Web Hosting for High-Traffic Websites

You may want to start with the introduction to figure out what the hell I’m talking about.

Once I was able to clear some technical hurdles on the seller’s side, transferring the blogs posts, images, and database for highyieldsavingsaccounts.net to my own web server was a breeze.

First, I’ll describe my current hosting set-up — and that wouldn’t be fun without history and context — and then I’ll get into the transfer process. Warning: This post might get a little technical.

I built and hosted my first website in 1994 or 1995. I was a freshman at college, and every dorm on campus was wired with ethernet and connected to the internet. The University of Delaware was an early pioneer of connectivity. While reading Usenet newsgroups — it might have been rec.arts.drwho or rec.arts.music.drumcorps — I saw other people were signing their messages with a string of characters beside their name. It wasn’t Geek Code; the strings started with “http.”

Searching more newsgroups, I discovered that this was a web address (URL) and then I learned that the World Wide Web was a thing that existed. I download Mosaic and viewed some websites (“home pages”). It was like gopher, but with graphics. And I was a SysOp of my own bulletin board system before heading to college, so I knew right away I needed a website of my own.

I installed WinHttpd, learned HTML by looking at the source code of other websites, and named my computer pkfloyd.dksn.udel.edu. I built my home page and it told the world a little bit about me and had a GIF of Penfold from Danger Mouse.

At some point, the university stopped allowing students to run websites out of their dorm rooms. I wonder if that had something to do with porn.

I found other ways — eventually buying my own domain name: harlanlandes.com.

At that time web hosts were popping up, and one of the most popular out there was Dreamhost. Shared hosting was perfect for mostly-static websites. I had a “blog” in the early days as much as you could without blogging software. Every time I wanted to publish a new post, I edited the HTML manually. Then came Blogger. Then came Movable Type. With Movable Type came more resource-intensive software for blogging. The shared hosting solutions, where web hosts stuff as many websites as possible from as many customers as possible onto the hardware, needed to be more powerful.

I moved from Dreamhost to MediaTemple. I moved from a shared hosting option on MediaTemple to a virtual private server. And when Consumerism Commentary was in its prime, I moved from MediaTemple to Amazon AWS. When I started with hosting in 1999, it cost less than $5 a month at Dreamhost. When I sold Consumerism Commentary, my hosting fees were almost $500 a month with Amazon.

Today, my sites don’t generate nearly as much traffic now than they did when I sold Consumerism Commentary, but I still host them on Amazon AWS, doing the server administration myself. (The plan is much less expensive now that I don’t need the power for a high-traffic website.)

And that’s the hosting set-up to which I moved highyieldsavingsaccounts.net after I made the purchase. It shares the server (m4.xlarge) with other sites, but I am still not using anything approaching the server’s 16 GB RAM and 300 GB hard drive capacity.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a super fast server and a unique IP address, I would be happy to host and administer your site.

The seller and I used Backup Buddy, a WordPress plugin, to seamlessly move the site’s assets to my hosting set-up. While the plugin was generating the backups, I assigned a subdomain of one of my existing domain names to be a placeholder for the new site. I mapped that subdomain to a subdirectory on my server where I would be placing the purchased site’s files. I prepared a new MySQL database to hold the site’s data.

I uploaded the Backup Buddy export to my server and ran the script. Everything worked as expected, and the identical site was now available at the subdomain I configured.

Once this was complete, the seller and I initiated the transfer of the domain name. This is another straightforward process, but that didn’t stop me from screwing it up for the first attempt. I blame the typos on my keyboard. Anyhow, another day or two or three, and the domain name transfer was complete. I changed the DNS records to point to my Amazon server.

Now the domain name was accessing my web host, not the seller’s host. The final step was updating the database to use highyieldsavingsaccounts.net instead of the temporary subdomain I created for the transfer. Once complete, I gave the OK to the seller to eliminate his files and shut down service on his host.

The process took a little longer than I would have liked, just like the length of this post, but that’s mostly my fault for having a significant number of things to do besides concern myself with the transfer. But it was done at this point, and the site was exactly the same as it had been under the seller’s ownership.

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