How to Move a WordPress Site to a New Hosting Site
One of the most common questions that I get asked when I’m training people on how to build a website or to work with WordPress is, “How do I move my WordPress site to a new hosting provider?”
While there is no exact formula, there are best practices, techniques, and tips that you can follow to safely and securely migrate your WordPress site to a new hosting provider.
Create A Backup
The first thing that you need to do before you begin moving your site is to make sure that you have a backup. You can’t move a site without a backup. It’s just not done. The reason for this is simple: if you have a database that is the backbone of your site, and you update it or delete it or do anything to it, you will crash your site. Now, you might be able to recover from that, but why take the chance? It’s much better to be safe than sorry. So, create a backup by cloning your existing database or importing it into a separate WordPress installation on a new host.
Determine The Purpose Of The Move
Now that you have a backup, you can sit down with your developer or web designer and figure out the purpose of the move. Is it because you’re running out of space on your current host? Is it because the price is better on the new host? Is it because you want to switch to a different platform (i.e., from WordPress to Drupal or vice versa)? Whatever the reason may be, you and your developer or designer should discuss it and decide on a course of action. Do you need to move all of your content over at once? Do you need to move your blog to a new host? All of these questions should be answered before you start moving parts of your site to the new host.
Check Out The Differences
Before you start making any adjustments to your WordPress site, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the differences. Let’s say, for example, that you’re moving from Bluehost to WP Engine. Bluehost is a popular shared hosting service with a lot of perks that make it quite appealing (especially as a free host at that). You might be wondering how much better performance and features you can get from WP Engine. Does it run on a premium platform? Does it have a better security track record? Does it have a bigger market share? When you’re trying to decide where to host your site, it’s important to compare apples to apples. Otherwise, you might end up with an orange that is a worse version of the fruit that you started with.
Migrate All Of The Data
Once you’ve decided that the purpose of the move is to keep everything (i.e., the WordPress installation, database, images, etc.) Once you’ve decided that the purpose of the move is to keep everything (i.e., the WordPress installation, database, images, etc.), the next step is to start migrating all of the data. This means going through and manually changing all of the links and importing all of the content from your old host to your new host. Take your time with this step and be sure that everything is transferred correctly. Also, make sure that you have the credentials for everything (i.e., the WordPress login, FTP login, etc.). This is particularly important if you’re using free hosts like Bluehost. As a general rule, I always recommend that you use an SSL certificate to encrypt all of the data that is being transferred to make sure that everything is kept secure. In some instances, you might need to use a tool like WP Migrate DB to make this easier (and faster).
Disable All Unused Features On The New Host
After you’ve migrated all of the data, you can start to disable all of the features on your new host that you no longer need. For example, if you’re moving from a free host to a premium host, you might want to disable all of the free features on the new host. You should be able to get by with just the essentials (e.g., the ability to create and edit posts, pages, and/or posts on your blog, etc.) Once you’ve disabled all of the unused features on the new host, you can start using it to power your site. You can also go through and re-enable any of the features that you need for your site (e.g., if you’re missing certain template abilities or you need to use a plugin that was not available on the free host). This is an important step to make sure that you don’t break anything on the new host that you need for your site.
Set Up A New WordPress Installation On The New Host
Now that you have a functioning site on the new host (with all of the data and features migrated over), you can set up a new WordPress installation on it to replace the one that is on the old host. This is fairly straightforward stuff and not too difficult to do. Especially if you have a developer or web designer to help you along the way. Even if you have to do it yourself, you can still use tools like WP Migrate DB to make the process much easier. One of the things that I like best about WP Migrate DB is that it will create a backup of your old site’s database (just in case something happens) and then give you the option to restore it in the event that something goes wrong. If you’re not using a tool like this, you’re definitely going to have a bad experience if anything happens to your site’s database.
Make Sure That Your Backups Are Up-to-date
One of the things that I like best about WP Migrate DB is that it will create a backup of your old site’s data before it starts the process of moving it. This ensures that you can have complete control over what is being done to your site (and ensure that everything is up-to-date). If you’re not using a tool like this, you’re probably going to have to wait until after the process is finished before you can fully verify that everything is moved over correctly. This means that you could potentially run into problems once the data is restored and the site is live (i.e., if something goes wrong, you’re going to have to go back and try to figure out what happened). Using a tool like this is the best way to ensure that everything is up-to-date and secure.
Monitor Any Performance Difficulties
Once you’ve finished setting up your new site, you can start to monitor it for any performance issues. If you notice that certain pages or posts are taking a lot longer to load than others, this could be a sign that there is a problem (i.e., the site is performing poorly). To ensure that everything is working properly, you should try and visit a few key pages on your site and see how fast they load. If they’re not loading quickly, this could be a sign that there is a problem (i.e., your site might be overloaded or under-performing due to too many posts, pages, or images on it).
In some instances, you might need to adjust your site’s code to make it faster. For example, if you notice that a certain post is taking a lot longer to load than others, you could try out different plugins (or the default WordPress setting) to see which one makes it load the fastest. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of cleaning up the code a bit. In other instances, you might need to adjust your images’ settings to make them load faster (i.e., turn off the ‘proper’ function or use a different hosting service that has faster images enabled by default).
WordPress is a very powerful tool and it is extremely easy to use once you get the hang of it. Moving a site to a new host can be quite simple if you follow a few best practices and take the time to do it right. With that being said, it is still important to note that not all hosting providers are made equal and some do have a higher level of support than others (i.e., when it comes to helping you move your site to them). It is also important to be aware of any restrictions that you might encounter while on the new host (e.g., limits on email accounts, file storage, etc.). If you’re not aware of these restrictions, you might find yourself in a situation where you’re not able to do something that you need to do (e.g., you can’t have an email account or you’re limited on the amount of websites that you can create). In some instances, these restrictions can be lifted with a little bit of patience (e.g., most hosts will allow you to have 1-2 email accounts). Finally, while it is easy to move a site to a new host, it is still essential to have the database backed up before you start moving parts of it over. This ensures that you don’t have to go through the trouble of restoring it if anything goes wrong.