Steps For Transferring Hosts

A Smooth Host Transfer

The decision to transfer from one host to another is a decision that many Webmasters have to take. The transition from one provider to another can cause problems if it is not managed properly, however by following certain tips you should be able to ensure very little or preferably no downtime. Essentially, the most important aspect is continuing to provide your website visitors with continued access to your website. Of course, if the reason you are changing host is because you are not receiving this anyway then making the move as quickly as possible becomes the most important provision.

Stage 1 – Complete Site Backup

The first step to changing host, even before you have chosen a new host if possible, is to backup all the pages, files, and documents of your old site. Make sure that all of these pages are stored on your computer; don’t just assume that you have all the copies you need. If you change host and then discover that you don’t have a vital template or a recently installed script it can take a lot of time to put things right. Obviously, using FTP is the preferred method because it is easier and quicker than doing this manually. Frontpage, Dreamweaver, and other HTML editors usually also offer an import function.

Stage 2 – Finding A New Host

Once you have completed a full backup of your site you can look for a new host. Obviously, your reason for changing supplier will provide you with some of the important factors you are looking for. If you require more bandwidth or diskspace than your old package was offering then concentrate on this. Also ensure, though, that you have all the features you currently use including the appropriate program support and file extension support.

If you didn’t design or implement your own site then it may be a good idea to speak to the person or company that did. Find out if there are any special requirements for your site or any extensions that are desperately required. In order to prevent having to move host again in the near future you should consider the current size of your site and how much it has grown. Look to the future and try to ensure that you have enough disk space and enough bandwidth to prevent another forced transfer in the near future. Alternatively, find a host that would be able to accommodate any increase in these factors.

Stage 3 – Give Ample Warning To Your Visitors

Give your visitors as much warning as possible. If you give no warning of an impending transfer you could potentially lose long-term visitors and repeat visitors to your site. If you have a mailing list then use that to inform those readers, and also place a notice on the pages of your site. It is important to let as many people as possible know as soon as possible.

Stage 4 – Create Your New Email Accounts

Now you should create your email accounts with your new host supplier. By doing this now you can be ready for the change over and ensure that you do not miss any critical emails during the majority of the transfer process.

Stage 5 – Transferring Your Domain

Transferring the domain name is a relatively easy thing to do. Once you have paid for your new hosting account you will receive your new domain server information. Inform your domain registrar of the change in details, or if they offer a website control panel, then make these changes yourself. While the domain name transfers you may experience some problems with your site. You should, however, still have hosting with your old provider ensuring that the downtime is as minimal as possible.

Stage 6 – Site Upload

As soon as the domain name server information propagates to your new host you should upload all of your files to your new hosting account. Again, if you have used FTP or a website editor for the backup then it should be possible to do this all in one transfer. This ensures that all of the pages and documents of your website remain in tact during this transfer period.

Step 7 – Checking Your Site

Once you have completed the transfer you should check every page of your site, if possible. Look for any errors, check the links, and ensure that any downloads work properly. Sometimes during the transfer process things can go awry so you need to check this as soon as possible. This is most common when using Frontpage extensions so take extra care if this is the case.

Step 8 – Canceling With Your Old Host

Once you have everything working the way you want it cancel all remaining services with your previous host. It is best to leave this step until now for several reasons. You can always ask for help when you are a paying customer, but your old host is less likely to help if you have already cancelled your site.

Host Transfer Conclusion

By following these steps it should be possible to keep your site downtime to an absolute minimum. Because you have already informed all of your website visitors of the impending transfer you should also be able to ensure that any disruption is kept to an absolute minimum and that you don’t lose any visitors who come back to your site over and over again.

A host transfer inevitably causes disruption to you, your site, and your visitors. The best step is to remain with the same host as long as possible, but if you need to make the move because of technical issues or any other reason then you should do so as quickly as possible. A few days’ disruption may lead to a more robust and more stable site so could save you a lot of time and a lot of heartache in the long term.