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There are tons of reasons why you may consider moving your WordPress site to a new host or server. You may be having issues with site speed or server uptime. Or you may just be outgrowing your current hosting solution and find the features and service of another more appealing.
Whatever the reason, it’s understandable if you’ve been putting off moving your WordPress site to a new host because the process is downright daunting. We hear you!
The truth is, there is a lot of risk in manually migrating your website to a new host. The very real challenges include breaking things, losing data, or causing downtime. All of these things can make your website temporarily inaccessible to users and will affect your search engine rankings. An unsavory scenario to say the least!
But this migration process doesn’t have to be challenging or daunting.
We’ve spent hours researching and testing multiple different ways to move your WordPress site to a new host or server. Along the way, we’ve hit roadblocks, lost data, or just downright pulled our hair out, all so you don’t have to.
Today, we are going to talk about six easy steps you need to take to move your WordPress site to a new host or server.
Let’s dive in!
Why Moving WordPress Site to a New Host or Server is Worth It
The two main reasons why you’d consider moving to a new host or server include:
- Poor site speed and/or server uptime performance on your current hosting plan or server
- The renewal price of your current hosting plan is exponentially higher than the introductory rate
In our opinion, both of these factors matter. We’re going to cut right to the chase and say if you’re having these kinds of issues, moving your WordPress site to a new host is absolutely worth it.
We know that Google favors websites that load within 3 seconds. We also know that consumers these days don’t like waiting around for a slow website to load. So, if your website is slow and clunky or constantly crashing, you’re essentially losing customers and money.
And even if you’re relatively happy with your site speed and have no issues with uptime, the renewal price of your hosting plan might be huge compared to the price you paid over your introductory period with your current host. This is pretty common across the board, as nearly all hosting plans start at a low introductory rate and then increase after the first year of hosting.
However, there are hosts out there whose price only jumps to be double the amount of the introductory rate, rather than triple or quadruple. We would always suggest that you keep the renewal rate in mind when choosing your host in the first place, but it doesn’t always happen that way (perhaps you didn’t know to look out for this type of thing).
Regardless of the reason for your switch, if you’re not happy with your current host and it’s affecting your business and your sanity, moving your WordPress site to a new host is 110% worth it.
The Investment Needed to Move WordPress Site to a New Host
Although we are only going to talk about one way to move your WordPress site to a new host today, in reality, there are a few different ways you can achieve this. You can use a migrator plugin such as Duplicator. Or if you’re a real website whiz, you can complete the process manually.
Both of these ways require some technical hands-on manipulation of your website files and back-end settings. Even the clearest of step-by-steps can land you in hot water when your website isn’t the perfect poster child for WordPress migration.
I’m going to be honest–I got stuck along the way attempting both of these manual migrations. They were time-consuming and stressful to attempt–and this wasn’t even on a live WordPress site. And while I wouldn’t say that I am a website genius, I am pretty savvy when it comes to managing my own website.
My point is, if you choose one of these more hands-on options, you’ll be able to migrate your site for free…but it could be a lot more time-consuming, stressful, and potentially disastrous if you’re not a real website expert.
So for most users, I don’t recommend either of these options. Instead, I suggest using the six steps below to facilitate your migration using a plugin generated by your new host or server. Following these steps will cost a bit more money than doing everything yourself, but the ease and simplicity of the migration process and the time you save will be more than worth the cost.
The cost of your new hosting plan could land anywhere between $5 and $20 per month for the first 12-month period. Don’t forget to check those renewal rates before signing up so you aren’t going through this entire process in another 12 months.
The time it will take to complete the transfer process will be anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. The duration is totally dependent on how big your website is and how long the migration of files will take. However, it should take you no longer than 30 minutes to complete the steps required to get to the migration point, after that, you leave the rest to the technology.
Honestly, it’s that easy.
Here are the steps we are going to take to get you there:
- Decide on Your New Host
- Sign Up For A Hosting Plan With New Host
- Generate Migration Token From New Host
- Install New Host’s Migrator Plugin
- Initiate Migration
- Update DNS Records
6 Steps to Move Your WordPress Site to a New Host or Server
These instructions below assume that the new host you’ve chosen will assist with migration via a host-specific plugin.
It’s also important to note that these instructions assume you simply want to change hosts and not change your domain name in any way.
#1 – Decide on Your New Host
There are tons of great web hosts out there that you can choose from. While they all essentially do the same thing (host your website), they all have different features and benefits. The best web host provider for me, may not be the best for you.
This is why we always recommend you do your due diligence before signing up to a new host. To help with your research, we’ve compiled a list of the best 8 web hosting providers in the market today.
However, if you’re looking for your site migration to be painless and without stress, we highly recommend that you focus on a host who offers free migration via a host-specific migrator plugin or for an expert to manually migrate your website for a small fee.
Trust us, it’s going to save you tons of time and tons of stress. You won’t lose any data and your website will suffer very little to no downtime.
Reputable hosts that we know of offering free migration include SiteGround, A2 Hosting, and InMotion Hosting. If you prefer Bluehost, you can have an expert do it for you for $149, while Dreamhost charges $99 for migration. All of these providers are great hosting options, so your decision will inevitably come down to what else these hosts have to offer.
The process will be relatively the same for each host. For the purpose of this article, we are going to use SiteGround because they are consistently highly regarded for their easy, free, and straightforward migration process.
#2 – Sign Up For New Hosting
Signing up to SiteGround is extremely quick and easy. Simply explore their hosting options, choose the best hosting option for you, decide on your plan, and click “Get Started.”
Given that we are talking about WordPress-specific websites, we’d recommend going straight for SiteGround’s WordPress hosting. This will ensure you have specific customer support from WordPress experts at your fingertips. It also means your plan will include specifically designed WordPress plugins such as the SG Optimizer and SiteGround Migrator (which is going to come in handy shortly).
Once you decide the best plan for you, click “Get Plan.” You’ll be asked to enter details such as your existing domain name, personal details, and payment details. Once you’ve completed the form and entered your payment method, you’ll click “Pay Now.” You’ll automatically be directed to your new SiteGround Client Area.
#3 – Generate a Migration Token
Once you’re logged into the SiteGround client area, it’s time to generate a migration token. To do this, you need to navigate to the WordPress settings of your website.
To do this, click on Websites > Site Tools.
Once your Site Tools dashboard has loaded, you’ll click on WordPress > Migrator.
From the dropdown menu, select the domain that you wish to migrate to SiteGround. If you’ve entered your details correctly in the sign-up, it should have your current websites domain ready to be selected. Add a path if needed (ie. if your website is installed on www.mydomain.com/store).
Once you’ve entered all the applicable details you’ll be able to click “Generate.”
You should receive a green tick for success and a long string of symbols – this is your migration token. Be sure to click “Copy” and save it for the next step.
#4 – Install Migrator Plugin
Once you have your migration token, you’ll need to download SiteGround’s official migrator plugin on the WordPress site that you want to move over to SiteGround.
Simply head to the Plugin Library > Add New and search “SiteGround Migrator.”
Once you’ve found this one above, click Install > Activate.
You should now see “SiteGround Migrator” in your WordPress menu, all ready for you to start the next step.
#5 – Initiate Migration
Click on SiteGround Migrator in your menu and paste your migration token into the box.
If you have a large website with lots of files to be transferred, the migration may take a while. You can add your email address here too so that you’ll be sent an update once the migration is complete.
Click “Initiate Transfer.”
The plugin will now work its magic, create a copy of your account, move it to SiteGround’s servers, and install it for you. You won’t even break a sweat! You can also follow the progress of the migration in the plugin interface.
#6 – Update DNS Records
Once the migration is complete, to finalise the transfer to your new host, you will need to update the DNS records of the domain to point to your SiteGround account. These settings will be displayed in the plugin and in the email sent to you on completion of the migration.
You’ll also always be able to find the DNS details in the Site Tools dashboard of your new account.
Before you update your DNS, we do recommend that you use the “Go to Site” link first to make sure everything has migrated correctly and it’s all working as usual. If it’s not, reach out to the customer support team to check on what may have gone amiss.
Assuming your domain is registered through a provider other than SiteGround, you’ll need to log into your domain account for this step. You’ll usually be able to find the DNS settings under the “Manage Domain” tab.
If in doubt, reach out to your domain’s customer support team and have them update it for you. It’s quick and easy for them and will ensure your domain is pointing to SiteGround successfully (meaning no downtime for you).
It’s important to keep in mind that it can take up to 48 hours for DNS changes to come into effect, so it’s a good idea to avoid making any major changes to your website during this time, just in case anything goes wrong.
Now that you’ve successfully and easily migrated your WordPress site to your new host, there are a few more things you need to do.
Number one is to make sure your website is functioning properly. Give everything another test run after the 48 hour period and make sure everything is in the right spot. If anything is not performing as it should, get in touch with the customer support team to troubleshoot it for you.
Number two is to close your old hosting account. But you shouldn’t do this step right away.
Assuming that you’ve taken the opportunity to move to a new host as your old hosting plan was set to expire, you can let it expire naturally (make sure there are no auto-renew settings on).
But if you’ve managed to get out of your contract early or decided to abandon ship, you’ll need to delete the website from your old hosting account.
We wouldn’t recommend doing this until your website has been up and running with your new host for at least a week. This will give you a bit of a security blanket in case anything goes belly up and you lose your entire website.
Now that you’ve got a brand new and super speedy host, why not consider expanding your websites capabilities, such as adding an online store. We’ve got a post all about how to get started with an online store to help you on your way.