Solopreneurs and companies are constantly in search of a better all-around hosting package with more features and perks. What this means is that website transfers to new hosting providers happen every day.
This post will give you an expert step-by-step guide to explain the process of transferring your website to a new hosting provider.
Step 1: Be sure to make a full back-up of your current website.
It is always a wise plan to make a full back-up of your website. Download all the files from your current hosting provider’s FTP (File Transfer Protocol) system and save them on your own hard drive. You will need these files later when you make the switch for real.
You should also make a note of any system settings and passwords you may need to have access to during the transfer process just in case you find you need them. You will also want to choose a time to make your actual website transfer when you anticipate lower web traffic, just in case your site experiences brief down time as files are being transferred.
SAFETY NOTE: When you transfer a website to a new host, it is always wise to wait to cancel your current hosting account until after you have successfully transferred everything you need over to your new hosting provider.
Step 2: Make arrangements to move your domain if necessary.
If you have your website’s domain name registered with the host you are departing from, you will want to move your domain to the new host.
Do this first, and verify that your domain has transferred successfully, before you begin moving your actual website over to the new host. This way, you won’t have any lag time which may impact your site’s availability.
If your domain is registered elsewhere, chances are good your only task will be to change the name servers so that they point to the new host. In this case, you can move your website first and then change the domain name servers once the transfer is complete.
Step 3: Transfer your email service to the new hosting provider.
If you are using hosted email with your current hosting provider, you will also want to transfer your email service to the new hosting provider.
It is always a good idea to backup your email if at all possible. Most email services users to archive or export the contents of their mailbox, so just follow your email provider’s instructions for how to do this.
You will want to leave your current hosted email alone until you have your website moved over to the new host and you have access to the new DNS (Domain Name System) records and can properly configure your new hosted email accounts.
But you can get your new email set up in advance so all you have to do is plug in the DNS information once you have it. Until then, keep checking your old email account to be sure you don’t miss important emails!
Step 4: Transfer your website files over to the new hosting provider.
This part of the transfer process is really pretty simple, but if you have a large website with lots of hosted files, it can take some time (think several hours) to complete the transfer. All that to say, if you start the transfer process and it seems to be dragging on, don’t panic – this is normal for most websites.
So you will do the exact opposite of what you did in Step 1 here. Now, you will log in to the new hosting provider’s FTP and upload the files you previously downloaded as a backup from your current hosting provider.
If you are moving any databases along with your website files, you may need to reconfigure and restore those files using the new host’s administration panel.
Step 5: Change your domain name’s DNS records.
Once you are 100 percent sure that you have successfully transferred all aspects of your website from your current host to your new host, it is time to change your DNS records to point to the new hosting provider.
You will need to find out from your new hosting provider what DNS settings to use. You can then edit the DNS settings for your domain so that it points to your website files at the new hosting provider.
If your domain name is hosted with your current host and you don’t want to or can’t move it right now, you may need to request that they edit your domain’s DNS records for you. This is also a good time to alert them that you are moving your website to a new hosting provider and that you need to cancel your hosting package.
Step 6: Wait 24 to 48 hours.
When you transfer website to new host, it can take up to 2 full days to be reflected in search engine results. During this time, you may notice your site sometimes loads on under the old hosting provider and sometimes won’t load at all.
Once the transfer is complete, your site will begin loading from your new hosting provider.
Step 7: Spot check to be sure your email and website is functioning as it should.
Once the DNS changes have taken effect, this is the time to give your website and email a thorough once-over. In addition to checking that graphics and fonts are displaying properly and that your site navigation is fully intact, you want to be sure that everything is where it should be, loading as it should be.
With these 7 steps in hand, you can quickly and easily transfer your website from one hosting provider to another with little to no site downtime. Just by following these steps in order, you can get your site moved and be up and running for business as usual the very next day!