Transfer Your Website In 7 Easy Steps
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Whatever the reason may be, the task itself seems complicated. But it isn’t—at least, it doesn’t have to be if you are prepared.
Find a New Provider
If you’ve found a better deal, this step is likely already completed. If, however, you’re simply unhappy with your current service, begin the search for a new provider. Make a list of the things you don’t like about your current service and do your research. Consider tech support, operating system, databases, reliability, disk space, data transfer capabilities, scalability, and cPanel/WHM when reviewing the possibilities.
Confirm Domain Ownership
Once you have found a new provider, you want to be sure you have full ownership of your domain. Quickly check to make sure everything is in your name and the correct information is on file for the domain.
This is also a good time to think about whether or not you want to transfer your domain to a different registrar after the site transfer or simply switch the domain name system (DNS). The former requires you to register your domain with a different registrar, while the latter requires only that you switch the DNS to point to your new hosting provider.
If you haven’t had any issues with your current registrar, it’s best to simply switch the DNS. Note: It can take minutes to hours for a new DNS to propagate. Be prepared for the change to take a full 24 hours.
Be sure to halt any advertisements and promotional campaigns. Essentially, don’t post new content and don’t spend any money to send traffic to your current (soon to be old) site. This will save you money.
Set a date
Decide when you are going to make the switch and, if you have a newsletter, let visitors know that there is planned maintenance for that day. Also, consider creating a static maintenance page on your old server during the transfer.
When selecting a date, keep in mind what days are busy and what days are slow for your site. Consult Google Analytics. Choose a day and time that is slow for business, so to speak. If you’re unsure, Sunday is usually a safe bet.
Backups, Backups, Backups
Once content and advertising is stopped, you want to do a backup of your current site. This part is particularly important, so don’t leave anything behind. Be sure to include backups of the following:
- Static Files
- Site Plugins
- Site Templates
The site backup can be done via FTP without the use of any separate backup service provider. Just make sure to include the full site directory—everything and anything. You should also be sure to backup all of your site emails, as they don’t transfer to the new server/hosting provider.
While some webhosting providers will make the switch for you, it’s always a good idea to do your own site and database backups “just in case.”
Test, Test, Test
Before doing a live migration, set up a test or development site and test the site migration. During the test migration, you will transfer all your static files and import the database. Doing this allows you to identify and correct any bugs or problems before you transfer your actual site. It may seem tedious, but it can save you time, money, and heartbreak in the long run.
If anything goes wrong in the test migration, identify the problem and try again. Rinse; repeat.
Make the Switch
Once you’ve done the planning and testing, make the switch to your new site provider and enjoy your new “home.”