Every now and then, it becomes necessary to change web hosts in order to take advantage of a great new deal, an emerging technology, or a more powerful hosting plan. This is a pretty exciting time for most web hosting clients, but it can also cause a number of headaches if the right considerations aren’t made in advance. Before switching web hosts and enjoying a new level of service, be sure to consider the following ways to make the whole transition more smooth, effective, and enjoyable, for both the site’s administrators and its loyal users.
- Consider the DNS-Induced Downtime when Switching Hosts
Remember that switching web hosts means changing the DNS address of the website itself. That can result in either an extended period of downtime or a disparity between the new website and the old one. Further complicating this process is that DNS propagates at different times for different internet service providers. This results in some users seeing the new website a few hours before others, and it might result in some “crossed wires” or lost communication.Plan for this ahead of time, and be sure not to cancel the old host before every ISP has changed their DNS and pointed users to the new server. Then, if anything needs to be retrieved and imported, it’s as easy as navigating to the old host’s IP address and getting those files.
- Don’t Forget the MySQL Database Information when Moving
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The cPanel software has some really great backup and restore tools for those who are both diligent about creating backups, and those who are moving to a new server and need to restore files. It should be noted, however, that these backups are specific to a directory or database. Even a “full site backup” does not download the database information as part of that compressed file.Instead, databases must be backed up and downloaded on an individual, per-database basis. That’s perhaps not the most efficient way to do things, but it’s largely the only way to do them with cPanel. Be sure not to leave the databases behind during a server migration, or things could get pretty ugly for users and administrators alike.
- For the Easiest Migration Process, Make Sure Control Panels Match
Generally speaking, the web hosting world considers cPanel to be the standard backend software for most applications. However, some web hosts have deployed Plesk Panels as an alternative to the cPanel software, and that can make the process of restoring backups a bit more difficult to pursue. Furthermore, some web hosts have opted to save money by developing their own custom control panel software for the website’s backend, complicating matters even more.When looking into a new web host, check into their backend software to ensure it’s either the same as the current website’s backend software, or at least compatible with the backups produced there. Otherwise, it could take a very long time to restore files.
- Don’t Surprise Website Users or Administrators with a Server Migration
The migration process to a new host is one that is both time-consuming and pretty stressful. It could result in lost interactions, longer-lasting downtime, or a potential glitch in the system upon restoring files. These things should be well-known by website users and all administrators beforehand. Keeping everyone informed of the switch will help the website have its best shot at a smooth and effective transition. Keeping everyone in the dark, however, will cause some big problems.
- Move and Test the Site Early
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When signing up for a new web host, they’ll typically dispatch an email with the new server’s login credentials and IP address. This makes it possible to move, configure, and test a website at the new host before the official migration happens, and it will help to clear up any potential downtime after the DNS propagates. It’s the choice of responsible website owners everywhere, and this should absolutely happen before a website’s official transition is scheduled.
Careful Planning Results in the Easiest Migrations
Paying attention to details, and making sure everyone is informed of the upcoming change, are the two best ways to guarantee a smooth transition between web hosting accounts or servers. It might seem tedious, but file backups, restorations, and website testing periods, are the keys to making sure that everything is compatible and ready to go at the new host. Proceed with care and caution, and enjoy the ease with which the site continues serving its users.