Moving to a new host can seem like a lot of hassle. But with proper planning, it needn’t be. If you do things properly as I’ll outline below you’ll actually find the entire thing quite easy and certainly stress free. You might also be moving to a host as great as HostPresto and find that the support team will handle the whole migration for you – wouldn’t that be nice. But, in case you need to do the leg work yourself, here is a quick run down of some things you’ll need to think about.
New Host (Compatibility)
The first thing you need to check is that your proposed new host comes with PHP and MySQL. Wordpress needs these to function and whilst most hosts do have this functionality (it’s not the 1990’s) it’s always worth just making sure. In the past, it used to be a nightmare getting PHP on Windows based server for example but thankfully it’s seldom an issue these days.
However, you also need to give some thought to your plugins. Some of them may require certain libraries installed on the server in order to function. So make sure you clarify everything on that front before even starting the migration process. Most hosts will be able to enable modules and such as required but the last thing you want is to “go live” and be missing important parts of your site because of small compatibility issues.
What to Backup
At this stage you need to figure out exactly what you want to move over to your new host. Obviously your core Wordpress site files and your database are a given but do you really want to drag over all of your old, unused plugins etc? Probably not. They post a security risk if not updated frequently and you really don’t want to be cluttering your new web space with stuff you’re not using anyway. So have a run through and delete what you don’t need beforehand.
Plugins or Manual
The next task assuming you’re not doing the likes of a cPanel to Cpanel backup is deciding exactly how you’re going to backup your data. You essentially have two options, you can either use any of the various Wordpress backup plugins out there or you can do it manually.
If you’re relatively clued up on how things work you might be best manually backing up your database and pulling down all your site files. It’s good to have a local backup anyway. But if you’re not that experienced you’re probably better off going down the plugin route.
Be warned though that Wordpress backup plugins will literally just backup Wordpress and its required files/data. You will still need to migrate all of your e-mail accounts and web stats etc as explained below.
Common issues surrounding file permissions always seem to crop up in every migration. You might be messing around with your permalinks, have issues with image uploads or have plugins performing page caching which all need to write to various locations on your server. This typically isn’t the sort of thing that is likely to render your website unresponsive but it is something worth double checking once you have finished your migration. Just make sure everything is writing as it should.
You should always ask your host for a preview URL or edit the hosts file on your local computer to be able to resolve your domain from the new host. Preview URLs will require you to update the URL in your Wordpress install otherwise it will try and resolve your current/live site so unless you want to change this around temporarily a host file edit to map your domain to your new hosts IP address is the best option. You can read how to do it here.
When testing your page, also make sure you have a good browse around and try all the various elements of your site. Many people see the homepage loading and thing the job is done without bothering to check if sub pages are loading etc. Often they don’t because of htaccess issues so be sure to double check it.
One thing people often forget, particularly those using backup plugins from within Wordpress is their e-mail accounts etc. Unless you manually want to set them up on your new host, these will need moving to. Usually your host will assist you in providing you with your mailbox files if you’re unable to do it yourself however you should also make sure you make note of any forwarders or catch alls you have setup also.
Once all the above is done it’s time to make the leap and change the nameservers. If you really want to get technical you can alter the TTL (time to live) on your domain at registrar level so new nameserver/DNS changes are reflected immediately although providing you’ve done thorough and extensive testing as outlined above there should be little need for this. Just wait it out and do another complete test once things have fully propagated.
Most migrations go smoothly but sometimes you just forget to do that one little thing and it ends up causing you no end of problems. Hopefully with the help of the pointers above this won’t happy to you and if it does, come speak to us here at HostPresto and we’ll happily migrate your Wordpress blog onto one of our fantastic Wordpress hosting plans free of charge!