WordPress.com backend billing problems temporarily forced the 14-blog strong Boles Blogs Network from the warmth and sanctity of WP.com and into the lonesome cold of independent WordPress Multisite hosting on my personal Pair Networks VPS.  After a week in the wilderness, we received word that our domain mapping renewals problem was fixed and we leapt back to WordPress.com.  This article will tell you why we decided to move back.

Returning to WP.com took all of 15 minutes — after days and days and hours and hours of setting up and fine-tuning a WordPress Multisite install — and it took so long to get back on WordPress.com only because we had to wait for DNS propagation for 14 blogs to finish updating via Open DNS so we could upload the few articles we wrote via Multisite and add them to our still-existing WordPress.com content.

Being out on our own made for a fascinating and steep learning curve.  You need to purchase an Akismet key if you want any semblance of normalcy.  We took on the $60 subscription level as a non-profit, personal, blogs network.

We flirted with VaultPress Multisite, but found it much too expensive for our poor boy pocketbook.

The WordPress JetPack, while terrific, still only replicates part of the WP.com experience we had come to know and own.

Dealing with brute force attacks on a non-existent “Admin” account cost us time and money to solve.

We also had a nut of a time setting up WP Super Cache and Amazon CDN.  The key to finally getting everything to work together was to understand you need to install that plugin from the Super Admin area, but then fine tune it and set up services all for every single blog — including the caches and the CDN.

The Amazon CloudFront CDN is a powerful content-offloading delivery system for your server, but if the initial pull of data chokes in any way — as it did yesterday in a CSS update for our Panopticonic blog — you have no way to fix anything except deleting that container on Amazon and starting all over again, or waiting 24 hours for your blog to refresh again across the world in the Amazon Cloud.  Who wants a broken and unreadable blog for a day?  Not the Boles Blogs Network!

The other big issue was speed.  My Pair VPS is fast, and all the images you see in our articles are served from my server.  I was running all 14 blogs from a single database on a separate database server and I still could not come close to the speed and responsiveness of hosting all 14 blogs on WP.com.

Sure, I could try to add more memory and pay more to get on a faster, dedicated server, but I don’t think one man and one server can ever beat the redundancy and resilience — and sparkle! — of the massive WordPress.com network system.  Why try replicating what you cannot attain alone?

That’s why, when notice came back from WordPress.com support that our billing renewal problems were fixed, it was an easy decision to give up on our Multisite installation and just return to what we know works straight out of the tubes.

WordPress.com:  You can’t beat ’em, so join up with ’em!

11 Comments

        1. What a sad, sad story with a happy ending. I was almost sniffling…
          I’m glad it’s you and not me doing all that. I could never keep up.
          I respect you computer nerds. (I say that with all kindness and admiration – cause I’m INEPT!) 🙂

          1. It was definitely a challenge and lots of drama, Lillian. I had all 14 blogs moved and mastered to the new server — but you just can’t beat the “set it and forget it” simplicity of living on WP.com for blogs hosting.

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