Generally, changing hosting for your web site is not a very difficult process. However, it all depends on the ‘complexity’ of the web site and your technical expertise. For instance, a standard web site with plain HTML pages can be moved from one server to another without problem using FTP. But in case of WordPress blogs, online shops etc., one first has to take a backup of the database. We’ll hit upon this point at the end of the article.
Anyway, if all this sounds very complicated, it’s not! OK. Maybe a little for the complete newbie, but for sure, you aren’t going to blow things. The entire process of changing web hosts for your web site has been detailed step-by step.
Note: As I mentioned before, if your web site runs a backend database and you aren’t sure what needs to be done with that, I suggest you write to me or take help from a qualified person.
- Keep the username and password of your domain name account ready. These login details are different from the login information of your present web hosting company, unless you have purchased the domain name from the latter.
To repeat: You need the username and password of the account at the company from whom you bought the domain name.
- Research and find a good and reliable web host. I am sure that the reason you want to change is because you are dissatisfied with the present company. We don’t want this to happen again… right? Hence, spend some time exploring the web and reading reviews. Maybe my list of recommended web hosting companies can help – take a look.
- Once you have made your choice, purchase an appropriate web hosting package from them. Confirm the purchase and carefully read the emails that you receive from the company. As you can guess, the emails contain sensitive and important information. Taking a printout and keeping it in a safe place would be a smart thing to do.
Make sure you get the name server information of the new server. Your new web host should send you a primary and a secondary name server. It would typically be in the email you receive from the web host. If not (hmmm), check the support or FAQ pages on their web site. Still lost? Contact their technical staff immediately.
- Now log in at your domain name account (refer point 1 above) and change the DNS information associated with your domain name to the new values. Generally, you will find a “Change Name Server” or equivalent link in your account. Make sure you enter both the primary and secondary name servers. For details, read how to change the name servers associated with my domain name.
- When you modified the name servers, you would be told that the change will take 24 to 72 hours so you need to be patient. Nowadays, I have noticed that name server changes take place quite fast – 14-18 hours.
Why this lag time? The information on all domains is stored on certain computers scattered around the world. All of these machines need to be updated with the new information and that, I think you can understand, would take a bit of time.
Note: When you modify the DNS associated with your domain name you might (depends on your domain name registrar) receive an email from the company. This message would come on the email address used at the time of registering the domain name. The email would either inform you of the change or request a confirmation. Read it thoroughly and follow the instructions carefully.
- Once your domain name has been associated with the new web host, you would be able to upload your web site on the server.
It’s slightly more tricky transferring sites that have content stored in a database. The database information first needs to be backed up (or exported) and then imported to the new server once the backend has been set up. Sites that employ Content Management Systems, shopping carts or blogs, typically use a database to store the textual content and image locations. Simply moving the files from one server to another might not work in such cases as one first needs to create a database and install the backend scripts. Also, the new server has to support the scripting language and the chosen database application.