Why might you need to change your web hosting company?
There are lots of different answers to this question.
The first thing may be that you are unhappy with your current host. It could also be that there is a new company in town, and you found a better deal online. Or perhaps you have outgrown your current host and now need more resources, features, or services that you cannot get with your current company.
Regardless of why you might want to change hosts, it is important that when you do switch, you should minimize your downtime as much as possible. This guide will give you an overview of what you will need to do in order to switch hosts and move your website from being hosted by one company to another.
Please note that because different hosts have different tech setups in place and will definitely have different processes and procedures in place for moving hosts, it is always a good idea to speak to customer support before making a move.
The steps involved in transferring your domain to a new host are:
- Setting up your new server
- Transferring your files
- Changing the internet DNS
- Closing your old hosting account
Before you do any of these, however, you need to plan your move
Planning your move
Before selecting a new host, do lots of research. Make sure you don't end up with a bad host again, or one that may come up short, necessitating a move once more.
Once you've made your choice, you can start the migration process.
The new process for migrating your website now looks something like this:
- Ensure that you have copied all your website files and databases from your current hosting service
- Upload the copied website files and databases to your new hosting account
- Test your website on your new server to make sure all works fine
- Point your domain to your servers located at your new host
- Finally, close your old hosting account
Let's look at each step in more detail.
Copying files and databases
Because your website files and their directory structure matters, keep them as they are while downloading and uploading. Changing file names or making other edits could lead to problems.
You can use a service such as Filezilla to copy your files.
First, create a folder on your machine to which you can copy your website files, and connect to your account using Filezilla, and simply drag all of your website files into the folder you created.
For copying databases (databases are often in SQL format), you can simply export your databases by downloading a copy by finding and clicking on phpMyAdmin from your control panel.
Setting up things on your new account
You'll have to do the following before you're ready with your new account:
- Create a new database
- Upload your old database into the database you just created
- Update your files to match the new database's name and credentials
- Upload your files to the new server
Uploading your selected database is simple enough: you just find it and click 'Go' or 'Next', and your admin panel will tell you whether or not the import was completed successfully.
The same goes for file modification. File and database names can be modified manually to connect them to the new database on your new server.
You can upload your website files by locating the FTP Accounts icon on your new admin dashboard, creating a new FTP user, and uploading via FTP.
Transfer your domain name
All websites and their related domains are both registered as well as renewed with a domain name registrar or host. If you've completed all of the steps above, you are now ready to transfer your domain name from your old host or registrar to the new one. There may be fees associated with this, and the process is different for different hosts, but all you need to do is follow the instructions provided by your host.
Cancelling your old account
Technically, you can do this as soon as you've transferred your old website to your new hosting provider. However, it is highly recommended that you wait a few days before cancelling your old plan to give the system enough time to spread the word that your website has moved.
The final word
Migrating domains can be somewhat technically challenging, but if you just follow the instructions provided by your hosting provider and the guidelines given above, you should be able to do it yourself. If you find yourself locked into a plan with a host whose plans and services no longer suit you, don't let the process of website migration prevent you from moving to a different host. Just do some research before making the move, ask for help whenever you get stuck, and take things one planned step at a time.