Biggest Mistakes People Make When Transferring a Website

Website migration

There are many compelling reasons one would want to transfer a website to a new host. You can save money, decrease load times, and improve your search engine rankings by finding a better host if your site’s traffic is currently lacking. There are a few common mistakes website owners make when transferring a site, however, they can all be avoided by checking this list before making your transfer. Check out these five common mistakes to make your own site transfer a seamless, simple process.

1. Failing to Make a Proper Backup

Before you transfer a website to a new server you should make a backup copy of all the content on your site. Most websites are created through CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, and luckily there are plenty of plugins for creating instant backups on these platforms. If you’re running a WordPress site, make sure to make a copy using a plugin like UpdraftPlus to clone your entire site to your local drive. Plugins designed to backup your website can help you make copies in just minutes that can be downloaded to any computer or remote server.

If your website isn’t using a CMS, or you’d simply prefer to create a manual backup, then locate the file manager on your current host’s control panel. Find the directory where your website content is stored and save the files to your local machine. Compressing these files in a Zip document can help save you room and make the transfer quicker. Creating a backup for your website will ensure you don’t lose data even if there are errors later on in the transfer process.

2. Forgetting Databases and Other Details

The content and media of your website aren’t the only data you’ll need to save and transfer to your new host. Many website owners forget to create copies of the databases, email systems, and FTP settings for use on their new servers. Depending on which database system you use, there are third-party apps and plugins that can help you create local copies of your database content for safe-keeping and transfer. The popular MySQL database software provides several methods of backing up your database through their official MySQL documentation.

Remember to make note of your FTP, MX, and other configuration settings before closing your old hosting account so you can easily setup your site on the new server. A simple way to do this is to take a screenshot of your current FTP permissions and other settings while you still have access to your pre-transfer server.

3. Failing to Check Hosting Compatibility

Transferring a website requires that you check the compatibilty and specifications of your newly chosen host to make sure your site runs properly. Look for hosts that are optimized to work with the kind of website you run, be it WordPress, ASP.NET, or another platform.

Make sure your new host allows you to install any software or dependency packages you may need to run your website. Keep in mind, most CMS-based websites and forums run on PHP, and your host will need to have the latest version of PHP installed to keep your website safe and error-free. Most leading hosts keep current on software like this, and many will even grant you the user access to update such software on your own. If you want to be doubly sure you’ll be able to keep dependencies and other essential software up to date then choose a VPS hosting plan that allows you administrative power over your server.

4. Getting Underpowered Hosting

If you can’t find an optimized host for your specific platform, make sure you at least look at the storage, bandwidth, memory and other specifications of any potential host before signing up for a server contract. Unlimited plans are ideal, but be wary of any low-cost plans that sound to good to be true.

Cloud hosting is a great option for those unsure of their exact traffic needs, or websites with expected growth over the coming months and years. Avoid any offer of free hosting, as it’s invariably underpowered and disappointing.

5. Causing Accidental Downtime

One of the most common and biggest mistakes people make when transferring a website is creating downtime during the transfer process. Avoiding downtime is quite simple if you follow a strict process intended to keep your site online at all times. This process entails leaving a copy of your website on the prior server until the nameservers at your domain’s registrar are updated and functional.

This process may take up to 72 hours to reach all regions, dependent on the geographical locations of your user’s DNS servers. In short, leave your original site on the current host, update the nameservers of your new host with your domain registrar and add a copy of your site to the new servers, then wait 72 hours before deleting the original files.

By avoiding accidental downtime, staying away from underpowered hosting services, and making proper backups of all your site’s files, you will ensure a smooth, seamless transfer for your website. Double check your file sizes to make sure you copied all the relevant files, and don’t forget to make copies of your databases and configurations settings to setup your new hosting account and you’ll be well on your way to dodging these five common website transfer errors.

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