Tips on migrating your website to a new host

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Tips on migrating your website to a new host

When the time comes to move your website to a new hosting provider, it’s best to create a plan of action that outlines the steps and processes required to ensure a seamless and successful migration.

I’ve had plenty of experience in migrating all types of websites from small WordPress sites to large traffic heavy ecommerce websites and one important step I have learned is to plan out exactly what needs to be done and when.

Below is my typical process for migrating an ecommerce site with minimum downtime. Of course, some of the steps could be skipped for smaller non-commerce type sites, but this gives you a stable outline to start with.

Step 1: Migrate the database

This is always the first item on my list and it usually is actioned a few days before the website migration begins. Move the database to your new hosting provider and connect the existing website to it. There may be a minor connectivity lag with the database being on a remote server but it shouldn’t stop the website from functioning.

The benefits of moving the database early ensures order data is preserved. Depending on the size of the database, it maybe better migrating it when the site is less busy. It also relieves a fair amount of pressure knowing that you no longer need to rush to get everything migrated before everyone wakes up and orders start coming in!

Step 2: Download all product images and assets from the current host

I’ve always found this to be one of the longest tasks. Downloading all product images from the current server can take a long time especially if you have thousands of products. The best way of getting a copy of all images is to SSH into the server and compress/zip the folder containing all the images – due to server limitations you may need to split the compressed file into multiple archives.

Step 3: Upload the website to the new host

Now that the database has been moved, a copy of the website can be deployed to the new hosting service together with all product images downloaded in the previous step. With the images, the best option is to upload the archive(s) to the server and uncompress each via SSH.

Uploading the archives will of course take some time, but uncompressing them can be left for the server to chomp away at.

Step 4: Connect to the new database

At this point, you should now have a working copy of your site on the new server. In most cases, you can access it via the IP address but if not then adding a test domain to it can be helpful.

If you have SSL enabled on your actual domain, then it’s a good idea to have this enabled with your test domain too.

Step 5: Test! Test! Test!

Test the site on the new server to make sure everything is working as expected. Now is the time to fix any issues!

Step 6: Update DNS

If everything is working as expected, change your domain’s A record to point to the new server and … wait.

The great thing here is that whether your customers see your new site or your old one, all new orders and order updates will be handled in the same database.

So, that’s my typical migration process which minimises downtime considerably. Get in touch if you are in need of some help with migrating your website.

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