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FTP Publishing - Moving Ahead

Some time ago, in my comprehensive comparison of Custom Domain vs FTP Publishing, I suggested that
FTP publishing has a limited life span. From an economic and support viewpoint, it makes more sense for Blogger to concentrate its attention on Custom Domain publishing.


This week, we have a new, annoying problem with FTP publishing, which, regardless of what may or may not be stated by Blogger, does not seem to be solved. And we have a possible reliability improvement in custom domain publishing, with the dreaded "404 Not Found" problem, recently, becoming less frequently reported.

It's possible that my prior suspicion may become reality sometime in the near future. Some of you, currently publishing your blogs using FTP Publishing, may do well to consider changing to Custom Domain Publishing. And in doing so, you should consider several key issues.
  • If you initially published your blog to the FTP server prior to November 2007, it's possible that the original BlogSpot URL isn't associated with the external URL. If the BlogSpot URL is associated with the blog, it's probably through some workarounds that you may have put into place, on your own. With Custom Domain publishing, the BlogSpot URL used to setup the blog is automatically redirected to the Custom Domain URL. You'll need to publish the blog to BlogSpot, to ensure a BlogSpot URL is in place first.
  • If you're hosting a domain on an external server, you're probably hosting photos there too. You may want to plan to migrate the photos, and host them on Google servers, unless you want to keep maintaining the FTP server with the existing photos. Unfortunately, migrating the photos will involve manual effort.
  • If you're hosting a domain on an external server, you will need to ensure that the registrar for the domain provides DNS servers that support CNAME referral. If not, you'll want to find another registrar, or buy another domain.
  • If you're hosting a web site on an external server, when you move to hosting the web site (blog) on a custom domain, the structure of the blog, and some URLs, may change. If the blog is part of a web site, you'll want to update the web site, to reflect the change.
  • With an FTP published blog, you have folder and file control. You may have files, installed in the root of the blog, that enable automated processes, such as search engine spiders, to index the blog. You'll have to use meta tag records for similar functions, when your blog is published back to Blogger.
  • When the blog is published back to Blogger, the URLs of some files will likely change, to include publishing month, and title hash, uniformly. If you have any external or internal references to individual posts (and most blogs do), be aware of this change. Plan to use a missing files host, to reduce the impact of this issue.


With all of that said, let's plan the actual move.
  1. Carefully consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of FTP and Custom Domain publishing.
  2. Go through the issues list above, and consider each as it applies to your blog.
  3. If the move from FTP to custom domain involves a change in URL, let your readers know in advance.
  4. Publish the blog back to a BlogSpot URL.
  5. Update the DNS records to reflect the custom domain setup.
  6. Publish the blog to the custom domain.


We can actually describe steps 5 and 6 in combination, as setup a custom domain. You'll have 2 alternatives, here.
  • If you can use the existing domain, just update or add a "CNAME" referral for the blog, redirecting it to "ghs.google.com". Here, you'll use the "Advanced Settings" wizard.
  • If you need a new domain for the blog, use "Buy A Domain", and you're done.
Either way, this task has been tried and tested by hundreds of bloggers before you, if you start from a BlogSpot published blog.

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