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Move Website Hosting with MediaTemple SiteMover

Published by Chris Coyier

CSS-Tricks has always been hosted on MediaTemple. It started out on their inexpensive grid service (gs). In all honesty, I was never a huge fan of (gs). It eventually outgrew (gs) and I moved it to their dedicated virtual (dv) service and I've had very few issues in the many years it has been there. Nothing major and nothing they couldn't quickly resolve. They have pretty great customer service, including paying attention on Twitter (all too rare).

MediaTemple is now declaring EOL (End of Life) for the 3.0 and 3.5 versions of the (dv) service. Their main reasoning is that the installed version of Plesk, the server management software on those servers, is also being EOL'd by the company that makes it. I'm not sure why Plesk can't be upgraded, but nonetheless, I've been wanting to move everything to a 4.0 (dv) because they are more badass anyway. They are more upgradable, faster in general, running newer software, and, you know, not going away.

Dreading the Move

I have 20ish sites between two (dv)'s. My process would likely be:

  1. I'd use FTP to download all the files from each of the sites (I don't yet have every single site on my servers with complete version control).
  2. Re-upload them to the new server. That would probably mess with a bunch of file permissions and be slow as dirt.
  3. Google for the 100th time the exact terminal commands to export a database as a mySQL file (30-40 of those).
  4. Log in via Plesk again and use the file browser thing to download those files.
  5. Upload them to the new server and figure out the commands to make new databases and import the data. During that process I'd probably screw up character encodings or something else weird and crazy that's never happened to me before.
  6. Switch the DNS to point at the new server. But first I'd forget to set the "time to live" on the DNS to a short period, so when it screwed up and I had to re-point back at the old site, it would take 24 hours each time.
  7. Go insane.

I know just enough about server stuff to get it done, but I'd probably go completely gray and be a generally unlikeable person for a week.

So instead...

I noticed MediaTemple starting to offer a SiteMover service. For $150 per site, they'll move it. Of course they will move it from some MediaTemple hosting to different MediaTemple hosting, but they will also do it from other hosting services or even away from MediaTemple.

I totally jumped on this. I would way rather spend my time working on all the other fun and important projects I have going on right now than spend time moving sites.

Full disclosure: MediaTemple hooks me up with free hosting as they do many other web design-y sites. I do see this post as a thank you for that, but I absolutely wouldn't do it if I thought their hosting or support sucked.

My experience

My experience with SiteMover was fantastic. I did, as you would expect, almost no work at all. I'd say it took them about 3-4 hours to move the 5 or so sites I have on the CSS-Tricks (dv). There were a couple of minor things we needed to fix (e.g. ensure WordPress media uploader worked), which they did readily. They even helped re-install some third-party server level software that I never would have been able to figure out.

My only gripe was that they probably should have been more clear about the data transfer timing. They did warn me not to post any new posts, but I didn't think about the forums. I think we lost about and hour or two of new forums posts, which is a bummer, but not a disaster. We may have lost a couple of blog comments as well, not quite sure. We would have been better suited tossing up a quick "down for maintenance" page across the site and then yanking it down after the transfer was done.

And

They can move your domain as well, which can be just as this.

I should also say, if you decide to go with MediaTemple hosting, the coupon code csstricks20 gets you 20% off the monthly cost. Coupon no longer valid.

Comments

  1. Hey Chris! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! We love your site and we’re grateful for your kind and honest words.
    We’ll be sure to pass on your feedback about the timing with data transfer to the Otto team.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Idk if it would be right for me but it’s always nice to know.

  3. CentDev
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m pretty sure it could be done at $0 cost using Plesk’s built-in Migration Manager. You simply go into Plesk on the new server, go in the Migration Manager and put in the login information of the other Plesk server. It will then show you a list of sites, you choose the ones you want to move and it will bring the entire thing over setting up hosting, moving the DB, email accounts, FTP logins, etc. If you DB config for the site is pointing to “localhost” then there’s nothing else you will need to do other than point your domain name to the new server IP. If your DB config is pointing to an IP address other than local, then that’s the only file you will need to update.

    Total cost: $0

    • While Plesk Migration Manager may work for some people, it will not carry over changes that were made outside of Plesk. For example, if a database was created via SSH, migration manager won’t move it. There are server level configurations and changes that won’t be carried over. Also, using the migration manager from Plesk 8 to Plesk 10 can be problematic.
      One last note- many other hosts do not use Plesk and neither does our (gs) Grid-Service so SiteMover is a great option for those customers as well.

    • CentDev
      Permalink to comment#

      Understood. My comment was related to moving from a DV to another DV which would (as far as I know) both have Plesk. I’ve migrated sites using Plesk between different versions without any problems. I think for the most part unless something is really custom, users would create the DB in Plesk. If someone is using the command line to manage MySQL then they probably have enough know how to move a site manually — tar with a mysqldump, wget across, untar and mysql import.

      I wasn’t trying to take away future business, just illustrating a free option.

    • I did the built in plesk migration from a (mt) dv3.5 to a dv4.0 before they offered migration services and had very little issues at all.

  4. Permalink to comment#

    Has anyone used VE? Just curious what the difference is. I’m currently on GS and it’s been pretty decent but it would be nice to have neat things like root access and be separated from the grid, but I don’t really need the power of DV (I don’t really host sites).

    • The (dv) Dedicated-Virtual Server already has LAMP installed (with Plesk), while a (ve) Server is a completely blank dev server where you would need to install LAMP and everything else on it. You have your choice of several Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and CentOS distributions. If you have any more questions about this, please feel free to contact us! Twitter @mediatemple, the sales chat on our home page, or the contact us form: http://mediatemple.net/company/contact.php

  5. Mark
    Permalink to comment#

    Downloading and uploading all files via FTP seems slow, I prefer to use cPanel etc. to create a zip on the server, then download that, re-upload to new server and unzip.

    Hmmm would I purchase a ‘move my site’ service, I guess I would if I had loads of sites. Moving sites isn’t something I do very often, so would prefer the ‘experts’ to do most of the heavy-lifting.

  6. peter
    Permalink to comment#

    Did you not write that mediatemple is declaring EOL of the server, surely it should be their responsibility to move you to another server for FREE…. ?

    • They would, eventually, let it go through an automated moving process, but I would never risk that.

    • Chris is correct- we will migrate accounts (for free). However, we strongly recommend doing the migration yourself if you have any sort of custom Plesk or server configuration at all. An automated migration may cause problems if there have been any changes made outside of Plesk.

  7. dj
    Permalink to comment#

    Curious – so your outlay was over $700? Or, does your one account count as the “site” with the others as “sub domains” (or whatever they call it?

  8. Hey man, thanks for the review. We just started with their DV hosting a couple moths ago and I’ve been going back and forth about paying them to transfer sites for me. The goal was to the the 30+ sites away from Siteground and they’re all built with a CMS as well. Tell me though, will they do the domain transfer as well as the site transfer and how does setting up emails fit in there if they do?

  9. Good to know others are using MT as well. I found them after getting kicked off Dreamhost for too much traffic. They also doubled their GPUs which was 1,000 (i almost left them because I kept overshooting it and had to pay up the !@#).

  10. pioSko
    Permalink to comment#

    This isn’t an article… it’s spam. Pure and simple.

    20 sites * $150?
    Are you telling me that you’d pay $3000 just to move sites?

    Any.. ANY business owner, company director, project manager or accountant would laugh at you if you came to them and proposed that the company fork out $3000 for, not only something the company can do themselves for free, but something that you were hired to do!

    • MarkV
      Permalink to comment#

      BUT what if you had $50,000 worth of work and a tight deadline to finish on. $3k is nothing if there a missed deadline and penalties involved. Also depends on how much your time is worth.

    • Alex
      Permalink to comment#

      Agreed, there are Indian guys (from India) that would work cheaper and faster than any script available.

    • I am pretty sure that they moved his sites for free. They are already given him free hosting. Why would they not move the sites for him? It only takes 10-15 minutes per site, and he is a pretty big client for them from the looks of it.

    • @pioSkio- SiteMover is not the best option for everyone. It’s specifically for customers who fit into one of or both of these situations: 1) the customer’s time is valued at a price & budget that works with the SiteMover cost. 2) the customer has some (or little) knowledge and skill with migrating sites, but is not 100% confident in their abilities to do the work without issue in a timely manner. Chris basically explained that he fit into both of these categories.

      @Alex- There is not simply one script that is run and *poof* all is migrated and set up. There is a team of people who gather info, migrate the content, test plugin functionality, ensure system paths are updated in databases, etc. They ensure sites are functioning 100% properly. There is also ongoing support in the event that something on the site is not functioning as it should post-migration. It’s “Human Powered” migration. :)

      @Drew Clardy- The time to migrate sites varies but on average it is much longer than 10-15 minutes, not including the time to make sure everything is configured properly. Simply moving data from point A to point B does not always equal migrated & functioning 100%. Also see my above comment to pioSkio re: the type of customer SiteMover is best suited for.

      Thanks for all of your comments, everyone!

  11. Interesting post mate, I’m on GS at the min, but thinking of upgrading for better performance.

    • Moving to a (dv) Dedicated-Virtual Server doesn’t always ensure “better performance”- it just depends on your needs and abilities. Have you contact support regarding your (gs) concerns? Please get in touch! Open a support request or hit us up on Twitter @mediatemple. We’d love to talk to you!

  12. Permalink to comment#

    I love MediaTemple’s service, especially their (dv) servers, but I was forced to downgrade to (gs) a short time back due to budget constraints and then ultimately away from MediaTemple entirely due to the same concerns. (It’s amazing what getting laid off does to one’s budget and the need to cinch one’s belt as tight as possible.) I’m with HostGator right now, but if I ever get the chance to go back to MediaTemple (dv), I’ll do it. I highly recommend that service.

  13. We are currently experiencing great displeasure with GoDaddy and considering a move to Media Temple. We have about 250 sites and currently one dedicated (not virtual) server that, while probably beefy enough to work for us, they are not great at managing. For example, they recently replaced a failing hard drive and when they restored it, many things had been reset to their defaults – particularly changes we’d made to php.ini files that seem to have just been replaced with defaults. :-(

    Anyway, my question about MT is … we are thinking that getting a few (probably 4) of their dv servers and spreading our sites out among them is the best plan. Anybody have any thoughts on hosting a large number of (mostly smaller) sites?

    Thanks!

    • CentDev
      Permalink to comment#

      I think it really depends on how your sites are configured, traffic patterns, etc. You won’t get the same performance from a DV than a dedicated box whether at Media Temple or any other company. With 250 sites, you may want to split it up on some grid server accounts and only have the sites with the highest traffic or those demanding better performance on dv servers. Though if you’re looking for redundancy, then maybe speak with them about their complex hosting for load balancing and replication/HA. The only problem I’ve found with (gs) accounts is their 20MB max php upload so if that’s an issue with those smaller sites then my suggestion of splitting things over gs and dv won’t work.

    • @Delford- Yes, what CentDev said. :) Please feel free to contact us & we can discuss what plan(s) would best fit your needs. http://mediatemple.net/company/contact.php or Twitter @mediatemple

      @CentDev- Thanks for your input! Also, just a note: that 20MB limit can be increased via php.ini, but you only have 2 min worth of execution time. 20MB is happy medium that works for most people based on their connection speeds.

  14. David Higginbotham
    Permalink to comment#

    I am a longtime supporter of (mt). From their GS to their DV I’ve most likely got about 10 or so clients. It’s nice because with my company I don’t retain hosting — so adding me as an Administrative contact has always been a breeze to switch between accounts.

    I suppose there are trolls under every bridge, just none here. Great article, I’ve pitched their siteMover to clients in the past without issue.

    In my case this is how it would break down:

    $150.00 vs 5 hours @ $175.00/hr… It’s really easy Math.

  15. Thanks for sharing your experience Chris. Many things that i’ve learned from this site.

  16. Hey Chris,

    I totally agree that Media Temple is awesome. I am on their base-model $50/month plan for 4.0 (dv) service right now and I love it.

    Little caution, don’t install the Plesk billing bundle if you are on the 512MB RAM model, it nearly overloaded my server when I installed it….crazy….

    But anyways, I still think $150 is a lot just to move a measly site.

    If you are a large organization with a HUGE site, then maybe, but you would be paying over $3000 to move your 20 sites. That’s a bit outrageous for one is going to take someone less than a day to do.

  17. Awesome Chris. I have been considering moving to MT, I don’t really need it now, but I’m always preparing for success and seeking the best/industry standard service around. Seems like a smart move for my personal site & my client sites. Thanks for this post. Part of our job is to experience something random that breaks something you didn’t know could be broken, which is a total mind blow, then dig the ditch necessary to figure it out and hopefully remember it later when it happens again. Haha.

    Looking forward to backing your KS project (next paycheck…checks watch & calendar) to help you work on your own. You have helped me so much and I really appreciate it. Working for yourself is the best and you have tons of assets to offer the web community, anything we can do to keep you around, doing your thing. Good luck brother.

    Seth Hall
    Middle8Media
    New River Releasing

  18. EOL is a term that easily gets bandied about. “Don’t fret the small stuff”.

  19. I switched to Media Temple a few months back from dreamhost. It has been pretty nice except I’ve noticed I’ve gotten some website related junk in my physical mail box. Makes me wonder if Media Temple is selling out information.

    • We definitely to not sell information. It is not uncommon for domains (across all registrars) with whois info not made private to be trolled by web industry companies. If you do not have domain privacy enabled (a free option with our registration services) you may want to consider doing so. Otherwise, the name address & phone number listed are all public and companies can send you junk and troll to their hearts content, unfortunately. =/

  20. I used to use MT, but their upcharge for their addons just turned out to not be worth it. It was far cheaper to just setup servers in Amazon AWS. Migrated all my sites to AWS in a few hours, pretty simple. Never had any issues with them, they just seem to be a bit on the pricey side.

  21. I had hosting everywhere (Rackspace, AWS, shared hosting) and finally pulled the trigger in (dv). Thanks for the coupon! Do not really care about Plesk but it is nice to have UI tools for things I have do not fill like messing with otherwise.

    BTW, used (dv) for other project and updated from 3.5 to 4.0 manually with 0 issue in a few hours. rsync FTW!

  22. Oolivia
    Permalink to comment#

    Wow, I wish I stumbled on this article last Saturday. Would’ve saved me 20% monthly! ;) Excellent info. Thanks for sharing your experience .

  23. Hey Chris, sorry to put a damper $150 per site, I’d have done it for you for half. My hosting would have done it for free. In fact recent upgrades (EOL) were all done for free? why are you paying?

    I’d recommend you ask for your money back, this sound slike a rip of at $150 a pop… or perhaps you can disclose a bit more about the actual amount you paid.

  24. Hi Chris, I’m currently on MT’s gs hosting service and would like to move to dv. Concerned about my ability to manage it though.

    Perhaps you could do a screencast on your Plesk skills, and point out some of the should’a, would’a, could’a experiences you have had so I could avoid them.

    • Oolivia
      Permalink to comment#

      What a great idea! A screencast would be a enormous benefit to everyone.

  25. Michael
    Permalink to comment#

    Owning your own server and co-location is, in my opinion, by far the best path to take. If you’ve got a busy site and are in it for the long haul than you just can’t beat it.

    For the server specs I have now compared to MV (just because they are mentioned in this post) I would have spent over $150,000 ($1,500/month x 10 years (length my site has been online)). I can promise you my purchased server did not cost $150k.

    Nothing against MV in the least bit. I’ve read nothing but good about them, just throwing the idea out there to those that have more than just one small wordpress site and don’t plan on going anywhere (ie. shutting down) anytime soon.

    • What do you mean by purchased server? Sounds interesting.

    • He means that he went somewhere like HP, IBM or Dell and bought a server. Then he found a datacenter with co-location, shipped it there and they put in their racks. He then pays rental fee for the space and then power/bandwidth.

      MV is great for people that arent well versed in the backend of all of that, for people that are, places like AWS and just owning your own physical servers can be more cost effective.

    • Michael
      Permalink to comment#

      @Seth – Jim was right on. I simply purchased a server and had a datacenter put it in their racks.

      I spend $100 a month for power and bandwidth (both of which is much more than I need). That’s my total bill each month, for something that using MV would cost me $1,500 /month. Don’t let your eyes gloss over to much… keep in mind I had a $3,000 investment I had to spend up front (cost of the new server). So long as the up front costs don’t scare you off, buying your own server is certainly something to consider.

      And if you don’t know much about the backend stuff there are plenty of server admins for hire, for example Rack911.com. You can use them on an “as needed” basis or around the clock month to month.

      Co-location certainly isn’t for everyone, and for Chris who has openly said MV gives him free hosting it doesn’t make sense for him to pay for the cow when he gets the milk for free ;) But for some of the other bigger guys out there, certainly worth checking into.

    • Thanks @Michael, something to look into as we grow.

  26. Joe
    Permalink to comment#

    We had a dv a couple years ago with over 100 domains. The systems aren’t upgraded over time so Plesk, php, etc. become stale and you’re forced to move to another server. Back then I begged for help from mt, even asking for a paid option. No help and out of luck. It might be better now but I had to move away from mt. It was a nightmare.

    • I am afraid I agree with Joe… a decent webhost should upgrade responsibly and as needed, my current hosts will upgrade hardward and software within the contract, bit amazed MT don’t.

    • We do indeed provide updates but they only take affect with newly provisioned servers. For example, we just updated to Plesk 11 yesterday.
      Since the (dv) Dedicated-Virtual Server’s are self managed, the user is free to (and responsible for) providing updates to Plesk, PHP etc.

    • Joe
      Permalink to comment#

      Exactly. There wasn’t something in-between for managed servers. That’s where we are now.

  27. It’s free of charge if you use choose Ubiquity Servers as your hosting provider.

  28. Also, there is not reason you can’t upgrade from plesk 7 or 8 to current

  29. Permalink to comment#

    There’s another service I’ve used a couple of times called scramr (http://www.scramr.com). They’ve handled a couple of migrations for my clients (a WordPress and Drupal site). The support was awesome and they moved everything over without a hitch. Highly recommended service.

    • Guy Hoogewerf
      Permalink to comment#

      That’s fairly shocking as well… technically your new hosting company should do this for it, or at least provide the support. Equally your website designer should handle this as well.

      I can see why services like this Scramr.com exist – but I think that’s a sad indication of the lack of support many companies give their customers.

  30. Permalink to comment#

    I haven’t heard any hosting firms taking care of website migrations. Customers need to do the migration themselves or through services like scramr or media temple.

    • I did say technically… it is more common for it to be your website designer… but in reference to this blog post – if the host upgrades the hardware and then even decommissions the old hardware – then surely they have a responsibility to migrate you and not charge you for it.

  31. brodster
    Permalink to comment#

    media temple is SHI* they lie to you about their tech in the grid service…. thei are still running MySQL 5.1

    but in their FAQ section you will see they say 5.5.. Hmmmm…


    Which LAMP software is installed?

    The Grid currently features the following versions of software:

    PHP 5.5 with FastCGI
    Perl v5.10.1
    Python v2.6.6
    Apache 2.2.22
    MySQL 5.5
    Git 1.7.2.5
    SVN 1.7.4
    

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