Stories of website migrations gone wrong often prevent people from switching web hosts. Broken links, missing files, dropped ranks, and other horror stories plague their minds.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
By finding the right web host, identifying the risks, and knowing what to expect when migrating your site, switching web hosts can be a painless process.
So are you ready to make the switch?
Why Should You Consider Switching Web Hosts?
Web hosting is the foundation of your website. Apart from design and content, most other factors on what makes a good website is based on the web hosting service: load time, uptime, strong security, and backups.
There are a variety of reasons on why users might want to switch web hosts. However, I found that the most common causes include:
- Performance. This category covers better hardware, uptime, load time, and user experience. For instance, SSD’s provide better load speed compared to traditional hard drives. A good control panel provides a clean and straightforward user experience.
- Availability of resources. The bigger the site, the greater the resources it needs to perform flawlessly. Users might look for a hosting service that offers more bandwidth to accommodate high traffic and larger storage capacity to store more data.
- Security. No site is safe from malicious attacks, so selecting providers with robust security is a must. Your website should be backed up regularly, protected from spam attacks and malware, and the software needs frequent updates.
- Customer support. Inexperienced and ineffective customer support might also contribute to your dissatisfaction. Therefore, people who want to switch web hosts make sure that their new hosting company has reputable customer support.
- Features. Different companies usually offer different additional features that are not included in the original plan. Surely, you’d want to switch to a hosting company that can provide for you in the long run.
Which New Web Host Should I Choose?
Choosing a new web host is like choosing a new home. There are so many things to consider to determine if the new host will suit your needs in the long term.
Here are several things that you need to think thoroughly before selecting a new web host company:
- Allocated resources. Perhaps this is the most obvious one, but a lot of people tend to overestimate or underestimate how much resources they need. So, identify what your site needs, and then select a web host that allocates enough resources (bandwidth, number of hosted domains, emails, storage, etc.).
- Upgrade options. To anticipate your site’s future growth, you should pick a web host that offers good scalable plans. Even if you’re going with shared hosting right now, it’s good practice to keep an eye out for future-proofing your site.
- Available features. Check features that will make managing your site an easier task, such as an easy-to-use control panel, ecommerce tools, website builders, automatic backups, and so on.
- Server uptime. 99.9% uptime guarantee is the norm these days, so don’t settle for less than that.
- Pricing. Be aware of the price difference when renewing your plan, or some extra costs for additional features like SSL certificates, backups, and more.
- Refund policy. We have to ensure that in case something goes wrong, we can safely fall-back. Find out everything about the refund policy: will the web host provide a full mo-back guarantee? Are there any extra fees for canceling plans?
- Rules and limitations. Read their terms and conditions carefully. Don’t skip anything. Understanding their rules and policies will help you avoid future conflicts with your new hosting company.
- Customer support. All hosting providers offer different customer support systems and not all of them are available 24/7.
What to Expect During the Migration Process?
Although transferring your website is usually a seamless process, it might pose certain risks if done incorrectly.
So before moving your website, anticipate that these following things could happen:
- Downtime — when you switch web host, it’ll be necessary to change your nameserver settings. This change could take up to 24 hours to take effect, so your site will be down during that process.
- Damaged SERP ranking — the downtime during the migration process could affect your ranking on SERPs. In addition, if the location of the new server is different from your previous one, search engines might reposition your ranking as well.
- Missing links and assets — some assets of your web pages might be misplaced or left behind, which causes broken links.
- Corrupted database — this could happen due to missing entries during the migration process.
Keep in mind that even if those scenarios above could happen, the risk will decrease significantly if the process is done correctly. So for the most part, don’t worry too much if you want to switch web hosts.
When is the Right Time to Move to a New Web Host?
Before migrating, you need to research exhaustively about any web hosting company that you set your eyes on. This step is crucial to make sure that you’re satisfied with the new host.
You also need to inform your visitors, customers, and business partners about the plan. That way, revenue loss and damaged reputation due to unwanted downtime can be avoided.
Another step to take before switching web hosts is to backup your site.
While it’s true that most web hosts companies offer migration services, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan just in case something unexpected happens.
Finally, when you’re ready to move, make sure that it is done during off-peak hours, like midnight in order to minimize the amount of downtime.
How Can I Switch to a New Web Host?
Now that you better understand the concept of switching to a new web host, it’s time to dive into the how.
Option 1 — Ask Your New Web Host to Migrate the Website
This method is the easiest and safest way to migrate your site to a new host.
The good news is, most hosting providers offer migration assistance to their new users. The cost, however, differs from one to another.
Some include the service complimentary if you join them, while others consider it as an additional feature and hence, needs extra payment.
In addition, if the new web host uses a different control panel, you might need to pay an additional fee to cover the process since they will have to move everything manually.
So before asking for help from your new web host, make sure to check their migration terms carefully. Otherwise, it might change your mind completely as prices can reach hundreds of dollars!
Option 2 — Move Your Website Manually
If for some reason your new host doesn’t offer migration assistance, you will have to resort to moving your site manually.
However, keep in mind that this method requires some technical knowledge, so it’s only recommended to do it it you’re confident about your technical proficiency.
And again, make sure to backup your site before any changes.
I will briefly explain the steps on how to manually move your site.
1. Get a New Hosting Plan
Yep, sure it sounds obvious, but many people hastily terminate their current plan without any new web host in mind.
If you’re still unsure about where to move, refer to the list of what you should keep an eye for when searching for a new host.
2. Move Your Files, Databases, and Email Accounts
For static content, download everything (HTML files, pictures, videos) from your old web host and upload it to the new one.
Dynamic content that uses databases requires slightly more work. You need to export the databases, upload them to the new host, and then restore them via the control panel.
Meanwhile, transferring email accounts is very easy if you host them on a domain registrar. All you need to do is change your email hosting records to the new web host’s IP address.
The worst-case scenario is if you host your email accounts on your old hosting company. If this happens, you need to recreate everything with your new web host.
3. Switch Your DNS Record
DNS records direct your ISP to where the site files are located. So when you switch web hosts, your DNS records also need to be changed.
Ask your new web host to get the new DNS information and replace the records.
4. Cancel Your Old Hosting Account
When your website is finally live on the new web host and everything looks perfect, cancel your old hosting account and don’t look back!
Yep, that’s pretty much all you need to know if you want to switch web hosts.
I covered what makes people want to migrate their site, how to choose the perfect new host, what’s the risk of migrating, and how to transfer your site to the new web host.
If you feel that your current host doesn’t satisfy your needs, don’t be afraid to make a big move. Plenty of great web hosts are waiting for you!