Anyone who has run their own website understands the importance of web hosting service quality. Numerous issues may affect the overall performance of your web presence, and if you run a website as part of your business, any single problem could significantly impact your revenue.
From unexpected downtime to pages that take a long time to load, poor web hosting services damage your online reputation. The solution, of course, is to migrate your website to a more professional web hosting provider. However, this complex process is full of risks that could leave your website unstable, or take you offline for days.
In this article, we provide a useful overview of the website migration process. Read on to learn more about each of the major steps that are necessary to migrate your entire website, from static content to rich, database-driven applications. With this advice in mind, you can successfully switch to a new web hosting provider without losing data, visits, or sales.
Keeping your web hosting data safe with a full backup
One the most common reasons webmasters decide to relocate their entire site is unpredictable downtime. With unreliable or poorly configured hardware in place, your mission-critical data can go offline, or worse, become permanently lost as a result of hardware failure. However, the process of migration also puts your data under threat.
The very first step in any successful migration is to conduct a site-wide backup of your web presence. This should include:
* Static files stored on the server (web pages, images, downloadable files)
* Applications stored on the server (WordPress, Joomla, and so on)
* Databases that power applications (MySQL, MS SQL, and so on)
* Emails stored on the server
Most web hosting control panels, such as cPanel and Parallels Plesk Panel, feature built-in tools for backing up your data to your own computer’s hard disk. Several of the most popular web applications also come with tools for creating backups.
Ideally, though, the files that make up your existing web hosting plan should be backed up to a remote location. If your current hosting provider offers this kind of functionality, you can be completely confident that your entire website is safely stored away before you begin working with the files on your server.
If you do not find suitable functionality for creating a backup within your existing web hosting plan, a more hands-on approach is required. By logging on to your server via FTP, you can manually download your entire site structure to your hard drive.
In some cases, migrating a website is as simple as uploading the local copy of your files to your new web hosting service. However, more and more websites are mostly or exclusively made up of dynamic applications. Whether you have a site powered by a content management system (CMS), or a forum that is the heart of your online community, transferring this database-driven content is far more complex than transferring static content.
Migrating your databases to your new web hosting provider
Whenever you launch a dynamic application on your website, it is usually powered by a database on your server. The two most common types of online databases are MySQL and Microsoft SQL (MS SQL). These databases will contain all of your most important data, in addition to the necessary instructions for keeping the data organized into tables with individual entries.
However, the databases that power your website are unlikely to be stored in the visible, easy-to-access area of your shared web hosting, virtual private server hosting (VPS hosting), or dedicated server hosting account. Sometimes, databases may even be stored on a completely different server, according to your hosting provider’s preferences and configuration.
If your web hosting control panel offers the necessary features, it is possible to copy this database yourself. Alternatively, software such as phpMyAdmin makes it possible to export the relevant data from an SQL or MySQL database and later import this data to an empty database on your new plan.
However, some webmasters find that it is much harder to download their databases and create new databases with the correct permissions on the new server without assistance from their current hosting provider.
Checking your new site and redirecting web hosting traffic
After sourcing the relevant data from your existing web hosting plan and uploading this data to your new server, the most important step of all is to rigorously check every single page and function on your site. This should be done before you transfer your domain name by accessing your site through its IP address, which your new hosting provider will supply.
Errors in the migration process or differences in the types of web hosting services you use can lead to unexpected server errors, broken links, and loss of functionality. Checking your website can be a very time-consuming process, but is the only way to guarantee that moving to your new home does not damage service even further.
Finally, you will be left with two versions of your website online – one at your domain, and one stored on your new web hosting plan. Now it is time to make the switch by changing your domain DNS settings to point to your new hosting provider.
Web hosting plans with free migration assistance from JaguarPC
As you try to run your business, you may not have the time – or the expertise – to complete all of the steps described in this guide to migration. To help, JaguarPC offers a range of web hosting services that come complete with free migration assistance.
Customers can choose from shared web hosting services, VPS hosting, hybrid servers, and dedicated server hosting. Each of these plans includes 100% network uptime, guaranteeing that your website will never suffer from unexpected downtime again.
In addition to helping you get your existing website up and running on new servers, JaguarPC also provides 24/7/365 technical support to keep your web presence running effectively for years to come.