After eight years with the same web hosting service I finally bit the bullet and moved away. I’d been experiencing far too much downtime and when you just want to write, it’s so frustrating when you can’t access your site.
Now, I had been toying with the idea for a while and I know how to move web hosting with minimal downtime so I had a plan. I intended to wait until I could give my full attention to the task. Have you ever gone off half-cocked about a task and inevitably buggered it up? Unfortunately, I have. I couldn’t access my site for about five minutes and got so angry that I threw caution to the wind and decided to do the move in the early hours when I was half asleep, annoyed and unfocused.
Well luckily for me I don’t run an ecommerce site as I would have lost a lot of money. This site was down for almost a day and it didn’t have to be that way. So how do you ensure a smooth transition between your old host and the new? Follow the steps I should have taken of course. The following steps assume you are moving a non-ecommerce WordPress site.
Back it up
If your have a cache plugin installed it might me a good idea to delete it. I had Total Cache running and when I transferred over, the plugin threw up error messages. I’d advise you to remove it before you take a copy of your site and database. When you’ve backed up everything upload the files to your new web space. You must also make sure you upload your database via phpMyAdmin otherwise the site won’t work.
DON’T DELETE THE CURRENT SITE and don’t update it either, save your updates for the new site.
When you buy new hosting make sure you use the domain name of your current site. You don’t have to transfer the domain name to your new host if you don’t want to. What you will need to do is to make sure your new host gives you an IP address so that you can access your new web space via ftp. If you use ftp.yourdomain.com to access the new host it will fail as long as your site is live on the old host. Make sure you change the database details in your wp-config file to reflect the new details.
Once you are sure all your details are correct go to your old hosting control panel and change DNS nameservers to point to your new hosting. It takes about 72 hours for DNS changes to take catch up globally, so having both sites live means that people will see the old site if changes haven’t caught up in their part of the globe. So if you want the switch to appear seamless leave the old site up for about three days before deleting it completely.
Where I went wrong
I uploaded everything to the new server just fine but when changing the domain name servers, entered the wrong ones. It was hours before I realised that mistake. To make matters worse, I accidently deleted the old site before DNS changes could take affect. If I thought five minutes was too long, 12 hours without access was painful. I got the old error 500 internal server error when trying to access the site. At some point I could access the new server at home but not at work. So remember if you don’t want any downtime, don”t delete the old host for a few days.
I hope you can learn from this. Good luck!