Switching Web Hosts For WordPress and Other Sites

Over the course of many years I have gone through quite a few different web hosts, and was never very happy with any of them. About two and a half years ago I switched my main sites to DreamHost, and I finally found a host I was happy with. I have never noticed any downtime, and I get a ton of disk space and bandwidth for a very reasonable price. Right now I get an unlimited number of domains hosted, 378.18 GB of disk space and 7.33 TB of bandwidth for less than $100 a year. I highly recommend them. (Use coupon code ADMOOLAH50 to save $50 if you sign up.)

So now I am in the process of moving all the rest of my websites to my DreamHost account. This is something I should have done a long time ago, but never got around to. Since I’m repeating the same steps over and over, I thought I’d come up with a check list of steps to do when switching hosts to make sure I don’t forget things as I go along. Here is that list, with some comments.

Most of the sites I have are WordPress sites, so I have some specific details about that, but these steps can be generalized for any type of site. Obviously, if you don’t have a database, some of the steps don’t apply.

1. Download all files from old server via FTP

2. Export Database(s) in SQL format using PHP Admin

  • It is a good idea to delete spam using the WordPress admin console before exporting to reduce the file size.
  • Do not use the WordPress export feature to transfer your database. If you do, then you won’t be able to import the new files until your Name Servers have properly switched, and your users may experience downtime.

3. Create domain on new host

4. Create database on new host

5. Import the SQL data from step 2 using PHP Admin of the new host

6 Change the information in configuration files to match the new DB setting

  • For WordPress make sure you change wp-config.php

7. Upload (via FTP) the WordPress files from step 1

8. Set up any required mailboxes at the new domain

  • Lately I’ve been setting up GMail for all my domain, which Dreamhost provides automatically

9. Switch Name Servers at domain registrar

10. Wait for the change to take place

  • This could take anywhere from an hour to a day
  • To check when the switch has happened, look at your access logs. When you see activity, some traffic is reaching the new server, however, you may not yet be able to get to your new server using the domain name, it just depends how the domain name information propagates.

Hopefully it can save you some headaches if you decide to switch hosts in the future.

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