How to Move a Website to a New Host

Unless you’ve dealt with moving a website to a new host before, the process of doing so might seem daunting. After all, how does one move all the aspects of their website, without losing their SEO rankings, link mapping, and conversion rates? Well, as you will soon learn, it can be surprisingly easy to move a website to a new host. All you have to do is to follow our guide.

Before you move a website to a new host

If this is your first time transferring your website to a new host, it is worth checking out whether your new host offers a free migration service. Every host wants to have as many websites as possible associated with them. This is why most of them will offer free, or at least quite affordable, migration service once you sight up. If the host is the same type as your current (for instance cPanel) the transfer should be quite easy and efficient. In fact, they simply need to migrate your cPanel account, which essentially means that you will relocate your website in one step. If you are still looking for a host, we suggest that you check out some of the following:

  • Bluehost ($2.75 per month)
  • Hostgator ($2.64 per month)
  • Hostinger ($9.99 per month)
  • Inmotion ($15.39 per month)
  • Dreamhost ($1.99 per month)
  • GreenGeeks ($2.95 per month)

Most of these hosts offer a substantial discount if you sign up for a year or multiple year accounts. So, do yourself a favor and study carefully which one suits you best.

A girl smiling while working on a laptop.
It is always a good idea to do ample research before you move a website to a new host.

Website transfer to a new host

The following step will ensure that you transfer your website safely and that it runs properly on your new host. Never the less, we still recommend that you create a full backup of your website before starting. Even when it comes to small alterations to your website, you should always create a backup. Let alone for changing your host. So, once you’ve done that, here is how to proceed.

Adding your domain name

The first thing to do is to sign up for your new host. If you only have one site, you will probably add your domain name while you sign up. But, if you have multiple sites, you might need to create an Addon Domain. This is the term we use in cPanel for additional domain names. Depending on your host, it might be called otherwise.

Using FTP to move your website

The next thing to do is to transfer all of your files to your new host. Depending on how large your website is, this can take a while. But, setting the process up only takes a few seconds. The easiest way is to use FTP. There are different programs for FTP, most of which are free. For this article, we will use FileZilla, as we feel it’s the most intuitive. Along with your FTP program, you will require FTP credentials. These are your host, username, password, and port (both from the new and the old host). Most hosts will give you this info in their dashboard. If you are having trouble finding it, contact their support staff and ask for help.

A frustrated person working on a laptop.
Don’t shy away from contacting support if you run into any issues.

Once you have that squared out, here is what you need to do. Head to your FTP program and open two windows. One where you will connect to your exciting host. And the second where you will connect to your new host. In both, you will use your FTP credentials. Once you navigate to your site’s main folder your first window should showcase all of your files. Meanwhile, your second window should be empty (or it should have a couple of files put there by the host).

Now simply select all the files from window one and download them to your local computer. Next, you need to upload those files into the second window. Certain FTP programs may allow you to use the drag-and-drop method, which makes this even easier.

Exporting website’s database

If your website is based on static HTML, you won’t have to transfer your database. But, if you do, here is what to do. First, export your database from your current host. After that, you will simply import it to the new one. The easiest way to export your database is through phpMyAdmin. In cPanel, you will find the phpMyAdmin tool in the Databases tab. Once you open phpMyAdmin and select the database, here is what to do:

  • Open the Export tab.
  • For the Export Method select Quick.
  • For format select SQL.
  • Click Go.

Before you import your database to your new host, you will have to create a new one.

A person reading a book on Dynamic HTML before they move a website to a new host.
Most websites are based on dynamic HTML, and you should definitely use it if you haven\t so far.

Creating a new database

In cPanel head to the Databases section and open the MySQL Database Wizard tool. Fill out the Database name, Database username, and password. The smart thing to do is to use the same ones you used for the old website, to avoid confusion. Once you create your database username, check the all privileges checkbox. Now, open the phpMyAdmin in your new host, and open the database. Then simply:

  • Open the Import tab.
  • Under File to Import chose the .sql.zip file that you exported.
  • Click Go.

Ideally, this should cover your database transfer. Unfortunately, there can be issues with database serialization, which can be more difficult to handle.

Testing

The final thing that remains to move a website to a new host is to perform the final test. You can try entering your new site’s domain name, but this probably won’t work as your domain name is still related to your old host. This will remain so until your website is completely transferred. But, for now, here is what you can do.

With most web hosts you can use a temporary URL to make sure that everything is in order.  One of the tips to follow throughout the process is to constantly check with your host provider. As it turns out, that is the easiest way to get a temporary URL.

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