Hostgator to AWS

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 in Website | No Comments

I’ve got the site up and running, as you can see. There have been quite a few steps to get to this point. My first attempt at a site involved me getting in there at messing with the html code. I didn’t know a thing about CSS, so it took a lot of work for me to get anything done. My desire to continue building my website waned and the tumbleweeds eventually piled up and got stuck in the server gears.

A little while later I learned about WordPress. I worked on building another site and that went a little easier. Around that time I started building a site for my pictures, daveballardphoto.com. That was pretty cool. I had the sites on HostGator and things seemed to be running ok. I am more of a systems administrator and hardware guy than I am a developer/ designer so I started to tinker.

I rebuilt the sites to work together using multisite. It was certainly helpful to learn about multisite but it wasn’t helping me as a photographer or web designer. It was slow and clumsy to work through multisite. I can certainly see the value of multisite, but for a guy with 2 very small sites it was more of a pain in the butt. My sites were also getting slower. At least it seemed that they were.

I decided to move the sites to somewhere faster. I did do a fair amount of looking around but I just didn’t find what I was looking for. In the WordPress world, there are a multitude of plugins and ways to adapt your site. Some of the hosting solutions stated which plugins you could and could not use. I wanted to learn as much as I could in this area, so I didn’t want anyone tell me what I could and could not do. I did try some of the plugins back when I was on HostGator, but I was concerned about how multisite would affect the plugins and vice versa. I also had to deal with just how slow HostGator was. I once checked how many websites were sharing my IP address, it was in the neighborhood of 200. I felt that neighborhood was a little too crowded.

I decided that I wanted as much control of the environment my sites were operating in as possible. I chose to go with Amazon AWS and their EC2 environment. I spun up a bitnami instance and I moved my site over. Well, ‘moved over’ is a bit generous description of what I did with the skills I had at that time. My photo site had slowed to a crawl. I didn’t want to look at the photos on it and I could not imagine anyone else wanting to either. I pulled all the text info out, imported it into a new site and started from scratch. I put in the basic WordPress plugins that I felt it needed and set up a basic photo blog. I wanted to try some different settings on the photos, so I reuploaded each and every one of them.

I use Lightroom for post possessing and cataloging my photos. My catalog was not as organized as it could be, so it took a while to get everything back on the site. I had learned a lot about some of Lightroom’s best practices and I was able to implement most that I was interested in. My photo workflow is now much better that has ever been in the past.

That is how I got my photo site moved from HostGator and on to Amazon AWS. It was amazing the difference in speed. I giggled like a little girl the first time I saw how fast the pages would load. It took a lot of time and work but when it was done, it was worth it. But it is not the end of this story. Tune in next week to learn about the third iteration of my photo site.