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How to Move Your Website to a New Host

  • October 25, 2016
Alert: although this procedure will work fine on most all sites, there are some proprietary software generated sites that this procedure may not apply. For example, if you have a CitySearch, Homestead, Weebly, Wix, Yahoo site, etc. then you are going to need to just rebuild a new site.

Here's a general checklist to follow to ensure that you have the smoothest move possible, and hopefully with no down time.

Step 1: Get all of your files local.
Using a basic FTP program or whatever development tool you may be using, download all current files used in your web site including graphics, html files, and anything else that may be used in your site to your local hard drive (if you don't already have it). Most likely you already know this - but when you are copying down your files you want to keep the directory structure exactly as it is on your web server. If you built the site then most likely you already have all of this.

This also includes any databases, scripts, and CGI programs. Some scripts and CGI programs may require slight modifications in order to be compatible with our servers (for example, path names to script locations may differ from the old host's servers to our servers).

Step 2: Get everything loaded to your new server.
Before making the domain name change, go ahead and upload all of your site files to the WHR server. Although they won't really work yet, go ahead and set up all of the email accounts that are used on your domain as well.

Step 3: Initiate the domain name record change.
Either through Network Solutions or whatever registrar you used to register your domain, initiate the name change. Technically speaking the only thing that really need to be changed in your record is the name server information. You should receive this information included in your "welcome email" from us after signing up for an account with us. If you need any help or additional information, just submit a support ticket. It is also a good idea to update the technical contact on your domain name record with our contact information, although that is not required.

Step 4: Monitor for the domain name change.
Depending on who you used to register your domain through, you should get one or more emails confirming the domain name change. Once the change has been initiated it will typically take 24 - 48 hours for the entire world to see the change. This period is called propagation and is simply the time it takes for all the DNS servers around the globe to "catch up" and take note of your domains new location. Once propagation has completed its course you are free to safely cancel service with your previous host.

A note about the Propagation period: As mentioned before, it takes about 24 - 48 hours for the domain name change to propagate through everyone's DNS server. This means that during this time some people will get the new site, and some will still get the old site. As far as web surfing, that's really no big deal but can be tricky in regards to email. Depending on where an email is from, it may go to your new email server or your old server. To safeguard against losing messages, try creating 2 accounts for your email address in your email client, and use each mail server's IP address instead of the domain name in your POP settings. For example, if you are using mail.yourdomain.com as your pop settings, try replacing that with the IP address of your web site or email server. Creating an account that checks both mail servers insures you don't miss any messages during this 24 - 48 hour period.

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