Agreed, it’s a pain in more places than one when you have to migrate from one web host to the other, but when your needs grow and your current host fails to keep up, it’s best to do the dumping as soon as possible. But before you sever all ties, you must protect what’s yours and make sure your site is up and running without a hitch at your new host. Here’s a list of 13 things you must do before you dump your web host:
1. It’s obvious, but has to be said. Find a new web host and make sure that it meets all your needs.
2. Check if you have enough storage space, enough bandwidth to prevent crashes and down times, support for the operating system and applications that run on your server, support for scripts and an adequate number of email accounts and auto responders.
3. The next thing to do is back up everything on your server to a secure location. You don’t want to be left holding an empty tub looking like a fool when you realize you’ve thrown out both the baby and the bathwater. Make sure you get all your email, databases and website files.
4. Upload all your files and databases to the new server and make sure you retain all the file permissions as they were on your old one so that you don’t end up with scripting errors.
5. Get your new web host to test the scripts, contact pages, and databases your website before you make the necessary DNS change.
6. Before you update your DNS to point browsers to the new location of your site, you need to plan for the downtime that results from this procedure. DNS updates take up to 48 hours to spread to all DNS servers on the Internet.
7. Let your customers and website visitors know of this planned upgrade. Make the move when your servers are expected to be the least busy.
8. To reduce down time as much as possible, make DNS changes before you move the domain. Before you do this though, check to see if your mail server is running on the new host so that you don’t lose any email messages.
9. If your domain name was registered using a third party domain name registration company, you need to check if your domain name is a part of your old hosting plan. If it is, you must separate the two, since moving your site to a new web host means that your domain name company remains the same while your web host changes.
10. If your site is dynamic, DNS update delays can cause havoc if you’re not careful. Some customers may see your old site while others have access to the new one. To minimize such occurrences, close down your old site with an alert so that it becomes static while the move to the new one is being made. You could also use a synchronization tool to get changes made on the old site mirrored on the new one.
11. Check for incompatibility issues between applications on your old server and your new one.
12. If you have more than one domain to migrate, make sure you start the process with enough time to spare for the DNS update delays.
13. Make sure all the visitors to your old site are being redirected to your new site before cancelling your current web host. It’s best to keep both sites up and running in parallel for at least two weeks before saying goodbye to your old hosts.