This is probably one of those posts that is set to tempt fate, but three years after moving to the self-hosted version of WordPress, I am mostly delighted I made the move.
You may remember that two years ago I wrote what so far turns out to have been my most popular post: Self-hosted WordPress: what I’ve learnt in my first year. I had a few problems in the first year, some of which had me tearing my hair out, worrying about my readers and followers, and locked out of my blog unable to get in.
You learn a lot in three years. Not only me, but WordPress seems to have learnt a lot:
- several of the problems of the first year can be traced back directly to issues with WordPress itself (both hosted and self-hosted), and – touch wood – those haven’t reared their ugly heads for over twelve months, if not more
- Jetpack plug-in not upgrading itself properly seems to have been solved: in the last ten months at least, every upgrade has completed properly, and the buttons for liking and sharing have appeared as they should (it was a symptom of an incomplete upgrade that they didn’t)
- since I understood after the first year that problems were often down to plug-in upgrades I took them one step at a time, so didn’t get in an unholy mess with any of them again
- I run regular virus checks from my hosting control panel, and haven’t had any further troubles
One of the best things that came along was Wordfence. It is a massively powerful security package, perfectly usable by the non-techy blogger. Although many of the news items sound techy to start with, they become fascinating, hearing of Wordfence’s adventures with data hacking without needing to know more. Wordfence initially caused me slow-down problems, and sometimes it caused my host to trigger something that said I was being hacked! That has been sorted out and I’ve had no trouble (oh, I hope all this wood-touching works) for around eighteen months now. All of the reasons for this are behind the scenes – Wordfence and WordPress working together more closely; improvements in server speeds, and improvements in my own internet connection all combine to make life very much easier. And running everything from a Mac with the right processor capacity is a big help, too!
I still haven’t got on board with SEO, although I had a post drafted for a year to tell you what it all meant, hoping it would help me work it all out myself! Maybe I should, and maybe it would increase my exposure via search engines, but then again, I get people finding me on search engines, and I don’t want to attract the wrong sort of attention, even if Wordfence can handle it. I’m not a commercial site, I don’t have critical processes running, and sometimes it’s just as well not to get too clever about these things (while being clever enough to keep yourself secure).
The main thing I see developing is the shift from standard web applications on desktop and laptop computers, to tablets and mobile phones. I saw one blog recently alleging that 80% of webtraffic is now via mobile devices, a claim that was promptly negated by someone else, pointing out that the type of traffic is different, and mobile devices demand more ‘traffic’ than stationary ones (including laptops), since desktops and laptops manage more of the ‘traffic’ internally. I don’t know if that’s true, but it makes sense to me, since a mobile device is more likely to be running maps, searching for consumer items (including food), using comms and social networks, as well as monitoring via GPS, all the time it is on. As I write this I have 7 tabs open on my browser, email open, and my writing pages open, so what I’m doing is actually on the computer. Apart from email updating in the background, it’s only when I save and publish that will I be creating ‘traffic’.
But as you saw last week, I felt it important enough to upgrade this blog so it was more accessible (and more professionally presented, I hope) to mobile devices. Some options I explored seemed great for mobile devices, but rubbish for the general desktop or laptop user. I suspect most of my readers are computer based rather than mobile, especially after our discussions about Instagram last year. So, having a good product on PCs and Macs is most important to me. I hope the recent update suits you, too.
I thought that for balance I should say some of the downsides of switching to WordPress.org, the self-hosted version.
Five minutes later, the only thing I can think of is if WordPress decide to force me to use their ‘new easier posting experience’ instead of the dashboard based one that does everything I want of it, with all my options visible and easy to access. Since WordPress.com users are nearly stuck with transitioning to this ill-designed nannygoat (try scrolling right down the menu to WPAdmin, and you’ll get the old dashboard back), it’ll probably be forced on me eventually. Then it might be time to transition to something else entirely.
A brief word about Blogger blogs, since I use one, Princelings Publications. You don’t get these problems with Blogger. I’ve never been locked out of blogger except when they had scheduled maintenance. They now admit they have spam, and say they send it to a spam area. There aren’t many fancy designs. Blogger is for blogging, and most of the design elements are made up from people finding unique wallpapers and designing their own badges. It is probably easier to blog with Blogger. I suspect it hasn’t as much potential though. And I don’t know what Blogger (aka Google) does with my data.
Thanks for being with me, especially you who’ve been with me for the last four or even five years. I’d also like to thank my latest followers, it’s good to meet you!
11 thoughts on “Self-hosted WordPress | Three years on”
I’m very impressed that you’re self-hosting! I’m straddling the fence a bit, with my personal website on the hosted, “pro” WordPress and the “work” websites being sort of self-hosted. I say “sort of” because our websites at work are way too big to work on a laptop or regular desktop, so rather than deal with self-hosting on our in-house server (our company email is there along with everything else) we have local developers hosting on their servers with far more capacity than we have.
I completely agree with your thoughts on the “New, Easier” interface. I was so happy when I stumbled on the trick for getting back to the old one!
I do wonder – if you’re self-hosting, what kind of internet connection speed do you have to handle the traffic? We can get decent speeds with basic cable, but getting a business-class high-speed connection can start to get expensive.
Keep up the good work!
I just tested my broadband speed with an independent ‘best buy’ site: download speed 63.15 Mbps and upload speed 12.15Mb. I’m on BT Infinity (a home tariff), one of their better fibre connections. There’s been a big push here to upgrade out-of-city connections; my local exchange (2.8 miles away according to speed test, and I have no idea where that might be) got upgraded in Sept 2015 and by luck I moved onto it the next week, although they hadn’t announced it, I just checked on the right date! It’s good today (and now, 9.05 on a Monday morning, and I got online 50 mins ago so nicked a good connection!) but can be problematic from time to time: Saturday was slow, probably the broad of the broadband isn’t enough when everyone is wanting to use online games and streaming. It can be interesting seeing where my IP address is listed: sometimes I come from the nearest town (12 miles away, not where the exchange is) sometimes from Cambridge, 75 miles away, occasionally from Scotland! BT just send these things round their network to optimise usage I guess.
For anyone reading this who thinks ‘I don’t know what she’s talking about’, neither did I three years ago. All part of continuous learning! 🙂
Thinking some more about the “New, easier’ interface: you can probably access the old one by typing ‘wp-admin’ after your homepage URL as well.
I just don’t get the new, easier (allegedly) posting experience either. They have hidden it more deeply recently and, like you, I suspect eventually the standard dashboard will disappear for us all. I wouldn’t go back to Blogger though, I much prefer WordPress.
I was wondering why they have designed it so that it hides all the sensible things you want to use; trouble with me is I did my human-computer interaction course in the 1990s, when the psychology of users seems to have been different (!). Then I thought of little things they’ve changed that they shouldn’t, and wonder why they do that… and decided maybe they respond to the requests from users on their blog or forum pages.
Of course, all of us that like it as it was don’t use the blog or forum pages.
Hey WordPress!! Try listening to the silent majority for a bit!!
PS see my last comment to momdude about typing ‘wp-admin’ after your homepage url and see if it works for you.
I find it from the menu – though my pc remembers where I want to go and takes me right there, so I only need to navigate if I’m on another computer. But yes, that’s another option worth remembering. Maybe if we all keep refusing to switch they’ll notice! The new one is more like the app which I love for managing comments (using it right now) but avoid for posting.
I’ve watched this transition with interest. I’m a Blogger blogger, and haven’t been motivated to change, though I’d kind of like to have a built-from-scratch web page for myself. I don’t want to get into the whole self-hosting thing, though, as I need a stable place for the blog to live, and in the next few years our own internet may be anything but stable as we transition to retirement. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be sticking with Blogger…but I may take the time somewhere in here to change up the look of my page!
That’s a very good point, Rebecca – free blogs go on forever (unless they do an inspection and delete any that seem to be unused); self-hosted ones only go on till your hosting package runs out.
Hi Jemima – thanks for this and the amount of information you’ve included – it’s fascinating to read. I don’t fully understand it (as I’d expect) … but I do like adding a little bit of learning to my knowledge base … I started to go with WP, but couldn’t get it to function and so started with blogger – but rather wish I’d pursued WP …
Thanks for keeping us updated with your experiences … cheers Hilary
For a moment I couldn’t remember why I’d started on WordPress, but then I remembered that it was the basis of the website for a group I joined when I first moved to Norfolk, and I got involved with updating it. From little acorns huge sprawling oak trees grow!!
glad you did, Jemima. I think it’s how I found you!
Yes! Lost in the mists of time 🙂
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