Without doubt, it’s a pain to migrate a huge and busy web site, but when your requirements grow and your current web host can’t keep up, it would be better to ditch it as soon as possible. However, before you sever all ties, it is better to protect what is yours and be sure everything is running properly at your new web host. Here is a list of thirteen things you need to do before leaving your old web host:
1. It’s obvious, you need to find a good web host and ensure that it can meet all your requirements.
2. Check if there is enough space and bandwidth to prevent down times and crashes, support for OS and apps that you are familiar with, support on popular scripts and an adequate number of email accounts and auto responders.
3. Back up all your files on your server to a few local storages for example, to your hard drive and also to DVDs. Make sure you back up all your database, email and other website files.
4. Upload all your database and files to the new server and be sure you retain the same file permissions and settings as they were on the previous server so that you won’t end up with fatal scripting errors.
5. Ask your new web hosting service to test the database, scripts, and contact pages before making necessary DNS change.
6. Before you update the DNS to point visitors to the new site location, you should plan for possible downtime that may result from this procedure. Generally, it can take up to 2 days for all DNS servers to be updated.
7. Let your regular visitors and customers know of the planned upgrade. Commence the migration when your website is the least busy.
8. To lower downtime as much as possible, always make DNS changes before moving the domain. Before you do it though, make sure that your mail server is running properly on your new web host so that you won’t lose any important email.
9. If your DNS was registered with a 3rd party domain name registrar, you should check if your DNS is included in your old hosting plan. If it is, you should separate the two, since migrating to a new web hosting service should have no effect on your DNS.
10. If your web site is dynamic, delays on DNS update may cause confusion, if you are not careful. Some visitors may see the old site version while others can access the new one. To minimize it, shut down the old site with an easy-to-understand notification on a static page while the migration is being made. It is also possible to use a synchronization tool to mirror any changes to your old site.
11. Check for any application incompatibility issues between your new server and the old one.
12. If you’ve more than one domain name to migrate, be sure you have enough time to spare when starting the entire process as the DNS updates may take hours or sometimes days.
13. Be sure all the visitors have been successfully redirected to the new hosting before terminating your contract with your old web host. It’s a good idea to keep both websites up and running concurrently for at least a couple of weeks before canceling your old contract.