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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tips on moving a site, Part I

Been doing a lot of work lately moving sites from an old dedicated server to a new one with a new hosting company. The old server had no (useful) control panel, so I've been doing a lot of it by hand, and I thought I'd post a few handy pointers for anyone who may be in a similar situation.

For static sites, the process is dead simple - just tar up the old site's content using something like tar -cf [tar filename].tar [path to site]/* will do it. Then depending on the site, it may save you a little time to zip the tarball. Then, after doing whatever you need to do to create a new site on the new server's control panel, login in with SSH, go to the appropriate directory and pull over the tarball with scp:

scp [username]@[server]:[path to tarball]/[tar file] ./

And then extract it, and you're ready to go.

One thing it watch out for is absolute paths in the content from the old site. If you know what they look like, it's pretty easy to grep for that pattern in the files via grep -rl [old path] * which will print out a list of every file (recursively) that has that pattern. You can even open the file list with vim.

Moving mail is a bit of a pain - especially if as in my case you're going from a system that uses mbox format to one that uses Maildir. Thankfully there's a handy free perl script you can use to convert from mbox to Maildir. I found that logging in as the user whose email I wished to transfer, then just running the script using the "-s" switch to point it at the old mail dir worked pretty well. It'll create a new Maildir with all the files. One thing that can be a bit of a pain - if the user has any custom folders, they'll be created with a "." (period) at the beginning of their names, which makes them "invisible" in linux. Which means some things like using scp -r will miss them, and you'll need to specify the directly. Same thing for chown. And on my old server, email in the user's inbox was held elsewhere, which meant I had to use the script a 2nd time to convert that email.

That's it for now, I'll post more later on the more complex types of site migrations - those involved dynamic sites like blogs and forums.

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