How To Migrate Web Hosts With Zero Downtime

How To Migrate Web Hosts With Zero Downtime


There may come a time in your web hosting journey that you want to migrate your hosting to another company. You’re well within your rights to do this, so I’m going to show you how, with zero downtime.

Perhaps your existing web host is no longer serving you well. Alternatively, you may want to transfer your site because the renewal price is too high or maybe your host’s uptime isn’t up to scratch or you need to migrate and host your website in China where different rules are applied. 

Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can switch web hosts without ANY hassle. What’s more, you’ll want to do this with zero downtime so as not to affect your site’s visibility.

Option 1: Free Site Transfer With A New Web Host

As you will have seen from my web hosting reviews, there are plenty of web hosts to choose from. It’s an insanely competitive industry, so each web host is striving to offer something better than the others.

For this reason, many web hosts offer FREE site transfers. This means they will transfer your current website files and databases to their servers without charging you a penny. You won’t have to get involved, and you won’t need any expert knowledge to transfer your site for free.

What’s The Process?

Generally speaking, most web hosts follow the same process if they offer free site transfers. Let’s take a look at what’s involved:

  • Sign up to a web host that offers free site transfer (like SiteGround)
  • Check if your existing host uses the same control panel (SiteGround uses cPanel)
  • Request free migration with your new web host

In most cases, if your old host and your new web host are both using the same control panel, the process can be done very quickly. If not, it may take slightly longer as they’ll have to manually move the files.

How Do I Transfer My Site With SiteGround?

As I mentioned, SiteGround offer FREE site transfers for customers signing up to their GrowBig plan or higher. Transferring your existing site is really easy to do, and I’m going to show you how.

1. Use SiteGround’s Setup Wizard

You’ll need to access the Account Setup Wizard first of all. You’ll be presented with a pop-up window with several options.

SiteGround’s Setup Wizard

Choose the Transfer A Website option then click Confirm.

2. Request Site Transfer Via Support

The second way in which you can request a free site transfer with SiteGround is through their support area. Login to your User Area and select Support.

SiteGround’s Support Center – Transfer Website

When you are in the support area, select Request Assistance From Our Team followed by their Contact Us link.

As above, you’ll see a list of options. Select Transfer Website and follow the instructions.


Option 2: Manually Transfer Your Site

This option is recommended if your new web host doesn’t offer a site transfer process. You could also use this if your web host does offer site transfer (but they charge for it).

Saving a few quid is always a winner in my book!

Moving your files manually does take a little bit of time and effort. If you’re not sure what you’re doing or you aren’t tech savvy, you may want to reel in some help from an IT expert.

Most web hosts have step-by-step guides that you can follow. If your new host does offer this, I suggest reading the guides thoroughly before beginning.

1. Choose A New Web Host

Before cancelling your current web hosting account, you’ll need to choose a new web host. This is really important, as cancelling your account means your files and databases will be deleted.

We briefly discussed some reasons why you might want to switch web hosts. Here are the most common reasons for doing so:

  • Customer support (good customer support should not be compromised)
  • Price (often web hosts will advertise an initial term price that is cheaper than their renewal prices)
  • System performance (if your site receives a lot of traffic, you may want to consider a higher performing server)
  • Control panel (in most cases, web hosts will offer cPanel, but sometimes they don’t)
  • 1-click installs (these are really useful if you want to build a site using WordPress or add a shopping cart to your website)
  • Features (these are a must have and in this competitive market, you’ll want the best)

If the above aspects are important to your web hosting, it may be worth considering a new web host if your current one doesn’t offer you what you need.

For example, my top web host is Hostinger. From just 80p per month they offer a FREE business mailbox, 100GB bandwidth and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Backup Your Existing Files (And Databases)

Once you’ve picked your new web host, you’ll need to backup your existing website before cancelling. When you’ve created a backup, you can move your files over to your new server.

First, download your files from your current host. Most hosts will have a guide on how to do this using their platform. If you can’t find a guide, please make sure your contact them.

Secondly, using FTP, you can upload your files to your new web host. I recommend using FileZilla as they are fast, secure, and reliable.

Thirdly, don’t forget to download your database files and upload them. You should be able to restore your database using a control panel like cPanel or SSH.

I would recommend checking that your files and website have been transferred successfully to your new host before cancelling your old one.

3. Update Your DNS Records

When you transfer over to a new web host, your Domain Name System (DNS) will change. You’ll need to contact your new web host to get their DNS information which you will provide to your old host.

This process ensures that your website files are visible on the internet. When people visit your website, the DNS tells the ISP where the site files are located.
How to Change Name Servers – BlueHost

I understand this may seem confusing, but the process is very simple. When your new web hosting is setup, contact your domain name provider (where you obtained your domain name from) to make the changes.

On average, this should be done within 24 hours, but can sometimes take up to 48 hours to propagate.

Performing A Final Check

Once you’ve followed the steps above, it’s really IMPORTANT to do a final QA to make sure everything is setup correctly.

  • Make sure no files are missing from your site
  • Go through each of your site’s web pages with a fine tooth comb
  • Review your files and databases on your new web host

Once you’re happy that all your files are where they should be, you can cancel your old web hosting.

PLEASE make sure you check your website on your new web host before doing this, because once you’ve cancelled your account, there’s no turning back.

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