The Battle is over between WordPress and Thesis

We’ve written a pretty popular review on Thesis Theme recently, which added to the debate discussions between Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and Chris Pearson, the creator of Thesis Theme.

Mr. Mullenweg argued, with a strong contingent of WordPress enthusiasts behind him, that Thesis Theme is violating the GNU/GPL license of WordPress because Thesis Theme entirely depends on the WordPress framework to work, yet is not released under the GNU/GPL license as WordPress requires.

Pearson argued that he could, in fact, create anything using the WordPress framework and sell it as a premium product just like premium theme providers do.

Here’s where Pearson ran into trouble: the GNU/GPL license specifies that derived works must be re-released under the same license.  Meaning people cannot take the code, modify it, then sell it using more restrictive licensing guidelines as Pearson has done.

Thus ensued a heated debate among the open source community.  There was talk of court battles, and a moderated Skype debate even occurred.  The issue went as far as to garner debate and odds on SBRForum, a odds-making site.

Matthew Ross, Media Strategist for SBRForum gave us his two cents: Both sides of this debate have compelling arguments.  What we can say at this juncture is that the outcome of any potential ruling on this matter will be landmark and have far-reaching consequences. The fact that both Mullenweg and Pearson are active, well-known personalities in the space, only adds to the intrigue of this intense storyline. From an odds perspective, SBRforum.com has a beat on the matter. But, we also know that the odds could change based on any number of potential variables in the coming weeks and months.

After weeks of debate and controversy, the issue is over.  Pearson yielded, offering Thesis under a split GPL license which will allow him to maintain control over the product while staying in legal compliance with the WordPress folks.  This will also allow people who purchase the Thesis Theme to develop, modify and redistribute the code as their own with the necessary attributions.

In my opinion: we’ll take this as a victory for free software.

What’s Your Backup Strategy?

How much do you stand to lose if your site goes down and you’re left without a backup? Even if you only have a smaller personal site, losing months or even years worth of work will hurt.

If your site is vital to your business it can get you in the pocketbook, too. You’ll not only have to worry about lost content, but links that now return 404 errors, any customizations you did to your theme and plugins, lost comments and all of the other tweaks and modifications you’ve made to your site.

You can rebuild but why go through all of that hassle when it can be avoided by having a good backup strategy.

A good backup strategy requires a balance between being as up to date as possible with the effort you can reasonably put into it with the resources at your disposal. Remember, you can’t rely on your web host to do it for you. Even if they offer the service, if you are locked out of your hosting account their backup will do you no good. Ask yourself these questions before formulating your backup plan:

How often do I really need to make a backup?

This will vary based on how often content is updated and how often changes are made to the structure of the site itself. A busy site that’s updated several times a day and receives a substantial number of comments might be backed up hourly while other sites can get away with just once a week.

For most sites a daily backup of the database is sufficient; an hourly backup could potentially strain the server, particularly at busy times of the day.

The WordPress files such as content, themes and plugins will also need to be backed up on a regular basis. If you rarely make changes to your theme or plugins and don’t upload amount of media, this can be done less often, perhaps once a week or even less often if you aren’t making changes and uploading images or other media.

No matter how often you choose to backup your database and files, you’ll want to be sure to do a backup right before making any changes to your site as insurance in case something goes wrong and once again after all changes have been made.

Where will I store my backup?

The simplest solution is to store your backup to your local machine, though this isn’t without its own set of problems. If you’re away from your computer and your site goes down, how will you get it back up and running without access to the backup?

Although it doesn’t seem likely that something will happen to your computer at the same time your site goes down, it is possible.

You can also store backups on your server. However, if you can’t access your sever, you’re still screwed. I’ve heard of more than one person who had their site shut down by their web host and were then unable to get the files and databases needed to migrate to another site.

It’s always best to store copies of your backups in more than one location, for example your personal computer and an online storage service such as dropbox. You can also look into paying a service to make and store backups for you as an added convenience and for peace of mind.

So I have these backups, now what?

Having backups scheduled every ten minutes won’t do you any good if you’ve no idea what to do with them in the event that your site goes POOF!

If you don’t have a plan in place to restore your site, you can lose hours and even days trying to figure out how to get your site back up and running. For most people, this will be stress they don’t need and time they can’t afford to spend. Take the time now to prepare for the worst case scenario.

If you have the time and inclination, teach yourself how to restore your site from the backups. There is a bit of technical know-how needed, but it’s something most people can be taught to do. Since restoring your site isn’t something you’ll do on a regular basis, make sure to write down step-by-step instructions and keep them and all relevant log ins and passwords in a safe place that will be easy for you to access if you need to fix your site yourself.

You don’t want to waste time having to Google and remembering FTP details while under pressure.

Another possibility is to develop a relationship with somebody who is experienced with WordPress and can fix your site more efficiently than you could. Again, it’s best to contract with this person in advance and find out how much the service will cost and what information they’ll need from you to do it. You don’t want to find out at the last minute that you can’t afford to have somebody fix your site.

Some freelancers will allow you to pay a retainer to have their services for a fixed amount of time per month or year. Even if you never need their services, think of it as insurance!

Finally, you can contract with a service that will make and store backups for you and will restore your site should the need ever arise. These services vary in price depending on size of the site and the services offered but can be very affordable, especially if you have a number of sites that need to be maintained.

If you schedule backup with a professional service, be sure to ask them how often backups are made, where the backups will be stored and if you’ll get a copy and how long will you have to wait to get somebody to restore your site if needed.

As the saying goes, stuff does happen. But even though we can’t always control hardware failure or malicious attacks, we can be proactive and make a plan to ensure that even in the worst case scenario we have a backup of our sites and can get them up and running again in the least amount of time possible.

Keeping your online assets safe with a regularly scheduled backup routine, is the best insurance a site owner can have.

Sean Platt is a content marketing specialist who offers regularly scheduled WordPress backups at TheWPMechanic.Com. Follow him on Twitter.



5 Reasons WordPress is Better Than Blogger

Wordpress vs. Blogger

Many beginning bloggers start on Blogger because well, it’s free, isn’t it? Plus, it’s not nearly as scary as having to deal with hosting and servers and FTP and who knows what other impossibly complicated things.

The thing is, if you’re serious about your blogging, you’re going to have to deal with these things sooner or later, and the cost for an entire year of hosting isn’t much more than a movie night for a family of four. With professional hosting in place, you’ll feel far more investment in your site.

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons WordPress is better than Blogger.

1. WordPress is much more customizable. Sure you can do a few things to pretty up your Blogger blog and there some things you can add on, but when it comes right down to it, the difference between the two is like the difference between renting and owning a home. A rental might let you paint or maybe plant some begonias out front, but ownership allows you to tear that baby down to the studs and go crazy building it back up.

Some people might not want or need that option, but your site IS your presence on the web, don’t you want it to fit you like a glove?

2. You’ll be taken far more seriously on your own domain. Although you can use blogger in conjunction with your own domain, most people don’t go through that step and are thus nameofblog.blogspot.com. It’s not easy to remember and looks amateur. And if you’re going to go through the trouble of buying a domain name and pointing it to Blogger, why not go the extra step and secure your own hosting? Most web hosts will install WordPress for you if you purchase a hosting package and it’s not that much more difficult from that point to begin blogging on WordPress than it would be on Blogger.

3. WordPress is very search engine friendly. Although Blogger is owned by Google, the WordPress platform has an edge when it comes to search engine optimization. Not only is it structured better for the search engines right out of the box, there are plenty of plugins designed to give you every sliver of SEO advantage possible. And with all the competition for search rankings, you do need every sliver you can get your hands on.

Of course Blogger blogs are indexed by Google and can of course achieve search engine rankings, but WordPress does offer a clear SEO advantage.

4. You own your WordPress blog. Blogger blogs are owned by Google and can be shut down at any time. Of course, Google isn’t insane and most of the time they have a good reason for shutting down a blog, but do you really want to be that one case out of 10,000 where they make the wrong call? Even if you’ve saved all the content and images you’d posted on Blogger, how will you rebuild all the inbound links and PR on a new site? If this were to happen to you, you’d more or less have to start from the beginning.

On the other hand, if you own your domain and WordPress site, if your host decides to shut you down because they feel you use too many resources or have violated their policies, you can simply pack up and move to a new host, blog intact. Again, it isn’t likely that Google would shut you down like that, but do you want to give that control to an outside corporation?

5. Blogger blogs have a certain reputation. It’s not fair and nobody should be judged by their platform, but many people have a prejudice or bias against Blogger blogs. I know sometimes I’m hesitant to even try to comment on one as so many make you comment with your Google account and then require a CAPTCHA on top of that. Blogger seems to have a reputation as being more for mommy/journal type blogs rather than serious bloggers.

Of course, that isn’t true of everyone who uses Blogger, but if I were starting from scratch, I’d go with the platform that didn’t come with a reputation for being amateur.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Blogger platform if it fits your needs. But if you have the smallest inkling that one day you’ll grow out of it and want to make the move to WordPress, it’s far simpler to start with your own WordPress blog today and save yourself the hassle of trying to move later.

Hosting can be found for as little as $5 a month and you’ll be working with one of the most customizable blog and content management systems out there. WordPress offers so many advantages over Blogger, it seems silly to start with anything else, unless you’re not planning on going anywhere with your blog.

Sean Platt is a content marketing specialist who offers free WordPress tutorials at WPSimplified.Com. Follow him on Twitter.

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