Moving Your Website to a New Host
There comes a time in many a websites life, that it needs to change hosting providers.
Much akin to you and I moving house for various reasons like, not enough room or not a good enough location or simply too expensive, websites suffer the same issues. Whatever the reason, be it bandwidth, storage space, lack of features or simply too expensive, the end result is the same. You need to move your website to a new host!
The task can seem daunting at first, but with a little guidance and a lot of patience it is easily done.
This is the situation Peak Consulting found itself in recently, when it had to move ALL of it's client websites from one host to another. After months of trials, the following set of chronological steps proved to be the sure fired way of moving the websites without any downtime, without loosing any e-mails, and with the least amount of stress.
The basic idea goes something like this:
- move the files and folders that make up the front end to the site;
- move the database that makes up the back end to the site;
- move the mailboxes for all e-mails associated to the domain name;
- switch nameservers.
The execution however is slightly different and is set out below.
Go to your old host and zip up all the files and folders that comprise the website, and proceed to download them to your PC. Now go to your new host and use their in built upload or ftp functions to upload all these files and folders to their new location. On the face of it, this is not a difficult task but when the website is large and the hosts have up/download size limitations... you'll need to chop the site up and do it in chunks. This is by far the most tedious task and easy to make mistakes.
Now search out the configuration file that defines the connection to the database (which we haven't yet moved). Make sure these settings are pointing to the old database on the old host!
On the new host, set up an empty database and database user with all privileges.
On the new host set up replica e-mail addresses for all the mailboxes you intend to move. On all your mail devices (like iPhone, iPad, PC, laptop, etc) set up connections to this new mailbox.
Go to wherever you domain name is registered and change the nameservers to the new ones associated with your new host. As soon as this is done, the information then begins to 'propagate' around the globe and tell everyone where they can expect to find your website AND where to send e-mails to. This process can take anywhere up to 48 hours to complete.
During this time there is no way to tell which site the visitors are looking at and no way to know which mailbox e-mails are being sent to. But lucky for you, both websites are still using ONE database (sitting on the old host) so there will be no data integrity issues, and you have mailboxes on both hosts (old and new) so you won't be loosing any e-mails.
After 2 days, everybody should be visiting your new website sitting on your new host and e-mails should be terminating in the mailboxes on the new host.
Put your new website into 'Maintenance' mode for 30 minutes. This will prevent any interaction with your database. Now we complete the step we started in step 2 above. Go to the old host and download a copy of the latest database. (Hint: copy the individual tables as opposed to the entire database as one, this will make the next part much easier). Upload the copy to you new host and populate the new database created in step 2.
Again search for the configuration file we checked in step 1 above, but this time change the settings to point to the new database just populated (here on the new host). Now remove the 'Maintenance' mode and make your site fully interactive once again.
And finally we get to finish the step 3 we started earlier. There are many possibilities here, depending on whether it's a POP or IMAP based mailbox, mail server environment etc but essentially the concept is the same. Go to the old server and download your mailboxes and then upload them and add them to the partially used mailboxes here on the new host. Make this new mailbox your default mail account on all your devices.
Perhaps the hardest part of the entire process is now going back and deleting connections, DNS settings and data on the old host. But rest assured, after 48 hours of changing the nameservers in step 4 above, nobody will be visiting anything on your old host, nor will the old host be receiving any e-mails on your behalf. You can choose to simply leave everything and once your account on the old host lapses (due to non payment), everything will get deleted anyway.
Even with this step by step guide, the entire process is still precarious to say the least. Peak Consulting for it's part, offers free transfers to all clients moving their websites across to CoffeeCup Hosting. Peak Consulting is also able to offer advice and guidance on the broader subject of webhosting and the intracsies and subtleties involved therein. Please contact Peak Consulting with your concerns or enquiries.
CoffeeCup Hosting has been set up by Peak Consulting to offer professional BUT affordable web hosting to young entrepreneurs and start-up companies.