Making the decision to transfer your website from one hosting provider to another is a major decision in and of itself. It can also represent some major work on your part!
Solopreneurs and business owners typically make the choice to move a website to a new hosting provider because they get better customer service, greater up-time, expanded integration with plugins and third-party apps, a more economical hosting package and other perks which can best position their website for marketing success.
But even if the choice to move your website to a new hosting provider is sound in every aspect (business, marketing, financial, et al) there still remain four key things that can kill your newly transferred site. This post will give you details on what each of these things is and how to avoid them!
1. Failing to Ensure You Have Access to Your Domain Name Registry
Your domain name (the part that begins with “www” and ends with “.com,” “.org,” “.biz” or some combination thereof) is “you” online. That specific domain name is how your prospects and customers find you online. If you have an e-commerce store attached to your website, it may also represent how customers make purchases of your products or services.
What many website owners don’t understand is that the domain name is not the same as the website itself. The domain name is just your business name online. You pay a small annual fee to register this name so you alone may use it for your website address (called a “URL”) online.
Your website is all the rest – your files, your photos, your graphics, your blog posts, your web pages, et al. So when you are transferring your website from one hosting provider to another, there are two things that must be transferred, your domain name and all those files that make up your actual website contents.
What you need to move your domain name to the new hosting provider is the login and password credentials you created when you originally registered your domain name. If you got a free domain name as part of your package with the hosting provider you are leaving, you will need to somehow retrieve this information (if you don’t already know it) so you can access your domain name.
Here, you have two options: you can transfer your domain name in full to the new hosting provider, or you can leave your domain name where it is and simply point that domain name to your new hosting server (where all your actual website files are now stored) by changing the name servers.
2. Failing to Choose a Slow Time to Make Your Transfer
If there is one website transfer mistake you do not want to make, it is deciding to transfer your site to a new hosting provider during your busiest time of year!
Not only will this add tremendous stress for you and your team as you work overtime to ensure everything transfers successful the first time and there is no down-time as your website repopulates on the new hosting server, but if anything should go wrong, you could stand to lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars in critical sales.
Depending on your business busy times and cycles, it is often advisable to choose a specific time to begin your site transfer, such as in the very late evening or early morning hours when your customers are less likely to try to access your site to make purchases (if you have international customers, you may need to choose this time especially carefully). In this way, you can minimize the chances of losing sales as your site transfers over to the new hosting provider.
3. Not Checking to Ensure Your Email Has Also Transferred Successfully
It is not uncommon for website owners to get so preoccupied with transferring their website files, pointing their domain name to the new name servers and triple-checking to ensure that their site integrity is unchanged post-transfer that they totally forget about their email services!
But, aside from the general hosting perks, another big reason why many people choose to change website hosting providers is because they need faster, more reliable email service.
So you absolutely need to make arrangements to keep your email functional during and after the website transfer. The best approach is often to keep your current hosting provider account open and paid up until you are sure that your website has transferred successfully and in full and you have your new email service up and running and functioning perfectly.
This will mean you have two email services for a short period of time, but this is often the only way to ensure you will not miss receiving any email while your site is transferring and repopulating on the new hosting server.
4. Not Checking to Ensure Your New Hosting Provider Uses the Same Technology
Finally, one lesser-known issue that can trip up new website owners in particular is when you don’t check in advance to be sure your website will display correctly and in full using the new hosting provider’s infrastructure.
For example, some websites are built using the hosting provider’s in-house proprietary software (usually this software is included as part of the hosting fee). But when you transfer your website, the website no longer sources from that software and won’t display properly.
Another example concerns database software. Many sites use MySQL, but not all hosting providers offer the same software or the same version of the software. Failing to check this in advance could delay or prevent your database information from importing (including the contents of customer relations management systems you rely on).
By understanding common errors that could prevent your website from transferring successfully to your new website host, you can adjust your planning process to include these checks before initiating the transfer. Most importantly, be sure to keep your old hosting account active until you are SURE your site has transferred successfully.