Moving hosting

Moving website hosting isn’t difficult and many people can do it themselves. Whether the move involves iSeek.ie or not, there are a number of steps you need to follow so that the move goes without any glitches and that there is no interruption to your site’s presence on the web.
If you are timing your move with an account expiring, we recommend that you start the process a couple of weeks before the expiration. It probably won’t take that long but it will give you time to make sure everything is in order before your current hosting ceases to function.
Steps For Websites With Out Database

  1. Make a back-up of ALL of the files on your website. You can do this by using FTP software (such as FileZilla, a free FTP package available online). FTP access should have been given to you when you first opened your hosting account and you will need three pieces of information: the host address, the FTP username and the FTP password.
  2. Open an account with your new hosting company. Once this is done you should receive access to your new control panel and you should be given FTP access to the machine where your site will be hosted.
  3. Copy up all the files your the back-up of your website to your new hosting machine.
  4. Usually you will be given some kind of Instant Access URL for your new hosting. This will not be your domain name because right now that is still pointing to your existing hosting. With the Instant Access URL you will be able to view your website pages as they are on the new hosting machine. NOTE: If you have links in your website pages which use your full address, ie. that include the domain name, if you click these they will point back to your existing hosting. Simply replace the domain name with the Instanct Access URL in the browser address bar and you will see the page as it is on your next hosting site.
  5. If you are satisfied that your website is working on the new hosting machine, then you can proceed to transfer your email accounts and re-point your domain (see below).

Steps For Websites With Databases

  1. Make a back-up of ALL of the files on your website. You can do this by using FTP software (such as FileZilla, a free FTP package available online). FTP access should have been given to you when you first opened your hosting account and you will need three pieces of information: the host address, the FTP username and the FTP password.
  2. Many CMSs, such as WordPress, are backed by a database which is where the content of your website is stored. So you will need to make a backup of your database files as well. Most hosting companies will have a section in their control panel for databases. The steps here are for a MySQL database, but if your website is using another database, there should be similar steps on your control panel. The goal is the get a copy of all the tables and data stored in those tables, which make up the database so you can upload this to your new website.
  3. Most hosting companies will use a software called phpMyAdmin for managing MySQL databases. This is usually accessible via the control panel. Sometimes a company might have a different URL altogether for accessing databases, but you should have been given this information when you first opened the account.
  4. Once you have accessed your database with phpMyAdmin, select it in the list on the left. You will then see a listing of all the tables in that database on the right. Select Export in the tabbed menu above this listing. If your database isn’t very big (you don’t have a lot of pages on your website) you can just run the Quick export with the Format set to SQL. This will create a screen with code in it that you need to copy in its entirely into a text file. Name that file anything with an extension, .sql.
  5. If your database is larger, you may want to Select a Custom export. Make sure all the tables are highlighted, Select Save Output to File (this will put the output in file for you rather than just copy it to screen). When you select Save Output to File you can also select compression. Select gzipped. This will create a file with an extension .sql.gz. It will be a compressed file so it will download and upload quicker.
  6. Now that you have all your backups, open an account with your new hosting company. Once this is done you should receive access to your new control panel and you should be given FTP access to the machine where your site will be hosted.
  7. On your new hosting control panel you will need to create a new MySQL database and a new dba level user. Be aware that most hosting companies will have different conventions for naming databases and database users, so you may need to create a database with a different name than the one on your existing hosting.
  8. Access your new database in phpMyAdmin and then do the reverse of what you did with your backup. When you select your new database, there will not be any tables in it. Select Import from the tabbed menu on the right. Upload the file you created in 9/10 above. When it is finished, you will then see all the same tables that were in your old database.
  9. If you have been using a CMS like WordPress, there will be a configuration file that was set up that included information about the database (name, username, password). For WordPress this file is wp-config.php and is in the root folder of your WordPress site. You will need to edit this file so that these values reflect the new database and user. Make a copy of the version that came from your existing website first.
  10. Now you can copy up all the files from your the back-up of your website ((including this new configuration file) to your new hosting machine.
  11. Usually you will be given some kind of Instant Access URL for you new hosting. This will not be your domain name because right now that is still pointing to your existing hosting. With the Instant Access URL you will be able to view your website pages as they are on the new hosting machine. NOTE: If you have links in your website pages which use your full address, ie. that include the domain name, if you click these they will point back to your existing hosting. Simply replace the domain name with the Instanct Access URL in the browser address bar and you will see the page as it is on your next hosting site.
  12. If you are satisfied that your website is working on the new hosting machine, then you can proceed to transfer your email accounts and re-point your domain (see below).

Transferring Email Accounts

  1. In your existing hosting account’s control panel, go to the section where you manage your email accounts and make a note of all the accounts you have. You can ignore accounts like webmaster@ or postmaster@. These are default accounts that most email setups will already have.
  2. Log in to your new hosting account’s control panel and set up all your email accounts there.

Re-pointing Your Domain’s DNS

  1. Once you are satisfied that your website is working properly on your new hosting and that you’ve set up all of your email addresses, you can now point your domain’s DNS (Domain Name Server) your new hosting company’s Name Server machines (so that when someone types your domain in their browsers it goes to the new hosting company’s copy of your website). You need to do this with the company you have registered your domain with. It may be the same company you hosted your site with or it could be a different company altogether.
  2. Your new hosting company will give you the addresses of their Name Servers, usually in the from of ns.newcompany.com or ns1.newcompany.com. There will be two addresses.
  3. If you have been given access to your domain information you can change these yourself. If not you will need to notify the company that you registered with that you have moved your hosting and provide them with the Name Server addresses.
  4. NOTE: It could take between 12 and 72 hours for the DNS (Domain Name System) to resolve to the new address. Remember that ISPs need to update their databases and they will do this at different rates and frequencies. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your old hosting active until your new hosting has fully resolved. This applies to both your website and your email accounts.

Cancelling Your Old Hosting
Once your website’s DNS has fully resolved and it is pointing to your new hosting environment, you can contact your old hosting company and cancel your account. Or if you at the point of the account expiring, you can just fail to renew (if that is how the hosting company operates). Because of the overlap, your site will never go down.

NOTE: Once everything is pointing to your new hosting account’s copy of your website and emails, remember to change your email package (Outlook, Windows Live, etc.) so that it is checking your email accounts with your new hosting; you should be able to see you new mail server address in your new Control Panel.

If you are moving your hosting to iSeek.ie we can quote you on performing any part of the process for you if you are unsure or don’t feel comfortable. We like to give our clients as much independence as they want, but we are never far away if you require some extra attention.

Hosting a site and domain registration are separate things and it is possible to have your domain registered through one company but have your website hosted with a different company.