Moving to a new hosting provider most definitely gets easier the more often you do it. In fact, the second move is often the hardest – particularly if you’ve spent a lot of time, effort and probably money in getting your site setup on your current host in the first place.
This article is not designed to be a complete guide as to how to move host, far from it. It’s just a quick run through for things you should really consider before undertaking the process. If nothing else it’s meant to be somewhat thought provoking on the off chance you’ve missed something!
Choosing The Host
I’m going to assume you’ve already chosen a host or at least have one in mind if you’re planning to do a migration. But did you know there are some hosts which offer a free migration? HostPresto.com is one that comes to mind if you really don’t want to go through the hassle of doing it yourself. But of course there are others out there, just search for web hosting free migration or something similar and you’ll find a ton of them.
If you are dead set on doing it yourself though then all you really need to make sure of is that the package spec you’ve chosen is able to run your site. So choose something the same or better than what you have currently. If you’re going with a lower spec package just to save a bit of money then it is most certainly a recipe for disaster.
Unless you’re using one of these fancy hosts with their fangled migration tools then you’re going to need to do a backup of your files from your existing host. There are typically two ways to do this. You can connect to your FTP space and manually pull your files down to your desktop or you can use one of the backup applications that come with your control panel or host itself. Most websites are hosted on cPanel servers these days and cPanel has a great backup and restore application. But regardless, the choice is yours.
One thing people often forget about is their databases and e-mail accounts. They think they can download the files from the FTP space and that’s that. Wrong. If you are doing a manual backup be sure to export your MySQL (or similar) database and all of your e-mail and their corresponding accounts. There is nothing worse than moving hosts and realise all your e-mails and databases have disapppeared – especially if you’ve already cancelled the old hosting!
Needless to say, if you’re using something like cPanel’s backup software all this will be done for you or at least you’ll have the option to select what you’d like to include in the export.
Of course it goes without saying that you’ll need to upload your files to the new host but be sure to setup your database correctly. One of the most common problems people run into is the database credentials being incorrect. You’ll setup your database with a random username and password, insert your data and then wonder why your website won’t connect to it. In this case be sure that the credentials in your website configuration files match what you’ve just setup or if they are different that you update them to reflect the new ones.
It’s also a good idea to do a bit of maintenance with your new setup too. Remove any old files you’re not using, particularly installation files if you’re using something like Joomla or even old log files which you’re never likeky to need. There is no point filling up your new FTP space with junk.
Changing The Nameservers
You should only update your nameservers once you’ve got all your files setup and your site functioning on the new host. Most hosts will offer a way for you to preview your site via a temporary URL or similar. Once everyting is working you can perform the switch.
So that’s that. We hope this article has given you something to think about if you’re considering choosing a new host.