Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you aren’t perfectly happy with your web hosting company?
Maybe the technical support doesn’t help enough. Or, the prices seem to be steadily rising while the quality of service drops.
Think about this for a moment. You really want to move your website to a new host. But, you’ve heard from various other sources that it isn’t an easy job. You’ve been told that the website downtime can stretch into days, but you just can’t afford to have your site out of action for too long.
You start to worry that your emails will get lost in migration and all your business contacts will disappear.
I know the feeling. I was in your shoes and heard all the rumors. And, put up with the hosting problems for many months (I won’t say the company’s name, but let’s just say they are no longer trading!). Then I was talking to a friend and by chance, the subject came up. Let’s just say, he certainly put me straight.
My friend had a small consulting engineering business that was starting to grow. Work was coming in fast. He had built his website using WordPress and the customer tech support was great. The support guys held his hand while setting up the site and guided him in the right direction. Over time, he realized there were things lacking that would make his company run smoother. He needed unlimited inbox storage because his current email package meant it was hard to keep track of important documents and messages. They needed to be more accessible. He also decided it would be beneficial to move everything to a cloud-based server to improve the flexibility of his system.
Like me, he was stuck with the old system and didn’t want the upheaval of migrating to a new host and especially the expected downtime.
Then, one day, he couldn’t take it any longer. He bit the bullet and decided to migrate to a new host. As it turned out, the switchover was quite painless and everything went really smoothly. All it needed was a bit of advice from the web hosting company and everything just slotted into place.
His experience sounded really good, so I’ve decided to share it with you.
How do I go about it?
The best and easiest option is to find a hosting company that will migrate your site for free.
The web hosting industry is full of start-up companies and they have to try to entice new customers to use their services. Many companies, therefore, offer free assistance if you decide to switch to one of their hosting packages. This means that they transfer all your files, databases and archives to the new host without you having to do anything. All you do is sign up for a new package and leave the hard work of migration to the support guys.
Depending on the Control Panel in your old hosting package, the migration experts may transfer your site to their server automatically. If not, then they’ll do the job manually. But, even this is pretty straightforward for someone who knows what they are doing. Furthermore, it will only take a few days depending on the size of your site.
Before you sign up, however, make sure the new provider will guarantee a seamless migration with no downtime at all.
Some hosts that will help
Provides shared hosting for all types of websites. Static, Content Management Systems or custom applications. They support all the common developer tools and provide a ‘drag and drop’ website builder to make things really easy. They will install WordPress, Joomla or PrestaShop into your control panel too. But best of all, they guarantee No-Downtime website migration free of charge. There are lots of other goodies on offer too, such as unlimited disk space, unlimited emails, and a security suite. They have three basic packages aimed at different customers, (discounted at the time of writing) priced at $3.99, $5.99 or $13.99 per month.
They will help you build your website using various site builders such as WordPress, Weebly, and others. Or, they’ll migrate your existing site, either with a WordPress plugin or using their experts. The cost of this depends on the plan you choose. But, it’s either free of charge or a minimum of $20 per site. They also include an impressive range of features such as speed, security, managed WordPress, reliable email service and more. The packages on offer (at a special price at time of writing) cost $2.95. $4.95 and $8.95 per month.
Advertise themselves as ‘All the Managed Hosting You Will Ever Need’. As of August 2019, Customer Satisfaction Survey Company Customer.guru gave Liquid Web a leading Net Promoter Score of 69, seriously outranking many other hosting companies. They offer both Linux and Windows hosting and their range of packages is probably one of the most comprehensive, with a price to suit almost all budgets from $19.99 per month up to several hundred dollars. Looking at their website you can see the features on offer.
- Dedicated Servers provide high-level security and performance
- Cloud VPS Hosting gives the control of a dedicated server at the low price of the cloud
- Dedicated Cloud servers are single-tenant and provide dedicated resources
- Cloud Sites is an easy way to launch your website and requires no server knowledge
- Managed WordPress means that the installation and plugins are updated automatically
- Managed WooCommerce Hosting provides an all-in-one solution for WooCommerce stores.
Or you could migrate the site yourself
No pressure there then!
But seriously, if your chosen host doesn’t offer assistance to migrate, you could do the job independently. Now would be a good time to use your own IT staff (if you have them) or choose the services of an independent professional. Many website hosts provide step-by-step instructions on how to migrate a site, so it’s not really searching blindly in the dark. Especially if you have some experience.
There are some best practices for migrating a website so if you read on you’ll discover how to do this quickly and safely.
Choose your new web host
Make a list of the features you want in your new website hosting company. This could include
- Better tech support or customer service
- Stronger security
- Larger server storage space
- Mailbox and email improvements
- Improved uptime rates
- Shopping carts
- Attractive pricing
The possible features are almost endless, so look at each one and decide whether it’s important to you or whether you can live without it. Then, make your decision based on those answers.
One important thing I almost forgot. Do NOT cancel your old account at this stage. Sign up to the new one and migrate all your files first.
Back up your files
After signing up for your new hosting package, don’t immediately cancel your old one otherwise you won’t be able to access your files and that would be a BIG problem!
Instead, back up all the files linked to the website. Don’t forget to include the emails, if you’re migrating those too. While we’re on the subject, believe it or not, there are advantages to keeping email hosting separate from website hosting but that’s moving off track for this article. HostingReview.com has another article explaining the reasons for having emails separate from websites so you can read all about it there.
Your old hosting package should have a control panel that explains how to migrate your files. Do this using the FTP facility. Don’t forget databases either. And, if you’re transferring your emails they’ll need archiving at the very least.
Don’t neglect this stage as it’s vital to preserving the integrity of your website during transfer.
Move your Domain’s DNS Record
When you migrate your website, you need to tell your Internet Service Provider (ISP) where the files are stored, otherwise, you won’t be seen online. Do this by requesting the DNS details from your new host and ask them to make the change their end. Then, give the details to your old host and inform them of the change. Usually, it may take anything up to 48 hours for the change to take place, at which time the new website becomes visible at the new address.
You’ve now migrated everything over to the new host and changed the DNS. That should be all, shouldn’t it?
No, you’d be wrong. Don’t take it for granted that all the files transferred in one piece. Check all the files and databases associated with your website and make sure that everything works as it should. Only after everything checks out should you cancel your old hosting plan.
Oh, by the way, if you originally bought your domain name via the old hosting company, you’ll need to keep that registration subscription running, so don’t cancel that one.
Cancel your old account
Hooray! We’re finally here. Once you’ve ensured all the files migrated properly, and switched the DNS record, you can do this final job. Ensure you still have your domain name registered and wave goodbye to your old host. It’s as simple as that!
Moving your website to a new host doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of hosting companies who’ll do the work for you, with no hassle. Or, if you want to do it yourself, then with a little experience and a good step-by-step checklist you can quite easily migrate your website files to your new host.
Don’t think of the process as something like moving home, think of it as more like an upgrade. Remember, the purpose of migrating to a new host should be to improve your own experience and that of your customers who use the site.
One last thing. My friend who made the move to a new host did so while being informed of all the pitfalls and advantages that migration can bring. If you want to migrate your website, make sure you do it using managed and informed procedures.