tinkering with WordPress

Just for the sake of doing something useful today, I decided to tinker with my WordPress setup a bit. I’d upgraded to WordPress 5.5 in mid-August, then updated my version of PHP from 7.3.21 to 7.4.9. And, a little later, I switched to a new syntax highlighting plugin. I had one more major thing on my to-do list: upgrading to a newer version of MySQL.

My host, IONOS, makes it easy to switch PHP versions; you can do that right in their control panel. But you can’t just switch to a new MySQL version. You have to create a new database, export you data, import it to the new database, then edit your WordPress config file to point to the new database. So I did that first on my test database, and it worked fine, so I went ahead and did it with my production database too.

It had been a long time since I’d done anything even vaguely low-level with MySQL. The IONOS control panel lists your MySQL databases and gives you a link to get to a phpMyAdmin site for each of them. From there, you can backup, restore, run queries, and so on. On my first try, I forgot that you need to edit the backup SQL to remove the “create database” command, and edit the “use” command to point to the new database. But once I figured that out, I didn’t have any problems.

My old test WordPress install takes up 19 MB in the old database and 35 MB in the new one. I’m not sure why the new version is bigger than the old version. I could probably figure that out, but it’s not really important. The max size on a MySQL database in IONOS is 1000 MB, so I’m fine there. The production blog is 60 MB in the old database and 87 MB in the new one. So if you ever wondered how much space 20 years of blog entries takes up, it’s apparently 87 MB.

I did all this on my PC, rather than my Mac, and it turns out that I didn’t have an SFTP client installed. On my Mac, I generally use Commander One for SFTP file management. On the PC, I’ve recently started using Directory Opus as an Explorer replacement. Opus includes SFTP support, but it’s an add-on purchase, and I hadn’t bothered with it when I paid for my license a few months ago. I went ahead and enabled a trial of the FTP functionality today, and it worked fine. So I’ll probably pay for it when the trial expires. It’s only $10.

The first thing I did after switching to the new database was to run a WordPress site backup with UpdraftPlus. I’ve been using UpdraftPlus for a long time. I’ve stuck with the free version, which is good enough for me. The paid version is $70, plus $42/year after the first year. That’s not bad, I guess, but I don’t really need it.

The next thing on my WordPress “rainy day” list is to maybe look into switching to a new theme. The Stargazer theme that I’ve been using since 2014 hasn’t been updated in a couple of years and is being “phased out” by its developer. He’s replacing it with something called Exhale, for which he’s charging $50/year. I don’t have a problem with that, but I’d like to stick to a free theme, if I can. (If I was actually making money off this blog, I’d be more willing to spend money on subscription themes and backup services, but this is really just a little personal blog with no revenue stream, so I like to keep things simple.)

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