Switch Your Web Host – Think, plan and execute

Web hosting owners sometimes decide to switch web hosting for several reasons like moving to better host, moving from shared to dedicated server or for lowering the cost of hosting. First you have to plan thoroughly before switching the host. There is a risk of losing database, email, traffic if this job is not done properly.

First step of in switching web hosting is to find a proper web hosting server where you like to move your hosting. Make sure that the new host account supports the database version and other applications, for example php and mysql version. You can also look in to extras such as a greener web hosting service.

The main idea behind a successful switch is to complete the process with minimum downtime and maximum possible availability of the site. It is advisable not to use the website during the transfer process of the website. Site under maintenance message can be displayed during this phase.

Stop any promotional and marketing activities like search engine campaign, pay per click advertizing, any promotional campaign or any new content publication on website. Send a newsletter or email to your customers, users and website visitors by announcing them that there is a planned maintenance on a given period, with your contact information. Switch web hosting can be done easily if you plan to switch the hosting during weekend.

Backup of Files and Database

The main components of a website are Files (.html, .htm, .php, .gif, .jpg etc) and database(s).

change web host

Take backup before switching your web host

Take backup of all the files using backup wizard. Download all the files by using FTP from the current web host then upload by using FTP to the new host. Take full backup of templates and drupal or wordpress plugins either by using a source-control repository such as git or svn. Carefully copy the files on an external hard drive or on a DVD.

If your websites are using database such as mySQL, following these steps to export database

  1. From old host export the database to an SQL text file.
  2. In the new host import the SQL text file
  3. If your database names have changed be sure to upgrade scripts or settings to point to new database.

If the web site is using mysql database then the process will be different. Now a days mysql tables are used commonly and majority of web sites are using it. mysql database can be exported by using phpMyAdmin from the old hosting control panel and thereafter import the database to new host by using phpMyadmin. Updating of website and scripts are necessary to use the new name for the database and username password to access the database. mysql server may also require new host name and port number. Technical help from the new host can be used to solve any issues. With your new hosts control panel, create the database and user privledges for the database. Login to phpMyAdmin. Select the Database on the left. Click the Import tab on the top menu. Click the Browse button and navigate to the file we exported to. Select SQL as the format of the import file. Click Go. The next page should state that the Import has succesfully finished.

Database backup can be difficult step to implement and you may require the help of an system administrator. In case of critical data you may need to establish a secure synchronization link between the two database and eventually changes will take place in the new one.

The next step is switch email from old to new hosting. Take backup of emails and create email accounts on new web hosting account. Update the mail settings in the email client like outlook, outlook express. Next step is to create email accounts with the same username and password used in the old web hosting. Use the control panel of the new web hosting to create email accounts. Now create email group and email forwarding related with the old hosting. A cpanel can come very handy in these activities and you can use a provider such as Hostgator that provides cpanel hosting. We provide several deals and Hostgator discounts.

You can co-ordinate with the new hosting service provider in case of any changes like new port number or setting, they will be able to provide the necessary information. The next step is very important step of switch web hosting, transfer of domain name and DNS settings Hosting provider will create the domain in the new server and make the server ready to use.

You can transfer your existing domain name registration to the new service provider. Make sure to unprotect your domain before transferring and follow the steps for transferring domain as instructed by your new service provider. Once the domain transfer process is over, update DNS records of the new hosting server in the Domain’s DNS entry field, e.g. NS1.example.com. The main idea behind a domain’s DNS record update is to point the domain to new web host.

It is important to remember that DNS changes and transfer may take a couple of days in between availability of web hosting service either in old or new web host and it is uncertain. Use web based email until the switch over has been successfully taken place.

Finally test the website, with the help of new temporary URL provided by new hosting provider. If you are using a dedicated server then you can use an IP address provided to you. Finally you will find your switch web hosting process is complete and you’ve switched to new web hosting providers.

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