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Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.


How To Move A Website To A New Hosting Company

November 19th, 2012

Sometimes it becomes necessary to move your website from one hosting company to another. As a small business website owner you may wonder what is involved in this process so that you can judge the benefits versus the cost of moving to a new website hosting company. I recently moved several dozen of my clients, including my own website, from one hosting company to another, in search of better customer service, and wanted to give others who may be contemplating such a move an idea of what’s involved.

Moving a Basic Static Website

To move a traditional static website, a web designer simply downloads all the files that the website uses to their computer, and then uploads them to the new hosting site. The time to do this will vary based on how many files your website has, and the size of those files. Things that take more time include large images and video or audio files.

Moving a WordPress Blog

If you have a WordPress Blog or a website that’s build using WordPress, two main bundles of information have to be moved: the WordPress files and the WordPress database. To preserve all settings, I elected to download and then upload all WordPress files. I next added a database plugin and exported the WordPress MYSQL database. On the new hosting company, you need to create a new database, then using PHP MyAdmin, import the exported MYSQL file. You may have to adjust the WordPress config file for this new database connection. Note that if you’re wanting to preview this before the DNS is changed, you have to adjust the WordPress database values for URL and HOME to whatever the temporary url is for the new hosting company server. Also note that in come cases, depending on the client, strange characters may need to be manually deleted after the import of the database.

Moving an Online Store

To move an online store you need to move both the files for the store, and the store’s database. I prefer to use PHPMyAdmin to create an export of the store’s database. At the new hosting company you upload the store’s files, create a new database, and import the database. Again, using PHPMyAdmin is the easiest tool to get this accomplished.

Contact Forms

Now that your website files and any associated databases are relocated and working, the final item on the checklist is email. In many cases, this is the most time consuming and difficult step of the process because you must make sure your contact forms (or any forms) are working properly on the new hosting company. Each hosting company has different rules to follow, and so moving to a company that has 24/7 phone support is vital.

Reading Email

Many website owners use a mail application, like Outlook or Thunderbird, to read their email. You will most likely have to reconfigure your application to fetch and send email via this new hosting company. Make sure the new hosting company has good documentation on how to do this and phone support. It is very important to store your existing mail in a place where it will be safe during the website transition. You should create local folders for any mail you want to keep – think about your inbox and sent mail as well. Move all email into local folders before you throw the switch and make the new hosting company live.

DNS: Domain Name Server

The last step of the process is to change the domain name server or DNS to point to the new hosting company’s servers. This may take up to two days to fully propagate, and so it’s nice if you can start this process on a Friday evening and let it propagate over the weekend (assuming your website traffic is lowest on the weekends). Be patient, there’s nothing to do but wait.

Optional: Moving the Domain Registration

This is something I like to do because we all have too many passwords to remember. I will transfer the domain registration from the old hosting company or domain registrar to the new hosting company to make all of the website related items live in one place. This makes it much easier for small business owners to manage over the long run.  Be warned, some domain registrars make it exceedingly difficult to move away, and you may have to do several attempts – if you have privacy turned on you might have to turn it off – but keep at it, eventually you’ll win.

Need Help Moving Your Website?

If you want to move your website, blog, or online store from one hosting company to another and need help, please email me for a free consultation.

J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.

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