What is site migration?

Migrating your website is the process of switching the current server hosting your website to a new web host. If you follow the steps laid out in this article, this process will go smoothly. The website migration process can be completed by yourself but, if you want an expert team to handle this, look for an agency with developers and SEO experts that can assist you.

Is the migration process difficult?

When migrating a website to a new provider you can sometimes run into problems that lead to downtime of your site, especially when attempting to do this on your own. If you’re a complete newbie when it comes to anything like this, we would highly recommend reaching out to experts. However, if you’ve got an understanding you might be able to follow the steps in this article and experience no downtime.

Does your new host offer free migrations?

Before you jump straight into the manual route, have a look to see if your web hosting company offers free migration. There are many companies that offer this service when you switch to them. If you haven’t switched yet, when searching for your new provider, have a look to see if it’s a free offering of theirs.

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How to migrate a website to a new host in 7 simple steps

Is it possible to manually migrate your web sites to another web hosting company if you are using the same host? If not, this tutorial should take a look at the following steps to get a better understanding: If you have more than one website you might need to add an add on domain instead.

If you’ve read this far then you’ve decided you can do the migration yourself. So, for people like you, we’ve put together 7 simple steps to help you achieve this. These steps provide an overview of the process end-to-end.

Purchase a new web host

The first step is to find your new web host provider. This is a crucial part of the process. Each hosting provider offers various options for hosting, with different configurations, pricing and offerings. If you’re an e-commerce store, for example, Shopify would provide a better, more tailored hosting experience than HostGator. Put together a list of requirements that your sites need that your new hosting provider must supply.

Some hosting companies offer a staging platform to let you preview your site before taking it live on the new servers. This is an important benefit to consider as it lets you fix any potential issues with your site before it goes live. If you’re left with issues post-launch, this could massively ruin your site performance and rankings.

Export your site’s database from your existing host

Some websites won’t have a database and, if that’s you, you can skip the next 2 steps. If you’re unsure if your site has a database, you can reach out to the support team at your current hosting provider. As a tip, some static sites might not have a database whereas dynamic sites and sites with user-generated content will have a database.

The most common type of database is MySQL. You can use PHPMyAdmin’s tools to manage and export the MySQL database. You can access all of this easily on any hosting provider through your cPanel dashboard. If you do have any problems finding this you can reach out to your current hosting providers support team.

Exporting your database – step-by-step

  1. Log into your hosting account
  2. Open the phpMyAdmin app
  3. Click on the correct database for your site.
  4. Click “Export”
  5. Click “Go”

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Import your site’s database to your new host

Now that you’ve exported your site’s database, you need to open up a new database with your new web host and import the database. For this to work, you must use a blank database on the server. This process uses the same sections of the cPanel as you used to export your database.

Creating your new database – step-by-step

  1. Log in to your new hosting account
  2. Open the MySQL Databases section (stored under ‘Databases’ in your account control panel)
  3. Under the heading Create New Database, fill in the chosen name of your new database (put this in the field labelled New Database:)
  4. Click the Create Database button
  1. Go to the database section of your cPanel
  2. Open “MySQL Databases”
  3. Click “Create New Database”
  4. Click “Create Database”

Importing your database – step-by-step

  1. Go to the database section of your cPanel
  2. Open the phpMyAdmin app
  3. Click the “+” button located on the left-hand side
  4. Select the new database you created (you should see “No tables found in database”)
  5. Click “Import” in the top menu
  6. Click “Choose File” and select the SQL file you exported
  7. Click “Go” once selected

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Update configuration details (depends on CMS)

Now that your database has been sorted, you need to move across the website files. Different CMSs will have slightly different processes for this, but they’re close enough that we can provide a general overview. What you’re looking for here is a file named ‘configuration.php’ or ‘settings.php’. Here you need to change the database name, user and password to your new database.

Now that it is synced, you can sync your files. You can use software such as FileZilla to connect your old host and new hosting accounts to send your files across.

Test your site

This is the last chance you will get before your site goes live to ensure it is all functional. Your new web host provider should offer a temporary URL or staging process to complete this task.

Make sure you’re thorough with this process, you want to ensure your site is running smoothly before it goes out to the world.

Update DNS records

When signing up to your new web host provider you should’ve been provided with DNS servers. You need to adjust your current DNS records (found with the company you purchased your domain name) with these new DNS records. This makes sure that your domain is pointing towards the new server.

Test your site (again!)

Now you know your site is functional and you’ve swapped over your DNS records it’s time to check the live version of your site. Open a new tab and search for your domain. If it loads, you’ve completed your migration. If the domain doesn’t connect with the server, go back through and check your DNS settings.

Claudia De Luca
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