It can be tempting to procrastinate transferring your website, after all the process may be new to you and involves a few minor technical details. There’s really nothing to dread about transferring a website, however, as it’s a simple and straightforward process that you can complete with just a few minutes of pointing-and-clicking. Just make sure to avoid the common pitfalls of transferring a website and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a new hosting environment with better speed and perhaps a better price.
Downtime During Website Transfers
The most common issue experienced during a website transfer is downtime. Downtime refers to any period of time where visitors can not access your website. Many users save their website files and delete their hosting account before signing up for a new host. The reason this creates downtime for these website owners is that there are no website files on the web for users to access during the transfer process. You can avoid this downtime altogether and have a seamless transfer by following the proper procedures to transfer a website.
In order to transfer a website properly and avoid having any downtime for your users you will need to have your website files on the old and new server simultaneously for 72 hours. You should retain a new host before deleting your previous hosting account. Another important step is to make a complete backup of your website and upload it to the new host before deleting the old hosting account.
With a copy of your website on both hosting servers you can change the name servers to reflect the new host with your domain registrar and as DNS servers around the globe update users will be directed to a new version of the site. It may not take all 72 hours for you to notice your website is loading from the new host but users in different regions may be still accessing the old server in this time.
Downgrading Your Hosting Environment
Many website owners look to transfer a website to a new host solely to save on hosting costs. This is a feasible goal and you can definitely save money on hosting in most cases by finding a better hosting provider for your website but savings aren’t always guaranteed and may come at another cost.
In order to avoid paying too much for hosting or getting too small of a hosting package you need to know the exact needs of your website. This includes factoring in how much room your files will take up on a server and how resource-intensive your server-side scripts are. If you’re running a traditional WordPress website using the open source CMS then you can probably avoid having to calculate your server-side resource usage.
If your website is advanced and makes heavy use of databases and other server-side calculations then you should check out your current resource usage. This can often be found in the settings or admin panel of your hosting account but may not be available to you if you’re running an economic-level shared hosting account.
The easiest piece of data to gather when determining how much bandwidth and what kind of hosting is best for you is the traffic level of your website. You can measure this with traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics or StatCounter.
Once you’ve determined the needs of your website in terms of ability to handle incoming traffic and downloads and how much room or resources you’ll require on a web server then you’ll be in a much better position to estimate your hosting needs. Choose a web hosting package that covers more than enough room and bandwidth for your website to grow, without paying for a hosting account that could handle 100 times more than the resources you currently use.
Losing Files or Databases
The scariest possible outcome of transferring a website is that you could, in theory, lose some of your files or databases. This cannot happen if you follow proper transfer protocol, however, which is actually quite simple to follow.
In order to make sure you don’t lose any files simply download the entire website content and accumulation of files from the root directory of your previous host. After this, if your website uses databases simply login as an administrator and save the database files to your local machine in a separate folder. Depending on which folder your database saves files to this may result in you having an extra copy of your databases but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you feel unsure about collecting your files in a backup folder then you can rest easy with an automated backup tool like UpdraftPlus or BackWPup. These plugins were made for the WordPress CMS and can help you make complete backups of your website in just minutes to make sure you don’t lose any files.
If you follow the tips in this guide then you’ll effectively avoid the three most common mistakes that website owners run into when transferring a website. Your transfer process will go smoothly, you’ll save money if the opportunity exists for you, and you’ll have a complete copy of your website on the new server without users having to experience downtime.
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