Upgrading a Blog

I’ve just spent the last week upgrading a blog that I haven’t looked at in, oh 3 years, I guess. I started the blog in 2006. I knew it was there, knew it needed to be updated because it was a hot mess. And I do mean hot mess! I kept avoiding it because of the state it was in. I knew I would be up to my butt in alligators once I got started on this thing.

The blog has over 1,000 posts, and a lot of (I think) great content. I’ve gotten emails from folks who wanted to advertise on it. I couldn’t figure out why! Everything was broken on it! I ignored these emails, figuring they were nuts. Who wants to buy an ad on a broken site?

Last week it dawned on me that my adsense income – nothing to write home about – was coming from this blog alone. I didn’t think that I was getting traffic to the site. Digging deeper, I discover, yep I am! More than I would have thought possible with an outdated Hot mess of a blog, lol. This is the catalyst in fixing the blog.

So I backed up all my WordPress files, the database, created a subdomain, a new database, uploaded all the WordPress files and got to work.

I started with upgrading the WordPress software. After all, the version was 2.2. I figured it was time (I’m lucky this blog never got hacked!) I manually updated 8 WordPress versions, actually more because of screw ups; and I had to backtrack a couple of times.
After each upgrade I tested the blog. I didn’t bother with plugins because I disabled all of them and knew most wouldn’t work anyway.

I was more concerned with my theme. The theme I was using was very well coded, and very simple, and I *really* wanted to keep it if I could. It was also customized. I did not expect it to work.

It did. Even when I got to the current version of WordPress, the theme worked! For the most part. More on that later.

I went about the task of updating plugins or finding replacements, or just plain getting rid of a couple. I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of my favorites were still around.

I uploaded the new WordPress to my root directory, imported the database, and turned on the plugins.

Hours after starting this project, I was semi-done. The blog worked better than it did, but there were still issues to be worked on. Tags were one of these issues. I used a plugin called Ultimate Tag Warrior and a couple of other tag plugins. Back then, tags were not incorporated into WordPress like they are now. They were even stored differently in the database. I found a workable, but not perfect solution for the tag issue. I have a funny feeling I’m going to need to go thru post by post and fix the tags, dang it.

I took a couple of days off. Checked up with Google Webmaster Tools and oh my! The 404 errors! Tons of them! All related to….the theme. The errors disappeared when I switched to the Twenty ten theme. Back to the drawing board in search of a new theme. Luckily, I had not removed the test subdomain and could do all testing there.

Finding a theme was not as easy as I thought it would be. I went through several, the ones I most wanted to use centered everything, including text, I suspect due to my lack of pictures and thumbnails. I am using a theme on from the Elegant Themes site.

I’ll keep an eye out over the next few weeks. I feel sure there will be more work to be done, but the site is up and relatively error free. I feel like I’ve been through a war.

Moral of the story? Don’t let your sites get so outdated that it takes a huge effort to overhaul.