WordPress migration can be a tricky process requiring planning and preparation to get through without downtime. This article goes through the high level process to move a WordPress site to a new host company. After reading, you can decide if you want to do it yourself, or if WordPress migration services are a good fit for you.
Backup Your Website
Before you start the migration, make sure you have a full backup of your website.
A full website backup consists of:
- all code
A lot of people contact me after attempting to transfer their web hosting and it does not work. They have canceled their old web hosting service and no longer have access to the full website. I ask them to send me the website code and database files, but they don’t have the database. They simply were not aware there was one, and did not know how and where in the web hosting dashboard to generate a database backup. WordPress is database driven website, without it, it can not function. You essentially only have half of a website without it.
(Tip: before you every make any changes to your WordPress site, always make a backup. It can save you a lot of time and money if things go wrong. I never plan for things to go wrong, and always make backups.)
Set Up a New Web Hosting Account
The hosting company you choose has a significant impact on your website’s performance. Make sure you choose a hosting company has a good reputation and phenomenal customer support. Need a recommendation for a web hosting company?
What Gets Moved?
If you are only moving WordPress to a new host , follow the directions below to Select a Migration Plugin. If you are moving your entire hosting account skip to ‘Moving a Web Hosting Account”
Select a Migration Plugin
There are many good migration plugins available for WordPress. The best migration plugin for you depends on the size of your site. There are free plugins and paid plugins that offer additional features, and some are easier to use than others. For smaller website, I typically use the free version of Duplicator.
Steps to Migrating WordPress with a Plugin
On a high level, these are the steps to migrate WordPress to a new web host.
- Install the migration plugin: Install and activate the migration plugin on your current website.
- Create a migration file: The migration plugin will create a .zip file that will contain all the code and content in your database. Download this file to your computer.
- Upload the migration file: Once you have downloaded the migration file, upload it to your new web hosting account via FTP and follow the plugin instructions to extract it. This includes needing to create a database and user with the correct permissions.
- Once the site is installed on the new host, you will need to test everything transferred correctly. Since your domain name is still pointing at the old hosting company, you modify your local hosts file to point your domain name to the new host’s IP address. Once you do this (only you) can see the site load on the new host. When you are done testing, remove the entry from your hosts file.
- Next, update your DNS settings at your domain registrar to point your domain name to your new hosting company.
- Once the DNS settings have propagated, test your website to ensure that everything is working correctly.
Moving a Web Hosting Account
Moving an entire web hosting account goes beyond transferring your WordPress code and database, AND it goes outside of the scope of this article. When you move a web hosting account, you are moving everything – this may include other website hosted on the account, secure certificates, email boxes, email forwarders, old code and databases like prior versions or test sites.
Depending on where you are currently hosting your website and where it is being transferred to has a big affect on how this is approached. It would require consulting to review both sides in order to go into detail of how this is accomplished.
Migrating WordPress to a new host is a complex process that requires experience. Hiring someone for WordPress migration services can make a huge difference between zero downtime and your site being offline for days.