How To Change Web Hosts

There are many different reasons that you might change your web host. Perhaps your site’s are down constantly. Maybe support is too slow. Or maybe your site has just outgrown the needs of your current web hosting plan. Whatever the reason, transitioning to a new web host can be an intimidating process if you haven’t done before. In fact, people often resist moving web hosts specifically because they think it’s too much trouble.

There’s no point in changing web hosts if you aren’t going to one that is better. So make sure you do some research and select the best web host for your needs.

Backing Up Your Site

The first step before you move web hosts is to backup your web site. If your website is made up of primarily static html files, then this is as simple as using your favorite FTP client and copying your site’s files to a folder on your local computer. When you do this, make sure to keep your directory structure the same, or else your site won’t work when you upload it back to your new web host.

If you are backing up a WordPress blog, the process is a little more complicated. Besides copying your site’s files to your computer, you also have to make a copy of your WordPress database. Here’s how to do this using cPanel/phpMyAdmin.

  1. Login to your cPanel.
  2. Click on phpMyAdmin.
  3. Select the DB of your WordPress blog.
  4. Click on the Export tab.
  5. Hit the Go button.

Not sure what your DB name is? If you open up the wp-config.php file in your main WordPress installation, you can see the database name in there.

Restoring Your Site

Once you’ve created an account on your new web host, you’ll want to restore your backed up site and test that it works. Don’t close your account on your old web host before you do this! Usually in the welcome email from your new host, you will get an IP address you can use to access the webpages on your new site. This is important. Because you haven’t changed your nameservers yet, your domain name will still point your site on your old web host. So to see your site on your new web host, you will have to use this IP address.

The first thing you will want to do, is upload the backed up files of your site into the public_html directory of your new web host. If it’s a static site, then you’re done.

For WordPress, the steps are a little more involved.

  1. Login to your cPanel.
  2. Click on MySQL Databases and create a new database and add a user with all permissions.
  3. Go to Import Tab of your phpMyAdmin and select your backed up DB file.
  4. Modify the wp-config.php file of your backed up WordPress site and put in the db name, db user and password that you added in the previous step.
  5. Upload the files to your server.

Changing Your Nameservers

Once you’ve tested that your site works right on your new web host, you can change your nameservers so that your domain name points to your new web host and not your old one.

To do this, you need to login to your domain registrar where you purchased your domain name. Then select your domain name, and change to the nameservers of your new web host. This information should be located as well in your initial welcome email.

Once you’ve changed your nameservers, it will usually take about 24 hours for the change propagate across the internet. After it does, people visiting your domain name, will now be visiting the site located on your new web host.

At this point, you are now ready to pull the plug on your old web host. Contact the support and tell them you’re moving on. If you are entitled to any refunds, make sure to ask for that as well.

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