Many first-time website owners make the mistake of hosting their website with a cheap web hosting provider. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of these hosting providers available, and there may come a time when it is necessary to move the web site to a hosting company that provides faster response time, less server down time, better technology or better customer service and technical support. Follow the steps outlined below to make moving your website to a new server painless and simple.
Step One – Setup Your New Hosting Account
Once you have decided on a reliable web host, the first step is to setup your new hosting account. If your website has a database, make sure your hosting account uses the same technology as your current server. If your site uses Active Server Pages, you will generally need a Windows hosting plan. If your site uses PHP/MySQL, you can use a Linux hosting plan. Other server and database technologies are available, so make sure your new host server is compatible with your website. When your new hosting account is established, you can proceed to step two.
Step Two – Backup Your Current Website
There are several ways to backup your website. You can FTP to your current hosting account and save every single file to your computer’s hard drive. You’ll also want to export any databases you may have. You can also usually backup your site files through your website control panel or administration panel. If your old host and new host both utilize the popular cPanel hosting administration, you can backup your entire site and migrate it to the new hosting account via cPanel without having to upload each file individually. You may need to reestablish database connections by creating the authorized user accounts on your new hosting server.
Step Three – Setup Your Email Accounts
In order to make the transition as seamless as possible, you will want to setup all your existing email accounts on your new hosting account. This ensures email is delivered when you change your DNS over to your new host. Your client email program such as Outlook may need some configuration to work with your new host, but if your accounts are established, your messages will be delivered.
If you use your current host’s webmail program to check your email, download all your mail to a client such as Outlook. This prevents old email from being lost when your current host account is closed.
Step Four – Upload Your Website Files and Test your Site
Upload your site files via FTP and import your databases. Establish a connection to your database and test your website via the temporary URL provided by your host provider. It is imperative you test your site and make sure everything works properly at this step.
Step Five – Change Your Domain Name’s DNS Settings
In this step, you’ll want to change the DNS settings of your domain name to point to your site at your new hosting provider. You can obtain the proper DNS settings from your new host, and your old host or your domain registrar should be able to help you enter these if you’re having trouble. DNS changes take up to seventy-two hours to propogate or update across the internet, so wait at least that long before moving on to the final step.
Step Six – Cancel Your Old Hosting Account
Once your new host is up and running, your website works as planned and your email is all in place, it is time to shut down your old hosting account. Once that is complete, you have successfully migrated your website from your old hosting provider to your new host!
It’s not difficult to switch to a new web host and if you complete the above steps in order, the transition will be as painless as possible. There are many good website hosting companies available, and some that are not-so-good, so do your homework before jumping to a new host.