Your Complete Guide to Changing WordPress Hosting Providers

How much time did you take when selecting your WordPress hosting provider? For most business owners, the answer to that question is “Not a whole lot.”  

Maybe you went with the lowest cost option? Perhaps you did a quick Google search and clicked on the first link that popped up? It’s easy to think all WordPress hosting providers are the same or that it doesn’t really matter who you choose – especially if you look at hosting as an unavoidable business expense. 

But what if you flipped the script and thought of hosting as an investment? 

The company you choose to host your WordPress site impacts everything from site speed and uptime to SEO and security. Looking at it through this lens, WordPress hosting isn’t something you can afford to take for granted. 

There are several valid reasons for wanting to switch your hosting platform. You may find one with better WordPress hosting features, or the new version of your website may require more storage, bandwidth, or visitors per month. Whatever the reason, the host you choose will affect almost every aspect of your WordPress website’s performance.

Different WordPress hosting providers offer different features, specifications, security measures, and levels of support. It’s vital to do your research and come to an informed decision about which hosting provider is the best fit for your business’ needs.

So, what do you do if you’re already using one WordPress hosting platform and find a better one? You can’t possibly migrate your whole WordPress website to another platform, right?

Actually, you can… and it’s easier to do than you think. 

Psst… Want to Know a Secret?

Here’s a little secret that may be able to save you quite a bit of time when it comes to migrating your site: some WordPress hosting providers will migrate your site for you! We won’t speak for any other hosting companies out there, but Pressable’s team of experts will migrate your website from any other hosting platform to Pressable for free. Website migrations done by the Pressable customer service and support team are typically completed in less than 24 hours. Additionally, Pressable offers an automated migration plugin that allows you to migrate your WordPress site in just a few clicks. 

But, what if you choose a hosting provider that does not offer free migrations? Or, maybe you’re someone who wants to migrate your WordPress site on your own? If either of those options sounds familiar, here are some tips and tricks to help you get the job done.

1. Timing Is A Factor

Migrating your web hosting is a big move, even when you have the proper steps in place. You’re going to want to look at your calendar and decide the best date and time to make the switch.

You may want to consider putting off your migration until early in the morning or late at night. That’s when your site will probably have the least traffic. Of course, this might change if you do business internationally.

You’ll also want to schedule your migration around any significant sales or product launches you plan to have on your site.

Find a low-traffic, low-business timeframe to change your WordPress host.

2. Hit the Pause Button

Hit the pause button on your website, that is. Usually, when you migrate your site, you’re going to want to backup all of your data first. The problem with backups is that any data or changes won’t migrate over to your new site after that backup.

For that reason, it’s best to “freeze” action on your website during the migration. This means if you’re running an e-commerce store, don’t process orders. If you run a blog, don’t post any new content. 

If you’re working with a team, they must be on the same page. Contractors, third-party vendors, and employees need to know that your website is on pause. 

A giant banner or graphic on your main page may help to prevent them from doing anything that may hurt your migration. This is a great way to let site visitors and customers know your site will be down, as well as your team.

A simple message like “We’ll be down for maintenance from 8/26 to 8/28” should do the trick.

3. Prepare Your Backup

It’s always a smart idea to have a backup of your site data ready. This is an excellent insurance policy in case anything goes wrong. If you’re on the WordPress platform, plugins like Jetpack will help you backup your site data.

Most platforms should provide something similar. If you have trouble locating your site’s backup feature, talk to your hosting provider. They should be able to help you figure it out.

It’s Time to Start Migrating from One Hosting Platform to Another

Alright, our initial steps and planning are in place. We’re aware of the best time for our schedule, we have a backup of our site data, and our site is on pause.

Now it’s time for the actual migration. Here are the steps you should take during the migration process.

1. Point Your Domain To Your New Host

Your domain name needs to know where it’s going. You do that by connecting your domain name to your new hosting provider. Depending on your provider, the instructions may be different.

It’s essential to contact your provider and read their help articles to figure out the best way to do this. The process should only take a few hours, but it can take up to two days in some instances. 

There are internet tools you can use to verify that this has been completed successfully.

2. Migrate Site Data

Data migration is an essential step, as it is when your site files and your site database make the switch to your new provider. Since each host is going to have slightly different processes and tips for transferring data, It’s best to check with your new hosting provider to get any technical documents or details. Some hosts like Pressable will even migrate your site for you.

3. Check On Your SSL Certificate

Think of your SSL certificate as the security for your site. If your page isn’t safe, people won’t be able to visit it. In fact, Google will flag websites without proper SSL certification. Visitors to your site will be met with a scary red security message when this happens.

It’s not good for your online reputation.

The easiest way to test this is to load your webpage in an incognito browser window. If your website loads fine without a security message or lock icon next to the URL, you should be good to go. Be sure to check multiple pages of your site and not just the homepage.

4. Test Your Website’s Functionality

This is a basic “eyeball” test. Assume the psyche of one of your website visitors. Click on pages, click on links, scroll through entire pages, and submit forms. Anything that your users may interact with should be tested during this stage.

The last thing you want is to launch your site and have your users see a bunch of 404 errors.

5. Test Backend Functionality

You need to test every aspect of your website. It’s great that your user interface is working, and check the things your site visitors can’t see.

How is your website backup working? Are copies being saved to your site? Is your website secure?

These are all important questions to ask yourself as you go through your migration.

Also, double-check forms on the backend. Make sure they’re capturing all of the appropriate customer data. You’ll want to check your social media feeds, as well.

6. How Is Your Speed?

Now is the time to check on your site speed. Google offers an excellent tool for this called PageSpeed Insights. It will show you how quickly or slowly your website is working.

If your site speed slows down after migration, you may want to consider a CDN or upgrade the features of your hosting plan.

7. Check For Proper Indexing

Sites like Google need to be able to find and index your site. Otherwise, it will be a challenge to get visitors to your site. This typically doesn’t change during a site migration, but better safe than sorry.

If you’re working with Google Search Console, you can quickly check this with their URL Inspection feature. Google will point out any issues and give you tips to remedy them.

8. Keep An Eye On Google

As your site moves forward, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye on your Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These two platforms are your “window” into how your site is performing. 

Normally, nothing changes during migration. But, these are important aspects of your site, and it’s always wise to double-check.

9. Close Your Old Hosting Account

That’s it! You’re at the finish line. Assuming everything is working the way you want it, it’s time to say goodbye to your old friend. Cancel your subscription with your old hosting provider and close your account.

If you have any other features like e-mail or subdomains from your old hosting provider, make sure you migrate those over, as well, before canceling.

Host Your WordPress Website with Pressable

If you’re looking for the best WordPress hosting, contact our team at Pressable. We’re more than happy to show you how much easier hosting, managing, and maintaining your WordPress site can be. Plus, when you switch to Pressable, you’ll get enterprise-level speed and performance, 99.999% guaranteed uptime, industry-leading security, 24/7 online support from real WordPress experts, 100% free website migrations, and much more!

Zach Wiesman

Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.

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