Changing to a new web host is daunting. It may seem easier to stay with the ‘devil’ you know, than to switch to a new supplier. Last week, I faced the challenge of finding a cost-effective solution for hosting my WordPress websites. I manage seven WordPress sites. After emailing a few questions to potential suppliers and engaging in additional online research, including customer complaints on social media, I was ready to make the move. Now, came the huge task of migrating my seven WordPress websites.
Seven tips to help migrate WordPress
Here are some tips drawn from my own experience, to help you migrate WordPress to a new web host:
- Check WordPress compatibility
- Check the compatibility of your plugins
- Read through articles on how to migrate WordPress
- Copy your web files and database
- Change your domain name servers
- Check your database information and password in the config file
- Cancel your old web hosting service
1. Check the compatibility of your host with WordPress
Before you purchase web hosting, first check if the web host is compatible with WordPress. The last thing you want to do, is to sign up with a new host without checking the services they offer. Luckily for us, WordPress.org provides information on the minimum requirements for WordPress.
2. Check the compatibility of plugins
3. Read through articles on how to migrate WordPress
Here are additional online resource articles I found useful in my preparation
- Moving a WordPress Site without Hassle
- A Step by Step Guide to Migrating Your WordPress Website to a New Host
- Transferring a WordPress Site or Blog
4. Copy your web files and database
- Create your own WordPress migration checklist
- Notify your website users of downtime
- Lock users out of your website
- Check, turn off, deactivate or remove any security plugins, such as BPS Pro
- Use an ftp client to copy your WordPress web directory and files to your computer
- Export your SQL database and save a copy of the database locally
5. Change your Domain Name Servers
An often overlooked step during the migration of a website is the change to domain name servers. When you order web hosting, your new web host should provide you with your Domain Name Servers. A Domain Name Server is like a home address for your website. It directs traffic to the server location of your website. If you forget to change your domain name servers, you could be
- looking at your old website on your old host if it is still running, or
- receiving an error message from your browser, such as “Oops! Your broswer can not find yourwebsite.com“
To change your domain name servers, you need to access your domain registration account details and change the server address where it says “Nameservers”. This often looks like
6. Check your database information and password in the config file
If you first installed a new copy of WordPress and set up a new mysql table, you may need to configure the database and user names, and database password in your WordPress config.php file. If there is an issue with the configuration, you will get an error that says something like, “Error establishing a database connection” message.
7. Cancel your old web hosting service
Once your new web host has your WordPress website up and running, make sure you contact your old web host if you no longer require their services, and cancel your hosting. Do not get caught with a payable invoice you no longer require.
Final considerations to help migrate WordPress
In step 4, I mention creating a custom WordPress Migration checklist to assist with your migration. Double check your checklist to ensure you have completed all the necessary steps. Go through your website and check for errors.
Uh-oh, Huston we have a problem – White screen of death strikes
Out of the seven websites I migrated in the last few days, one website site had a corrupt theme stopping me from going into the CMS back end. I ended up with the dreaded white page of death.
Using phpMyAdmin I removed the offending theme from the database and replaced the option with a standard theme name such as twentyfourteen. This then gave me access to the backend and the motivation to redesign the website. All the rest of the WordPress websites migrated smoothly.
If you strike a problem while migrating, get some sleep, contact your hosting support and wake up with a fresh perspective. Use the tips I’ve put together above to help make your WordPress migration, a stress free and enjoyable experience.