Back in January, I announced that we would be moving away from WordPress.com and would be venturing off on our own to the world of self-hosting. In early February, we did just that as Vortex Effect moved to being hosted on DreamHost. At the time, it was a good move. We were established and had what had been a nice follower/subscriber base.
The move to DreamHost allowed us the freedom to do the things I had wanted to do for years.
Some of you may know that he have a message board. It’s always been separate from the main site here because this is WordPress.com. The self hosted site allowed us to have a fully integrated site: the main site and the forums became one thanks to plugins BuddyPress and bbPress. Using the WordPress.org software allowed us to choose from a wider (and better obviously) selection of themes (with freedom to customize), better utilize SEO procedures, and run our own advertisements (we were using Google AdSense and some affiliate programs; WWE Shop, Green Man Gaming, etc.)
As a review focused site, we were also able to use a built in review scoring plugin that allowed us to easily create nice look reviewing boxes with scores and a summary.
And yet, roughly two and a half months later, here we are back home on WordPress.com.
I’m not going to throw DreamHost under the bus here. When we first moved, our site went down. I contacted DreamHost support on Twitter and less than three minutes later they had the site back online. I was impressed, and we didn’t have any more issues. Until roughly a week ago.
Our site began to time out for certain users, usually after leaving a comment. It could take over an hour before whoever it happened to was able to get the site to load again. DreamHost support (email) got back with me fairly quickly with what the problem was. We were using too many resources and it was triggering something. That was my fault; we were using a resource heavy theme and a plugin performance indicated that our MySQL database was being queried over 200 times per visit. The site was so slow loading as well. So we eliminated BuddyPress and bbPress (our forums are once again separate) and changed to a more minimalist theme (that was looking pretty good).
When I was done with all the changes, our site went from being slower than 97% of websites to faster than 94%. The database queries dropped to less than 50 per visit (which still seems high to me, but I don’t know much about this stuff). A couple of days after all the changes were made and we were feeling good about the site, it decided to stop loading all together. No problem, contacted DreamHost support on Twitter and within minutes they had the site back online again. Apache needed to be restarted.
It was all down hill from there. Over the resulting couple of days, the site was down for hours at a time. When it appeared to come back online, I couldn’t log in and do anything from the WordPress dashboard. Then it would be down again.
I’m not sure what the issue was, but quite frankly the site has to be up as far as I’m concerned. Downtime of that magnitude is unacceptable to me while there is a way out. I was within their 97 day refund period, and so I closed the hosting account (and they refunded my money in one day).
Now that we’re back on WordPress.com (and our old forums are back up, and you should totally register and discuss games and stuff with us), we aren’t going anywhere again. I always liked it here, despite some limitations. Of course I was making quite a bit more with AdSense than I do here with WordAds, but that’s ultimately minor.
Some things got lost; we had to import content. Images didn’t come, the self-hosted site was deleted, and so now most posts just show where images are suppose to be. I’ve been going back through all the posts, starting with reviews, and adding in pictures. We have over 2,000 posts, so it’s a lengthy process that won’t be finished anytime soon as I’m not overly worried about it. We also changed our review scale to a permanent one to reflect that we no longer have the built in system, and we’re in the process of updating the scores of our reviews to reflect the new scale.
To conclude, it’s ultimately good to be back on the WordPress.com blogging community.