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How to Move Your Website to a New Web Host

Over the years, we've moved a lot of websites. More often than not we are saving a client from a bad host and proudly becoming their new web hosting partner. Transferring a website from one host to another can be a tricky process. To help, we've put together a guide detailing the steps necessary to transfer your website with no downtime.

Get a new web hosting plan

This is an obvious first step when switching hosting companies, but it's important to pick the right kind of hosting for your website. The majority of websites will need Linux hosting, but ASP and .NET websites will require Windows hosting. Keep this in mind when choosing hosting for your website.

If you aren't sure what kind of web hosting your website needs, ask the person that designed it. If that isn't an option, have a web developer take a quick look or contact us and we'll tell you for free.

Transfer your website files and code

The first step is to transfer your website files and code to your new hosting account. The absolute easiest way to handle this is by letting your new web host do it on your behalf. Check with them to see if this is a possibility!

If you need to manually transfer the files yourself, you can use an FTP / SFTP client (such as FileZilla) to download your website files to your computer and then upload them to your new hosting account.

Remember to configure the FTP client to use the correct HOST, USERNAME and PASSWORD - which would have been provided to you by both your old and new hosts.

In most cases, your web files will be located in the /www or /public_html directories, so make sure you download and upload to the correct directories!

If both your old and new host use the same type of control panel (cPanel, Plesk, etc), your new web host should be able to easily transfer your entire website at little or no cost to you!

Transfer your databases

If your website doesn't use databases, then you can skip this step. However, most modern websites do, so you'll need to make sure to copy your current database and set it up at your new host. If you are not familiar with databases, this step can be very tricky and you might require some assistance from your hosting provider.

At your old host:
Access to your databases is going to be via your old host's control panel. You will need to make one or more database exports and download them to your computer. If they do not provide you with a control panel to do this, you will need to contact them and ask that they provide you with an export of your database(s).

At your new host:
You will need to use your new host's control panel to set up new databases and upload your data. When setting up the new databases, try to name them the same as your old databases. However, a lot of times this is not possible and you may need to name them differently. Just keep track of the new database names.

You will also need to set up users for those databases, which your website configuration (next step!) will need in order to access the database.

Make code and configuration changes

If your database information has changed, your website code may need to be updated to reflect the new database names, usernames or passwords you set up at your new host. This will need to be done on your computer and then re-upload the changed files.

Test your website at your new host

Your new host should provide you with a temporary URL to see your new website. This would look something like http://yournewhost.com/~youruser/ or something similar. You will want to make sure your website works as expected at your new host.

Set up your email addresses

Email addresses can usually be set up via your new host's control panel.

Keep in mind that usually the email itself is not easily transferable. You will want to make sure your email client has your emails downloaded locally.

Update your DNS

The last step is to change your domain's DNS to point at your new host. Your new web host can provide you with the necessary DNS nameservers to use.

In most cases the changes are very fast, but it could take up to 72 hours for this change to reflect in all corners of the internet.. So just wait a few days!

Getting help along the way

If you get stuck or need help along the way, we recommend getting in touch with your new web hosting provider for help. If you follow this guide, your website will stay active until the very last step.


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