If your existing Website Hosting Provider is not meeting your needs, or is supplying an unsatisfactory service, you may decide that you must make a change. However, such a move must be planned carefully. You will be in one of the following situations:
* Your domain name is registered to you via a third party domain registrar and you just want to move between Website Hosting Providers.
* Your domain name is registered to you via your present host and you want to change your hosting service or this together with your domain registration service.
* Your present domain name is not owned by you so you will need to change domain names as part of the process of moving your hosting.
The first scenario is the easiest to deal with as you will be able to move your site without anyone noticing and I set out the necessary steps below. The other two scenarios are more complex and will involve some downtime/loss of visitors.
Step 1 – Copy All Files and Data
FTP all the files on your web server to your computer. If your site is database driven also backup the database.
Step 2 – Establish New Site
Get your new hosting account and copy all the files from your PC to the new server. If necessary restore your data to a new database.
It will also be necessary to create new email accounts, the addresses of which should be exactly the same as the old ones.
Step 3 – Test the New Site
Thoroughly test the new site and ensure that it works as before (particularly internal links). I would also recommend changing the Home Page somewhat so you know instantly which version you are looking at.
Step 4 – Reset the DNS
Change the name servers to those of your new website hosting provider via your domain name registrar. Theoretically the change will be completed within 24-48 hours but it is best to wait a few days more. During the changeover period some visitors will see the old site and some the new, and you may get email to both, but the key point is that they will not be aware of any change. Even more important is that the search engines won’t see any change either so there will be no impact on your search rankings.
Step 5 – Terminate Old Website Hosting Provider
At this point you can advise your old Website Hosting Provider that you wish to cancel your agreement. With the correct timing you may be able to get away with only one month of duplicate fees.