Published Nov 8, 2013

I’ve had this blog for twelve years, and during those twelve years it’s lived on many different platforms. It started on something home-baked, switched to Movable Type, then lived on Tumblr, and finally made its home on Wordpress. When it came time to wind things down, I knew I wanted everything in one place. This is how I made that permanent archive.

The first step was to define what “archive” meant. The only archive I wanted was a completely static-HTML version of the site with all the pages properly linked, plus as many images, comments, and other doo-dads as possible on the pages, where they originally were. This system had to be owned and hosted by me.

Keeping formatting, images, etc., goes without saying — that’s part of preserving what I created. Owned and hosted by me should also be obvious; while Blogspot seems like it will last forever, you never know. Having it on my own system prevents surprises. (Of course, I need to make sure I have a real backup somewhere.)

But why the static HTML? Well, that’s a security thing. All content management systems will eventually be hacked, even a blogging system. The more outdated it is, the more vulnerable. The worst thing, security-wise, to do would be to throw up a system; get it running; and then forget about it. In the future, that’s sure to be hacked, and all content to be lost.

On the other hand, static HTML pages are essentially unhackable.

What could import everything and also export static HTML, while running on my own servers? Well, Wordpress can do everything except for static. Movable Type, on the other hand, publishes static pages by default, and a whole MT site works without involving the CMS at all, from a visitor’s point of view.

A nice side effect of going for MT was that I could use my old templates. So, say hello to the format I used during the golden age of!

Here’s the step-by-step to getting your own permanent archive of your old blog:

  1. Get a cheap webhost. I like Dreamhost
  2. Download Movable Type. I like the 4.3.8 version but feel free to try one of the 5.x versions if you haven’t used it before.
  3. Install Movable Type
  4. Import all content into your Wordpress blog. You can import Tumblr content into a blog easily or use the plugin if you’re self-hosted.
  5. Export everything from Wordpress
  6. If you’ve been using formatting plugins, such as Markdown, in Wordpress, find them for Movable Type
  7. Import into Movable Type as Wordpress XRSS
  8. Everything’s there! You can clean up detail formatting or not

Enjoy your blog archive!