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February 23, 2014 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Updating Wordpress website, how to we archive old site so as not to break long-standing links?

The NGO I work with is upgrading its website. We have 1000s of links to our academic-based, science website. We want to suffer as little linkrot as possible. (Besides which there are plenty of scientific peers who regularly refer to old links). We want to create an active archive of the present site while creating something smarter and more sensible than our present site.

How do we upgrade to a new Wordpress theme and create an archive of what we have up now?
if you happen to be into space exploration, BTW, and are also a web developer/designer with some resources and time on your hands, Mefi mail me.)
posted by Mike Mongo to Technology (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you're just upgrading the theme, all the pages will still be active. You can hide them and just show the new/streamlined content and all the old links will work. However, they will use the new theme. If you want to keep the old pages in the same Wordpress site and keep the look of the old theme, you could mess around with making the old theme a template inside the new theme, but it would be better to just make a copy of the current site, even though you will have to maintain two installs for security reasons.

If you are making a copy of the site in an archive directory for archive reasons and want to preserve the links:

There are plugins, code snippets, etc. that will generate lists of all your permalinks (example and another example). You can take that and make a list of 301 redirects so that /url-about-space goes to /archive/url-about-space. You'll probably have to make a redirect for each page if there is nothing about the URL to indicate it must be part of the old site (the new site could easily have its own /url-about-space.)

Then, you just move the Wordpress install or the index.php, depending on how it's currently set up, into your archive directory or subdomain, change the URL in settings and you should be set.
posted by michaelh at 9:13 PM on February 23, 2014

One of my favorite tools for redirecting old links is called (appropriately) Redirection. It keeps track of broken links and allows you to add redirect links so all old links seamlessly forward to their new content.

We use it in conjunction with more power pattern-based .htaccess redirects, and the two together work very well AND help you monitor old links.
posted by letitrain at 9:13 PM on February 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would second the suggestion to use the Redirection plug-in as needed if any URLs must change. If you are going from one WordPress theme to another, you may not even need to change any file naming conventions -- unless you want to, that is. A similar plug-in that I like to use even more is called Simple 301 Redirects which I have found is simple enough even for end users to use. The form interface lets you type the "old" URL in one field, and the "new" one in a field next to it.
posted by lgandme0717 at 12:13 AM on February 24, 2014

Given your description, the change of a theme would not cause any kind of shift that would cause linkrot -- unless you have customizations unique to your particular theme.

I'm also a big fan of tools like Xenu Link Sleuth and linklint for traversing links to find patterns, brokenness, or reveal parts of large websites I'm rehabbing.
posted by artlung at 3:33 PM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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