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Tips When Moving From One Host To Another

by Heris Yunora

Moving your website from your current host to another hosting provider could be easy or difficult depending on the type of your website. Although it can be a daunting task, you may have to do it because of several reasons. Maybe you need some features which are not provided by your current hosting provider. Or maybe you need a company with a quality web site hosting service capable of helping you when something goes wrong. Whatever the reasons, the process of moving hosts and transferring files should be accomplished smoothly. This article contains some important steps you can take to move your website to another hosting provider.

Here they are:

- Old Account
Don't close your old hosting account so that your frequent visitors can still access your website. Besides, you can still receive incoming emails until the moving process completely finished.

- Backup your files
Make sure you have backed up all of your files (and directories) correctly. Note that there are two types of transfer mode, ASCII and binary. Use the correct transfer mode when downloading the files to your hard drive. Normally, you will have to choose ASCII mode for transfering text files and binary mode for transfering image files. If you use WS-FTP, you can select the "Auto" mode so that the software will do it for your automatically.

- Keep the important information
Write down the important information about your old hosting account (e.g. billing history) in case you need it as reference in the future.

- Open an account in the new hosting provider
After making payment, normally they will send an email to you that contains your login information (username and password), your temporary URL and their DNS information. Just keep it.

- Login to your new Control Panel
Using your username and password, login to the control panel (e.g. CPanel). Create the email accounts you have already had in the old hosting provider.

- Uploading
Upload the files to the root directory (e.g. public_html) of the new hosting server. Once again, use a FTP software such as WS-FTP to do it. Before you do it, don't forget to setup the software with your new host name (e.g. ftp.yourdomain.com), username and password. Don't forget also to transfer the files correctly (ASCII/binary).

- Testing
Through web browser, visit your website with the temporary URL. Notice whether all files have been uploaded properly and all links work.

- Transfer Domain
Ask the old hosting provider to change the DNS of your domain name. Tell them the DNS information of your new hosting provider. If everything is OK, you will be able to access your website with your own domain name in a few days. Note that if the old hosting provider gives you a username and a password to login to the domain manager of a domain registrar (e.g. enom), you need to go to the domain manager in order to setup the new DNS addresses.

- Close the old hosting account
After the move is done and everything works properly, contact the old hosting provider to close your account.

If your website requires a database support and/or use a server-side script, there are some additional tasks you may have to do.

- Make sure the new hosting server supports your script. When I moved my website to a new hosting provider, I asked them first using their chatting facility whether their server supported a script I intended to use before using their service. By asking them like that you will also find out the response time they take to answer your questions.

- You may have to backup your databases. With CPanel, you can do it using the "Backup and Restore" facility. You can also use the import/export facility in PhpMyAdmin to back them up. In order to avoid incompatibility problem, use both methods. Talking about database, note that a web hosting provider with shared hosting pan usually adds the name of a database with an extra prefix. If both of your old and new hosting providers apply the rule, you can try to ask the new provider to give you the same username as the old one.

- Don't forget to modify the configuration file(s). You may have to change the information about your database or the absolute path.

If you meet any troubles, don't panic. Check everything from the configuration files to the .htaccess file . If needed, contact the support staffs to help you. Some web hosting providers even offer script installation for their new customers.

By moving from one host to another quickly and efficiently, people can still find your website without realizing what you are doing. Although you may meet some difficulties, moving from your current host to a new one that provides better features and supports is something you will never regret.

Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2006