Logistics of moving the blog to the new host

Many people stay with their original hosting company regardless of the ongoing level of service, facilities on offer or even price simply because it seems like a nightmare to even contemplate moving to another hosting company. However, it’s not nearly so difficult as many people think.

For HTML only sites it’s a doddle and for the majority of people complications only appear when they’re trying to move a blog which means that they need to move a database. Since that’s the most complex situation that most people encounter I’ll go through that here.

First off you need to set up an account with a new hosting provider. There are oodles of these around the world with prices ranging from free to around $10/month and levels of service ranging from dreadful to excellent. Which is best depends a lot on your requirements in terms of physical location of the hosting, amount of storage space, bandwidth and pricing and it’s generally best to spend some time going through reviews of the services before you make your final selection.

If possible, it’s handy to have a similar cpanel setup on both old and new services as this makes the move a whole lot more seamless. In my case the cpanel setup on EUKHost and HostGator are almost identical which made this move considerably easier.

Once you’ve the new account setup the easiest way to move the site is by running the cpanel backup utility which’ll copy your entire site onto your PC (“download home directory”); if no backup utility is available to you, you can use FTP instead though it’ll take longer as it doesn’t compress the information. Next step is to restore this backup on your new host which you can do via the backup utility in cpanel (“restore home directory”) or by FTP.

That’s sufficient for non-database sites although you’ll still need to redirect the domain (see later).

For blogs or other database driven sites you need go back to the backup utility and  “Download a MySQL Database Backup”, selecting the appropriate database then do the reverse on your new host.

That’s pretty much the move completed or at least it’s the part that’ll take the longest amount of time for you. Next up is to point the domain to the new host and then you need to wait a bit because it can take quite a while for the domain change to be reflected right across the Internet (anything up to about 48 hours). Finally, you need to add the domain as an add-on domain on the new host.

If you’ve been clever you’ll have used the same username for the account on the new host as this’ll mean that the site is ready to go. If you haven’t you’ll need (on WordPress) to edit the file wp-config.php to reflect the new usernames and passwords.

Incidently, the site will remain operational during the domain transfer so long as you don’t remove the domain from the original host (it can be listed in both hosts). Since the move should be seamless, you should create a small file called something like where.htm and upload this to both old and new servers with a little text message saying “this is hosted on X” or “this is hosted on Y” so that you’ll know the move has been made.

And that’s it. It’s generally best to leave the old hosting account running for a week or two just in case you’ve missed something although if you’re pretty close to the renewal date you could cut this short (just make sure you checkout the whole website though!).

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