Sunday, February 13, 2011

My struggles with Wordpress and Aplus.net

I am the volunteer web-master for a local non-profit. The web-site I inherited was a mess of hand-coded HTML and SHTML and was a nightmare to update. For the past 3 years I’ve limited myself to correcting and updating the text, and I’ve made copious notes about which HTML editors work or don’t work.

Now I’ve decided to re-do the site using a modern CMS and in particular I’ve chosen Wordpress. I thought this would be an easy process since Wordpress is extremely popular and our hosting provider, Aplus.net, includes an auto-install script in their Control Panel. Boy was I wrong about that ‘easy’ part! Yes, I was able to get the initial site setup in minutes but then I quickly started running into roadblocks – of the arbitrary kind put up by Aplus.net!

First, their install script only installed Wordpress 3.0.1 circa July 2010. I tried to update to the latest v3.0.5 using the built-in updater but I got an error message about access-rights. I asked Aplus.net about this and they said they didn’t support updates by users. Period. No other explanation, support ticket = Closed. I had to submit another request to ask if they were taking responsibility for installing Wordpress security updates and they said yes. (And then closed that ticket, too.) Needless to say, they haven’t updated anything.

Since I was still just experimenting with the software I decided to give the security updates a pass, for the moment. But then I discovered that I could not install new plugins either?! This time I picked-up the phone and called Aplus.net, and this time they were able to modify my installation to allow new plugins. So far, so good? No, because they also broke the site admin login! Yet another call to Aplus.net and finally everything seemed to be working.

THEN I realized that I couldn’t configure the plugins?! The 'wp-plugins' folder was apparently marked read-only even though it was in my personal site, not a shared folder. As if to stress the absurdity of the situation Aplus.net now said they could not ‘support’ third-party software. At this point I resolved to do a manual installation (and to find us another hosting provider).

Well... Yes, Wordpress is renowned for its ease of installation. Unfortunately, that’s dependent on your hosting provider providing accurate and up-to-date information about your account configuration. I tried to use Aplus.net's online knowledgebase but their article re MySQL configuration had the wrong server-host information. Again, I was forced to call Aplus.net and – to their credit – they were immediately able to point me to the Control Panel > MySQL Database Manager which listed the correct server-host. They also clarified that they use a custom MySQL port (3306). Finally, I was able to get a new manual install of WordPress to complete successfully.
________________

3 comments:

KAY said...

I am presently with Aplus and can commiserate as I've had some of the same experiences. I do seem to have a good tech working with me now. -Josef-very patient and troubleshooting issues with me. My questions-Are you still with Aplus? And do you recommend changing hosts for wordpress?

Technical Tony said...

Yes, we are still with Aplus but more out of laziness than happiness. One positive thing I can say about them is that we have not had any downtime, so that goes a long way towards keeping us as clients.

If you're not yet committed to them, though, I would seriously consider switching. For instance, if you go to the Wordpress.org homepage they include a list of 'Wordpress-friendly' hosting providers, e.g. Bluehost.com which seems to be very highly regarded. Or, of course, you can also use the group's own Wordpress.COM site which offers hosting!

WP Upwork said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u.

WordPress Help