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  #1  
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Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Web Hosting Providers


Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Web Hosts

<<snipped>>

Every webmaster cringes at the thought of moving hosts. Like moving your home it can be messy and sometimes problems arise. But if you follow these simple steps, your move will be less painful.

Backup Backup Backup

If you’ve been diligent with your backups, you’ve got a lot of insurance to fall back on yet always make the latest backup. If you haven’t, before you do anything else, do a backup now. Backup anything and everything you can and don’t forget your database if your site relies on it. Save at least 2 copies and store them separately. One for you to work with, and the other as an archive. Do not underestimate how easy it is to copy over these files as you make changes or simply mess it up.

If you’re moving to a host who has as different control panel, make a manual backup by downloading all your files because different control panels may not be able to restore the backups made by your old host. They also have different directory structures so your file trees will be in a mess. If you need to, make a small note file with notepad with memos for you to remember the old server configurations. This will help you as you make changes on your new host server and save the confusion moving back and forth between hosts. Remember to make the correct transfer type (ASCII or Binary) as you download. If your download is not right chances are you’ll have a tough time getting your site to work on the new host server.

If server logs are especially important, remember to backup those too. There is no good way of moving logs yet because different hosts may log statistics differently. So the best thing to do is to download it and use a log analyzer on your computer to make references to later on.

Gather Odds & Ends

1. A Good FTP program which you should have by now
2. Get your new host server’s DNS
3. It’s also helpful to have a script that tells you the server environments installed on your new host server for quick references.
4. Get the temporary URL on your new host so you can check your site before you make a DNS change.
5. If you have your host control the domain inform them not to change your DNS until you tell them to.
6. If you run scripts:
- Get a copy of the original installation guide and the script. Sometimes after moving the scripts just do not work right so you might need to install the script from scratch.
- Get a list of all the server paths such as Perl, Sendmail and home directory on your new server.
- If your script needs special server modules or programs ensure they are installed and where. Even though these might be covered before you ordered the account with the host but sometimes your host has removed it or haven’t installed it yet.

Inform Your Visitors

It is common and good practice to inform your visitors and customers of the server move. If you run a e-store, this helps assure your customers you have not fled with their money if there is any downtime. Also give an alternate email so you won’t lose emails in the transfer. You might also want to give periodic updates prior, during (if there is downtime) and after. If your site is large, doing this is helpful because your visitors can alert you whenever there is a part of the site not working.

Moving Day

Try to schedule the move at a time where there’s least traffic. Backup again just before you do the move so you’ll have the latest data. Start by first copying or creating your custom error pages onto the new host server. Put a small note in there about the move. You can always remove it later. Then upload the most visible parts of the site first i.e the main pages then move on to the less critical parts of the site. If you have a large site with many divisions you might want to split them across different days and instead move the least critical first. Just ensure you always do a backup before you do any moving. Use the temporary URL to check your site, visiting as many pages as you can.

Changing DNS

Once you’re satisfied, change your DNS over. This typically takes about 24-48 hours so you have time to make some minor changes if need be. You might want to also take this time to modify your old site’s error pages to inform your visitors of the move and give a new URL if there are URL changes. To help you determine if the DNS has resolved, make a small change on the new pages to differentiate between the old and the new.

Monitor

After you’ve moved and the DNS resolved, do not release the old account yet. Keep it as long as two weeks running concurrently. Go back and check the old servers for activity. Check your old email account and if you have a web based contact method on the old server check to see if any communication is left there. Once you’re comfortable all email and traffic is correctly directed to the new host server, you can cancel that account.

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Last edited by anon-e-mouse; 03-29-2007 at 10:31 PM.


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  #2  
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Retired Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 7,188
Excellent guide for people who are moving hosts for the first time.

  #3  
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Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 629
great, just make sure to be prepared for faster propagation time though with the domain dns change, because i have seen people expect it to take 24-48 hours like you said and see it take place in less than 1 hour and they havent completely moved all there files yet. so make sure all the files are moved before initiating the dns change

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  #4  
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Nova Scotia Canada!
Posts: 783
Excellent tutorial.

The only thing I would add is around step #4 somewhere. Some of today's scripts rely heavily on hostnames and contain links within them that point to the domain they are running on. If you're running one of those types of scripts (or even if you've hardcoded full URLs into your web pages), then it will be difficult to test your new server with the temporary URL. You may start out at the temporary URL, but as soon as you click a link pointing to something at http://your_old_domain.com/somepage.html then you'll be back at your old site.

To test this effectively, you can 'trick' your computer (and your computer alone) into resolving your domain to your new site. You can do this by modifying the hosts file on your machine.

On a Windows machine, this file is located in /windows/system32/driver/etc/hosts

Simply add a line to that contains the IP address of your new host and your domain name:

Code:
 68.56.876.90 mydomain.com
On Linux, this same file is located in the /etc directory.

I have no idea where it is located on a Mac or even if such a file exists.

This change will 'short circuit' your computer's normal tendency to do a DNS lookup on your domain name which will result in you being pointed to your old site. You should now be able to test your new site just as it will look to everyone else once you change your DNS at your registrar.

Don't forget to take this line out - or comment it out by putting a # in front of it - when you're done testing.

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  #5  
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 3
Just the info I need. But tell me, is it really easy to do it yourself? I'm planning to change host, and to avoid extra cost to transferring files, I want to do it myself.

  #6  
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Very well done!

I'd add to the above that if using cPanel/WHM, the "Copy multiple accounts/packages from another server" works a treat. This feature has an "Express" option that will automatically redirect the accounts from old server to new, thus eliminating a lot of downtime or database loss.

  #7  
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Junior Guru Wannabe
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 31
great tutorial. just need to make sure dns propagation will faster enough for propagation so we don't need to wait 24 -48 hours

  #8  
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Join Date: Jul 2009
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Step-by-Step Guide to Changing Web Hosting Providers

HI
Excellent!
Very nice guide for people who are moving hosts for the first time.your tips is easily understood.


Thanks for sharing
<< signature to be setup in profile >>


Last edited by Alex; 07-15-2009 at 02:27 PM.
  #9  
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Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 919
Woahh, very nice guide. This helped me alott.

  #10  
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 0
Great tut should help a lot of people

  #11  
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Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 969
Excellent advice, thanks for posting! I'm sure there will be a lot of people who will benefit from this.

  #12  
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by holhostcom View Post
Very well done!

I'd add to the above that if using cPanel/WHM, the "Copy multiple accounts/packages from another server" works a treat. This feature has an "Express" option that will automatically redirect the accounts from old server to new, thus eliminating a lot of downtime or database loss.

I don't seem to thave this option on my CP/WMM panel .
Where is it usually found?

  #13  
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Junior Guru
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Singapore
Posts: 202
Great tutorial, thanks for sharing. Really helpful for those who want to move hosts. Its very easy!

If a host can do free migration for you, you can use that too. They should be able to move your site very quickly - that is, if they know what they are doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patr100
I don't seem to thave this option on my CP/WMM panel .
Where is it usually found?
It is found in WHM under "Transfers". If you can't see it, your host has probably disallowed you to access that part.

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  #14  
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Web Hosting Master
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Vancouver
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Excellent info, should help a lot of people here.

  #15  
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 36
Very Good guide for people that wanna change host 10/10

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