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I help to run a 15 year old site which is powered by wordpress (along with various kinds of legacy static content). The site has probably 20,000 wordpress posts. The main site administrator wants to stop adding new content to this site and wants a way to make an archive of the site available without allowing editing. He also wants (if possible) a way to preserve the URLs.What options are available for him to maintain the site over the long term with minimal effort? Here are some options we have considered:

  1. hosting on wordpress.com and keeping it live. (So wordpress.com will do the necessary site updates.

  2. just letting it be available from archive.org (via alexa). The main problem with this is that alexa/archive.org loses a lot of images and doesn't allow searches within the domain itself.

  3. searching for some tool to spit out posts and pages into static HTML pages. (This sounds theoretically possible, but we haven't really investigated how to do so).

We are greatly constrained by cash, but it seems all we need is a hosting service to apply security updates to the server and database and to do security audits.

Can you recommend a process for putting a wordpress site into a deep freeze or at least a semi-long term hibernation? What are some options for archiving a wordpress site to preserve the URLs and keep it safe for medium or long term?

It's probably worth asking how we would harden the wordpress database and what kinds of security settings would we need for the webhosting services?

I suppose we could turn off comments on wordpress and probably disable user accounts except for maybe one admin account. We have about 15 plugins installed (yes, don't get me started), so there needs to be some plugin management over time as plugins became unsupported or useless.

Related: this interesting article about posthumous web hosting http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/hosting-your-website-after-death--cms-23492

  • It sounds like from the idea of using Archive.org (which I agree with you won't be a good solution) it doesn't seem to matter if the site is actually live. So to clarify, Is the goal to have the site live (and essentially dormant) or can you take the site offline totally (as long as you have it preserved and can resurrect the site later in the future)? – Tony DiNitto Jun 15 '16 at 23:12
  • the goal is to have the URLs still active and live as much as possible. As I said, archive.org offers a kind of solution, but it doesn't seem to archive things with a high degree as possible. – idiotprogrammer Jun 15 '16 at 23:24
  • If you spit out a static version of the site, what are you going to do with the original WordPress installation? – JCL1178 Jun 16 '16 at 5:58
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Your third option is definitely the way to go - leave all the bloat behind and go static. I recommend Jekyll for managing the static site since it has the largest number of users, which makes finding tutorials and troubleshooting answers easier.

There are two approaches you can take, either export your WP site to Jekyll-ready output with a plugin or set up Jekyll first and use it to import your site.

Posting a complete tutorial on how to export/import the site and set up Jelyll are way beyond the scope of this site but that should get you started. Once you have the site converted to completely static files, you can put everything on your choice of hosting services. AWS's S3 or CloudFront are popular choices and are inexpensive, but you can put the static files on almost any hosting service.

If you are worried about setting up Jekyll, try doing it on a virtual machine using something like VirtualBox. It's free and you won't make a mess of your system if you run into problems. As always, make a backup of the site database and files before trying anything new.

If you have SSH access to the machine currently hosting the site you can take a quick backup like this, substituting the UPPERCASE for whatever your variables happen to be (hopefully this is self-explanatory):

Database backup mysqldump --lock-tables -u DATABASE_USER -pPASSWORD DATABASE_NAME > /PATH/TO/BACKUP/SITE_NAME-database-backup-$(date +%Y%m%d).sql

Site files: tar czf /SAVE/LOCATION/SITE_NAME-files-backup$(date +%Y%m%d).tgz -C /var/www/SITE-FOLDER/ . (don't forget that trailing space-then-dot . it's not punctuation or a typo).

Don't output the site or DB backup to somewhere the web server can serve them obviously, or anyone can download them and discover your configuration files and passwords. I see a surprising number of WP sites doing this, try visiting the occasional WP site's IP address directly to see for yourself - it shouldn't take many tries.

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You can use this (usually) to make an HTML copy of the site that does not have dynamic content (or backend, admin, etc.). Then just upload the HTML to the directory of your choice and configure it to be served... maybe "http://archive.yoursiteurl.com"

HtTrack

It's been years since I used it, but it works (worked) quite well.

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