webmaster cringes at the thought of moving hosts.
Like moving your home it can be messy and sometimes
problems arise. But if you follow these simple steps,
your move will be less painful.
Backup Backup Backup!
If you’ve been diligent with your backups, you’ve
got a lot of insurance to fall back on yet always
make the latest backup. If you haven’t, before
you do anything else, do a backup now. Backup anything
and everything you can and don’t forget your
database if your site relies on it. Save at least
2 copies and store them separately. One for you to
work with, and the other as an archive. Do not underestimate
how easy it is to copy over these files as you make
changes or simply mess it up.
you’re moving to a host who has as different
control panel, make a manual backup by downloading
all your files because different control panels
may not be able to restore the backups made by your
old host. They also have different directory structures
so your file trees will be in a mess. If you need
to, make a small note file with notepad with memos
for you to remember the old server configurations.
This will help you as you make changes on your new
host server and save the confusion moving back and
forth between hosts. Remember to make the correct
transfer type (ASCII or Binary) as you download.
If your download is not right chances are you’ll
have a tough time getting your site to work on the
new host server.
server logs are especially important, remember to
backup those too. There is no good way of moving
logs yet because different hosts may log statistics
differently. So the best thing to do is to download
it and use a log analyzer on your computer to make
references to later on.
Gather Odds & Ends
1. A Good FTP program which you should have by now
2. Get your new host server’s DNS
3. It’s also helpful to have a script that
tells you the server environments installed on your
new host server for quick references.
4. Get the temporary URL on your new host so you
can check your site before you make a DNS change.
5. If you have your host control the domain inform
them not to change your DNS until you tell them
6. If you run scripts:
• Get a copy of the original installation
guide and the script. Sometimes after moving the
scripts just do not work right so you might need
to install the script from scratch.
• Get a list of all the server paths such
as Perl, Sendmail and home directory on your new
• If your script needs special server modules
or programs ensure they are installed and where.
Even though these might be covered before you ordered
the account with the host but sometimes your host
has removed it or hasn’t installed it yet.
Inform Your Visitors
It is common and good practice to inform your visitors
and customers of the server move. If you run an
e-store, this helps assure your customers you have
not fled with their money if there is any downtime.
Also give an alternate email so you won’t
lose emails in the transfer. You might also want
to give periodic updates prior, during (if there
is downtime) and after. If your site is large, doing
this is helpful because your visitors can alert
you whenever there is a part of the site not working.
Try to schedule the move at a time where there’s
least traffic. Backup again just before you do the
move so you’ll have the latest data. Start
by first copying or creating your custom error pages
onto the new host server. Put a small note in there
about the move. You can always remove it later.
Then upload the most visible parts of the site first
i.e the main pages then move on to the less critical
parts of the site. If you have a large site with
many divisions you might want to split them across
different days and instead move the least critical
first. Just ensure you always do a backup before
you do any moving. Use the temporary URL to check
your site, visiting as many pages as you can.
Once you’re satisfied, change your DNS over.
This typically takes about 24-48 hours so you have
time to make some minor changes if need be. You
might want to also take this time to modify your
old site’s error pages to inform your visitors
of the move and give a new URL if there are URL
changes. To help you determine if the DNS has resolved,
make a small change on the new pages to differentiate
between the old and the new.
After you’ve moved and the DNS resolved, do
not release the old account yet. Keep it as long
as two weeks running concurrently. Go back and check
the old servers for activity. Check your old email
account and if you have a web based contact method
on the old server check to see if any communication
is left there. Once you’re comfortable all
email and traffic is correctly directed to the new
host server, you can cancel that account.
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