Many of us believe that our website will remain under a single host’s trustworthy roof for all of the eternity, but this is not exactly the case as conditions do change which may cause for users to switch from one host to another.
Moving your website to a new host can occur for several different reasons, but you need to make sure that the reason that you are moving is valid and significant enough to make you find a new host in the first place.
If it is something that you believe does not influence your website too much or will be changed by the host in due time, then there might not be a need for you to change your host.
When moving your website to a new host, the process can be quite similar to moving to a new house (although you might face a little less emotional difficulty when moving your website).
The basic process involves looking for a new host; renting the new hosting space officially; pack all of the contents and assets of your website and shifting it to the new host, and then changing the DNS record of your domain name so that it aligns with your new host.
This is only a simple summary on how to change your website’s host. If you follow the steps that I have described below, then you will be successful in moving your website to a new host:
Step 1: Find yourself a new web host
Go for a window shopping spree and look for the best host for you to make use of. Try looking for something that isn’t too expensive and provides you with the most benefits to make your website’s speed and loading capabilities efficient. There are a number of factors that you need to take into consideration when choosing the most suitable web host for your website, including:
- Host reliability
- Uptime scores
- Low prices for registration and renewal
- Site backup
- User friendliness
- Upgrading options
- Multiple add-on domains
- Refund policy
You should also look at your needs, and if you can find a web host that fulfills at least 80% of your needs, then you have a winner. Some web hosts that you might want to take a closer look at include iPage, eHost, inmotion hosting, interserver.net, etc.
You might also find it useful to take a look at the recommendations made by different web developers and bloggers as they have an enormous amount of experience and have probably switched their web hosts several times. So, they can help you in discovering which web hosts are the best ones and the ones that are not worth it.
Step 2: Backup your sites to your new host
Static websites are easier to back up as all you have to do, is copy the old file structures of the website and transfer them to the new host. Static websites are those that do not change over time. Dynamic websites, on the other hand, are a bit harder to transfer (but not impossible). First, you need to install the website as it is on to the new host and then move the website’s database file to the new host.
The advantage of using WordPress as your website building platform is that it provides easy transfer functionality, which means that you can directly transfer your website’s database onto the new web host.
This step should be done properly to make sure that you do not lose any of your data while you are trying to transfer your website to the new host. Thus, do this carefully and without any unnecessary tension or pressure so that you can make sure that you have moved all of your files, content, images videos, etc. to the new host as either in a static or dynamic mode.
Step 3: Check again before you make the final move
Triple check that everything on your website is working properly once your files have been loaded on to the new configuration hosting. You can preview your website using a temporary URL in IP numbers. There are some hosts which even provide their users with a development staging platform so that you can easily access a preview of your website. This step will allow you to solve any problems and hiccups that you find while previewing your website.
If there are any issues with the preview that you see, address the problem directly without looking changing anything else.
Step 4: Switch the DNS records of your website
You can change your DNS record to the new web host’s servers through your registrar. The DNS record for your website is a set of instructions that specify where to send the user. It is necessary to move your DNS records because it ensures that your website visitors will be able to find your website.
Otherwise, your website will come up as an error or misdirect, and your visitors might decrease as a result as they might think that you took your website down. So, make sure you get the DNS information right when transferring it to the new web host.
Step 5: Wait for the DNS alteration to propagate through the internet
Once you have sent a request to remove your DNS record, it becomes a waiting game which can either take up to several hours or even a whole day. The minute the change has taken place, you should inform your previous web host of the cancellation so that they can take the necessary steps to eradicate your DNS record from their database.
This waiting game may be challenging at times, but you need to make sure that you look to see the progress now and then as this is the final step in allowing you to reach your ultimate goal of moving your website to its new host.
Things to Watch
Once these five steps are completed, then you will have successfully changed your web host. However, do not celebrate just yet, read the following things that you should keep a watchful eye on:
- Downtime is a great disadvantage to any website as any time that your website is not working is when you are losing valuable visitors, readers, etc. When you are moving your website to a new host, it is crucial to ensure that downtime is at a minimum and this can be done by making sure that everything from your website is working correctly with the new host. This should be done before you convert your files and make the move to the new host final. It would be helpful to inform your frequent visitors of the move so that you can ensure that they do not assume you have taken down the site and worked very closely with your host during the move so that you can ask any questions that you have during the move.
- You need to make sure that there is no change in your website’s structure and that there are no missing links. What often occurs when moving a website to a new host is that some of the assets of your website are misplaced, e.g. videos and images. You might even forget some of your assets behind. If this happens, then your visitors will face a 404 error on the page. To prevent this, you should look at the 404 log before and after you make the switch. This log will show you when any of the links or assets are not working so that you can repair the problem instantly.
- Email transference is one of the most difficult parts of this entire process, and three common scenarios apply in this case:
- If the email is presently hosted by a domain registrar, it will be easier to move to the new host as all you have to do is change the @ record and direct it to the new host’s IP address.
- If your email accounts are hosted by a third party, then you need to update your MX records (and any other necessary records) in your DNS.
- If your email accounts are hosted by your previous web host, then you should recreate the existing email account on the new web host and configure the new email agent when you make the move.
- Your database is at risk of corruption during the switch. When your WordPress database has become corrupted, you should try to access your dashboard first and if you can do so, deactivate all of your plugins and check to see if your database pulls up correctly. Next, you should reactivate your plugins one at a time and check your homepage after each activation.
However, if you cannot access your dashboard, you should upload your database again (rewriting the previous one); or look for the origination of the corruption error and attempt to upload the file from your original site again; or open the file to make sure that it is pointing to your new server.
Some Hosts Offer Free Migration
There are some hosts which offer their customers the chance to get their migration done for free. They will help transfer your website’s data to their host free of charge, and these hosts are a true blessing. Some hosts which offer this include InterServer, InMotion Hosting, WordPress, etc. This single feature is often the reason for migration becoming easier and customers flocking to new hosts (it’s a clever trick used by the hosts to attract new customers).
However, free migration is only an alternative, and you should not base your entire decision of moving on this one fact as the new host might not suit your needs. So, put your needs first and then look at the other features as I just displayed how the entire process of shifting should take place (and trust me, it isn’t as hard as you think it is). It is also important to take into consideration that the new web host that is providing you with this service may not be as great as you think it is, so make sure that you take a few opinions and read some reviews on the web host before deciding to move your website to it.
So, if your current web host is giving you a hard time and you think it is time for a change, then you should probably think about the ones that I have recommended above as many of them are quite cheap and offer unbelievable services. Also, make sure that you contact your new host any time during the move if you have any problems or questions about what is happening. This will help you make sure that your move is occurring correctly and that you are completing everything accurately.
I understand that making the switch can be quite stressful and that you might be tensed about the whole scenario before you even start it, but you should know that it is entirely worth it if your current server is not functioning correctly. Look at it this way, if you stay on with your current host, then you might end up losing a lot of your visitors as they might get tired of how slow your website is and they might look for another website that is much faster and efficient than yours is. So, you can avoid this major problem by changing your web host.
Thus, changing your web host to something that is new, popular and much better than your old web host can be of great advantage for your website and it can even attract more users, readers, customers, etc. It is especially important to change your web host if it is affecting your business and the traffic of your website. This is why many people move their websites to new and improved web hosts and leave behind the old and the dysfunctional.