Self-hosted WordPress site needs a paid hosting platform to store your content like database and files (images, videos, etc). Since most of the hosting companies offer services on contract basis there will be always a situation for you to decide whether to continue with the same host or change. One of the main reasons for changing the host is to save money since the renewal price of hosting is more than double price of your first invoice. In this article, let us discuss the basic steps needed to migrate WordPress site from one host to another host.
Why Do You Need to Migrate?
Assume you are hosted with one of the cheap shared hosting plans for the price of $3.95 per month and the contract is valid for one year. Below are some of the reasons you might be looking for changing the hosting environment:
- The renewal price will be around $7.99 per month which is more than 200% of the initial price. Now you can terminate the contract after a year and transfer your site to another hosting company with initial offer as low as $4 again. This essentially means you can keep the price almost unchanged by changing the hosting, in other words you will save huge money. The assumption here is your site is not outgrowing the bandwidth of shared hosting environment.
|Price in $
|Total in $
|Net additional payment without any benefits
- The server performance is not up to the mark and you always notice either the site is down or it is very slow.
- Support is not good and your issues are either not resolved or take too long time to resolve.
- You are interested in checking out how another hosting company is working.
Starting Migration Process
Be aware that most of the hosting companies set your account on auto renew mode. This will renew your account with the full price ($7.99 per month in the above example). For example, Bluehost set the auto renewal before three weeks. Hence, you need to finalize the migration plan at least one month in advance and set your current hosting account to either manual renewal or no renewal mode.
Backup Your Site
Now that you have decided to migrate your WordPress site and the first and important step is to completely backup the site. Most of the hosting companies offer free migration service to attract customers from other hosts, we strongly recommend backup your data before you handover your site to the new host.
- Backup the complete WordPress files including theme, plugins and other important core files.
- Backup your database content.
- Backup other content stored outside the WordPress installation. For example, images hosted on a subdomain.
- If you have a hosted email accounts, ensure to backup all the email content.
- Ensure to backup all content of add-on domains also.
Download the entire backups to your local computer or save it on cloud storage safely. Sometimes security and caching plugins on your site may cause issues in database uploading to new hosting. So, download two copies of your entire databases one with complete tables and other by excluding the security / caching related tables.
Finding a Suitable Host
Finding a suitable host is a subjective topic completely varies based on your requirement and site’s traffic. Below is an example checklist helps you to understand what you should look for.
|Price per month
|Number of sites
|Unlimited using add-on domain
|Unlimited using add-on domain
|1 million visits per month
|100k visits per month
|To be checked with new host
|Check your current bandwidth and judge 1TB is sufficient
|Is 30GB sufficient for you? Does this include the backup or only for live content?
The checklist will extend based on your need like email, CDN, staging, backup, support quality, etc. After the final checklist you will have an idea whether new host is suitable for your need. If not suitable do the same exercise with another host and we are sure you will find the good one in one or two attempt.
Signup with New Host
Of course you may be having lot of unanswered questions on the checklist. Do not hesitate to chat with the support representative of both old and new hosts to clear up all your queries. Let it be silly or clever question – just ask them to make it clear. Also ensure the new host offers money back policy at least few weeks after signing up.
Once everything is fine, signup for the new host and play around for some time to make the environment familiar.
Migrating the Content
Finally you can inform them to start the task of transferring your site to the new host. You need to have a FTP account with old host and provide the same to the new host.
- Your new host will transfer the complete hosting account if they support it. For example, if both old and new hosts using cPanel hosting then the whole cPanel can be transferred to new host. You need to provide your old hosting login credentials to new hosting company to initiate the transfer.
- Generally, most hosting companies offer free transfer of one site and charge $30 – $50 for each additional site depending on the size of your content.
- If you don’t prefer some other person handling your content then you can upload the content on your own using FTP. Checkout our articles on FileZilla guide for beginners and moving live site to localhost.
Companies like SiteGround offers a migration plugin to move the entire site from other companies like Bluehost and HostGator. However, you can’t easily move from SiteGround as they use custom Site Tools panel.
In case of any unforeseen situation you have two things on your hand:
- Content – you have all necessary backups safely stored on your local PC or in your cloud account.
- Money back – you will have few weeks of money back policy with no questions. You can tell the new host to cancel the account and refund your money.
At any case, ensure your site on the old host is running and not deleted till the time you are happy with the new host. Finally, you can change the DNS to point the nameservers to the new host’s IP. We recommend deleting the complete content on the old hosting server, though they will be doing this if you do not renew on time.