Switching web hosting providers is a decision that requires careful planning and execution, especially if you have an established website. To ensure a seamless migration and avoid potential data loss, follow these steps:
Step 1: Research and Choose a New Web Host
Take your time to research various web hosting providers before making a decision. Read online reviews and customer feedback to gauge their reputation and reliability. Consider factors like pricing, server configurations, uptime, storage space, CDN availability, and other essential features.
Before moving, gather the following information:
Ensure you have a means for uploading files, preferably a proper FTP client.
Obtain the DNS information for your new host and have your domain account details ready for quick settings modification.
Keep your temporary URL handy to test your site before updating the DNS.
Make a list of all server information required for necessary script changes to ensure proper script functionality.
Check if your new host offers Migration Services to simplify the process.
Step 2: Backup Your Website and Files
Backing up your website and emails is crucial to avoid data loss during the transition. Most hosting control panels offer backup software like Acronis Backup. For WordPress sites, numerous plugins can assist in the backup process. If your new host provides built-in migration or Migration Services, it may streamline the switch.
Alternatively, perform a manual migration using an FTP server like FileZilla, Cerberus, or Titan FTP Server. Download the FTP client and follow the respective website’s instructions for the backup procedure. Don’t forget to migrate your emails, especially if they are stored on your hosting server using IMAP.
Step 3: Backup Your Database
Your website’s database contains critical data, including login details, order numbers, and usage records. Back up the database and transfer it to your new host. Most hosting companies use the phpMyAdmin interface to access and export databases between providers. Before creating a new database, ensure the exported config.php file is compatible with your new host.
Step 4: Upload Your Website and Import the Database
Consult with your new host for specific details on how to upload your website and database. If you exported your database to SQL, you can use MySQL via phpMyAdmin to import your website to the new hosting account. For static websites, uploading files is as simple as transferring them to the public_html folder on your new host.
Step 5: Test Your Website on the New Host
After completing the transfer and importing the databases, test your website using a temporary URL. This allows access even when the domain name hasn’t fully propagated to the new server. If everything works as expected, proceed to the next step. If not, be prepared to make necessary adjustments and fixes.
Step 6: Change Your DNS (Domain Name Servers)
To make your website point to the new host, modify the name servers with your domain registrar. This can be a straightforward process if you’re satisfied with your current domain registrar. However, if you wish to transfer the domain to the new host, obtain the EPP or UDAI for your domain. DNS changes may take several hours to up to 72 hours to propagate.
Step 7: Inform Your Users About the Move
Show proper moving etiquette by informing your users in advance about the migration and the expected timeframe. Whether it’s a business or personal site, this helps users understand the situation and prevents confusion or concern if the website experiences downtime or issues during the transition.
Step 8: Cancel Services With Your Old Host
Review your current host’s terms and conditions regarding cancellation to avoid unnecessary charges. Make sure to back up your website before cancelling the old hosting account to prevent data loss and additional recovery costs.