There are many reasons you may consider changing web hosts. Perhaps you are not satisfied with your current provider’s support or features. Perhaps you found a better price elsewhere and you simply cannot pass up the savings. Regardless of why you want to move from one web host to another there are several considerations before doing so.
You want your move to be smooth with little to no down time. You want your customers or viewers to have a seamless transition so your site is not disrupted. Of course, sometimes something may go wrong but with a little planning you can mitigate the possibility of problems.
Save your Site Now
You do not even want to think about moving from one host to another without properly backing up your entire site. If something happens and you lose your files, you will be sure to have a back up copy you can use to restore. It is best to manually back up all your files in case there are incompatibilities between your existing host and your new one. Make sure to budget ample time for the back up to run. You may be surprised how long it takes to back up all of your files.
Research your New Web Host
It is possible you are moving from one host that has a certain set of features to another with the exact same. Possible but not likely. Therefore, you may run into compatibility problems and at the very least you will need some pertinent information in order to properly move what you need to. You will need the following in order to move to your new host:
Find out what means they allow for uploading files and make sure you have it available to quickly upload your site. The minimal need would be a proper FTP client.
Get the DNS information for your new host and make sure you have your domain account information so you can quickly modify settings when needed.
Make sure you have your temporary URL handy so you can test your site before changing your DNS.
Have a list of all the server information in order to make necessary script changes so your scripts will run properly.
Pre Move Etiquette
Let everyone know you are going to move and over what period of time it will occur. Whether you have a business or personal site it is simply good etiquette to inform your users that you are moving so they do not wonder what has happened in case you are down or experience problems. Your users will understand that sometimes these things are necessary and sometimes they can even be your best asset by letting you know if there are any lingering problems that escaped your notice after the move. Let them know when you will move then let them know when the move is finished.
During the Day of the Move
Make a plan of action for your move. Schedule the time you will move for the slowest day and the slowest time of day. This way as few people as possible will be disrupted by the process. Have a list of all the steps you need to take in order to move including details of file structure so you can ensure all files copied correctly. Once all the files are uploaded completely, test your site using the temporary URL. Use your check list of pages on your site to visit each one and ensure it is working properly. Once this is done you can change your DNS. Make sure you tell your visitors what you are doing so they can help identify problems.
After the Move
Once all your files are moved and all your testing is done you can then change your DNS. Log into your domain host’s account and change the settings to your new host. It used to take up to forty eight hours for the domain to propagate fully but it typically occurs very quickly these days so most of your users will be able to identify any problems shortly after moving.
If there are any issues you can always go back to your old host and make changes. After a few days if you have discovered no problems, cancel your old account and you can be sure your move was successful.
Planning for all contingencies as well as being very organized will ensure your move from one web host to the next runs smoothly. Make sure you back up your site at your old host, gather everything you need prior to moving, inform your viewers and write out an organizational plan before you move. Once you are finished moving your files test your site thoroughly before changing DNS. Once you are done testing, only then should you change your DNS.
Even if everything seems to be working fine, wait a few days to be sure before cancelling your account at your old host. If you follow all the steps your move will go smoothly and you will have fewer chances of something going wrong. Of course, sometimes the unexpected may happen but with proper steps, you can reduce the odds of dealing with them.