6 Keys to Transferring Your Website to a New Host
People move web hosts for a variety of reasons. Customers might move because they’re paying too much, or perhaps they’re moving because they’ve heard that their new host has better support. The good news is that you can keep your domain name the same even when you change web hosts. The bad news is that it can take a bit of effort to move everything over. Here are 6 key steps to follow when backing up and moving your site to a new host.
1. Use a cPanel Backup to Move Your Website
Performing a cPanel backup and restore process is one of the easiest ways to transfer your website. The first thing you’re going to do is to log in to cPanel. Go to your cPanel’s File section and click on Backups. The cPanel backup is quite thorough as it backs up your website, your email settings and your databases. You want to click on download to generate a full website backup. When you generate a backup, you should make sure your email address is filled out properly because a notification after your backup is completed will be sent to your email once it’s done.
2. Download a Copy of Your cPanel Backup After It Completes
You should use your favorite FTP program to download the cPanel backup file. Once you have the backup file, you can upload it to your new host. You generally have to open a ticket with your new web host after you transfer your website. This is to let them know that you’ve placed your cPanel backup in the root directory of your new web host. Your new host will restore the cPanel backup and adjust the configurations such that you have a seamless transition to your new hosting account.
3. (Optional) Export Your Database and Import It to Your New Web Host
You can import your MySQL backup to another web host in case you don’t have cPanel. By using PHPMyAdmin, you’ll have another option for transferring your website to a new host. Before you do a MySQL backup, you should copy all of your files from your public HTML folder over to your new host.
- Login to your cPanel of your old host.
- Under Databases, click on PHPMyAdmin.
- Select your database name and click Export. Now you’ll be able to download the MySQL backup file.
- To find out what the database name and database username are, go to the Databases section and click on MySQL Databases. This section will tell you the database name as well as the associated username. For most people, these two names will be the same.
- Create the same database and user on your new host’s cPanel. You will also need to associate the user to the database you just created. You do this on your new host’s cPanel by selecting the user, then selecting the database you just created and giving that user all privileges on that database. Your newly created database on your new host should now have the new user associated with it.
- You will have to import the old database backup to your new cPanel account. In your new cPanel, click on PHPMyAdmin and click on the database name. Click on Import, and select the MySQL backup file you previously exported from your previous host.
Everything should import over and replicate your last host’s environment.
4. Change Your DNS to Point to Your New Host
To properly transfer your hosting, you need to change the domain name server records, also known as DNS, to your new host’s name servers. Your updated DNS records what IP address is associated with your domain name. You want your new host’s IP address to be reflected in your updated DNS records.
- Login to cPanel on your new host.
- Click on domain management.
- To update the name servers, click on update to enter in your new nameservers.
- Input the names of your new host’s nameservers and click “save changes”.
The new nameservers can take up to twenty-four hours to fully propagate throughout the Internet.
5. Set a Lower TTL to Speed Up Your Hosting Transfer
The various nameservers around the Internet use cached records for your domain’s DNS based on your time to live (TTL) settings. Because DNS records don’t often change, it’s generally okay to have these records cached for 24 hours. But when you’re moving hosts, you want your new IP address to be registered as soon as possible. This is where setting your TTL comes in. By setting a lower TTL, you can force the various nameservers around the Internet to ping your domain’s DNS records more often. If they see a TTL of 10 minutes, then that’s how often they’ll come back to your registrar’s records to make sure nothing has changed. By setting your TTL to a time below 30 minutes, you can make sure you aren’t stuck waiting for the rest of the Internet to record your hosting move.
6. Check That Your Absolute Server Path in Your CMS’s Settings Match up With Your New Host’s Server Path
When moving a website manually, you have to make sure that your absolute paths are configured properly. If your old web host has a different directory structure than your new host, the web software you run might be looking for files in the wrong places. Whether you’re running a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, check your configuration files (including those of plugins and themes) to make sure that the absolute server path that various settings are depending upon get updated in your config files. You need to change it for your new website such that the directory structure matches your new web host.
Moving hosts can be complicated, but it should go smoothly if you take it one step at a time. And don’t be afraid to ask your new web host to help transfer your files over.