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How to Transfer Website Hosting

Are you looking into how to transfer website hosting from your current host to a new one? It isn’t always the most straightforward task, with a number of vital boxes to tick before the various dots are joined and your site moves lock stock and barrel to its new home.

This article reveals everything you need to know about how to transfer website hosting. In a way it’s a digital real estate thing. It’s your job to find the best neighbourhood for your business to be based in, the one with the best amenities and the most supportive community.

As a highly experienced B2B website design agency and web hosting company we’ve probably transferred more sites from one host to another than you’ve had hot dinners, so we’re perfectly placed to provide a comprehensive plain language guide. Here goes. By the end of it you’ll know exactly how to transfer hosts like a pro.

What is Web Hosting?

It helps to understand everything from the bottom up, so first let’s look into exactly what web hosting is. The term web hosting covers a number of services, all essential to present your website to users on the web.

Your web hosting service holds the site files, the media used on-site, and the databases that underpin the site. Bear in mind web hosting is different from - and is often separate from - the site’s domain name registrar. A domain name is simply a web address made up from a website name and a domain name extension. Google.com is a good example. The registrar of your domain name is the organisation that registers your domain name – no surprise there, then! It’s also where something called nameservers are defined, which associate the registered domain name with the website files being hosted.

Why Switch Web Hosts

Why switch web hosts? There are plenty of sensible reasons why you might want to drop your existing host in favour of a new one, finding a better alternative web host. Not every provider uses the best and most up to date elements of hosting. Your website, and your business, is only as safe and strong as the server it’s hosted on, and you deserve a 100% reliable network infrastructure.

Here are some of the most common reasons for host transfers.

Better site performance is one of the most common reasons for a change of hosts. Google’s algorithm uses site load speed and page load speed to help it rate and rank websites for the search results. If your site and a competing site are otherwise much the same in performance but their page and site load speeds are faster than yours, they win a better position in the SERPs. Sometimes a host will change hands and the new owners are not as dedicated or skilled as the previous owners. Sometimes the current owners lose the plot and the quality of their hosting falls. A slower site and page load speed can be a sign things are going downhill.

Site and load speed also affect users. You’ve probably done it yourself. If you’ve ever had to wait more than a fraction of a second for a page to load, it feels like forever. You’re likely to click away and try another site. It’s useful to know that a host with a Solid State Drive or SSD will almost always load your site faster than a host using a traditional hard drive.

It makes sense to confirm your host can offer you unlimited potential for growth. You might find your business has grown out of its current host, with much higher bandwidth requirements. If your current host can’t provide the bandwidth you need, you’ll have to move the site. The same goes for scalability. And if your current host wants to charge you extra for using ‘excessive’ bandwidth, you’ll want to move to a host who can comfortably handle naturally-increasing traffic.

Shared hosting means you share a server with other businesses. If one or more of them enjoys increasing traffic, your site can suffer as a result simply because they take up more of the resources. You might want to think about dedicated hosting instead of shared hosting, where your site is the only site on a server and all the potential resources are yours.

Host security varies too. While some websites need less security than others, perhaps because they don’t hold any customer data or take online payments, every site deserves great security. If you’re not getting the level of security you need, it might be time to change hosts. Make sure your host is using the latest security measures, not outdated ones. 

Great help and support is like gold dust. As an experienced site manager you’ll know all about the ins and outs of hosting, the issues that can arise, and what to do about them. If you’re less experienced, hosting can be hard to understand and even harder to fix. When you need reliable 24/7 customer service and support that’s always there for you and delivers the insight and knowledge you need, some hosts are a lot better than others.

Will you need extra features as your business grows? Some hosts provide them, others don’t. Look for a host offering essentials like CPanel, which gives you excellent control of your site’s environment, and Softaculous, which lets you access one-click installation for CMSs. PHPMyAdmin allows you to completely control your databases, and Multimedia Streaming capabilities deliver much better video and conference call experiences. Maybe a content delivery network or CDN might make all the difference – does your host offer a CDN as a way to improve site speed and performance?

ECommerce requirements can make or break a business, with almost 80% of people not returning to an online shop if they’ve had page loading speed issues. Your host needs to deliver on essentials like flexible bandwidth, the potential for big spikes in traffic, enough room to host all your images, the best security, reliable ways to store customer information according to the law, and sometimes the resources needed to allow high numbers of user downloads. As an eCommerce player you might want to find a host offering specific support services for ecommerce, and move your site from a shared server to a dedicated physical server.

How to Migrate a Website

How to migrate a website? When you get the planning part right it’s possible to migrate a website to a new host with zero downtime. This includes essentials like testing and verifying the site before making it ‘live’. If you have no idea where to start, don’t worry. The best hosts offer site transfer or migration services you can tap into, leaving it to the experts. These services are often free or low cost.

If you’re confident enough to do it yourself, and you know the jargon, here’s a basic step by step guide.

  • Create a new web hosting account with your chosen new host
  • Make a complete backup of the website from the current host
  • Download the backup
  • Upload the backed up website file to the new host and decompress it
  • Make sure all your files, databases, images and more are in place on the new host
  • Verify your website is operational on the new host and everything’s working properly – you can do this by editing the hosts file and adding the IP address of the web host, for example 192.168.0.1 www.example.com example.com
  • Once the site files have been transferred and the website has been verified as operational, you need to edit the name servers associated with the domain at the registrar
  • Now you have to wait for the nameserver change to propagate – this can take minutes, a few hours, sometimes 24 hours
  • You can use a free DNS propagation tool to show you the progress of the site as it propagates around the world – just remember not to edit the site while it’s propagating
  • Once propagation is complete - thoroughly test the site to pin down any issues.

Get more expert insight into B2B website development

Now you know how websites can be readily migrated to new hosts, why and how. Would you like to learn more about B2B website development? We’re experienced in every aspect of it, and we’d love to become your go-to web development partner.

Or give us a call on 01844 888 777
or contact us.


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