Moving your Website with no Downtime

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Many people wish to change their hosting provider for all sorts of reasons; the common ones we hear from customers who have moved to us are cost, quality of support, hosting features and quality of hosting. Yet many stick with the same host because of the fear of moving. It’s a common misconception that moving web hosts will cause your website to become unavailable, drop your search engine ranking, lose your emails and all sorts of other horrors. However if you plan your move then there is no reason that any of those things should occur.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on transferring your website to a new web host.

1. Register with your new host and setup your new hosting account

This is an obvious step when moving to a new host but the first thing you need to do is activate your web hosting with your new host. They should then provide you with all the information that you require to upload your site to their servers (ftp details, path information, etc).

2. Transfer your old site to the new host

If you already have an up to date backup then you can go ahead and FTP that up to your new web hosting account. If not, then you’ll need to FTP the site down from your old host and up to your new host.
Be sure not to make any changes to the website on your old host in between transfers so that you don’t miss them out.
Check that the file structure on the new server matches that on the old server.

3. Transfer over any databases

If your website is database driven then you’ll need to back up the database from your old site and set it up on your new site.
You may need to alter your database authentication details on the new site if the server name has changed and possibly the database name.

4. Make sure that absolute paths are configured correctly

For example, if you are on shared hosting one web host may store your site at /server1/www/sites/example.com and another host may store your site at /websites/e/example.com.
If you are using server paths in your website be sure to reconfigure them on the new site.

5. Test the new site

Get the temporary url of your site from your new host or the IP address of the server where your site is located.
If you’re using Windows then update your hosts file to point your domain name to the new IP address so that you can give the site a proper test. Make sure everything is working as it should.

6. Recreate mail settings

On your new host be sure to recreate any mailboxes, forwarders and auto-responders that you had set up on your previous host. It may be desirable to set up a forwarder for each email address on your old host to forward to a third-party address to catch anything that may be lost in the switch to the new host, for example if an email is sent in between the time emails were last received and the time new host server begins to act as the mail server.

7. Change the nameservers

Once you’re satisfied that the transfer is a success you can change the nameservers on the domain to point to your new web host. The nameserver change can take up to 72 hours to propagate around the Internet so don’t take down your old site until that time has elapsed.
Your current domain registrar should provide you with the ability to make this change.

8. Transfer the domain name (optional)

This is purely optional but some people find it easier to have all their eggs in one basket. You may want to transfer the domain name to your new host. Your old and new hosts should provide methods to do this quickly and simply.

9. Cancel your old hosting account

Bit of an obvious one but many people forget to cancel their old account. You don’t want to get billed for hosting you’re not using do you?

Should you wish to transfer your website to WebMe then we would be more than happy to assist you. In fact if it’s a simple site we can probably move it over for free!
Just get in touch and we’ll take a look and let you know how much, if anything, it would cost for us to do the transfer.

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