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How to Painlessly Switch Web Hosts


Moving your website to a new web host can be a trying experience. You have to pack up everything and move “all your data stuff” to a new virtual location. You have to shop for a new host, sign all the paperwork, package your present site to make sure nothing gets lost or left behind, transfer it all to your new web host, and finally point your domain to your new host by changing the DNS record. The point is, switching your host means taking the right steps in the right order to make certain everything transfers over to the new host properly.

Sign Up for Your New Web Host First

There are a number of high quality hosting providers to choose from. Before giving your present web host that “Dear John,” lock into a good host and make sure they’re right for you. Yes, definitely look at cost. You may not need a ‘Porsche’ when a ‘Honda’ will do for what you need. Look too, at space, server configuration, and don’t necessarily depend on arbiters like so many of the best web host listing sites. Consider user ratings, website ranks, the company’s physical address, the various hosting plans, client volume, and even social media. Before signing on the dotted line or pressing your mouse or cursor on the “Agree” button, think about registering your domain to a third party provider.  This gives you the flexibility to more easily switch hosts in the future, without any complications down the line.

Back Up Your Sites to Your New Web Host

The rules for doing this vary slightly depending on whether you need to back up static files of dynamic files. For static files (basically any kind of file that remains pretty much unchanged either automatically or by way of a content editor), copy the old file structures and transfer them to your new web host. For dynamic sites (those that run on database like MySQL), move the web apps to your new web host as they appear in your existing site and transfer the database file to your new web host. If you’re lucky enough to have WordPress, you can simply transfer all of your data files directly to the new web host. Otherwise, you’ll need to modify your MySQL and PHP configuration files accordingly. You can also transfer CMS sites by zipping and moving everything in your “public_html” or “www” folder to the new web host.

How to Move Your Email Accounts

Most who have transferred to a new web host will tell you that the biggest headaches occur when they need to transfer their email. There are a number of ways you can have an efficient email transfer. If your email is hosted on a domain registrar (like DomainRacer), switch the A (or @) record and point it to the new host’s IP address. If your email accounts are being hosted by a third party, make sure your MX and other records your email service provider needs are updated in your DNS. Finally, if your email accounts are being hosted with your new web host, rebuild the existing email account on the new web host and configure the new email agent.


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