Last week I was in Seattle at the MVP Summit. While it was a lot of fun and great to not only hang with my fellow MVPs, I did learn quite a bit. Unfortunately, I also was working at the same time. The work included moving my domain (the website, my e-mail, this blog, etc.) from one hosting provider to another. Let me tell you, as someone who does stuff like this for a living with and for clients, it’s not easy even for my own stuff. Why?
First, a little background: I’ve been using Hosting Company A since I went independent. I’ve had the intermittant issue – mainly with e-mail – since the start. It was annoying at times, but it is what it is. Nothing is perfect, right? Fast forward to January. They were going to “migrate” me to their new platform. They claimed they did a bunch of testing and had scheduled my move … which was last Wednesday. Unfortunately, their definition of testing and my definition of testing were far off. My static pages worked, and my e-mail seemed ok, but my blog was down. Even rudimentary testing would have sussed that out. Having a QA background, needless to say, I was a bit livid. Oh, how I wish my story ended there and it was an easy fix. No. Hosting Company A’s new platform had less control, so debugging was hard to say the least. Between online chats and phone calls, I spent nearly three hours trying to get things up and running. No go.
I asked one of my fellow MVPs what company he used for hosting, and he suggested Hosting Company B. I did a bit of research, and not only are they a bit cheaper, but they would apparently give me what I needed as well. So a few hundred bucks later, and I was set up pretty instantaneously. There were a few niggles, and it’s taken me about a week to resolve some issues in getting this blog back up, but by golly, it’s up. I also had a snag with my MX records, so I couldn’t send e-mail, but they have been very helpful and all seems to be well (finally).
This blog was difficult to get up and running. First, I had to migrate the data from the database it was in (SQL Server, naturally … I try to preach what I practice and use a MS-based blogging tool). That was a combination of exporting data via SSIS (figuring out the order due to PK/FK restrictions) and scripts with INSERT statements. The hosting company finally resolved whatever application issues I was having with IIS7/W2K8 this evening, and now I’m back up and posting again.
Not everything is perfect; unfortunately, I can’t seem to get the comments portion working. I’ll see what I can do.
What’s the moral of this story? Well, testing is your friend would be one possible candidate. Another is practice what you preach (I try to). I guess the real moral is that I am a victim of the same issues you are, and it’s one of the reasons that when I work with you, I can truly relate. I don’t sit here high on my perch where I don’t run into real issues or have to solve some real problems, sometimes creatively.
The other big lesson here is to trust your gut. I’ve had some so-so luck over the years with hosting companies for one reason or another, and in this case, should have moved earlier. My e-mail issues should have been a clue. At random times my e-mail server would be down, and I’d contact their support. They’d say they were doing something. You know, as a guy who does a lot of availability, an e-mail or some sort of message would be nice. Instead, I’m down. As someone who is independent, I depend on that access to communicate with my customers and potential customers. My new hosting company seems pretty solid so far in this way.
Anyway, that’s been my week. Off to finish a few presentations, one of which I deliver this week.