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Step 5: Consolidating my online strategy – moving my content from to self-hosted Dreamhost

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Importing WordPress content to self-hosted DreamhostFlow One: Fractal graphic image by L Kaestner via Flickr

Was difficult but I got it sorted eventually.

I began with my content on my old blog:, and  I had already installed the shell of WordPress using a One Click install on Dreamhost.


To move my content from my old blog to my new blog, I went to my old blog (on, chose Admin, scrolled down the left-bar to Tools, and selected export.  WordPress automatically downloaded all my posts, categories, tags, comments and authors to a file on the  hard drive on my laptop.


To upload the content at my new blog on Dreamhost, I went to and logged in. I chose Admin, scrolled down the left-bar to Tools and chose import.

Import Fail!

I followed the instructions and it timed out after 30 seconds.


If I were importing to a blog on my localhost (WordPress on my laptop), I could edit my .htaccess file and set the maximum execution time to 3 minutes.  I can’t do this if I have One Click installed on Dream Host.  I have access to all other files but not that one.


Fortunately, someone has already solved this and has written a program to split the WXR (RSS XML) file that I had exported so successfully from my original blog.

WordPress WXR (RSS XML) Splitter

WordPress WXR (RSS XML) Splitter is downloadable as a zip file.   I made a sub-folder in my WordPress themes folder and unzipped the splitter programme there.  Then I ran it and inserted the path and name of the file of blog content that I had downloaded from WordPress.

Advantages of splitting the file of your blog content

My objective was to split the file into smaller files that I could import into my new blog one after the other.

I didn’t want to faff about so I cautiously set the splitter at 40 posts per file.  I suspect more could be crammed in but I went the cautious route of 23 by 40 posts.  Splitter runs fast and made me 23 files neatly labelled from 0 to 22.

I went back to my new blog and tried again (Admin-Tools-Import).  And it all worked perfectly though it took me well over half-an-hour.


So now I have a working theme with all my blogs, categories and tags, on a self-hosted blog at Dreamhost, and I can start tidying up details like RSS feeds, Google Analytics, email subscribe forms, and so on.

UPDATE from Dreamhost

“If I were importing to a blog on my localhost (WordPress on my laptop),
I could edit my .htaccess file and set the maximum execution time to 3
minutes.  I can’t do this if I have One Click installed on Dream Host. I
have access to all other files but not that one.”

You do have access to the .htaccess file. The One-Click installer doesn’t
prevent that, you have access and can change/delete any file in that

The problem is that the “php_value max_execution_time 180” addition to
the .htaccess file will not change how PHP runs in the DreamHost
environment. It worked on your home computer because you are running PHP
as an Apache module (mod_php). On the DreamHost servers however PHP
processes are run in CGI mode. This means PHP will work independent of
Apache and therefor doesn’t look in the .htaccess file (this file passes
instructions to Apache) for configuration changes. When running PHP in
CGI mode most configuration changes come from the php.ini file which is
owned by the root user and therefor can’t be modified directly by your

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  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Finally – someone has written clear, step-by-step, plain English instructions for newbies! I can’t thank you enough. Am now going through the process you went through – moving my blog to self-hosted on DreamHost – and I found that although there are several support/help topics/articles but most are written with the assumption that the reader understands all the terminology and concepts – well, for someone like me, everythign is totally new – I don’t know what a ‘php.ini’ is or ‘.htaccess file’ – and reading all this jargon just made me more confused and panicky. Thank God I found your site. Thank you for a great article. I’m going off now to follow your steps and hopefully split my XML file and import it successfully as well.

  2. A pleasure. Shout if it doesn’t work and I’ll try to remember what I did!

    Nice dog too!

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