With the introduction of the Internet, the term “moving” has taken on new meaning. One of the best of these makes the connection between moving a physical place of business and moving an online place of business.
In essence, this is what occurs whenever a company decides to change web hosts. Suddenly, the grass not only looks greener way over there, careful analysis reveals that it actually IS greener, and the decision is made to transfer your website.
From there, navigating the actual moving process requires a logical series of steps, each done in order to ensure nothing valuable goes missing or ends up cracked or broken past repair.
In this article, learn the steps to take to achieve a seamless transition between web hosts.
First, Purchase the New Hosting Package
As Web Hosting Secrets Revealed points out, taking the wrong step at the wrong moment could leave an otherwise viable website homeless, stranded in cyberspace, packed bags in hand.
It can be so tempting to lump in “purchase the new hosting package” with “cancel the current hosting package.” But DON’T do this or homelessness could end up being an all too real reality.
The reason for this is simple: some web hosts are gracious about wishing departing clients well, while others are not. As well, if there are any fees associated with early termination, timing the transfer to avoid these can save money as well as bad feelings.
Ergo, the best way to find out is to get the departing website happily situated in its new online home space before the soon-to-be former web host is any the wiser.
Next, Back Up EVERYTHING
Even the best-laid plans can get way laid by unforeseen or unexpected events. Weather, political turmoil, a hostile corporate takeover, already erratic hosting service that gets even more erratic…there is no need to wait and find out just how unpredictable the online world may become.
Rather, back up EVERYTHING before you transfer your website. Source files, static files, graphics and images, text files, databases, software, plugins, apps…don’t leave a single element out in the cold. And back it up to a separate, off-site location, someplace secure and not connected to the current web host or the new web host.
This way, if/when unpredictable events occur, all that is required is to lay low until it is safe to resume the web transfer.
Gather All the Relevant Administrator Data
At this point, it is time to prepare for the transfer itself. In most instances, this will require acquiring certain information from both the current and soon-to-be new web host. So this part must be handled with care, for obvious reasons.
The most important bit of information is the domain registration – called the registrar information. This can be accessed online just by looking up the information on WhoIs. Often it is also possible to view it through the current web host’s online portal or client platform.
The next most important information to have handy is any administrator passwords that have been previously set up. These passwords ensure unrestricted site access during and even after the transfer.
With this information, it becomes possible to do two things: quickly and completely transfer all data associated with the website in question and point the domain URL at the website’s new location with the new web host.
And Now, Load ‘Er On Up!
New web host package purchased – check. Current website backed up – check. Administrator passwords and registrar information acquired – check. At this point in time, the opening acts are finished and it is time for the feature presentation – moving the website itself from the current web host to the new web host.
It is always a good idea to carefully plan the timing of such an important move. For example, no website owner should plan a big move of this sort during the annual sales rush or the peak day and time of weekly usage.
A careful analysis of website analytics over time can reveal prime moments for a move that could take the site down for as long as 48 to 72 hours while it is being re-populated and re-catalogued online at its new location.
For most site owners, the ideal time is during the late evening or early morning hours on a low-traffic day during the slow season of the year.
For particularly busy sites where “slow” isn’t a situation that often occurs, it can also be a good idea to warn followers and clients in advance of the pending outage. This can be done by posting a short notice one or two days prior to the scheduled hosting move date.
The method of transfer can depend on the tools the new web host makes available. Some web hosts offer simple “one click” transfer and import tools, while others can accept data in zip file, PHP or MySQL form.
Follow the new web host’s transfer instructions carefully for the format of the website itself. Here, it can also really help if the new web host offers instant messenger or (ideally) 24/7 phone technical and customer support just in case anything about the import doesn’t go as planned.
Finally, Test, Test & Test Again
Once the website is imported to the new web host, it is all about testing to verify everything is working and displaying as it did before. Testing should take place on different OS and browser types to be sure any glitches, broken links, blurry images or missing plugins or apps are resolved.
It is very important to test during the migration period, because once the site has successfully repopulated and been re-categorized, it will go live as-is.
The moment this occurs, it is then time to alert the soon-to-be former web host of account termination.
By following these steps, in order and to the letter, it is possible to change web hosts with the least disruption to an active website.