8 Things to Avoid When Transferring a Website


The process of transferring a website to a new web server entails several steps that need to be followed closely in order to make sure there’s no downtime for your content. While website transfer is a pretty straightforward and commonly performed task, there are several pitfalls and errors which are relatively common to encounter. Read these eight simple yet potentially catastrophe-causing things to avoid before transferring your website to make sure the process is seamless and simple.

Forgetting to Create Backups

The first and most important step in transferring your web content to a new server is to create a backup folder containing all of your site’s files. If you want to transfer a website on the WordPress platform, you can create backups quickly using a plugin like the WordPress Backup Plugin. Joomla users will find the Akeeba backup extension handy, as it can download your entire website to your desktop or online file storage system. Don’t forget to backup any off-site media as well, such as YouTube videos and embedded graphics or music.

Deleting the Content from the Original Server Too Soon

When it comes time for you to transfer your site to a new host, you will want to avoid downtime like the plague. Downtime can make your site look like it’s forever abandoned, and can even be looked by Google and other search engine crawlers where it may harm your search engine rankings. The best way to avoid downtime for your site is to leave the original content up until after your new host’s name servers propagate in the global DNS systems. Purchase your new hosting account and locate the host’s name server information to update with your registrar before deleting the files from your old host. Name servers take up to three days to propagate.

Choosing the Wrong Web Host

Choosing a reputable web host is important when transferring your website to protect your site from downtime, slow connections, security vulnerabilities and sever errors. Choose a host that’s been in business for a while and has lots of good reviews. Make sure your new host offers at least 99 percent uptime and has plenty of equipment and resources to cover inevitable host-wide DDoS attacks and other issues that may arise. You may also want to look into the host’s environmental practices or other company policies if green hosting, energy-efficient practices, or server location information is important to you.

Failing to Update DNS Records

If you want to transfer a website to a new server or web host, you should also update the DNS records with your registrar. Web hosts often double as registrars or provide domain purchasing services, but even if you’re using a third party registrar it’s a good time to update your information. You will need to enter company contacts for administrators and tech support, along with valid mailing addresses, emails, and phone numbers for anyone you want to associate with your website. Domain privacy is recommended for those who don’t want to disclose this information to the general public and is offered by most registrars.

Not Checking Host Compatibility and Specifications

Your website may operate smoothly on your current web server, but switching to a less-expensive server may create speed issues for your users. Make sure you check the new host’s equipment and specifications to make sure they provide enough bandwidth for your expect traffic. You will also need to check that your website software will work on their servers. Some hosts specialize in CMS-specific optimization so if you’re, for example, running a WordPress site, you’ll want to check that your new host offers WordPress Optimization.

Forgetting to Update Your SSL

Search engines and even web browsers are now weighing SSL certificates heavily, and often even displaying warning to users visiting sites without SSL. This is especially true of websites containing logins and input fields. Make sure you update your SSL certificates before carrying our website transfer to the new server to prevent warnings and errors when users access your website.

Not Installing Dependencies during Website Transfer

Many websites require proper installation of specific software on the server to function properly. This of course includes Content Management Systems like WordPress and Drupal, but may also include specific versions of PHP and other web language-based utilities. Check that your new host allows you to upgrade to the latest version of PHP, Ruby or any other software dependencies your website may require.

Leaving FTP and Database User Settings at Default

When transferring your website to a new server, it’s easy to forget to update the FTP and database user security settings. Protect yourself from malicious users by limiting each FTP and database user’s security credentials to the absolute necessities for their required tasks. Check and change any FTP permissions from your new hosts administration panel before launching a live version of your site to the web.

By downloading your content before deleting it from your current server, you will protect your content. Having two identical copies of your website online for the first 72 hours will guard your site from unnecessary downtime.

Checking a few settings as described above, and updating your SSL records will make website transfer easy. Refer to this checklist throughout your transfer process to make sure you’re not forgetting anything.

Article Submitted by Community Writer.

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