        User error.

        I was trying to use a right scroll to move between slides. Too much time today testing responsive paging mechanisms. Left/right keys were the correct answer.

        And the feedback plugin I can now see was Zendesk, which I will be checking out tonight.

        Already have a handful of live staging environments in place for team reviews next week.

        Thanks for all the help.

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