Recently I decided to change hosting companies and was faced with the common problem of having to move your wordpress blog, and all of its files, over to the new host.
I had never done this before, and was a bit concerned that it may be a tough challenge, especially considering that my new host offered basically no support on how to do it.
After moving three websites and the domains over to the new host, I soon realised how easy it is once you know what you are doing. The instructions below are only relevant if you both your old host and your new host use the cPanel interface.
As far as I know GoDaddy and possibly some other hosts do not use the cPanel interface, but you will find that most hosting companies use it because it is the standard software.
1. Back up your database and all your directory files.
a) To back up your database simply install and activate the free WP-DB-Backup plugin, and then choose the "Backup DB" option. Now it is simply a matter of clicking on the "Backup" button at the bottom of the page to create a backup.
You will now need to download your backup onto the hard drive of your computer.
While still in the settings of the WP-DB-Backup plugin you will now need to click on the "Manage Backup DB" option and then click on the "Download" button at the bottom left.
You will need to remember where you saved this file for later, as you will have to upload the database again once the domain has been transferred.
b) Now we need to download the directory files onto your computer using a FTP program. I recommend FileZilla because it is free, easy to use and can be used on both a PC and a Mac.
You may need to read the help section to learn how to use FileZilla, but it is relatively simple. All we are trying to do is copy the files from the "public_html/wp-content" directory of the file manager in your cPanel.
You only need to copy the "wp-content" folder which is found in your public_htlm folder. You do not need to copy every single folder that is in your file manager. Copy the folder into a place that you will easily remember, as you will also need this later to upload to your new host.
Now, you need to change the name servers for your domain to the name servers of your new host. You will find these details in the domain manager section of the company that you purchased the domain from.
2. Once the domain has activated the new DNS settings, install a fresh copy of WordPress.
Before you do anything you must make sure that the name server settings of your new host have taken effect. To be sure of this you will need to refresh the page of your domain and see if your old website is still sitting there, or if a new page has displayed with your new host's logo advertised somewhere on the page.
If you still see your website on the page, this means that the new settings have not taken effect yet and you need to wait.
Once you are sure that the new DNS settings have taken effect, go to your cPanel and click on the WordPress logo to install a fresh copy of WordPress.
This process is extremely straight forward and very quick. Once done they will email you the log in details as confirmation that it has installed successfully.
3. Replace the new database with your old database.
When you install a fresh copy of WordPress it automatically creates a brand new database for you. We want to replace this new database with the old one that we backed up in Step 1.
Go back to cPanel and find the section that says "Databases" and then open "phpMyAdmin". You should be able to find the new database that you created in the pane on the left. Click on this database to select it.
Now click on the "Import" tab at the top and use the browse button to find the database that you downloaded in Step 1. Select this file and then click "OK" (or "Go") at the bottom of the page. This will replace your new database with the original database that was on your old host.
4. Replace your directory files with the original directory files.
Now you will need to use FileZilla to upload the contents of the "wp-content" folder that you downloaded in Step 1. So basically you want to replace the contents of your "wp-content" folder, with the files that you downloaded earlier in Step 1b. It is as simple as that.
Find your "public-html" folder and upload the original "wp-content" folder into it. If it asks you if you want to replace the contents in the folder, than say yes.
If you follow these four simple steps in the correct order, then you should be able to move your WordPress blog from your old host to your new host, without any problems.
If you do encounter problems then you can either go back to Step 1 and try again, or ring your hosting provider to ask for help. Most companies should be keen to show a good first impression, and help you transfer the files properly to get your site working.
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