Are you thinking of moving your website to a new server? The major issue most website encounter in doing so is the accompanying downtime and possible data loss. There could also be small hitches which can threaten user experience while. You could lose website visitors due to this and also lose website ranking when not done properly.
To move your website to a new server without any of these problems, here are some steps you should follow to the letter
Back up Your Files
In such important changes as this, the very first step is to back-up your files. This is to prevent any loss of data if anything goes wrong during the transfer. You easily retrieve your website files and re-try the transfer. There are several website back-up options for you to choose from. Some hosts also provide back-up options too.
Choose a New Host
There are many reasons that can prompt the desire to change host. You have growing traffic and your current hosting options cannot handle the traffic? Host downtime is affecting your revenue and traffic? You are not comfortable with the pricing any longer?
There are lots of alternative hosts to choose from. Some are also recommended by WordPress for best results. Some top host companies like Bluehost, SiteGround, Heart Internet, 101 Ionos and Domains4Less Hosting also offer reliable cloud hosting which you may find valuable at some point. After you buy your new hosting, do not install WordPress yet until at a later stage.
Set up Duplicator Plugin for Easier Migration
The Duplicator plugin, just as the name suggests, is a WordPress plugin that allows you to transfer website files without losing SEO or experiencing downtime. The plugin is free and can be gotten from the official WordPress website.
Install and activate the plugin on your WordPress Admin dashboard. Once you have done that, navigate to Duplicator >> Packages and click on the “Create New” button at the top right corner. This allows you to create and set-up a new package. Click on “Next”, make sure the scan checks out and hit “Build”. Wait for the plugin to copy your files and then click on “One-Click Download” to finish up.
Upload Your WordPress Site to the New Host
After you have downloaded both the installer and archive files, the next step is to upload them to your new host. The easier way to do this is by connecting to your new web host by File Transfer Protocol (FTP). When uploading using FTP, you need to upload both the archive and installer files to the root directory of your website. Make sure WordPress is not installed first before doing so.
Change the Hosts File to Prevent Downtime
After uploading the two files to the root directory of your website, you will notice a 404 error when you try to access the installer file in a browser. This is because your domain name is still connected to the old host. A host file allows you access your website and its files temporarily on your computer granting you continued uptime.
Obtain and copy the IP address of your new host server, then proceed to run Notepad as an administrator in your computer. On the Notepad navigate to
File >> Open and to the C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc folder. Enter the copied IP address and your domain name in this format – 192.168.1.23 www.justanexample.com. Save your changes when you are done and remember to undo it after you’ve completed the entire migration process.
Create MySQL Database on Your New Host
You will need to create a MySQL database on the new host before running the installer file. After creating a MySQL database in cPanel, you will need to create a new user and add it to the database. This enables you to modify the database anytime without restrictions. Migrate to MySQL user section, set up the user account with a good username and profile, and add the user to the created database. Be sure to note down the database name, username, and password.
Run the Migration Process
To begin the actual migration process, access the following address in your browser – http://www.yourdomainnamehere.com/installer.php. The installer will run some tests and “Pass” you on to archive and validation tests. You will be required to agree to the terms and conditions before the process completes.
Enter the database name, username, and password when asked and click on the “Next” button when the Duplicator connects successfully. Do not update the site path or URL if you are not changing your domain name. The Duplicator will import your files from the archive to the new host and then show you the login button when it’s done.
Update Your Domain Name Servers
At this point, you have successfully cloned your website on the new host server, but your domain still points to the old host. In order to switch the domain, you need to change the domain name servers (DNS). This is responsible for correctly directing your website visitors to the new host. Request the DNS information and proper assistance from your new host.
Name server changes sometimes take up to 48 hours to be complete for all users, but there will be no downtime at all. It is also safe to wait for a week before canceling your old hosting account.
Switching hosts are one process new website administrators might find difficult without help. With these steps, the process will be a lot simplified for you. However, you can always contact your new host at any point for help.