One day you’ll outgrow your $5 a month shared hosting account and need more resources to cope with all the Digg front page stories and StumbleUpon successes in addition to your large amount of search engine traffic. Or maybe your site is still fine with budget shared hosting, but the host you’re currently on has been getting on your nerves (e.g. billing you too much, having excessive downtime).
Whatever your reason, you may have to move to a different server sometime. It can be a whole day’s work, and if you’re not careful you could lose data or have your site go offline for a few days.
Here are the basic steps to move to a new server:
- Put your site into maintenance mode, so people don’t go around adding comments to your blog or otherwise changing database tables while you work.
- Backup your entire website. Get every file, every database table, and note settings from your control panel.
- Order your new hosting plan, and wait for it to be set up.
- Once you have the new hosting space, go through the control panel options and set them to whatever your site requires.
- Upload your files, and import your databases.
- Go through files and set database access information to the new server’s values. Also, if you use absolute paths (e.g. /home/user/www/index.php) on your site, you may have to update them if the servers are configured differently.
- Update your domain’s DNS settings to point to the new server. If all goes well, your domain will start pointing to the new server somewhere along the line, and your visitors will seamlessly start going to the new server. Use DNS Pinger so you know when the update is complete, so you can make sure nothing went wrong once the DNS updates.
- Address anything that goes wrong. Believe me, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll overlook something unique to your case that needed to be addressed during the move.
- Don’t cancel your old hosting account for at least a month, in case you need to refer to something there.