A good website is the core foundation for the growth of any online business. The success of a website depends on its infrastructure, UX/UI, and SEO, as well as the server that’s hosting it. Without a robust host, a WordPress site can’t perform to its full potential.
There are several reasons you might want to change your host. Consider video conference platforms. These need optimum speed to provide valuable service to their users. This speed depends on the host that’s housing the website. If the host server can’t provide dedicated resources to support the website’s speed requirements, they’re not getting what they need.
It can be daunting to move your WordPress site to a new host. The process can take time and runs the risk of losing data or, worse, damaging your site.
Despite all the risks, though, sometimes it becomes imperative to make the transition. In this article, we’ll look at how to migrate WordPress site to new host without causing downtime.
Manual or Plugin?
The first step is to decide whether you want to migrate your WordPress site manually or automatically. Both have their merits. Manual migration involves using FTP (file transfer protocol) and modifying files and databases on your backend. Don’t get put off thinking manual migration is a complex process you can’t do on your own. Just follow a step-by-step tutorial and you should be fine.
However, there are also several robust plugin options specifically for WordPress migration that can do the job for you. The only problem with plugins is they’re prone to errors and so not best suited for larger websites. With manual migration, error risks can be largely mitigated.
Let’s start with manual migration.
How to Migrate WordPress Site to New Host Manually
1. Find a New Host
Before you start the process of moving your WordPress site, you have to find it a new home aka a new host or provider. When researching the best servers, think about why you’re moving your site in the first place.
Are you not happy with the level of security your current host provides? Is the UI of your current host not as user-friendly as you’d like? Do you need better speed? If so, here’s a list of the seven fastest WordPress hosting providers.
Based on your answers, you need to find a host with services that address your current concerns. This could be top-of-the-line security features, an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, or more storage for your data.
You can choose different types of hosts including:
- Shared. A shared host accommodates multiple websites and is usually the most budget-friendly option.
- Dedicated. A dedicated host accommodates one website exclusively.
- VPS (virtual private server). A VPS is a shared server but with virtual compartments so websites can have their own dedicated resources.
With each of these cheap types of hosting, the host can manage certain jobs like backups and updates.
You need to choose the type of host that’s right for your business. For example, say your company sells cloud PBX system solutions. Your priority when choosing a host would be speed over other factors.
2. Backup Your Website Files
One of the most important steps when migrating your website to a new host is to backup all your files. You can do this with a free FTP tool like FileZilla. Just follow these simple steps:
- Use FTP to connect to your site’s server.
- Go to your WordPress ‘root’ folder that has all your files.
- This root folder is usually named public_html or named after your website.
- Right-click on the ‘root’ folder and click on ‘download’.
- This will download the entire contents of your roots folder to your computer, so you’ll have a copy of all your website files.
3. Backup Your WordPress Database
Once you have a backup of your WordPress site’s files, you’ll need a backup of its database as well. This contains all the background information about the site.
You can access your site’s database through the control panel. Then, you need to export it. To do this, click on the ‘export’ tab. Then, click on the ‘quick’ option under ‘export method’ and choose ‘go’. This will download your website’s database in .sql format.
4. Create a New SQL Database
Once you’ve downloaded backups of both your site files and database, you need to create a fresh SQL database on your new server. The idea is to import your old files into this. This involves a few quick steps:
- Login to your new web host and connect to the cPanel software.
- Open MySQL database and create a new database.
- Assign a name to your website.
- Create a new MySQL user account. Remember to add a password.
- Add this user account to the new database and grant it ‘all privileges’.
5. Upload Your Site’s Files into the New Database
- Login to your new server and go to its ‘root folder’.
- Right-click the folder and select ‘upload’.
- Choose the folder you had downloaded from your old server and select the files you want to upload.
This upload may take a while depending on the size and volume of your files.
6. Edit the wp-config.php File
Once that’s done, you’ll also need to open the root folder you downloaded to your computer from your old server. Find a file named wp-config.php. This file is the connection between WordPress and your database. Even when all your files are uploaded to the new server, you can’t access them unless you update your wp-config.php to direct to your new database.
To do this, open the wp-config.php file in your root folder and right-click it to choose the ‘view/edit’ option. Then, open the file with your text editor and make the following three changes:
- Database Name. Under ‘database name’, find the line ‘define(‘DB_NAME', ‘db_name')’. The ‘db_name’ will currently be set to the MySQL database name of your old web host. Change this to the name of the new database you have created.
- Database Username. Next, under ‘database username’, find the line ‘define(‘DB_USER', ‘db_user')’. The ‘db_user' will currently have the username of your old host. Change this to your new username.
- Database Password. Now, under ‘database password’, find the line ‘define(‘DB_PASSWORD', ‘db_pass')’. You need to edit the ‘db_pass' to your new password.
Finally, save this updated wp-config.php file and close it. You can now access your WordPress website without any trouble.
7. Configure Your DNS
The last step is to have your DNS (domain name server) directed toward your new host. To do this, you need information from your new host and access to the registrar you bought your domain name from. For example, if you buy io domain, make sure you have access to the registrar you purchase it from.
Be aware that DNS changes can take up to 48 hours to manifest. Your best approach is to schedule these at a time when your website traffic is low. This significantly minimizes any downtime.
How to Migrate WordPress Site to New Host Using Plugins
There are also some excellent plugin options for migrating your WordPress site. While manual migration has its merits, plugins can be useful, providing multiple automated functions like backing up site data, providing recovery services, etc. There are some great free WordPress plugins to choose from.
The best WordPress migration plugins offer impeccable interfaces, one-click migration options, and lots of other tools to make the process as smooth as possible. Our top three migration plugins for WordPress are probably Duplicator, WP Migrate DB, and Migrate Guru.
Duplicator is a great option if you want a plugin to take care of most of the migration tasks for you. It works on all WordPress websites and can copy your database as well as your files. It’s a no-fuss plugin that makes migration simple and hassle-free.
With WP Migrate DP, you don’t need to manually export your database. While you do still have to manually import the SQL file, skipping the export step saves a fair amount of time.
Migrate Guru is particularly useful for large websites. It lets you transfer up to 200 GB. Also in its favor is the fact the migration is managed on Migrate Guru’s own servers. This mitigates the risk of your site crashing from the pressure of migration.
To Sum Up
In this article, we looked at how migrating your WordPress site can be a reasonably straightforward process. People often fail to make the distinction between something difficult and something time-consuming, which is what happens here.
With more and more businesses choosing to adopt an omni channel process, however, it’s important to have a website that’s fully up to speed and synced with all networks. A robust host facilitates this.
As with almost everything else today, from live chat to automatically booking appointments, there are also plugins to help if you get stuck.
Following a set of clearly defined steps, such as the ones above, should allow you to move your site to a new host by yourself and with minimal downtime. Isn’t it time you gave it a go?
Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform and call center phone systems for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.