WordPress Tutorial: Moving From WordPress.com to WordPress

Teli Adlam —  April 1, 2008

Before we begin, there’s just one thing you need to know: you can take it with you, but you can’t redirect it. Basically, it means that if you’ve established yourself well in the search engines using your wordpress.com domain name, you have a mountain to climb when you’re starting on your own domain with your own installation of WordPress.

The best thing to do before embarking on this journey is to assess what the best course of action would be for your particular case. If you’ve been blogging at wordpress.com for a while and have a long standing readership and search engine rank, it may be wise to mothball it and put up a notice explicitly stating that you’ve moved to a new location with a link to your new blog. Then set up your new blog and start fresh. (If you decide on this route, make sure to read How to Maintain Search Engine Rankings When Mothballing a Site)

If, however, you haven’t truly dug your heels in at WP.com, have used your own domain name, or just really want to start over with all your posts on your own self hosted version of WordPress, readership and search engines be damned, then follow along. It’s really quite simple.

Install WordPress

In order for this to work, you must make sure you have your own domain name registered, a hosting account set up, and WordPress installed. Once those elements have been met, then you can start the moving process.

Export Your WordPress.com Posts

WordPress decided to create its own XML file format which makes it much easier to transfer data between WordPress installations, whether it’s WordPress.com, WordPress MU, or just plain WordPress.

Log into your WordPress.com account and navigate to Manage -> Export. (Note: If you currently manage more than one blog under an account, you’ll need to select the blog you wish to move from the drop down option next to the title and then go to the Export screen.)

download-export-file

If you’re part of a collaborative blog, then you can select your name from the author drop down box before clicking on the Download Export File button which will only export your posts with their associated comments. Otherwise, leave the default All Authors to export all the content.

You should be prompted to save a .xml file; make sure to put it somewhere safe and don’t lose track of it because you’ll need it in the next step.

Import Your WordPress.com Posts Into WordPress

Log into your new installation of WordPress and navigate to Manage -> Import. On the import screen, you’ll see a list of import options; only concern yourself with the one that says WordPress.

import-wordpress

From the WordPress import screen, browse to find the .xml file you just downloaded from WordPress.com and then click on the Import File and Upload button.

In an ideal world, you’d be finished, but there is one thing you need to be aware of: You can only upload a file of about 2MB (may vary depending on your host). If you have a large amount of content on your WordPress.com blog, you may need to export posts by author and do multiple runs of the WordPress import, or find a way to manually break up the WXR file without corrupting it.

You’re Done

Now it’s up to you to learn how to blog with your own installation of WordPress, which means you’ll need to set up your permalinks, customize your profile and settings, choose your themes, and an array of other wonderful things. But, for the most part, you’re done.

[tags]wordpress.com, wordpress[/tags]

Teli Adlam

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21 responses to WordPress Tutorial: Moving From WordPress.com to WordPress

  1. MAN this brought back nightmares. LOL… Moving to my own host with WordPress was quite the learning experience. How great of you to post all this helpfulness!

  2. Yes, quite easy to export/import WordPress,

    I have done it I think twice. My problem is upgrades which I now pay my host. I have tried to upgrade and have used a test site and lost it twice..*grin

  3. I had a lot of problems getting the import/export features to work on wordpress hosted through various hosting companies including yahoo. This is a pretty common problem among people moving their hosting. I have more than once tried exporting the file and empty tables were all it gave me. I know many people who have tried to import their old blog and had WP actually stop and corrupt the file. WordPress may do a better job with their feature on their own site, I don’t know, but going from host to host can be a real nightmare using it.

    What I have found to work better is using the WP Backup plugin and simply importing it into your current wp installation through your php admin feature. Most decent hosting companies are going to handle 5 to 50mb mysql files. Also since most hosting companies won’t provide tech support for your blog this is something you really need to learn about doing yourself anyways or you could find yourself without a blog or your old posts should something happen.

    Just as an after though, when It comes to picking a host do your homework and don’t necessarily just pick the first couple of names on google simply because they were popular or you may well be sorry. Also don’t necessarily pick the hosts WordPress recommends either, I almost went that route a few weeks ago but when i was doing my homework on them, too many of their choices were used to be good which is why I am sure they picked them but were currently having major problems and were getting lots and lots of bad PR in review sites, with only friendly reviewers defending the quality of services they themselves weren’t using.

    Too many of those cheap services over sell what they can provide and you lose that year or two years worth payments you paid upfront for hosting, when you either decided to go somewhere that doesn’t take 5+ minutes to post or have your services terminated for complaining. (Many of the cheap places do this regularly) The best way to pick a host is ask other bloggers themselves who they use and if they are happy.

  4. Hi Brad,
    Thank you for the thorough comment and insights; however, I believe you missed the main gist of the tutorial — it’s about moving from WordPress.com to a self hosted WordPress blog.

    What I have found to work better is using the WP Backup plugin…

    WordPress.com users do not have access to this plugin (or any other plugins for that matter) — they only have access to what’s provided to them via the service.

    On another note, I’m sorry to hear about your troubles with the feature with the various hosts you’ve used. I’ve personally had no problems with this feature using HostGator and I’ve been with them for years and migrated many clients from WP.com to their own WP installations hosted with HG.

    (NB: I generally do full website backups as opposed to single WP backups, so I rarely make use of the export features on a regular basis.)

    ~ Teli

  5. Actually I believe what you can do is first of all register a domain (I would use someone like Namecheap or Moniker for this, not WordPress)

    Then pay WordPress for domain mapping
    http://faq.wordpress.com/2006/11/10/domain-mapping/

    It is $10 a year

    Then wait for Google to index it nicely on the new mapped domain

    Then setup on your own hosting, export the content and change the domain mapping at your registrar to point to your new blog host

  6. While domain mapping is an option, Andy, it’s not truly a viable one for people who want to move to their own self-hosted version of WordPress.

    When you map your domain, you’re still using the WordPress.com services and still limited in what you can do with your blog.

    What someone can do, however, is purchase the domain name through WP.com and change the DNS to point to their new host, but it still won’t be permanently redirected and she’s back at square one.

    (Plus, quite a few people have had problems with WP.com domain registration and renewals, so I’m wary of advising it as an option.)

    ~ Teli

  7. The domain mapping would be used just as a temporary measure, to get juice mapped to the domain.
    Then wehn you change the mapping to your own domain, the juice goes with it, though you might need to pay wp.com a continual $10 per year for the option, it is better than losing links, subscribers etc.

    In fact it is quite possible if you have previously had your subscribers split between wp.com feeds and feedburner, that you could double your visible subscribers doing this as well.

    I would never trust wp.com on a domain reg either, which is why I suggested namecheap or moniker.

    WP.com do allow domain mapping of domains you already own.

    There is a possibility that if you decide to move away, they will drop the mapping, but that takes work, and is throwing away $10 a year.

  8. In an ideal world, Andy, that would be a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, even with domain mapping, WP.com will only do a 302 redirect (i.e. temporary) and the link juice will stop being transferred the moment that domain mapping is deactivated.

    So, the above would work if you started your wp.com blog with domain mapping from the beginning and all the backlinks built up were directly pointing to yourdomain.com as opposed to yourdomain.wordpress.com — am I making sense? LOL

    Basically, it would be hit or miss that’s greatly dependent on which domain (your own or wp.com’s) had the majority of the incoming links and drove a majority of the traffic — one which could result in paying WP.com that $10 for a couple years or more. (Assuming the user had domain mapping from the get-go, then moving to a host without a dent in traffic/PR would be a non-issue.)

    Don’t get me wrong, domain mapping still an option, though.

    ~ Teli

  9. So let’s put it simple. As soon as you think of getting serious with blogging, consider moving to your own domain.
    First, the sooner the better.
    Second, it is not that expensive (It will take you some installation and maintenance time but WordPress is pretty well documented).
    Third, if you look for revenues, you can host ads.
    Last, you have far more flexibility in the choice of plugins you install.

    Carl

  10. Just came across this discussion and am hoping that someone might be able to help me out. I am utterly confused. I have followed to a tee your explaination above to move from wordpress.com to wordpress. When I go to upload my archives from my wordpress.com website to my wordpress, i get this error message:

    Unable to create directory /space/www/[snip]/wp-content/uploads/2008/06. Is its parent directory writable by the server?

    Any idea on how to get around this or what to do? If you can help, I will gladly bake you cookies and offer you the best tea next time you’re in Paris, stop into my tea house and say HI.

    No, seriously… though… I do need some help? Anyone?

  11. Hi Aimee,
    You need to change the folder permissions of the /wp-content/ folder to 777 on your server. You can do this either through your web hosting account’s control panel or using your FTP software (generally by clicking on the Folder Properties button). That should fix the error.

    Hope it helps,
    ~ Teli

  12. Teli,

    It worked!! Thank you so much. Next time you’re in Paris, Tea and home made cookies or scones on me! Visit me at my tea house. http://www.loisivethe.com

  13. I have try this tips but sidebar content not exported.

  14. Sidebar information is not included in the export file, only posts/comments/some blog settings. You would need to reconfigure your sidebars and its content on the new site.

    ~ Teli

  15. Oh, if only I had found this tutorial a few months back, it would have saved me my sanity. Brrr, I get cold shivers just thinking about the days I spent moving my posts from WordPress.com to my own hosted blog.

  16. About the sidebar content…

    I successfully moved my posts to an alternative domain host but when I try to configure the widgets, it says that the theme I use (benevolence) doesn’t take widgets. All attempts to upload a new version of the theme have been unsuccessful.

    So is there a way to actually move the whole blog (theme, widgets and all) or am I destined to recreate using another theme?

  17. Or perhaps I should describe it this way: Can a theme be widget-ready in WordPress.com and then not widget-ready in wordpress.org?

    I’ve looked at a zillion themes and I can’t find another that I like as well.

  18. Do you lose your site at wordpress.com when you expert it to wordpress.org? Can I continue to update my wordpress.com site while I configure the wordpress.org site at bluehost?

    Thanks for any help you can offer.

  19. Sorry it’s taken me a little while to answer your question, but no WP.com will not delete your blog unless you log in and actually delete the blog yourself and yes you’re welcome to continue updating your WP.com blog while you get your personal blog set up on your own host. 🙂

    Hope that helps.

  20. Teli beat me to answer your question,

    I have two WordPress at WordPress.com one is password protected because I made a similar one.

    What I like about WordPress.com is knowing should the worst happen to me then for a long time my blog will still be available for others to remember me by lol.

    So no, you lose nothing as Teli confirmed.

  21. hi. okay, so i’m coming a but late to this discussion. i have wordpress.com acct (with a domain registered through wp and i pay for domain mapping) and i have spent the last week getting a wordpress.org acct set up. I have yet to switch the domain registration/mapping.

    through my new host i know who is on the record as my registrar. can anyone suggest where i go from here? is this going to be difficult? you all seem so against using wp for domain rgistration.

    thanks so much.