To move a site from one server to another I decided to give Shipper Pro a shot. This is a comparison/review of Shipper Pro with Duplicator by Snap Creek. https://snapcreek.com/duplicator
I should preface this by acknowledging that I could be missing some key feature in Shipper that could have changed my entire experience and perspective. If anything I note here is incorrect, I'll give it another shot.
There were errors trying to get started with Shipper. With the source being on a shared host I'm guessing resource consumption was too high. I get that problem. But I'm not sure that was the problem. The errors were too cryptic to really diagnose the issue. I could not get around this despite looking around in this site and elsewhere. And no, I didn't have time to open a chat with our talented friends in WPMU DEV Support.
To my understanding, Shipper requires a second site to be installed with WP. The source or target site will initiate a transfer – that's great. But it means we need to do that second installation manually.
Compare this with the Duplicator plugin, which I've been using for years, asked WPMU Dev to emulate, and wound up using for this current effort.
Duplicator generates a payload which then gets FTP'd into the target system. There is a feature to build the data in a different format, specifically for sites with limited server resources, so no errors.
Then we go to target.tld/installer.php. It installs the site into a new database. We don't need to install a site first, install the WPMU DEV Dashboard, link our site to our membership, install Shipper Pro, and then convert the site. ( I haven't tried Shipper without a linked membership so someone might correct me, if this can be done just by installing the plugin on both sides from wp.org. )
What specifically are the differences?
– With Shipper we install a new WP site, which means FTP'ing the core into a server folder.
– With Duplicator we need to save the source site, and FTP that into the same location where the WP core would be saved. Shipper wins with one FTP versus two for Duplicator.
– With Shipper the target site gets setup with the simple and common WP install process. We specify the database, site name, and a few other details.
– With Duplicator, on execution of /installer.php, we enter the same database detail, not much else. While this is a little easier than installing a full WP package, let's just call this an equal effort, given the famous "5 minute" WP install.
– With Shipper we then need to install Shipper on the target and initiate a transfer (from either side).
– With Duplicator, there is no transfer, the installer does the full install using the already FTP'd payload. So in this case Duplicator wins, we're just trading one save/transfer mechanism for another.
Where's the pain?
Given the above, I still consider Duplicator to have an easier flow, even if we're just changing the perspective of how the data is saved and transfered, and how the components are installed. This is of course personal preference, others may have different preferences – no one is wrong. It was the initial errors from resources that compelled me to stop the Shipper effort and to install Duplicator.
The Duplicator solution is completely free for the described application, and it's been my perception is that using it is easier. For me to use Shipper, it needs to do more and better than the free features of a competitor. It need a reason to exist other than being supported by a different vendor. I'm just not feeling that compelling differentiation … yet. I have no reason to switch to Shipper … yet. But I will continue to monitor the change logs for Shipper, and will try again if and when it seems Shipper has achieved some compelling differentiation, without errors that force a search for another solution.