Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Transfer Web Hosting Without Downtime

updated on Oct 19, 2017
How to Transfer Web Hosting Without Downtime Changing the web hosting provider is a common practice for most webmasters nowadays. Especially, if your current hosting environment cannot ensure the proper and efficient running of your site, most of you are likely to move to another hosting solution. This time, we’d like to introduce you how to transfer web hosting without downtime.

Actually, if your new web hosting provider is reliable enough, you can get a free transfer service from them. This is suitable for newbies to save energy and time.

Step 1 - Choose New Web Host Solution

This is the basic preparation you should do to transfer web hosting successfully. There are a lot of reasons for you to leave your previous hosting provider - the expensive renewal price, the poor support, the frequent downtime, the slow page loading speed and many more. In this case, when choosing the new option, you should make sure that the downsides from your previous web host are not available from this new one.

There are a large number of hosting providers online. Here, we have narrowed down your choices with the below three options. All of them offer the cost-effective web hosting plans, affordable renewal policies, reliable and fast hosting performance, 24/7 technical support, rich features and some extra offerings.

Step 2 - Get the Authorization Key of Domain Name

In the case that you’re using the free domain name with the hosting plan, you should contact the customer support to get the authorization key of the domain so that you can transfer the domain name to the new provider. Don’t tell them that you will change the provider because some web hosts may reject the request to keep you with them. You can cheat them that you will still use the hosting plan for other new websites but you intend to host the transferring website from your another VPS or dedicated server because it has grown a lot.

Step 3 - Make a Full Backup of Your Website

You are looking to move your whole website to a new hosting solution. Thus, this step is one of the most important ones for the successful moving.

Most web hosts provide file management and database management web UI in the control panel. Thus, the next step for you is to back up the databases and copy the whole website to a backup folder in the control panel via file manager. And then, you should compress the folder into a ZIP file and copy it to the FTP service mapping folder. Then use your any favorite FTP tools to download it to your local disk.

Here, if your website is a WordPress based one, you can make use of the WordPress backup plugins to finish this step fully and easily.

Here, we take the widely used BackWPup Free plugin as an example. Upon the installation and activation of it, you should enter its settings page to finish the general settings. Here, you can give a name for the backup file. And then, you need to decide the tasks, including database backup, file backup, WordPress XML backup, installed plugin list and database table checks. You need to choose all of these options.

BackWPup Free Settings

Then, you can start the backup process manually. Do not forget to download the backup file to your local machine.

Start Backup

Step 4 - Import Your Website to the New Hosting Environment

The appropriate approach for the importing is to upload the backup ZIP file to the new host via FTP; decompress it in the control panel; copy the database files to separate folder and restore the database in the control panel. You can test the database connection via phpAdmin with the control panel for MySQL or via MS SQL Server Management Studio remotely for MSSQL. Then, you can create the website based on the backup files and fully test it through the testing URL.

Here, when connecting your FTP client with your hosting provider, you need to know that your domain name is pointing to your old hosting provider. After all, you haven’t switched the DNS record. In this case, you should enter the IP of your new hosting but not your domain. This way, you can be ensured that the files and data are going to the new hosting environment but not the old one.

To find the IP address of your new hosting solution, you should enter the control panel or ask the support staffs. Here, if you use the cPanel control panel, you can find it by entering the dashboard and clicking the expand stats button from the left sidebar. What you want is displayed after “Shared IP Address”.

Shared IP Address

Again, if your website is a WordPress powered one, you can leverage the built-in Importer tool from the Admin > Tools section. You just need to click the Upload File and Import button after targeting your backup file. Everything can be done automatically.

Upload WordPress backup data

Step 5 - Double Check the Content Moving

After the contenting moving, you should double check to make sure that your website can run properly with the new web host. Here, you can preview your site with the temporary URL in the new IP. Some quality web hosts even provide the staging platform, with which you can find and remedy the issues behind the scenes.

Step 6 - Change Domain Name Server

The nest step is to change the domain name server mapping to the new web host DNS information. This makes sure that people can find your website properly after typing your domain after changing the hosting environment, rather than getting the misdirection or the error message.

The process needs up to 72 hours to take into effect for all Internet users worldwide. So it’s better to keep the websites on the both two hosts within 3 days. When you add new content to your website via administration UI, you should ensure you’re updating against the new host by yourself.

I personally had a bad experience on updating my website after the switch. I added 4 articles via the administration UI and checked that worked in the website. After 3 days, I signed off the old web host but found these articles were not in the website hosted with the new one. Hmmm… So please take care of this, don’t follow me.

To change your name server, you can ask for help from the technical support team of your web host. Surely, you can do this on your own manually. Generally, all the web hosts will tell you how to do this from their knowledge base articles or posts in the Blog area. Here, we take BlueHost as an example. From their knowledge base, you can find a guidance telling you how to change your name servers with the following steps.

Change Domain Name Server in BlueHost

Essential Aspects to Pay Attention

When moving to a new web host, you may meet some issues as lised in the following. Here, you should watch out and resolve the issues quickly.

Website Downtime

The downtime means the unavailability of your website on the web, resulting in the loss of your potential visitors, leads and income. In this case, when transferring your web hosting, you’d better avoid this issue with the zero downtime.

For this, you can consider three methods.
  • Do not terminate your old hosting solution until you make sure that your website can run and update well with the new one.
  • Inform your local or loyal readers about the fact that you are moving to the new web hosting company. Even, you can make a sticky announcement in your pages.
  • Work closely with your new hosting provider. Whenever you meet any problem or confusion during the transferring process, you should ask for help.

Assets Loss

After moving to the new web host, it is possible that some of your assets are missing, especially for the images. If this happens, your readers are likely to meet the 404 error. In this case, you should keep an eye on your 404 log after and during the switch. Upon the alerting, you can remedy and restore the missing items for the proper display.

Email Address

After moving your website, you also need to remember to move your email address. This process is simple for you just need to provide your email information to your new hosting company. However, if your email is hosted by a domain registrar, you should switch the A record and point to the IP address of your new web host.