Guide to Migrate WordPress Website to a New Host

In this guide, I’ll show you the steps needed to migrate WordPress website to a new host.

The migration process can be a stressful task indeed. Here are some of the questions that I faced before deciding to migrate my WordPress website to a new host:

  • How to update the nameservers provided by the new host?
  • In addition to migrating to the new host provider, should I also transfer my domain to that host? And if so, how do I perform the domain transfer?
  • How can I include SSL certificate offered by the new host (considering that I already had SSL certificate through my previous host)? Would that create a clash?

Luckily, there are some exceptional web hosting companies that assist you throughout the entire transfer process.

Do make sure to perform a thorough research before you migrate your WordPress website to a new host. At the end of this post, I’m going to share my personal experience of working with different hosting providers.

Let’s jump into the steps that you’ll need to take in order to perform the migration.

Steps to Migrate WordPress Website to a New Host

Step-1 – perform a full backup (optional step):

Before you migrate your WordPress website to a new host, I strongly recommend that you backup your site.

If you are using cPanel, you can perform a full website backup by choosing the cPanel backup option.

cPanel Backup

Step-2 – open an account at your new host:

Once you found your desired host, select the web hosting plan that best suits to your needs, and then proceed to open an account with your new host.

Some web hosting companies, such as SiteGround, would migrate your WordPress website for free. In that case, if you are using cPanel, you’ll need to provide your cPanel credentials to the new host.

Your new host will then do most of the migration work for you. There are, however, some additional steps that you’ll have to preform in order to complete the site migration.

Step-3 – get the nameservers from your new host:

Your new host will provide you its DNS nameservers that you’ll need to update at your domain registrar.

Here is one example of how the nameservers may look like (usually the host name will be included within the nameservers):

ns1.xxxxx.xxxxxxxxxx.xx
ns2.xxxxx.xxxxxxxxxx.xx

Step-4 – update the nameservers at your domain registrar:

Once you got the nameservers from your new host, go to your current domain registrar (if your domain registrar falls under your old hosting company, you should be able to manage your domain information and nameservers via your old hosting’s account, usually located under the “manage domains” section).

You’ll then need to change the nameservers to those that were provided to you by your new host. When you change the nameservers, do not include the IP addresses associated with those nameservers.

Easy Way to Migrate WordPress Website to a New Host

Step-5 – wait for the full propagation to complete:

It can take up to 24 hours for the changes to be fully propagated.

You can check the status of the nameservers via the Global DNS Propagation Checker:

  1. First type your domain name
  2. Then, select the NS option from the drop-down menu
  3. Finally, click on the Search button to see the status of your nameservers

Check the status of the nameservers

 

Congratulation, you just completed the steps to migrate your WordPress website to a new host.

In the next section, I’m going to show you how to transfer your domain to your new host’s registrar (those are optional steps).

Transfer your Domain (optional)

Transferring your domain to a new domain registrar (that falls under your new host) is advisable if you want to manage everything related to your domain and hosting services in a single location.

Note that there will be a small fee associated with the domain transfer, but I believe that it’s totally worth the ease of mind.

Step-1- unlock your domain:

First, unlock your domain (to allow for domain transfers) in your current domain registrar (as previously indicated, if your domain registrar falls under your old hosting company, you should be able to access these options under your old hosting’s account).

Registrar status

 

Step-2- obtain an EPP code:

Under the manage domains section, you will be able to obtain an authorization code, also known as EPP.

Obtain EPP Code

You’ll need to provide this EPP code to the new domain registrar in order to complete the domain transfer.

Step-3- initiate the domain transfer at the new domain registrar:

Now, sign into your new hosting account, and then apply for a domain transfer.

Domain Transfer

You’ll need to provide the EPP code that you retrieved in the previous step, and follow further instructions, which usually involve verifying and/or updating the website owner’s information, as well as confirming the domain transfer (you will receive an email, asking you to confirm the transfer).

Step-4- check your domain status:

It can take about 5-7 days until the transfer is completed. You can then check the status of your domain using the Whois Domain Lookup:

whois

Step-5- lock your domain at the new domain registrar (optional):

Once the transfer is completed, you may wish to lock your domain at your new domain registrar (you should be able to do that under the ‘manage domains’ section).

Lock your domain

Points to Consider

Please note that you can either change the nameservers (at the previous registrar) before you submit the request for the domain transfer, or change the nameservers (at the new registrar) after the domain transfer is completed. But you cannot change the nameservers and apply for a domain transfer at the same time.

In fact, any changes that you’ll attempt to perform to the nameservers will not be applied while the domain transfer is still ongoing.

It is also advisable not to make any updates/changes to your WordPress website while the transfer process is still outstanding, so that you don’t risk losing any work you’ve done during that time.

As you migrate your WordPress website to a new host, pay close attention to your indexing status in Google Webmaster. This is especially important if you apply redirects, such as a www redirect (this is sometimes needed when using a CDN).

If you start applying a www redirect, but google indexed your domain without the ‘www’ portion, you may start noticing that the URLs indexed drop rapidly (Google, in turn, will slowly start indexing your domain with the www portion).

 

Google Index

 

You may wish to perform a quick check and try to fetch a page using the Fetch as Google in Google Webmaster. If the status is green, then you should be good.

Fetch as Google

Adding SSL Certificate (Optional)

Once you are done changing the nameservers and transferring your domain, you may choose to add SSL certificate.

This is also an optional feature that may be provided to you for free by your hosting company (at least for the first year).

If you already have SSL certificate through your previous host, you may wish to contact them to remove/cancel it. Then, go to your new host account and install a new SSL.

Adding SSL Certificate

You can check the status of your SSL by using the SSL Checker:

Check the status of your SSL

In next section, I’m going to share with you my personal experience that drove me to migrate my WordPress website to a new host.

I’m also going to share my recommendation for a host that I’m currently happily using!

Motivation to migrate WordPress website to a new host

Before I started my WordPress blog, I read some reviews about the different web hosting companies out there, and then I selected the host that I originally thought to be a good choice.

So why did I decide to switch to a new web host later on?

Well, that wasn’t my original plan. In fact, I already paid in advance for a 3-years plan at my previous host. While in reality, I only stayed with that hosting company for 8 months!

Here are some of the reasons why I chose to leave my previous host:

  • Server was repeatedly down. I experienced that about 4-5 times a week. When I contacted support, I was told that the down times were due server maintenance. This is a BIG red flag, as dropping my site almost every day will drive away any visitors, and can seriously hurt my SEO. If you wish to track your Uptime, you can open a free account with Pingdom to monitor your Uptime, and get instant alerts when your site is down.
  • Super-slow and unknowledgeable support.  For example, not once I was provided with wrong instructions that dropped my site, and led to multiple errors
  • Weak performance and low speed. That is especially important as Google penalizes sites that take long time to load. And not to mentioned the huge loss of visitors due to the low speed.

At the end, I figured that it makes more sense to forget about the sunk cost that I already incurred on my previous hosting plan (the previous host will not provide any refund following the first 30-days).

And so, I decided to migrate my WordPress website to a new host that can deliver on the Uptime without hurting my SEO, while having knowledgeable and responsive support that provides stellar service.

Once I switched to my new host, SiteGround, I never looked back.

Moving to SiteGround

When I switched to SiteGround, they transferred my WordPress website for free. The migration was fast and smooth, and I didn’t experience any downtime.

Based on my personal experience, I would definitely recommend SiteGround for the following reasons:

(1) SiteGround’s stellar support team! 

SiteGround support team is extremely knowledgeable and fast to respond. In fact, I recommend that you read the reviews about their support and services in the different forums, or even initiate a chat with them (you can easily initiate a live chat with them as a non-customer) and you’ll notice the difference from the start!

SiteGround received an average rating of 4.8 based on more than 1500 voters submitted to whoishostingthis. With such a large volume of voters, it’s hard to get it wrong with SiteGround.

SiteGround reviews

(2) The reliability of Uptime, as well as the enhanced speed!

I rarely ever experienced any downtime, and my weekly Pingdom Uptime reports consistently show 100% Uptime:

Pingdom Uptime reports

 

My site now loads within less than a second, while having high performance scores (GTmetrix):

Gtmetrix speed test

 

The time spent downloading a page also went down drastically once I made the shift to SiteGround:

The time spent downloading a page

 

(3) SiteGround offers a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate

And now they also offer a free Wildcard SSL that will encrypt the traffic, not just for your primary domain, but also for all of your subdomains!

 

SiteGround - Wildcard SSL