Maybe you weren’t careful when you first chose your web hosting company. Or maybe your current web host has changed their policies and now they’re no longer a good fit for your website. Whatever the reason, you need to change web hosts; and after hearing horror stories of how difficult it can be, you’re overwhelmed at the very thought of it. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to change web hosts if you’re not properly prepared. And in the worst case, it could mean starting from square one all over again with your website. But make sure to follow these easy steps, and you’ll still have your website you love, with a host you actually like!
Before you can switch web hosts, you’ll need to know who you’re switching your services to; you’ll need to find another web host. When you’re changing from host to host, you need to make sure that you’re choosing very wisely the second time around. The last thing you want is to have to go through the entire process of switching hosts again. Make sure that the company offers the bandwidth, SSL certificates, scripts, and anything else that you need for your site. You may even be able to find a web host that will take care of the transfer of your site for you.
If they won’t, your next step is to collect all of your login details from your current host. This includes your account number, your domain registrar, and your FTP login details. Once you have the information you’ll need to start downloading all of the website files from your current host. Take note of all the email addresses that are currently set up and using the same file structure copy them onto your computer’s hard drive. Then make a backup copy.
The next step is by far the most technical; you’ll need to upload all of those new files to your new web host. Use FTP, change file permissions on those that need it (you’ll be prompted,) create new databases, and import the backup database you have on file. Create the new email accounts and make adjustments to other settings on the site, if necessary. If you’re going to have problems transferring your site, this is where you’re going to have them. Make sure ahead of time that you can contact your web host for support if you run into issues.
Once everything’s done you’ll need to test your site to make sure that it’s been done properly. This will be done before the site goes live, and by using the temporary subdomain that your new web host will provide upon registering. You’ll need to change any links or forms you’ve hardcoded the domain into relative links (changing it from www.yourdomain.com/page1.php to just /page1.php.)
The last step in actually transferring your site is to change the domain name’s name servers. These names will still be pointing traffic to your old web host’s servers; you can change that by logging in to your domain name registrar and finding the option on the page to change the name servers. Simply change them to reflect your new host, and you’ll be set. This should be done at a time when your site doesn’t receive a lot of traffic, as it can take several hours.
Finally, all you have to do is officially cancel your old web hosting services. It’s recommended that you wait at least an entire week to do this, just to make sure everything’s running smoothly with the new web host.