Web hosting migration from your current server to a new one can be stressful and time consuming. The last thing you want is for site visitors to see broken images, links or other issues after the move. The amount of downtime you experience can also impact revenue from your site.
Fortunately, web hosting migration doesn’t have to be a catastrophe. With the proper planning and a few tips, you’ll feel like a pro at moving your files from one place to the next. Choosing the right hosting company is key to your success.
Should I Move My Website to a New Host?
Google recently reported about 64% of online retail traffic comes from mobile devices. Unfortunately, the conversion rates for mobile are less than half what sites get from desktop shoppers. One issue could be the loading speeds, which are naturally slower on most smartphones. Add to it a slower server and you have a big mountain to climb to convert mobile users to buyers.
If your current hosting company can’t handle the speeds you want, isn’t reliable or has any other issues, it may be time to consider web hosting migration.
Web Hosting Migration Tips
Here are our best tips for before, during and after a move to a new server.
1. Backup Your Site
Before you consider moving your site to a new web hosting service, backup everything. You should do a full site backup via your site’s control panel. However, it’s also a good idea to backup just the home, databases and all files within.
Should the backup go horribly wrong, you will at least have all your images and text so you can rebuild your site. If you are on a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, make sure you’ve backed up all databases, including various versions you may have switched to over the years.
In an ideal world, you’ll have cleaned up files you don’t need along the way. In reality, most small business owners get business and neglect to delete what they no longer need. It’s better to have a copy than risk losing something crucial.
2. Choose the New Hosting Company
Seek out a hosting company specializing in your industry, such as one catering to small businesses or artists. Look at factors such as if they have good uptime stats and what perks you get with your package.
The cheapest hosting company might look like an attractive option, but if the speeds are slow, they are open to backdoor hacking or their customer service isn’t reliable, you’ll pay more in frustration and lost sales than going with a more expensive option.
Ask questions, read reviews about the website hosting company and figure out which one seems to be the best match for your current needs. Also consider how easy it is to scale up to a better package as your business grows.
3. Decide on Migration Method
Some hosting companies offer a web hosting migration migration service included when you take out hosting with them for a year or more. It’s much easier to let them move everything for you, as they also make sure everything works.
You’ll still need a backup and to do the post-move checks, but you won’t have the man hours of actually moving the site.
If you have a WP site, you can download plugins that make migration easier. Another option is simply to download the backups from your old site, set up WP on the new server and upload your home backup and your database backup.
You may need to do some tweaks, such as resetting database names and reactivating plugins, but the migration is fairly smooth for most people.
Another option for web hosting migration to a new server is downloading the entire site zip file and asking your new provider to upload for you. You could also move folder by folder over using FTP, but that process is pretty time-consuming. However, it would allow you to clean up files as you go and fix any issues you see along the way.
4. Check Files
Once you’ve moved everything to the new server, check to make sure all your vital files are in place. Did all the images move over? Are all your content pages intact? The best way to check files is to pull up FTP and view the two sites side-by-side. Check to see that every file is copied and is in the correct folder.
5. Test Your Site
You should test your website to make sure everything functions correctly. Click on every link, fill out forms and submit them, look at images and text on every page. Testing is often the most time-consuming portion of web hosting migration.
The Bureau of Internet Accessibility recommends you test your site every four to six months anyway. When you migrate to a new server is an excellent time to double check and make sure those with different abilities can use your site the way it’s intended.
6. Backup Again
Once everything is in place at the new server, go ahead and create a backup of the new setup. Sometimes there is a lag in how long it takes a new site to propagate. You don’t want to miss an important step or change because the site looked one way and functioned another.
Pause for 24 to 48 hours and then back everything up and repeat any tests before pointing the domain name to the new IP.
7. Close Old Account
If at all possible, wait 30 days or more to close your old account. Once you shut down the old server, you’ll no longer have access to any files you might need. Ideally, you’ve backed them all up, but it’s possible you missed something. It’s smart to allow some overlap so you can make sure everything functions properly.
Stress-Free Web Hosting Migration
Web hosting migration is often a tense time for companies. Down time means lost revenue, so you’ll want to follow each step carefully and make sure everything works before making the shift. A stress-free move might be an impossible dream, but you can certainly reduce the headache of web hosting migration and wind up with a site that draws users.