Most hosting companies would have you believe that migrating to a new host is a process that is fraught with traps and that you’re better off staying put than searching for greener pastures. The truth is that if you plan your migration right, you can suffer little to no downtime. The biggest issue with a migration is if you have a complex member-based site that uses a large database to store your data. Even then, you can still minimize the impact to your visitors if you know what to expect ahead of time before you migrate to a new host. Here are 10 common misconceptions on web host migration.
1. Your Website Will Go Down For Days
While it’s true that propagation can take anywhere from 12 to 72 hours to fully complete, you can reduce your downtime by doing things right. Keep both websites online, and work with your new host to get your website fully setup before you make the move. By doing this, all you have to do is enter your new DNS settings and flip the switch with your registrar to begin the process of propagation.
2. You’ll Have to Rebuild Your Website
If you’re going to migrate to a new host, you shouldn’t have to worry about rebuilding your website. Check with your new host to ensure they support the same applications. This includes the basic server hardware and all of the information that’s necessary for transferring. Make sure your new host uses the same or a newer PHP version, Apache server, and other server components.
3. The New Server Won’t Work With Your Site
While it may be true that if you move from a better hosting company to a less competent hosting company that youurwebsite won’t work with the new host, this is mainly a fear tactic to keep you from switching to a new host. If you’re running an HTML-based website, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. If you’re running a content management system like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, check the minimum server requirements of your application to ensure compatibility.
4. Cancelling Before You Move is Smart
Your previous hosting company likely wants you to cancel your hosting plan before the end of the billing period. This isn’t smart for a variety of reasons. First, you’ll potentially lose all of your data if something goes wrong during the transfer process. Second, you will experience more downtime. If you transfer your website and make an exact clone on the new server, you shouldn’t experience much, if any, downtime.
Propagation isn’t a process that completes and then is finished. It is a process that will have your website switching back and forth between your old and new hosting provider. Provided you have identical content on both servers, you shouldn’t experience any downtime.
5. It’s a Good Idea to Inform Your Current Host
Again, telling your current host before you’ve transferred that you want to cancel your plan can have negative consequences. They may cancel your plan before you have a chance to save your website. It’s possible that they will limit your resources, which can make it very difficult to make backups or download your website. It’s best to wait until your website has fully resolved and your new website is up and running before you notify your old hosting provider.
6. A Simple Backup is All You Need
If you’re moving from a shared hosting platform to a virtual, semi or dedicated server, a backup isn’t usually enough. If you don’t have identical database prefixes on your old and new website, you’ll need to modify the databases and all references to your old database to match the information on the new website. A professional hosting company can do this for you during a basic transfer service, so you shouldn’t worry about your databases being compatible. Check with your new hosting provider if you have any concerns about compatibility, and make plans in advance to avoid major issues.
7. All Member Information Will Be Lost
There is a small amount of truth to this misconception. If you continue to allow member logins on your old website during the propagation period, it’s likely you’ll lose any new member information. There are a few ways to avoid this potential issue.
You can set up your database on an external server that is set up ahead of time. Use a different website address than your primary one, and set up both your old and new host to use a remote database connection. By doing this, you’ll never have to worry about losing crucial member information, and you can continue to accept new signups during the propagation period.
A simpler option is to disable member registration and logins during the three-day period where your website is being transferred. The downside to this is that you might lose new member sign-ups, but you can also continue to collect email sign-ups during this time.
8. It’s Too Difficult to Transfer
If your current hosting provider isn’t meeting your needs, it’s time to transfer. Yes, a transfer is not a straightforward process but it’s better than staying with a host that no longer meets your needs. With a little preparation and communication with your new hosting provider, you’ll be able to get your website transferred with little to no hiccups. If you need help in transferring your website, the small cost of hiring a professional to do it for you will pay for itself in the long run.
9. Transferring Will Cost You More Money
When you are dealing with a hosting provider that doesn’t provide reliable uptime, has slow servers, and doesn’t provide you with the service you need to excel, you’re losing money. Every time a visitor leaves because your website host can’t load your site due to some hidden restriction on maximum concurrent connections or some other arcane method of controlling your usage, you’re losing money. Many hosts state that they have unlimited bandwidth, no restrictions on storage space, and no restrictions on monthly visitors but they fail to deliver on performance. Staying with an inferior host will end up costing you money.
10. Your CMS Only Works on Certain Platforms
Most hosting providers make it possible to choose the server architecture. Provided you choose the right platform for your website, you should encounter no issues. Don’t fall prey to the predatory practices employed by many hosts who attempt to strap you into a plan that simply doesn’t fit your needs.
Finding a Host That Meets Your Needs
It’s important to talk with your new host about your needs. Many hosts offer initial transfer services that make migration a breeze. You don’t have to be locked into a plan that doesn’t meet your needs. Take the first step to liberating your website, and research your options to find the host that meets your needs.