How to Switch Web Hosting Providers with NO Downtime

There may come a time when you’ll need to switch web hosts, and although on the face of it such a task may seem like a troublesome process that perhaps is not worth your time, it’s certainly something that you’ll have to go through if circumstances change for the worse at your current hosting provider. Add the risk of downtimes to the equation, and a website migration is likely to scare away anyone who is not experienced in such matters. Albeit fairly complicated, there are some steps you have to follow in a certain order to make the switch as smooth as possible. Knowing when and what to do can help you minimize or even avoid downtime altogether.

Why you need to Switch Hosting Providers?

There are many reasons why people decide to switch hosts, it could be either because hosting renewal fees at their current web hosting provider have increased and they’ve found a better deal elsewhere, or because they are dissatisfied with the services and support offered by their existing host, and they want a more reliable and reputable web hosting company to host their website.

Some web hosting providers have extensive documentation on how to move to their hosting, and some companies may even offer support throughout the moving process or even do the transfer for you for free.

Here Are 7 Easy Steps to Switch Hosting

To minimize the risk of downtimes during your move to a new host, you’ll need to complete the following actions in the order described below:

1. Find and purchase new host

Just like moving to a new apartment, you’ll have to secure a new place first before you can make the switch. Thankfully, there is no shortage of web hosting companies out there, so evaluate their offers and choose one that meets your needs. Take factors such as reliability, server uptime guarantees, hosting features, web hosting control panel, sign-up and renewal prices as well as support availability into account when you select your new host.

Don’t cancel your existing plan, not even after you’ve purchased a new plan at your new host. Cancellation is the last thing you want to do at this stage as premature cancellation may result in the loss of all your files and database information stored at your old host.

2. Back up and transfer files

Now that you have two hosting plans at two different hosts, you can start moving, that is, you need to download all your website files. For this step, you’ll either need to connect to your old host’s FTP and download all of your files, then upload them to the new host, or log into the web control panel of your old host, locate the Backup page and download the full website backup. Backup of MySQL databases can also be secured on the Backup page. Downloaded backup files will be available in a compressed format.

Once you have all your backup files, head over to your new host, log into the administration interface, and upload/restore them to your new server. Locate the Backup page and find the file-upload box for the backup restoration, and upload the full-site backup files. Once this step is completed, carry out the database restoration process as well.

Be sure to consult the file backup/file restoration documentation at your old host and new host to make sure you do everything right.

3. Check if everything works on the new server

If you’re done uploading the website and database backup files to your new server, check to see if everything works properly. You can preview your website with the help of a temporary URL or IP address, and some hosting companies even have a so-called development staging platform that allows you to preview your site before it goes live. This will allow you to solve any problems that may surfaced during the transition process.

4. Change domain name server

For this step, you need to log in to your domain registration control panel, locate the domain name server page, and replace your old DNS records with the new data provided by your new host.

5. Wait for the DNS change

Changes will take effect within 24 to 48 hours, and during this time your visitors will be able to view your website as it will function properly. Downtimes will most likely not be an issue, however, you should refrain from adding content or any files to your website as this can result in lost content or data. Make sure to monitor your website during this period.

6. Migrate email accounts to the new server

If both your old host and your new host use cPanel, migration will not be an issue as your emails will be moved together with your full cPanel backup. If this is not the case, you need to do one of the following things:

  • If your email is hosted with a domain registrar, change the A record and point it to the IP address of your new host;
  • If your email account is hosted with a third party, update MX records in your DNS;
  • If your email is hosted on the old web host, recreate the existing e-mail account and configure it on your new host.

7. Cancel your old hosting plan

After completing all these steps, test to see if everything is working properly on your website. If you find that everything is in order, you can safely cancel your old hosting plan and start enjoying all the benefits of your new hosting.

The End

Switching hosts can be a stressful time, but it’s worth it especially if you’re stuck with a lousy web hosting service. However, if all this seems too much for you and you’re weary to do the website migration all on your own, look into whether your prospective web host will do the transfer for you for free or for a reasonable fee. Some hosts like InMotion or HostGator will do this transfer for free, other hosts may charge you a fee for carrying out the transfer for you. Letting your hosting provider help you out will ensure a hassle-free website transfer experience.

Recommended Guides:


David Cross

David is the chief editor at WebHostingMedia right from the beginning. He has a great passion for building and managing websites and creating helpful content. He is also interested in programming - currently learning python.