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Moving an existing MovableType based blog to a new server can be a bit of work, especially if there are differences on the new server.
How do I move my Moveable Type web log?
I asked myself this question earlier this week. Ask Leo! and Puget Sound Software both moved from one server to another and moving the blogs had me worried. But it turned out that moving Moveable Type (MT) was one of the easier steps.
Ask Leo! had been housed on an Windows 2000 server running IIS as a branch off of the Puget Sound Software web site. It's new home is a Linux box running the Apache web server. And not only was I moving both sites and their blogs, but at the same time I moved Ask Leo! into its own separate top level domain.
Step one was easy: install Moveable Type on the new Linux box. (Those instructions are here, by the way.) The next steps were to transfer my custom templates and graphics. That involved both hand-copying the images and an additional style-sheet as well as updating the templates via the MT interface. Since I was also changing the directory layout and web log home page somewhat, I spent some time tweaking and correcting at this point until I had a proper looking, but empty, blog.
The next question was how to move the content of the blog. Ask Leo! has a bunch of content I wanted to make sure to preserve. It turns out that MT has a reasonably functional export / import ability. By "reasonably functional" I mean that while it may not have a pretty UI and includes some hard coded directory locations - get past that and it just works. As we'll see in a moment I could have left it alone, but because the directory structure was also changing I decided to clean up the links within the blog entries to reflect the new layout. Once done with that I had a functioning blog with all my old content at my new location.
That left one last remaining question. Since the site's gotten some publicity over the past couple of months people have naturally taken bookmarks to the site or to blog entries of particular interest. With the move I wanted to keep those working as much as possible.
In the blog's old home, http://pugetsoundsoftware.com/askleo-blog, and in places that used to redirect there I simply placed a redirection to the new home at http://ask-leo.com.
Preserving links to individual pages, however, proved a little more of a challenge. Enter URL re-writing. I've written before about the availability of URL rewriting on IIS. The new host is Apache based and thus supports URL rewriting it natively. Old URLs of the form:
are now transparently transformed into their true location:
The most important of these might well be the RSS feed for the blog. What used to be http://pugetsoundsoftware.com/askleo-blog/index.rdf is now transparently transformed into http://ask-leo.com/index.rdf the feed's correct location. Details of Apache's URL rewriting can be found here.
Each step a bit of a learning experience but the results are worth it. Both of the Ask Leo! and Puget Sound Software websites have a fatter internet connection, a lot of space to grow, and hopefully a fast and bright future.
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