There are several reasons why a site owner might decide to move his/her hosting account from one provider to another. Either your website is not loading very fast on web browsers as expected or downtime is becoming too rampant.
It can also be that the services you’re getting with your current web host are literally mediocre or that the technical support team takes ages to fix simple issues.
In certain cases, you might want to change to a more affordable web hosting provider or because your site consumes more server resources than what your current web host can provide. Generally, moving from one web hosting company to another is a common practice on the Internet, but adequate care needs to be taken, in order not to lose precious files and other data. Unprofessional approach to transferring a web hosting account often leads to loss of some data. And I know you won’t want to lose some of your emails, database records, amongst others. Precautionary measures need to be taken seriously. As follows is a step-by-step guide of what you need to do to ensure nothing goes wrong:
Your reason for trying to change hosting will determine the type of service you will like the new company to provide. Check and compare similar hosting packages of reputable providers, read their reviews made by their real clients and choose one that appeals to you. Your choice should be the one that you feel meets your web hosting needs.
The second step is to make a complete backup of your website from the server to your local machine. Some web hosting control panels like cPanel have backup facilities which you can use to easily copy your databases, email filters and forwarders, and even entire home directory to your local computer. You can as well use an FTP program, such as FileZilla, CuteFTP and SmartFTP to transfer your site’s files to your local machine. My favorite is the FTP software that is integrated with Dreamweaver. All that is needed from you is to connect to the server via FTP (file transfer protocol), select the directories or files you want to download and click on the “Get” command, to start copying the data. For those of you who prefer FrontPage, it has a function called “Import”, which enables a user to copy every web file in his/her hosting account.
Contact the registrar that helped you to register your domain name and ask them to reset your site’s DNS (domain name servers) to those of your new web hosting provider. If you’re technically inclined, login to your domain name registrar’s account and change the DNS to point to those of your new host. For example, if you’re transferring to Hostgator, the domain name servers should be something like:
Bluehost uses a slightly different variation of its name servers than those of Hostgator. In this scenario your DNS should be:
After the transfer it takes between 24 to 48 hours for the domain name to fully propagate over the Internet. You can use any domain Whois service to check if the transfer is successful or not, by simply searching for your domain name, such as “bbcwebhosting.com”.
Use any FTP software of your choice to upload your website’s files to your new web hosting account, and also restore your databases through the hosting account’s control panel. cPanel has a facility that makes restoration of databases effortless. Then, try to visit your website, to see if every web page displays well, as expected. If any file, including images, doesn’t load on the web browser, upload it once more.
Top web hosting companies like Hostgator and Bluehost, amongst others, offer free transfer of web hosting accounts from previous hosts to their servers. For someone who is not comfortable at moving an account from one host to another, choosing a good company that will do it for you free of charge is your best option. Alternatively you can make a full backup of your web hosting account through cPanel and then ask your new host to restore the data on their server.
As a precautionary measure, cancellation of your previous hosting account should be done only when you’re certain all your data have been successfully transferred to the new hosting account.
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