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How to maintain a phpBB message board ready for website to host later.


Garawa
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Hi. I have absolutely no idea about these things so as simplistic an answer the better!

The website I use (not own or maintain) is provided by a company as a kind of bulk product. Currently it has a message board but the new site will not. I have been asked to find alternatives, the new site does look as if it is capable of hosting a message board but the work setting up the new site means it wont happen for quite a while. We have a couple of options really:

1) Let the old message board drop offline with the old site and set a new one up in a few months. This will be the easiest option but will lose a lot of users.

2) Let a free hosting company host it for a few weeks. Whilst this means users can transfer from one site to another, I believe this may be an issue in that, when it comes to transfering over to the new site, they may not allow the database to go with it. Is this correct?

3) Pay for a host for a few weeks and simply transfer to the new site when ready. Is this possible? Is it simply a case of setting up how I would like it with them doing any complicated "behind the scenes" work as I am not the most PC literate of people!

If this is possible, are there any tips on companies to use and any "must do's" and "must avoid" issues that would make any transfer later on a failure. The smoothest transition is prefered but perhaps not entirely possible. Thanks.

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Ansolan

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Hi

Impossible to know the situation without more information but in general, you need to 301 redirect (preferably page by page) from the old site to the new site. Otherwise, all value in search terms will be lost, as will links/bookmarks to the old site.

If that's not practical at the present host but you are using your own domain. Use reliable low cost/free hosting, point the domain and add a .htaccess file. That's all you will need, no requirement to move the site as the site files are not accessed.

htaccess guide

Assuming the new host has standard database facilities, possibly a one click install of phpBB, no real problem to just move the existing board:

Transfer Guide

Installation (if needed)

Beyond that, will help if you provide the address of the current site.

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Garawa

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Ha ha, I knew this would be so over my head! I had hoped this would be as simple as downloading office software for example, setting up to how we want it and then simply putting it on a new pc!

Basically the old website's board was supplied by someone else and we have no control over any of it so we will be starting from scratch entirely. I hoped that any overlap would allow the old board to direct users to any new one and then integrate it into the new website when ready. There is no point me including URLs as the new one isn't live and the old one is going.

Forgive me if you have answered this but I felt like I was reading Russian, lol!! I have had no experiance with these. I am not worried about losing links from the old site but want to preserve any from any replacement before it gets transfered. We have accepted it will go, but I don't want to make a mistake for the same thing to happen when it moves. Am I being niave and it is not actually possible?

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Garawa

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Ps, forgot to say thanks for your post as I am sure some will come in very useful.

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Ansolan

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Hi

As suggested, if you supply details of where the old set up is, happy to take a look and see what is possible.

Even if redirects are not, you may be able to use a 0 time meta-refresh in the pages at the old site, to send users on. As in the third example at:

Meta Refresh

If however the facility is literally closing down and not related to a domain you own, you have a problem.

As far as repeating the situation goes, as long as you use your own domain, you are in control. Reasonable hosting will help but even if you ever needed to move again, you can do so without loss.

Appreciate some of this may be confusing but not as bad as it looks. The main need, as you said, is just to make every effort to preserve what you built. In itself a common situation, sites move all the time.

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Garawa

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"If however the facility is literally closing down and not related to a domain you own, you have a problem"

I believe this is the case. We are one of the few with the function left working and the new providers will not be providing another so it is a case accepting we will lose it. Whilst annoying, it is not that that concerns me most. I looked at more internet articals about this and found a good one from Powered by Penguins. They appear to offer a phpBB board as part of hosting a website for £25 a year with FTP access. I will contact them to find out if this would do the job or not, I read some even come set up which would be a massive bonus!

Do you think this might do the job? Advertise the new site for people to join over the summer whilst the old one prepares to drop offline. Build the board for a few months (even a year as it wouldn't matter) and then when ready to be hosted by the new website we should have full access to by then, simply move it lock stock and barrel to it? If there wasn't so much work to do on the new site we will be using it wouldn't be a problem as, unfortunately, the message board is lowest of priorities - unless I can a find a sneaky way round (hopefully the above????????????????)

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Ansolan

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Hi

Not a problem, they may be fine but just so you are clear, the people you mentioned seem to be resellers for Heart Internet. There are equally plenty of hosts who offer a one click install of phpBB for £0 extra. Nevertheless, if you feel support would assist, the money isn't significant and they may help you move the old board for not much more. They do seem familiar with phpBB.

Unless this is an unusual situation, the core point is to have the site and board hosted on the same domain, presumably with the board in a subfolder. Similar to the set up we are posting on now and for good reasons. Apart from keeping interaction (potential business) between different sections of the site under one domain, also valuable for search. Better to have constant, fresh content supporting the core domain, rather than splitting the value of both.

Suggestions:

  1. Whether yourself, through the people you mentioned, or others, get the board copied over to a new, permanent location as soon as possible. Ideal to set this up in the folder which will be the permanent location, rather than need to move again.

  2. If you can't use 301 redirects, add a 0 second meta refresh to the head of every page on the old board, pointing to the equivalent page on the new board. Boring job but not complicated, just a case of adding one tag to the head of each page:

Meta Refresh

  1. Add the main site to the root of the domain when you can.

The situation becomes a little complicated if the ongoing domain is the same as the one currently in use for the core site. If that's the case, you will need to move this over at the same time as the board, then simply replace with the finished site when ready. Alternatively, move the board to a subfolder at the current location, if that is where the main site is to remain.

Whichever the case, you keep them together and don't lose so much value from the old board. Leave this running as long as possible, search engines will to an extent recognise the new as representing the old.

One more thing you might do is to download all email addresses of current board members. Send them notification of the move and ask them to link to the new URL if they have a website, the problem becomes an opportunity.

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Garawa

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That is brilliant thankyou.

"download all email addresses of current board members"

Email addresses will be pointless as the old board is about 10 year old and we run a competition on it and many addresses don't work from only 12 months ago, and they are regulars!! Ha ha. Thankfully the board in its current form is still online for a few more days so I have been able to prepare many for it happening.

"get the board copied over to a new, permanent location as soon as possible"

Hopefully the urgency to do so will be relived slightly with this scenario in that it leaves less of a tight deadline. As the new board can host it (so we are told) it would have the same domain at a point when only the most regular have joined. The rest will hopefully simply be asked to reset their account to the new board. This package mentioned includes a URL to set the board into (which I thought made it very reasonably priced) and use outside of the new site during its construction so hopefully, from you said above, that makes things a bit simpler.

I daresay I will be back here in a few weeks with threads titled, help me urgently and others along those lines!!! ( I still didn't understand a lot of what you said but I am sure they will make more sense when we play around with them and they were clearer than most others I saw on the internet. Cheers!)

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