A lot of people are a bit timid when it comes to moving their website from one host to another. After all of that hard work in creating the blog, the last thing anyone wants is to lose data. However, it’s not all that difficult to transfer a website to a new host. All it takes is a bit of patience.
Here are five tips to give you a smooth transition when moving the blog to a new host.
1. Inform everyone about the move.
Visitors and users alike need to know when you’re about to change hosting providers. This is to prevent confusion in case the move has unforeseen issues. It will also help ease frustration from guests and reduce the damage to your reputation for having a broken website.
If guests and users don’t know about the transfer and the site is down, they may assume that the blog is permanently broken. Many of these people may not even return. However, a message stating clearly that the site is moving can help calm the anger among your patrons.
It might not be a bad idea to put up a maintenance screen during the process. Essentially, this is a single webpage that informs visitors the site is in the process of moving. Some of these can even accommodate a countdown timer and contact forms. It’s these small additions that demonstrate professionalism to your guests.
2. Make Sure to Back Up All of Your Files.
One of the most important things to remember is to always keep a backup copy of your files and data. Even if you’re not moving your blog, it’s always a good idea to have a copy of your site readily available. Whether you’re moving your blog or recovering from a hacked website, the backup copy is worth your time to download.
Backing up your files is relatively easy if you have the right tools. If you’re moving a website that you coded by hand or had someone design for you, programs like FileZilla can be very helpful. This is a free FTP application, or File Transfer Protocol, that lets you download all of your files and folders to your computer.
If you use a content management system, you can install plugins or modules that can create backup copies for you. Some of these can even be set to automatically save the files during a specific time of your choosing.
When your website uses a database, you need to make sure this is copied as well. If your old host uses a dashboard equipped with phpMyAdmin, you can export the entire database directly to your computer.
3. Reconfigure Applications to Work with the New Host.
Many blog websites use managements systems like WordPress to govern over the content. In order for these systems to work correctly, they’ll need to be configured to work on the new host. The only real changes these may need is that of the database itself.
If you are using a database from your old host, you’ll need to create it for the new. In some instances, this may require new database names, users and passwords. However, you are able to use the original credentials as long as everything is absolutely the same between the two hosts.
For instance, WordPress uses a config.php file to control over its database. In this file, you will find four very important fields that will need to reflect the new host:
• define(‘database_NAME’, ‘user_wrdp1’);
• define(‘database_USER’, ‘user_wrdp1’);
• define(‘database_PASSWORD’, ‘password’);
• define(‘database_HOST’, ‘hostname’);
The names, users, passwords and host information will be dependent on how you installed WordPress in the first place. Otherwise, you will need to change these lines in the config.php file using an editor. If you’re using a Windows operating system, this file can be changed using Notepad.
The configuration of your CMS differs depending on the system you are using. For example: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Magento may have very different configurations to alter when moving. Before transferring the database, you may need to take note of server information your CMS will need to operate correctly.
4. Make sure you change the name servers.
The name servers are how domains are aimed at the correct host. Each company has its own “address” of sorts when it comes to the server location in the worldwide web. If you don’t change these in your registrar, people won’t be going to the correct server to find your website.
Think of it as like moving into an apartment in a nice, fancy building. If you tell the pizza delivery driver you live in apartment 1202, he’s still going to need the address of your apartment to find you. Essentially, the name server does the exact same thing.
Your host and registrar will have all that information available. Just bear in mind that changing the name server can take up to 48 hours.
5. Don’t deactivate your old hosting account just yet.
Even after uploading your files and databases, you don’t want to deactivate your old hosting service yet. This will give you a base to work from in the event that the transfer doesn’t go as smoothly as you’d like. There are a myriad of things that can go wrong, and keeping the old host active gives you a working copy of your site.
For instance, here are a few things that can possibly happen:
• File corruption during upload and download:
Although it’s rare, a hiccup in the Internet connection has potential to corrupt file transfers.
• Incorrect configurations:
Keeping an active copy of your site gives you access to configurations you know work.
• Keeping the flow of traffic consistent:
If you deactivate your old hosting account before the name servers are activated, you could lose out on traffic.
This also gives you time to test your databases and make sure all of the information transferred correctly. You don’t want someone trying to log in when their information has been left out.
It would take a very long time test out every feature to make sure it works, especially if the website has been active for several years. Instead, just focus on the pertinent things like users and content. If these were moved without an issue, there is a good chance everything else did as well.
Everyone wants a smooth transition when moving a blog from one host to another. While this can be done most of the time, you still want to make sure you’re prepared in the event something goes wrong. It’s always better to err on the side of caution than to lose your website…and your traffic.