A Beginner’s Guide to Changing Hosting Companies
Web hosting can be a difficult thing. There are a lot of different companies out there, all promising the best levels of performance and the highest uptime rates. Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out the way we plan. When you sign up for a hosting plan, you hope that your site will work flawlessly. Sadly, this rarely ever happens and many people are forced to make the decision to switch to a different hosting company.
That process can seem quite complicated at first. In fact, some people are so intimidated by the idea that they end up sticking with their current hosts, rather than making the switch. In this article, we’d like to show that switching host company isn’t as difficult or scary as you might think.
Essentially, changing to a new host is a lot like physically moving your business to a new HQ. The whole thing needs to be taken step-by-step. First of all, you’ll need to find a new host. You then sign the agreements, depending on the type of service you require. Afterwards, you prepare your site for the move and ensure you don’t leave anything behind as you transfer the data across to the new host.
Finally, you have to configure the DNS settings so that your domain name also leads over to the new hosting space. All of that might sound overwhelming, but it isn’t too bad if you break it all down. Let’s go through the whole process.
Finding Your New Hosting Company
First off, you need to find a new host. To do a good job of this, you first need to think about why your current hosting situation hasn’t worked out. Identify any problems you encountered and highlight them. These need to be your main factors to consider when shopping for a new subscription.
There are a ton of factors to help you determine which hosting company is best for you. Some of the factors we look at in our hosting reviews are price, reliability, support, and speed. If price is important to you, look for shared hosting companies that accept coupon codes. A company like A Small Orange offers great speed and support starting at just $5 per month. Dedicated WordPress hosting from Media Temple is a slightly pricier option that offers near perfect speed, support and reliability.
Do your research, check out reviews, and you will certainly improve upon your current hosting situation. If you have questions about any host or are looking for a recommendation, please feel free to ask in the comments section… we have tried nearly every host out there and are happy to share our experience.
Backing Up Files and Starting the Transfer Process
Backing up your site to a new host can seem quite complicated, but it all depends on the type of files you use. Static files are the easiest ones to handle. These files can simply be copied over to the new host without any modification or special techniques being required.
Dynamic files take a little more work. To get these files across, you’ll first need to install any apps you were using on your old host over on your new host. You can then copy database files directly across. Alternatively, if your site is run on a platform like WordPress, options exist for you to easily export your site data via the “public_html” or “www” folders.
Once the data has been transferred, you need to double check everything. It’s very easy to overlook little files here and there, and the slightest change from one host to the next could have big consequences on the look or functionality of your site. Make sure that everything is working as before on the new host by performing thorough tests. Good hosting companies let you preview your site before activating it, and this is a great way for you to check that the transfer has gone through properly.
Finally, we come to the DNS settings. All you need to do is head to the DNS record of your site and switch it over to the new host. If you skip or forget this step, visitors to your site could encounter all sorts of errors and won’t be able to access your content, effectively rendering your site useless. Your new hosting provider should be able to give you all of the necessary DNS information to help this process go smoothly.
It’ll take a short while for the DNS records to update, so you’ll need to wait for this change to happen. Once everything is ready, you can let your old company know that you have switched and cancel your previous hosting plan.
Potential Complications When Changing Hosting Companies
So the process itself isn’t as hard as it first seems, but there are still some big pitfalls to look out for. Moving code and data around can be hazardous, so you need to be careful every step of the way. It’s important to remember that your site will effectively be off-the-air if things go wrong during the transfer. If you rely on visitors to keep your business going, you want to avoid this downtime as much as possible. Preparation is therefore vital. You should post a message to inform visitors of the upcoming change and alert them to the fact that the site may go down.
You’ll always need to be pay special attention to the performance of your site in the early stages after a switch. Bits of code can be forgotten or placed in the wrong spot, meaning that certain pages or features start to function improperly. Check out visitor feedback and test your site yourself to make sure everything is working as it should be.
Unwanted errors can ruin the image of your business. Your email system might also be disrupted, especially if your previous host handled emails for you. You’ll need to update DNS settings accordingly to ensure that email accounts are directed to the new server.
We hope that this article has made the tricky task of switching hosting company seem a little easier, but if not then don’t forget that a lot of hosts nowadays offer the option to do all the hard work for you. Lots of brands are joining in with this trend in a bid to win more customers, and it works really well. With this option, the hosting provider will deal with all of the website transfer process so you don’t have to.
You will just need to give some basic details to your new host and they’ll put their highly-trained staff on the job, letting you sit back and relax, rather than worrying about doing something wrong. So, if you’re stuck with a bad host, there really is no excuse not to make the switch today.