Most website owners look at migrating to a new host as one of the most painful processes imaginable. This fear can be paralyzing, keeping them at inferior service providers far longer than they need to be. If you’ve been thinking about changing hosts, but were scared that the pain of moving would be worse than the pain of sitting still, this article is for you. While migrating websites and content to a new host can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be painful. A good host will do the heavy lifting for you. What’s more, you don’t need the help of the host you’re leaving in order to migrate — which is good, since poor support is probably one of the reasons you want to switch.
Two-thirds of hosting customers dissatisfied with their web hosts cite the difficulty of moving as the biggest factor preventing them from leaving.
Migrating to a new host is also a great test of your new service provider. While the complexity and size of your sites will determine how long a migration takes, a good host will provide timely responses and frequent updates throughout the process. Unanswered tickets and unclear communication are a sign of more problems to come — so if you see them, you may want to rescind your migration order. (Yes, you can do that.)
So what does it take to move your site from one host to another?
The simple answer is: find a web host with a good (and preferably free) migration assistance program, and let them do the work. With the right hosting company, there are only a few simple parts of the migration that rely on you. Let’s look at all the steps involved in site migration to see just what it’ll take. There are five main steps to a migration:
1. choosing a new server and bringing it online at a new host
2. moving files from the old server to the new server
3. syncing files between the servers
4. updating DNS
5. Taking your old server offline
BRINGING A NEW SERVER ONLINE
There are only a few simple parts of the migration that rely on you.
This first step often takes the longest. Simply choosing a new host and a new server package can be daunting. Who has the best network? Who offers the best support? What size server do I need? These are just a few of the questions you will consider as you mull over a new host. Again, the process is likely to be much easier than you feared — especially if your search centers on reputable firms at the upper end of the hosting spectrum. Any good web host will have sales engineers on hand to answer your most detailed questions. And don’t worry if you’re not even sure what questions to ask; these people are trained to help you through the decision process. If you don’t get direct answers to your questions, move on — you can do better.
Another great resource in the investigation process: web hosting forums like www.webhostingtalk.com. If you think you’ve narrowed down your list to a few finalists, just search for them by name. Look at the proportion of advocates to detractors in each thread. Pay particular attention to those who bother to post positive reviews and defenses. It’s common for people to complain on a forum when they are upset, but proactive customers who say positive things about their hosts show a level of loyalty and trust that must be earned over time. Be careful about reading too much into customer posts on Facebook and Twitter.
Sometimes hosting customers will mistakenly take their technical support questions to these arenas and become frustrated when their host directs them to the appropriate ticketing system for follow-up. What may appear at first blush to be a customer service “miss” can often turn out to be a case of the host doing the right thing by directing the customer to a more appropriate support venue.
Bottom line: if customers repeatedly complain about customer support — or sing its praises — you should obviously pay attention. Just make sure you do a thorough review of what’s been said over a long period of time, to get an accurate big-picture view of what’s going on.
Moving Your Files
Server migration may take a few hours, and it may require a few follow-up conversations with you, but it does not have to be your burden or headache.
Once you’ve purchased your new server and it is online, you’ll need to migrate your sites from the old host to the new host. This is the most involved part of the migration process, though using control panel software can make it significantly easier. This is one of the most complex functions of web hosting. But don’t confuse complex with difficult. If you choose a host that offers migration assistance, they’ll move your files for you and do all the hard work that needs to get done.
Some things you’ll want to consider before your migration begins: make sure your server’s core software and/or control panel is up to date. Ask your new web host what OS and control panel version you should be on to make the migration as seamless as possible. They will have specific recommendations for your situation. Once you have this, request the upgrade from your current host. Completing that process before the migration begins is far preferable to doing it during the migration. Also, be sure to let your new host know what custom software and configurations you have on your current server. The more you can tell your new host, the better they will be able to anticipate problems and address them if they occur.
There are also few steps further to complete the Web Hosting Migration Process like:
1. SYNCING FILES BETWEEN SERVERS
2. UPDATING DNS
3. TAKING YOUR OLD SERVER OFFLINE