Verify Your Home Directories

Last week I was creating a blog for one of my web clients. A quick down and dirty for informational purposes is that what you do is go into your host and create an area for your blog software to be uploaded to. If you’re domain is going to be your blog then you’re pretty much set. However, if you’re going to add your blog to your existing domain, then you need to create a subdirectory within it.

by Niels Hiedenreich

I went into her host account, which is also 1&1, and created the subdirectory. When you do this, you have to make sure you’re creating the subdirectory within the original domain as opposed to creating a subdomain outside of the main domain. No, I’m not even going to try explaining that because it looks and sounds stupid no matter how I might try to clarify it. lol

After 10 minutes I went to check and the new folder was there, all set for me to upload the software. I did all of that, using WordPress of course, and it took just over 5 minutes. I had already prepared myself by going into MySQL and creating a database for the blog, so I opened the wp.config.sample.php file and put the proper information into it, then uploaded it as wp.config.php, as you’re supposed to do.

All seemed to go fine. I went to the link for the blog, created a password, signed in and all looked pretty good; normal, I’ll say. I had gone searching for a few different templates for my client to select from, but I chose one to start with because I know she likes colors. I had to do this conversion thing to switch it from PHP 4.4.9 to PHP 5.2, and once I completed that I installed just a few plugins that I thought were important to start with.

Everything looked pretty good, but I had noticed when I was looking at one of the themes I was considering that there was some error code showing up. I had planned on sending her an email telling her about the blog, but decided to wait until the next morning.

Next morning comes and I try to find her blog; it’s not there. Neither is her website; ouch! Actually, her website was now showing up as a skeleton of what her blog would look like without any pattern or background. Nope, this wasn’t good. I thought that maybe I had done something wrong to the .htaccess file so I went in and deleted that; nothing happened. I reloaded all the blog software; nothing. As a matter of fact, I was now getting one of those Error 500 messages; things seemed to be getting worse.

I decided to delete all the blog files and start again; this was taking forever. When that was completed I tried to go to the main website and now I was getting Error 403. I wasn’t quite sure about that one so I did what I should have done in the first place. I went to the host site and then to their FAQ. I looked up Error 403 and it said that meant the site was being directed somewhere that didn’t exist as the main directory.

Suddenly it all made sense. I went into the domain settings and I had made a mistake. I had created the new directory, but inadvertently told the site that the new directory would be the new main directory instead of a subdirectory of the one already existing. Ugh! Had I checked the stupid FAQ first I’d have saved myself an hour’s worth of headaches. I went back into the domain area, told it that the original directory was the main directory, waited 5 minutes, and the website was back, proud as anything.

After that I reloaded all the blog software, et al, and the new blog is back in service, looking great, and the original website is back as well; whew!

As I look back on this I realize that I wouldn’t have found the error if I hadn’t started deleting some of the blog files. After all, I had that Error 500 thing, and I’ve seen that before. I put in all the tricks I knew of to get rid of it, the simple stuff, and none of that worked. Not a single reference I found even mentioned checking out the directory first. So, if I can save anyone a little bit of time by writing this post, then it’ll all have been worth it.

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14 thoughts on “Verify Your Home Directories”

  1. Ouch that sounds like a lengthy procedure, I kind of thought though, since you basically made a little guide out of this blog post, maybe it’d be a good idea to make a more through guide and an ebook out of it? Just suggesting.

    1. It’s a thought, Gabriele, although after the main point I’m not sure what I’d add to it. lol

  2. Hi Mitch,

    I know that must have been a frustrating learning experience. I still get confused when I use FTP and the file tree is not what I expected. On 1&1, I have a domain whose “folder” in the destination column is /mydomain. When I open FTP, I don’t see /mydomain because it’s really / (the root or “home” directory).

    The way I keep it straight is to remind myself that the destination is just a container for the entire tree.




    1. Mitch, it was frustrating because I certainly had other plans for that hour I killed. Even when you’ve been doing things awhile, there’s always the new learning process because it’s not something you do on a daily basis.

  3. Now that’s a tricky one!
    I imagine all your frustration Mitch while trying to put your hands on the problem!
    I’m planning to add a blog to my website pretty soon, will make sure to not fall in that mistake!
    Thanks for the tip Mitch.

    1. Glad to help, Amr. If it stops one person from losing all the time I did, it’s worth it.

  4. Wow, Mitch you almost broke it :).
    I think all’s well that ends well, although I am still confused about the part when you change the root directory of domain.

    A wp installation should be straightforward, create a sub-folder, upload files, set config then go mess the frontend of the blog.

    Or you could have done it easier if the host had Cpanel with fantastico. This would guide you through a wizard that helps you install a large number of scripts.

    1. Alex, it didn’t end up having anything to really go with the WP installation as much as it had to do with creating the sub directory. It turns out you can actually create new home directories with my host; I didn’t know that at the time.

  5. Hey Mitch,

    I have never tried to add a blog to my existing domain before so I never experienced the technical issues you faced. However, I can still appreciate your advice in this post and I will keep this in mind whenever I do decide to add a blog to my existing domain.

    I’m glad to hear that you figured out the error you made and got that site back up. That shows your resourcefulness and experience. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. Thanks John. You know I wasn’t going to let something like that keep me down; I’m only surprised I haven’t made that mistake before now.

  6. 1&1 hosting is definitely not the best one, a huge part of my customers, about 6 years ago were hosted on 1&1, we moved them all. As well I have seen many security issues and poor support team. 500 error mean 2 things, crash over php functionality or no enough resources. However, even we are experienced, sometimes we are tired and things that are in front of our eyes are invisible. Had very similar experience with Joomla the other day, things that I have done more than 100 times were just invisible, I just took a rest and everything was clear after that.

    1. Truthfully Carl, I’ve seen the rankings for some of the other large hosting companies, and even though 1&1 ranks lower all the numbers are pretty close to each other. One of my friends was recently telling me that he had problems with Hostgator last year that I was just experiencing. So, there’s really not much difference for me. And I actually find myself liking not having to work with Cpanel much better; I guess it’s just what we all get used to.

  7. Mitch,

    I read your post with interest and certainly understood your frustration, but for me, after a few near disasters, I decided messing around at the back of my blog wasn’t a strength or a skill I had time to pursue. I can upload from FTP, beyond that I call in help. I have been fortunate to have had really good tech support in the hosting companies I have used.

    But a reminder to read the FAQ is a good one for all of us no matter what our skill level. If you have a problem someone else has probably encountered it and done the sweat work on it.



    1. No problem Nick. In this particular case, though, reading the FAQ too early wouldn’t have yielded the answer I needed until I did something else. I was kind of shocked I didn’t see this issue anywhere else when I was searching online for it.

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