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How to Transfer a Website to a New Host

Posted by kk on Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If you have had a problem with your current hosting company or if your company just doesn't provide the features that you're looking in a hosting account then you might have decided to move from one company to another so in theory all you need to do is to migrate the data from your old server to the new server however, in most cases this is easier said than done. Let's describe all of the steps required to migrate your data from one company to another. 
Getting a hold of the support team in both companies: This step is critical if you're not a very knowledgeable webmaster, if you don't know how to zip and unzip the fate of which is hosted in your old company then doing the migration will prove to be extremely difficult or nearly impossible. If the main reason that you are moving your data from the old company is that you had terrible support then it would be an intelligent move to higher a knowledgeable webmaster who will be able to compress and decompress all of the data necessary. 
Zipping your websites and your databases: Before compressing your data you need to make sure that your databases have a name which will allow you to identify them in order to match them with the corresponding website, if they do not have very descriptive names then you might want to go into the settings of your scripts in order to see which side is using which database. Zipping or compressing your data should be the first thing that you do when you move from one company to another, you can compress your websites in two different formats you can use a .zip file or you can use a .zip.tar extension which will basically allow you to do the very same thing. Compressing your information allows for a faster data transfer from one place to another, this is a step they do not want to neglect or skip because if you did not compress your data you will end up spending hours upon hours transferring your sites from one company to another. Using an FTP program to upload your site and your databases: 
Once you have your site zipped as well is your databases it is time to use the very same FTP program that you used to download the data to upload it to your new server, again getting hold of your tech-support team is extremely important if you do not know how to decompress your sites and databases into the new machine. 
Once you have decompressed everything it is now time to match your databases to your scripts and sites, the step also involves changing the paths to your scripts if they have been hardcoded. You will notice that this is basically the hardest step in the migration process, you will also need to modify your "hosts file" in your computer in order to set the then new IP address of your sites in order to test them and make sure they are working before you decide to change the DNS records, changing "hosts file" will also help you reduce the amount of downtime your sites will experience during migration. Changing the DNS records: In a nutshell, the DNS records are two lines of information which point towards the web server that you're using, when you decide to move from one company to another the DNS records will be pointing to the old company's server, by changing the DNS records you will basically shift the arrow towards your new server. Once you set new DNS information it will take some time to propagate across the web so don't expect your sites to be immediately available, DNS propagation usually takes between 15 minutes all the way to 72 hours so be patient. If you have followed all of the steps described above and everything works fine there is nothing else to say but congratulations!


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