How To Change Your Web Hosting Provider Step-By-Step Guide

If you are looking into switching to a web host with better services, products and prices, the process of transferring your websites can be either seamless or a tragedy. Like moving your home it can be messy and sometimes problems arise. But if you follow these simple steps, your move will be less painful.

First thing First, Make a Backup

If you’ve been diligent with your backups, you’ve got a lot of insurance to fall back on yet always make the latest backup. If you haven’t, before you do anything else, do a backup now. Backup anything and everything you can and don’t forget your database if your site relies on it. Save at least 2 copies and store them separately. One for you to work with, and the other as archive. Do not underestimate how easy it is to copy over these files as you make changes or simply mess it up.
However, in case you are moving to new host; you have to make a backup of all the files from FTP server and Database server. Most of the hosting providers don’t provide the remote access to the Database servers, so if you want to download database files, its little tough job. But if you are using any open source software like WordPress or Joomla running at backend of your site, you can help yourself with the plug-ins or built-in function. In case you are using WordPress for your site, you can have your backup within minutes, depending on the size of database. Just go to tools>export section and download the file for reference and this file will help you on fresh copy of WordPress installed on new server.

If you need to, make a small note file with notepad with memos for you to remember the old server configurations. This will help you as you make changes on your new host server and save the confusion moving back and forth between hosts.

If server logs are especially important, remember to backup those too. There is no good way of moving logs yet because different hosts may log statistics differently. So the best thing to do is to download it and use a log analyzer on your computer to make references to later on.

Gather Odds & Ends

  1. A Good FTP program which you should have by now
  2. Get your new host server’s DNS
  3. It’s also helpful to have a script that tells you the server environments installed on your new host rver for quick references.
  4. Get the temporary URL on your new host so you can check your site before you make a DNS change.
  5. If you have your host control the domain inform them not to change your DNS until you tell them to.
  6. If you run scripts:
    1. Get a copy of the original installation guide and the script. Sometimes after moving the scripts just do not work right so you might need to install the script from scratch.
    2. Get a list of all the server paths such as Perl, Sendmail and home directory on your new server.
    3. If your script needs special server modules or programs ensure they are installed and where. Even though these might be covered before you ordered the account with the host but sometimes your host has removed it or hasn’t installed it yet.

Notify your Audience

Notifying your audience is the best thing which you can do preserve your site respect. Place a sticky post or drop an email to the subscribers to notify them about possible downtime or bouncing back. You can utilize your social media accounts as well to notify your audience about server migration.

When should you migrate?

Deciding a right time for making the final step is pretty harsh. The best thing is, you go through your recent traffic log and highlight the days and timings in which you had lesser traffic. Remember, the more your site stays down, the more and more traffic you lose from spiders and social networks. Take a DNS changing step during highlighted time period.

Change the DNS

Once you’re satisfied, change your DNS over. You can announce your registrar to change your DNS information, or if you can change it yourself, go ahead and do it. Point the new server to the domain name, by inputting IP addresses for your DNS primary servers (NS1 & NS2)

The propagation of the new DNS settings can take from 15 minutes to 24 hours. It means a few users will see right away the website from your new web server, but most people will take up to 1 day to see the new changes. For this transfer, you need then to ask your old web hosting provider to suspend your account and stop payment, 72 hours after the DNS switch.


After you’ve moved and the DNS resolved, do not release the old account yet. Keep it as long as two weeks running concurrently. Go back and check the old servers for activity. Check your old email account and if you have a web based contact method on the old server check to see if any communication is left there. Once you’re comfortable all email and traffic is correctly directed to the new host server, you can cancel that account.

Final step would be to update the e-mail client you are using to match the new POP3 and SMTP settings. You have successfully changed your web hosting provider. Good luck with the new one!