Website Portability

Currently, there are a variety of services which offer the ability to construct websites based on templates. Services such as Wix and Squarespace.

But what happens when you move to a different hosting provider? In the case of Wix, you’re out of luck. Wix sites are hosted on Wix, and if you move, Wix can no longer control the look of your site.

I can’t figure out from Squarespace’s website whether you can move a site to a different provider or not. But if so, it looks like it may be complicated. Moreover, if you registered the domain with Squarespace, there are a passle of other rules involved.

Wordpress saves its dynamic content (e.g.¬†your blog posts) in a MySQL database. Getting that content back out is, at best, a pain. You can get what they call a “back up” in the form of an XML document. Forget trying to process the content out of that document. If you go to a different Wordpress site, my understanding is that you can take your backup and feed it to the new instance of Wordpress. But you’re still stuck with Wordpress.

Now you may think, “Why would I want to move my site somewhere else”? Valid question. Maybe you never would. But I’ve had to do it. I’ve had customers who have gotten snippy with me, and I’ve dropped them from hosting. As a courtesy, I had to move them to other hosting providers. I’ve also had providers whose service has degraded to the point that I simply had to move all my sites elsewhere, where the service was better. I’ve had friends who put up sites for a group, where the site was completely wedded to a certain software package. If they tried to move it elsewhere, they would have to forsake the use of that package. Moreover, all their content would be lost.

When you host a domain on a hosting provider’s computers, you’re renting space on their machines. It’s much like renting an apartment or house. You may be there for years. On the other hand, you may move in months. And when you do, you get to take all your stuff with you. But with Wix, all your “stuff” is lost. With Squarespace, who knows? With Wordpress, you can have your stuff, but only if you move to another aparment in the same complex, so to speak.

I’m sorry. It’s my website. The stuff on it belongs to me. So if I want to move, I should be able to, for any reason at all. And I should be able to take all my stuff with me when I go.

This is why I avoid the template hosting services, and why I avoid Wordpress. In fact, I wrote blog software just so I wouldn’t have to deal with Wordpress, Blogspot or any of the other blog hosting services.

I’ve also found that backing up a site which uses MySQL or PostgreSQL is problematic. As a consequence, I now use SQLite for website databases. SQLite uses a single file, which I can copy from anywhere to anywhere. Obviously, if I was hosting Facebook or Youtube, SQLite would not scale. But for my websites, SQLite does just fine. It gives me a SQL back end database, and I can move it at any time. Now, to be fair, I can obtain a dump of MySQL or PostgreSQL and use it to populate my moved website. But it’s a pain in the butt. Doing a straight file copy (or FTP) is a lot easier.

Of course, I have a little more skill than most people. I can write HTML, PHP, Javascript and CSS. So building a website is not a big deal to me. And I’ve been building and hosting (and registering) websites for decades, ever since the Web became a thing. My wife’s been designing websites for just as long. So moving a website is not a big deal to me, and I know how to avoid the pitfalls. But you may not, and if so, the above is for you.