Sometimes things happen and you as an owner of a website are in need of moving it from one hosting service to another. Without mentioning any particular reason for moving, the task itself is very complicated. Because you should preserve all of your website’s metrics, and its domain name and all of its data. This sounds like a very exhausting procedure, but in reality, all of this is not too hard. The main point is that you should understand how to do it in the right way.
How to manually migrate a website to a new hosting
Firstly, before you even start, you should check if a hosting you are migrating to allows website transfer for free. Or at least find out how much this procedure will cost. Then you will be able to decide whether it is worth it or not. Many services provide at least one free migration.
Then, preparing for what is to come, you should brace yourself and be ready for some monotonous work which must be completed precisely by the book. Without missing a thing, you should follow the steps:
- Add a domain name to a new hosting.
- Transfer all website data and files to a new hosting via FTP.
- Move the website database and import it to the new hosting.
- Check configuration details and update them (optional).
- Test the usability and functionality of the website.
- Move all your configured email addresses (optional).
- Run monitoring tools to check if there are any issues.
- Update your domain name servers.
- Test the usability and functionality of the website again.
It is important to make a backup in advance; in case you do something wrong. It is literally a prerequisite before transferring everything from hosting to hosting. Therefore, do not forget about it in any case.
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Add a domain name to a new hosting
So, you are actually at it and starting the transfer of the website. Probably, you already added your owned domain back when you opted in for a hosting you are migrating to and signed up. It is a necessary thing for registration. But it will not hurt to double-check if you entered it correctly. Just in case. And if you are migrating multiple websites, then you must add additional domain names.
Transfer all website data and files to a new hosting via FTP
To transfer content of your website to a new host, you should do a couple of simple tasks, preparing some patience beforehand. Simply put, you should follow the guide by the book, and you will be fine even if you are new to this kind of stuff.
Actually, the migration itself requires only a couple of simple actions. Connect a hosting you are migrating to with the old one via FTP software and your account information for the two related hostings. You will need only host addresses, access ports, usernames and passwords. For both hosting accounts, obviously.
Export the website database and import it to the new hosting
Database transfer is a little harder than content migration from storage to storage. But it is basically due to the fact that you must do more than two simple things and exactly by the book. And if you own a simple static website without a database, not a CMS-based, you can simply skip this step. Because if there is no database, then there is nothing to transfer. But with a CMS-based website, you must export its database to migrate properly.
As a rule, hosting services provide their users with a specific software to work with databases, so it will be as simple as it sounds. Just open phpMyAdmin from the hosting’s dashboard, select a database you want to export and then follow the “Export” – “Quick” route, selecting “SQL” as an exporting format. That’s all, you are done with exporting. So, then it is time to import it to a new place on a hosting you are migrating to.
An empty database is required to import an existing one. And you should name it just like the previous one to avoid various synchronization issues. Do not forget to give all necessary privileges to the new database. Because you might encounter some troubles afterwards if you forget about it.
Then, when you are done with creation, you should start importing. Open phpMyAdmin from a new hosting’s dashboard and follow the “Import” – “File” route. Select the exported database and import it. That’s all. Just in case, be aware that there might be issues with CMS serialization. And if you encounter such problems, you should do some troubleshooting with hosting’s support service.
Test the usability and functionality of the website
In fact, you have almost finished the hardest part, because the actual transfer is behind you. And you only should fine-tune and test everything using a temporary URL. As a rule, hostings provide such a service to their users. Specifically, for testing purposes. Before updates or after migration etc. You should contact the support service to know how to set it up.
And when you are done, you will be able to do some testing, and monitoring. Try to check everything as if you are a user, and not a website owner. Use all means to try all available functionality. Test pages’ loading speeds visually and using tools like page speed monitor – host-tracker.com/en/ic/page-speed-test, etc. Try to cause various unexpected situations like you really don’t know what you’re doing. Simply put, run a full-scale QA testing.
Run monitoring tools to check if there are any issues
By this point, you’re obviously already doing usability and functionality testing. But more than that, you should perform stability and availability testing to avoid website downtime. That’s when you should fire up your website monitoring toolkit and check everything thoroughly for a few hours. Or even for a day. The longer, the better. But this can be a daunting task to do by hand. In fact, it will be so, especially if you are new to this business and have no webmaster experience.
Therefore, you should choose a universal service that will help you cope with such tasks. For example, you can use functional hosting monitoring – host-tracker.com/en for full website monitoring. This service will work automatically and will send notifications in case of problems. This way you can find all the causes of issues and fix them before the migration is completed. In fact, this particular set of tools is free to use if you’ve never subscribed to it before. You will only need to register to get a 30-day free trial.
Update your domain name servers
When you finish testing and monitoring, you are almost done with everything. The last thing you should do is to update domain provider’s information on nameservers. This will make your domain name work properly. Use the service where you rented your existing domain name to change nameservers to the new ones. Ask hosting support again if you can’t find them in your dashboard.
Test the usability and functionality of the website again
Actually, you are done with migration. But you should test everything again just to be sure. But if you actually set up proper monitoring, then you have actually finished the website’s migration task. And if you didn’t, then set it up as soon as possible. Or at least use ping monitoring 24/7 host-tracker service to monitor website’s stability. Just in case.
Obviously, you should do some basic QA testing from time to time over the course of a few days. Don’t forget to monitor the website and server performance for a few days when there will be the highest number of visitors. This will help determine if the new server can handle the load. This is important enough to affect downtime, so be aware of it to prevent serious problems.