Website migration refers to moving a website from one server to another. It involves redirecting your old web pages to new pages without leaving any negative impact, like increased downtime.

Before we begin with the step-by-step process of migrating a website to a new server, let’s learn about website downtime in detail.

Website Downtime

Website downtime is when a website isn’t responding or functioning and is fully incapable of serving its users’ needs. The inactive period usually occurs during a website files transfer, significant database restoration, program installation, or subdomain configuration.

Causes of Website Downtime

Many website owners seek zero downtime for an ideal website migration, but let’s not avoid the fact that it’s inevitable. Giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook also face website downtime occasionally. Instead, learning about what causes website downtime might help you prevent it from happening the least.

Human error

The website migration process involves human effort, from transferring files to maintaining web servers. Thus, human errors become a primary reason for website downtime.

Coding error is one human mistake that has been a matter of concern. A website runs on thousands of codes, and an error in one code can cause downtime easily.

Poor web hosting

Many web hosting services offer reliable services and hosting plans at cheaper costs. But these could come for the price of outdated servers, making them prone to crash and leading to downtime.

Hence, choosing and relying on a credible web hosting company like BigRock is crucial when switching web servers.

DNS issue

A domain name server (DNS) translates a domain name to a machine-readable IP address and is significant for the website’s uptime. A simple spelling error with DNS can cause website downtime havoc. Upgrading your DNS hosting could be an option if your website faces frequent downtime.

DDOS Attack

A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack is a type of cyberattack where hackers flood the website with huge traffic, which disrupts the servers and causes downtime. You can prevent this by buying web hosting from a reputable and reliable web hosting provider.

Effects of Website Downtime

As a business owner, surviving in this competitive online world has become difficult because a user can easily find an alternative to your products or services.

Experiencing downtime in such a cutthroat online business environment can cause:

  • Reputational damage
  • Search engine rank drop
  • Loss of potential clients or customers
  • Loss of revenue

Hence, a successful migration is necessary.

Step-by-Step Guide to Website Migration

A successful website migration is when your clients and users face minimum downtime and inconvenience.

Here’s how you can smoothly migrate your website to a new domain without compromising your users’ experience.

Move First & Cancel Later
It might seem natural to inform your existing web hosting company that you’re leaving once you’ve decided to switch. However, don’t do that! Wait to tell your current hosting provider until your website starts running on the new web hosting.

Because, usually, web hosting service providers won’t wait until the expiration date of your current plan and will cancel it as soon as you let them know. Once they cancel your subscription, they will delete almost all the files you stored on their servers.

Thus, the optimum time to inform your current hosting provider is once you’ve evaluated your new website’s environment for a few days. Make sure you’ve transferred all your files and data to your new server during this time.

Download Backup Files
Backup files are crucial, and you must move them to the new server for security. This method is straightforward if your current and new hosting providers use the same control panel. This would typically be the case, given that most hosting companies offer cPanel or Plesk.

You would only need to download the backup files from your old server and upload them to your new server using the control panel.

The best approach to do this using cPanel is to search for the “Backup” option on the main screen and download all your backup files in compressed form.

Do Not Decompress
Be cautious that you don’t decompress the file. The server will automatically decompress the compressed files when you upload them because it will recognize them as backups. Decompressing them beforehand will make uploading very time-consuming.

Make The Transfer
Once you’ve purchased a plan, your new hosting company sends you an email with a new IP address and the domain name listed in the email. They will also provide you with the login information for your new cPanel account.

Upload all your backup files to the new server as soon as you’ve logged into your new cPanel account. The procedure is very similar to downloading backups. Go to the “Backup Download” menu and choose “Backup Restore”.

A complete site backup must be on hand. Choose the appropriate file(s) to start the procedure. Your backend database should be operational after the upload is complete.

Ensure The Database Is Working
Database backup files don’t store information about usernames, passwords, and permissions associated with various databases. Thus, you need to document them somewhere safe.

With cPanel, there are different prefixes for a database that frequently don’t get assigned correctly. So, check to verify if prefixes have been allotted correctly by browsing the database, and if they’re not, you must change them. The relevant prefix is available online for each application.

Use your IP address to log in to your FTP account. At this point, you would have covered everything before changing the name servers. Make sure you haven’t missed out on anything, as your migration journey is about to end.

Switch Nameservers
This process lets your domain registrar know that you want to use new name servers.

Log in to the domain registrar’s control panel for domain registration, where you’d see a sidebar labeled “Domain Server Names.” The tab will contain old information you need to replace with a new name server allocated by your new host, and it’s done.

Until the name server propagation is complete, both new and old websites will function so that your users can access either of your websites.

The name server propagation won’t take long, but it’s advised not to add any new content to your new website or change anything to either of your websites, as this may trigger data loss.

At this stage, your website will be successfully moved and hosted on your new server. Now, this is the time to call your old service provider to let them know that you’ve successfully migrated your website!

Make Your Next Move the Smoothest Yet

Switching your website to a new host server is like changing apartments for better accessibility and service to you and your guests. Just keep in mind the steps and precautions mentioned above for a smooth transfer of your belongings.