Transferring web hosts can be a stressful, but necessary, activity. There are many reasons that switching hosts may become necessary. Your website might outgrow the options the host provides, your website might be experiencing an inordinate amount of downtime and instability, you may have found a cheaper solution than the one you currently have, or the current host may simply have bad tech support.
Before moving to a new host, be sure to thoroughly research the packages and resources they offer. Don't assume that all hosts are created equal and provide the same software packages that your current host does. For example, you may use a particular software to host your blog. Check to ensure the new host provides that same software with their hosting plans. If you run any e-commerce software packages, ensure everything you have set up will be compatible with what the new host offers. Additionally, read any reviews you can find online to see if customers are happy with their service. The worst thing would be to move to a new host and experience the same issues you experienced with your old host.
Backup all files, media, databases, emails and scripts before making the transfer. To be on the safe side, make a second backup just in case something happens to the files in the first backup. Do all of this before alerting your current web host and discontinuing the service. Be sure to make note of any directory structures you currently use for the files as well.
Upload all of the files to your new web host. This can sometimes be a tricky process, and it's important to use your current directory structure when you upload your files so that there will be minimal issues with the transfer. If you upload with a different structure, your site will have broken links and missing images that you'll have to manually change later.
When your files are completely uploaded, no one will be able to see the new site located on the new host as you haven't changed over your DNS settings yet. This is the perfect time to thoroughly test the website and make any changes, by using the IP address provided by your new host. Be sure everything is working perfectly before making the full switch. In addition, set up your email accounts on the new host so they will experience zero downtime during the DNS switch.
Find out the DNS settings of your new host to begin the full transfer. You'll need to enter this information into your domain settings with the company you originally registered your domain. Changing a DNS can sometimes take time, anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for the domain to fully switch from your old host to your new one. The best way to keep an eye on this process is to make a small change to your homepage and check this throughout the next few days.
Wait the full 72 hours for the DNS to fully change over to your new host before cancelling service with your old host. Run the new version of your website through a quick test again, just to make sure everything is working correctly.
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