The Hostway Blog

8 Steps to Switching Web Hosting Providers

If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.

That's what TextDrive's "lifetime" customers had confirmed earlier this month, when the company announced it would shut down March 14, 10 years after its founding. Though many of the stranded customers got a great deal over the course of their membership, it doesn't change the inconvenience of their situation: left scrambling for a new host with a limited timeframe.

For those TextDrive customers, the circumstances can appear quite daunting, but changing web hosts is often not as hard to do as one might imagine, as long as they have their data backed up and on a temporary solution.

Follow these step-by-step guidelines for the best method of moving your Web site from one host to another.

Step 1: Select a new Web host.

For the TextDrive refugees, it's probably a priority at this point to choose someone that won't simply disappear at any moment. Look for a firm that's been around a while and has a record of getting the job done.

Step 2: Set up at the new host.

Although they won’t yet be able to send or receive, set up your email accounts at the new Web host. If you use sub-domains and/or a MySQL database, also set these up now following the host’s instructions. Use the same email addresses, database names and passwords that you used at your old host.

Step 3: Upload to the new host.

Retrieve all of your backed-up files including images and databases. Don’t delete any files, just copy them. If you use Web mail, now is also the time to backup your emails, or forward them to a different email account as they will not move to the new host. Log in to your FTP account using the temporary login information that your new host has provided and upload all of the files you previously backed up to the new server. (You cannot log in with “ftp.yoursite.com” as the domain name is still pointing to the old host.) Be sure to keep the directory structure of the files the same as at the old host. In the case of databases, import backed-up files using phpMyAdmin from the control panel.

Step 4: Test, test, test.

Using the test URL provided, make sure your Web site is working and viewable. The only thing you can’t test right now is email.

Step 5: Change DNS settings.

Log in to your domain name account, find the DNS settings, and update both of the name-servers. Your new host should have already emailed you with the information to input here.

Step 6: Wait 48 hours for the settings to change.

It usually only takes a few hours for the migration to occur, but it can take up to 48 hours for everyone, everywhere in the world, to catch up. During this 48-hour period you actually could have one visitor viewing your Web site on the old host and another viewing the Web site on the new host.

Step 7: Check that everything has updated.

Using a WHOIS domain tool, check the name servers. Are they the servers of the new host? Also, check that your email is working on the new host and check to see if any email went to the old host during the DNS update.

Step 8: Ask for help.

If the above steps are Greek to you, don't fret. Your new provider will be happy to walk you through the process if needed.

After all, it’s easier to move on your terms than it is on a webhosts'. Find yourself a dependable, stable partner and get back on your feet.