How To Move Your WordPress Website?

Planning to move your website hosting?  You’re probably asking yourself how?  There are certain things you need to know to prevent potential data loss or worst case scenario your whole website!  We’ve helped many clients with this dilemma when they end up in hot water.

Here’s a mini checklist of things to check and very basic explanation of how it works.

I realise we aren’t all techies so I’m going to keep this in as much layman’s terms as possible…

What is A WordPress Website Made up of?

  1. Your website and your website address are 2 different things.
  2. Your website is a collection of files and a database (if you are using something like WordPress) and these 2 things talk to each other.
  3. The files are things like the theme and plugins you install and of course the images you load on your website.
  4. The database is the rest … it’s the content of the pages, the users, the comments, the product information, everything else.
  5. Files can be replaced – databases seldom can.
  6. Therefore BACKING up before any major changes is essential.
  7. And backing up OFF SERVER is essential as well as your host can go down or belly up any day with no warning … it’s happened! There are free plugins that backup your website to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. for e.g. so all go and install one of those soon and set up for peace of mind. UpDraft Plus is a great plugin for this.
  8. Your emails accounts are usually created on the same server (unless you are hosting your emails elsewhere like Google Mail) – and if your machine or phone is setup to get your mail using IMAP this means your emails are actually living on that server and you are only viewing them on your phone. Nice for accessing from multiple devices – not so nice when you move hosts and they forget to ask you if you need you emails moved across.  So remember to instruct your host to move emails if required.
  9. Your website address / domain / URL is merely something that helps to direct people to the server where those files and database exist when they type that address into a browser.
  10. When you “transfer your domain” this is simply pointing that address from one server to another.

How To Move Your WordPress Website?

Right, so now you decide to move your hosting … the following needs to happen:

  1. The files need to be copied from the old server onto the new server.
  2. The database needs to be exported from the old server and imported to the new.
  3. The same email accounts need to be created on the new server as old.
  4. If your emails are stored on the server they also need to be copied across.
  5. When all that copying is done and the new host has confirmed everything is talking, only then should a request be sent to transfer the domain from the old host to the new.
  6. Depending on their systems this can take anywhere from 1 hour to 1 month as you may need to give notice, etc.

It’s important to understand the following when you move your WordPress website:

  1. Transferring a site takes expertise and time, it’s definitely not something you should risk doing yourself unless you really really know what you are doing.
  2. The onus is completely on you to communicate clearly with both your oldest and your new host and confirming who’s doing what.
  3. It is NOT a given that they will move your content for you when you transfer your domain across.  Many people assume this and end up with no website or emails when the transfer goes through and a flurry of trying to fix.
  4. Expect no help from your outgoing host.  Remember, you have paid them for a service they provided and are now moving away from their service, no host in their right mind is going to go spend a few hours of their life doing this for you for the love.  They will do it for the money though if you ask them and they quote you.
  5. If the host you are moving to leaves you high and dry with no support, question whether you are moving to the correct host.
  6. Website owner beware – not all levels of support are the same out there!

Hope this saves someone some future pain and that maybe you understand the process a little more so you can be informed and prepared next time you plan to move your WordPress website hosting. 🙂

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