Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Transfer Web Hosting Without Downtime

updated on Oct 13, 2016
How to Transfer Web Hosting Without Downtime Sometimes, you may want to leave your current web hosting and move to another one due to the unhappy experience, unreasonable price and poor technical support. In this case, we'd like to introduce you how to transfer web hosting without the the worry about losing files, data and traffic of the websites. Here, we have presented two methods - transfer hosting manually or transfer hosting using plugins.

Transfer Web Hosting Manually

This method is a little bit complicated, which is suitable for experienced webmasters.

Backup all of the websites

As most of web hosts provide file management and database management web UI in the control panel. The first 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 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.

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.

Choose new web host

You can choose a best hosting at After reviewed hundreds of web hosting in the Internet, we had come out lists of best web hosting in different categories. When you signed up a new contract, you shall choose transfer domain name instead of asking for a new free domain. But if you already have had an independent domain name provider, why not getting a new free domain with the hosting plan?

Upload all files to the new web host

As most of web hosts providing an internal URL based on their domain name for testing, you should not change the domain name server until you have fully tested your website on the new host. The appropriate approach is to upload the backup ZIP file to the new host via FTP. Decompress it in the control panel and 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 create the website based on the backup files and fully test it through the testing URL.

If you have used the absolute URL to internally link web pages in the website, there may have some problems on the linking testing. But it’s not the key problem. They will be resolved automatically after you resolve the domain name later. The key of the testing is to ensure the database connection correctly.

Change Domain Name Server

Change the domain name server mapping to the new web host DNS information. It 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 websites 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.

Smoking Test

Smoking testing your website after changed the domain name server immediately. You should change the hosts file in your PC by adding line as following. In Windows OS, it’s located at C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts.
[DNS IP Address of New Host]
If you found some problems, please do quickly fix it. Other users cannot encounter that broken within 4 hours at least due to the cache of domain name server mapping.

Transfer Web Hosting Using Plugins

If you are a newbie who feel the first method is too technical, you can resort to some plugins. Let's assume that your website is build using WordPress, along with the plugin used to import and export your site. If you are in this condition, simply read through this guide which introduces the step by step process with screenshots on transferring web hosting easily in only half an hour.

1. Log into your current WordPress administrative site and export the whole website data to your local desktop.
Expert WordPress Content

2. Find a best hosting provider for your WordPress and install WordPress importer in WordPress administrative site.
Install WordPress Importer

3. Activate the WordPress importer and run it.
Activate the WordPress importer

4. Upload your WordPress extended RSS (WXR) file for importing the posts, pages, custom fields, categories and tags to the new WordPress website.
Upload WordPress backup data

5. Import the files and images referenced by your posts from the old WordPress site to the new. Actually when you export the content from your old site, the files and images are not exported but just for their Urls. In the import, the WordPress can automatically detect these resources and synchronize them into the new site. So you don’t need to worry about losing anything in the process.
Upload WordPress backup data


In fact, no matter how careful you are when transferring your web hosting, it is unavoidable to affect your traffic to some extent. Therefore, you need to minimize the chances of hosting transfer by resorting to the best web host. In the following, we'd like to offer the top 3 options based on our real hosting experience.