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9 things to do before moving to a new webhost server.

Recently I moved Ravidreams.net from my friend’s web host server and went with the Daddy. Some lessons for those who wanna move their websites to another host:

1. Research. I heard about GoDaddy and was using it for Domain registrations for some months and I just went ahead and bought the web hosting service from them (knowing myself this is not a surprise as I bought my laptop in 5 minutes!). Later I found some other good web host servers with better ranking, packages, support credentials. Before you decide the purchase, ask your friends about their web hosts, the pricing, support and mainly the interface. My former host had a nice Fantastico deluxe enabled control panel. GoDaddy’s control panel was horrible and there was no Fantastico deluxe and I took lot of time before figuring out how to navigate. Being a big company in one service need not guarantee their strengths in another area. So do not trust any brand name for granted.

2. Do not commit if you want to try the service. If you want to try the service, do not commit to purchase web hosting for longer periods. Most web hosts give monthly packages. So, you can try them. But if your site is not small, then moving often can be a trouble. So think twice before trying. And think thrice before trying. Because most of the web hosts give a cheaper rate only if you pay in advance for 2-4 years and it is a lot of money and you cannot cancel it if you find the service is lacking later. So, before you pay think about the money and period you are gonna be committed.

3. Get help in moving the site. GoDaddy did not have this support and it is not a pleasant thing to move data, databases and set them up all again especially when you are a newbie. There are lot of service providers who would help you do this.

4. Backup your data. You never know what happens when moving your site.

5. Support Vs Storage. You gotta decide about this. My previous service provider was a reseller and a small vendor. And he was also my friend. So I could call him for all silly questions and he would generally give great support. It was really important when I was a newbie. I would miss him in odd timings as he cannot afford 24X7 support. But whenever he is available the support is great. In a big company like GoDaddy, I usually get support queries answered in few hours barring the weekends. The answers are vague, formal and impersonal and I miss the personalised and friendly support. Also, I cannot hope to get really tricky questions answered by GoDaddy. But the other advantage with guys like GoDaddy is that the problems with their service can be global and you can hope to find solutions already discussed in Forums. When I moved to GoDaddy initially, I was lost for a while. But, once I found the way now, I benefit more from the almost 1000 times more storage space and bandwidth given by GoDaddy for almost the same price compared to my previous host.

6. Start thinking early before your current hosting expires. Because, then you may have the risk of losing your data if you don;t have backups. Also, if you need time setting up things with the new host, you cannot let your site down for days.

7. Keep an eye on the SQL files. I could not import my SQL database for WordPress since it was too big. There were hacks for splitting them and working around. But I was too lazy to try them all and went for importing just the xml file backup into wordpress. I really screwed this up as the import assigned new page and post Ids and lot of my links went broken and I had to manually fix them. Also, there is bug for UTF-8 encoding in WordPress. I forgot to fix this before importing and all the Tamil text became ???? marks 🙁 Though you can avoid these careless mistakes and can redo things always, I would suggest one small tip to get the links intact: Always, link to the post title based PermaLink URL and do not link by post or page ids. This way, even if the page ids change in the moving, the PermaLinks and hence the internal links stay alive.

8. Risk the chicken. If you have more than one site and if one of them happens to be of lesser importance, try moving it first. This will allow you to afford mistakes and learn from them and you can move the important sites later with peace of mind.

9. Go for shared hosting. Most of the web hosting providers give a shared hosting plan for a slightly higher price than the basic plan. Go for it. This would allow you host multiple sites under the same account and save you lot of money. Even if you don’t have additional sites now, you may always have some in future or you may gift your best friends with a free hosting. With hosting becoming very cheap, you always have lot of storage space, right?

And there is one more thing which you should do after moving.

Write a blog post like this 🙂

Time saving and management tips for online chat

1. Do not be logged into any chat application by default all the time you are online. If you could follow this, then half the time you spend in online chats would be saved. Having status mode as busy / don’t disturb doesn’t really help. Our best friend’s first job is to buzz! us 🙂 . Login / Logout notifications from contacts could be distracting too. If you are really busy, if you don’t have a plan to chat with someone, if you don’t have your regular contacts online, LOGOUT NOW from the chat.

2. Do not start any chat application during the system startup. First, it slows down your startup time. Second, you could really be caught with lot of chat windows before you do the things for which you started the system actually. So turn off the option to open it during system startup.

3. Use Google talk or the chat within Gmail. Google talk is really a small app. It can be downloaded fast and installed easily and also starts up without delay. It has a clean and simple interface so you won’t be wasting time exploring / using / understanding the needless ‘coool’ features and cluttered menus.

4. Use one chat client at a time. Right now, I use Google talk for text and or voice chat. Yahoo messenger for video chat. Skype is bulky and slows down your system and I had bad experiences with its sound quality and connectivity. So I don’t use Skype. For calling phones in India, you can use JustVoip. It is cheap and has good sound quality. I don’t really understand the need to have more than one chat client kept opened at a time. I suggest having Google talk as the primary client and then to make choices among others when the need arises for video / audio chat / calls.

5. Do not use chat rooms. They are THE time-killers. Grow up. I can’t imagine a single useful thing that can be done in chat rooms.

6. Whenever possible go for voice chat. It reduces the time and effort needed to type. Speaking is faster and clearer. Calling needs a minimal agenda traditionally. So, you would think twice before calling whereas in text chat you wouldn’t think before starting to type that hi, how’s life which could have been avoided very well. Speaking needs some kind of rapport with the guy at the other end. If you don’t get into that rapport you are more probable to end the chat soon unlike in text chats where you keep saying bye c u for 10 times and before saying it the 11th time you remember something and the chat keeps dragging. Voice chat as a habit and priority will keep you away from chat during working hours in office because it is not easy to voice chat for ever without being watched by colleagues.

7. Do not use chat as a time pass. There are lot more ways to pass time in a healthy, funny and useful manner.

8. Do not use chat for replying to emails unless you have a situation to troubleshoot immediately or you expect a reply immediately. Emails can be short and to the point saving you lot of time.

9. Do not hesitate to decline chat invitations from unknown people and avoidable contacts or to block existing contacts who keep distracting / disturbing you. It is perfectly ok.

10. Stay in invisible mode if you want to focus chatting with a particular contact. Too many chat windows can be distracting and time consuming.

11. You don’t really need to start a chat when you see a contact appear online. We don’t call someone everyday just because he has a mobile phone. Applying the same logic, you need not chat all the time when you see a contact appear online. You need not fear that you will be mistaken as a cold / unfriendly character.

Remember that online chat is not the only way to stay connected with people close to you who would really matter in the real world / time. I always call / visit my best friends and family or get calls / visits from them and they rarely come for an online chat. If used wisely, online chats can be a good productivity / social networking tool saving you money and time.