Afraid to Move Your Website but Know You Should?

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Are you experiencing slow response times? Is your website sometimes unavailable? Are you frustrated by incompetent tech support? Is it time to choose a new website hosting company?

Changing Your Website Hosting Company

At one time or another most of us are faced with having to change hosting vendors. Sometimes vendors change their focus from premier customer support with a somewhat limited number of clients to focusing on having the largest number of customers. Sometimes, as your website grows and you incorporate SQL databases and ecommerce functions, your hosting needs are simply no longer being met. If you feel let down by your hosting vendor, it may not be as difficult as you think to move your website/blog to another host.

Depending on the complexity of your website, your skill set and your timeframe, you may be able to move your website yourself. On the other hand, it may be cost-effective for you to hire someone. (After all, time is money. Even if you can do this yourself, how long will it take you and are you confident that you won’t accidentally harm your existing website?)

5 Steps to Moving Your Website:

  1. Select a new website hosting company.
  2. Create a fresh website on your new host using your domain name.
  3. Transfer all of your files and databases to your new host.
  4. Test and tweak your website
  5. Change the DNS records on your current host to your new host.

The steps to move your files and data depends on the type of website that you have and the type of backup/restore program that you’re using. Moving a basic website with HTML pages and no SQL databases is naturally the easiest type of site to move. You would use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program (such as FileZillza) to transfer a copy of your website to your computer and then transfer your website from your computer to your new host.

If you are transferring a (self-hosted) WordPress blog, you should be able to simply FTP your website the same as an HTML site. If you’ve been hosting your blog on someone else’s website such as WordPress.com or BlogSpot.com, you’ll have to import and export your database. For websites that are built using a CMS (Content Management System) such as Joomla or Drupal, there are backup/restore programs (such as AkeebaBackup for Joomla).

Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

If I started to lose you when I referred to FTPCMS and SQL, hiring a professional may be the best route for you. (Did you install your own CMS and blogging software yourself?) Depending on your technical skills, your budget and your time frame, you may or may not want to attempt moving your website yourself.

No matter what you decide, I hope this article helps alleviate some of the anxiety associated with the task of changing hosting vendors. After all, it is moving your site from point A to point B isn’t it? I recommend thinking of this as an opportunity to make some much needed changes to your website.

Whether it’s time to do a redesign or you’ve recently incorporated (or should incorporate) a blog, this might be the time to do it. Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few people who have a website and a separate blog rather than incorporating their blog into their website. Maybe now is the time to redesign your website to have your blog as your home page.

I’m looking forward to hearing your comments and ideas. What have your experiences been with moving a site? Did you do it with or without professional help? What are your recommendations? What would you do the same and what would you do differently? I look forward to hearing from you.

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Published by Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

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23 Comments

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  1. Hi Sherryl, quite an old article but still spot on. Modern cloud hosting though can give many of the same speed and uptime benefits for the same cost of standard shared hosting see here: webanditstudio.com/benefits-of-cloud-hosting/
    On the subject of moving a site to a new host I would think this would be a very confusing and difficult job for the non technical with a real risk of making the site invisible. It can be swapped over with little or no loss of visibility as you described but I think I would recommend using the services of a professional if you are concerned about down time.

    1. Hi Garry,
      This is one of my older articles. Thanks for letting me know that it’s still “spot on”. Sometimes, I’ll come upon one of my older articles and it will be in serious need of an update. Often, I’ll brush it off and every once in a while, I’ll update it and format it using some of the tricks that I’ve picked up over the years.

      Moving a website can definitely be overwhelming for non-techies. I’ve moved several sites for clients before. Some hosting vendors will move your site for free when you sign up for a hosting plan. They’re hoping that you’re moving multiple sites.

      Thanks for sharing the article on cloud hosting with us. I removed the hyperlink because it’s my policy to not include links in comments. (If you had left the link using CommentLuv, I would have left it.

      Nice to meet you here!

  2. Great tips. I’ve been looking for better web hosting for my site, good thing to be here in your blog and know something about web hosting. Thanks much!

  3. I don’t have experience dealing with those web hosting sites. But of all the blogs I’ve visited posting about which better web hosting site is better I should say GoDaddy and Hostgator are on Top of them – but that’s just for me. 🙂

    1. John, I used to recommend GoDaddy for hosting years ago (when I used to host static HTML sites). Once I started building websites in Joomla and WordPress, I stopped using them. The response times were horrible and one of my sites was consistently going down. The response from GoDaddy was “there’s a known issue with that server”. I now use Rochen hosting for all of my sites and my clients’ sites. Their 24/7 support is superb and their proprietary backup system, Rochen “Vault” is both dependable and easy to use.

      1. Is that so.. Then I’ll consider that as Rochen being better than GoDaddy. I’m always glad to have recommendations like these. Thank you Sherryl!

  4. I’m glad to hear that you liked this article Sam. I answered a question on LinkedIn a while back and I ended up turning it into this post. I like to take the mystery out of things like moving your website.

  5. I am in this boat right now. I started out with Godaddy and well now I am ready to move but afraid to do so because of the idea that I might lose some functionality. I have a serach feature that was built spcifically for my real estate website. . . I definitely don’t want to pay for programming again. A faster website and better load times would be nice though. So, I am taking the plunge this week. My bags are packed, my fingers are crossed. Wish me luck!

    1. Good luck Angie! Are you moving your site yourself? Make sure you have good backups. If you have a search feature, I’m guessing that you have a SQL database. A well thought out and detailed plan should get you through this. I’ve moved websites from GoDaddy before and it was relatively painless. Their screens can be somewhat cryptic as to how you’re supposed to accomplish something but the good thing is that you can keep your site live on GoDaddy until you’re ready to “flip the switch”. Hope you’re moving to a really dependable host and you can stay with your new vendor for years!

  6. Thanks, and yuh, it took forever and a LOT of planning. We have hundreds of incoming links pointing to these lousy permalinks, but we used a wordpress plugin and I think everything now routes to the appropriate page at least. We also used another plugin which displays a custom 404 page not found with a list of related posts just in case we missed something.

  7. Thankfully, so many of the shared web hosting providers will do this for people now. now that so many people are using WordPress (CMS/MySQL) it just makes sense to have someone move it for you rather than trying to do it yourself.

    1. I totally agree with you Tia. I just moved a blog for a client and incorporated it into her website. Between WordPress.com not allowing FTP and her hosting vendor refusing to provide me with the path names for her SQL database, what should have been a relatively simple move took much longer than I anticipated. I can’t imagine a non-techie attempting it.

  8. I just moved one of the very first sites I ever built (cleanmyfurnace.com) to a new host. I had been paying the original hosting company $29.95/mo since 2005! I built the site using their tools and an archaic permalink structure so the re-design was a huge undertaking.

    1. That had to have been a major effort. You must be so relieved to have it behind you. Sometimes, what seems like the quickest, easiest and/or least expensive option at the time ends up costing you more long term. I imagine $29.95 seemed like a bargain in 2005. Congratulations on the move.

  9. I recently moved my domain registration because I wasn’t thrilled with the web hosting and customer support where I was. I decided at the same time to move my WordPress.com blog and host it on my domain in lieu of a “traditional” website. The process was a little bit more complicated than I originally anticipated, but I think it was a good choice and I’m really enjoying learning the new format. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this route to anyone who isn’t a quick study! Thank you for your advice; I am sure that I will be reading your blog regularly from now on.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Laura. I’m really glad moving your website worked out for you. I don’t recommend the do-it-yourself route unless you’re really comfortable with the technical side or you have a lot of time to learn a new skill (one that you may never use again). I look forward to hearing from you again.

  10. I’m going to have to move from shared to a VPS soon… thanks I will be keeping these ideas in mind! 🙂

  11. LOL. How bizarre! Great minds think alike Sherryl although I wish I’d read your blog before making my big move. 🙂

  12. I don’t personally know Julie but after reading her post about her experience of moving her website, I can so relate to her. I think she’s my new poster-child for taking the plunge and moving a website!

  13. I just moved my 10 year old html site from the host it had been on for seven years to a new worpress foundation on a new host. It was a nightmare! Happily over thw worst now but i took quite a hit in the serps.

    1. Julie, This is so funny! I just posted a link to your article about moving your site and then I saw (and approved your comment)! That’s kind of weird, since, it twas so not planned! 🙂

  14. I recently moved from a shared hosting to a vps.
    I must said that i was afraid but in the end the transfer went well and now i experience much better performance

    1. I haven’t had to move to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) yet. I was able to achieve my goals (improved response time and better tech support) simply by changing hosting providers.

      Thanks for commenting. I’m not sure that everyone was aware that there are other options beyond the shared-hosting that most of us use. For some, like you, the extra expense of a VPS is well worth it.