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Steps for shifting your website

I get people bringing their websites to my server, or alternatively moving to another server, but it’s not always obvious what needs to be done – unless you’re the one that has set up the website in the first place. So I thought I’d share on what needs to be done.

Firstly, plan when the shift is going to be done.  Preferably evening (if you get mainly local traffic) or on a weekend – a time when traffic and email is going to be at a low rate.  If necessary, notify clients and other important persons of the shift and possible downtime for a couple of hours.

  1. Your domain name. Whose name is it registered in?  Important that it’s in your name and you probably don’t want to instigate a shift to a new server until you are sure of that. Otherwise you might find the domain is no longer available to you.
  2. Join your new host and determine the size webspace and other services you need.
  3. Back up all of your data – if you don’t know how to do this, ask for help from your web designer.  If you are using WordPress, this includes your database.  This can be done via SSH or cPanel’s phpMyAdmin
  4. Make a list of all email addresses being used and passwords.
  5. Log into your domain registrar and point your domain to the new DNS name servers given to you by your new host.  Name servers usually look like this (replace “yourhostname.com” with your host’s actual domain name or the settings they advise):
    ns1.yourhostname.com
    ns2.yourhostname.com
    If you have purchased your domain from acsdomainservices.com we will happily do this for you.
  6. Log into your new webspace and upload/re-set up your website.  Check that everything is visible and working.
  7. Re-set up your email accounts – these won’t automatically transfer with the website.
  8. Test your email and make sure it’s working.
  9. Wait about 48 hours as it can take this long for domain changes to propagate on the web around the world.
  10. Contact your old webhost and advise them the site has been shifted to another server and they are no longer needed – important you do this. The webhost won’t know you’ve shifted the site and will continue holding that webspace for you (and bill you) unless you let them know.  If you purchased your domain through them, do not cancel the domain – webhosting and domains are two separate things.
  11. Test your scripts and forms.
  12. Check your links to make sure they’re all live – some might be referencing pages you forgot to re-upload.

Things to look for in a new webhosting service:

  • The right webhosting service. Best to see what you’ve been using before from your old host and look to match with a similar service from the new host i.e. are they running Unix, Linux or Windows?
  • How much webspace do you really need?
    Data transfer limits. What’s available?
  • Email capabilities – is there a restriction on how many email addresses you can have?  This may, or may not, be important to your business or website.
  • Database programs – if you’re using WordPress, in particular, your new host will need to support that need.
  • What type of scripting abilities do you need?
  • If you were used to using cpanel before, you might like to check the new host has that.  For those who haven’t used it, this is an easy to use control panel giving you control on setting up email addresses, using different opensource software and watching your stats.  Or what other control panel do they have available?
  • What is the uptime the host promotes?

Got more tips for shifting to a new webhost? Leave a comment below.

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