Bye Bye WordPress.com, Hello TSOhost.co.uk

Back in 2008 I started this blog by signing up to WordPress and grabbing a free account. It’s been around two years now, and I’ve found that despite only having low traffic, I’m now wanting a little more functionality from my blog. WordPress.com is great, but I have found it to be a little restrictive in some cases where extra functionality might be helpful.

This weekend therefore became one for moving form the WordPress.com free hosted plan to a more comprehensive subscription. Having read around a little I decided that TSOhost would be a great choice for me; low cost subscription, more functionality than I had previously experienced with WebFusion, and the opportunity to install WordPress for myself and install a bundle of extra features not readily available at WordPress.com (or at least not without buying a number of add-ons).

TSOhost.co.uk offer a range of packages, but I’ve just chosen the Lite subscription. For only £14.99 per year, I get three MySQL databases, half a gigabyte of disk space, five gigabytes of bandwidth and the usual mailboxes and other now ubiquitous features; you can read more over at the TSOhost service comparison. A feature I haven’t seen before is the automated installation of applications. With Softaculous, you can install in a matter of moments current versions of a whole range of web applications. No need to faff around downloading zip or tar archives and then setting permissions; Softaculous does it all for you.  I was a bit dubious about whether this was really going to work for me (having done all previous installations of any web tool by hand), but the experience was really pretty good, and I was up and running in only a matter of minutes. It looks like the package maintenance is pretty good too – I was amazed to see an install option for Moodle 2 in the list!

I did a couple of things as part of the moving process. Firstly, took an export of all content from my outgoing WordPress blog; this left me with an XML archive of all pages, posts and comments to upload afterward. The upload process was really easy, and the only thing missing was the media (all photos) I had linked to my posts. Images were still present, but embedded as objects from the original blog location, which importantly means that they continue to appear as expected. I have taken out one additional add-on from WordPress.com: a site redirect. Taking all my content and moving to a new location has been an easy process, but I don’t want visitors to experience any confusion when they end up either at the old blog, or the new one. So, having purchased the site redirect (which will work for one year), I am hopeful I’ve ensured visitors always end up looking at the right content.

There are a number of things I still have on my to-do list. Having been used to the Twenty Eleven theme over at WordPress.com, I now have realised that there is so much more to this theme than I initially reaslied. Spending some time working out whether the showcase page and featured post options are useful to me might be first, making sure I have the very best content featured on the site landing page. After this I want to review the method I have for posting images, which is currently just to upload a snapshot processed with Instagram; I’m really keen to get in-line images looking much more tightly aligned with the article layout.

Oh, and I still need to find a good header image; site looks so dull without an image or two on the front page!

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