The web hosting transfer process is fairly simple. Over the years from the beginning of commercial web hosting to present day, providers have simplified the process of transferring a website from one host to another. Users change hosts for a variety of reasons such as, they are unhappy with their current host, they have found a less expensive provider or the technical support is too slow during critical times.
To transfer your website from one provider to another there are a several steps that must be taken including:
1) Copying the original site
2) Selecting a new host
3) Transferring your domain name
4) Upload all website files to your new host
5) Transfer web pages
6) Amend your website
7) Test your website
8) Adjust control panel settings
At eHost.com the support team s pretty helpful when changing host to them and walks you through every step.
Copying the Original Site
The first step is to copy your original website to ensure no pertinent information is lost during the transfer. By using your favorite FTP program, you can download all files from the servers of your current web hosting provider to your computer. It is not safe to assume all these files are already on your computer. This is one of the most vital steps in the process so it is important to copy the website files as you may have added items on the website that are not on the computer.
There are a few programs that greatly simplify this task. For instance, Dreamweaver allows you to transfer the files from within the program by using the “Get” command. For FrontPage enthusiasts, the import feature will make a complete copy of the website’s files. Since these are separate software programs, all copies will be stored directly on your computer.
While copying the site, it is important to jot down your current control panel configuration so it is easy to use the same information at the new host. Any items in the control panel that are not default should be noted as well as any type of automated system settings. For instance, automatic billing and automatic backup timing are tremendously important.
Selecting a New Host
If you have not already done so, the second step is to select a new hosting provider. It is important to select a host that can meet the needs of your business or website now and in the future. Although it can be difficult to predict future events, it is critical to prepare for anything that may occur. Therefore, the web hosting provider must have excellent scalability.
Transferring the Domain Name
The third step is to actually transfer the domain name from the current to the new host. To do this, contact the domain name company you used to register the name and have them change the Domain Name Server (DNS) to your new host’s information. This is the point at which the actual transfer occurs.
You will experience downtime of approximately 24 to 72 hours while the record is being changed and propagated using the WHOIS servers. During this downtime, change any existing services that were created on your old domain such as, web pointing, email forwarding and autoresponders. This will ensure continuous service once the transfer is complete.
To check the progress of the process, periodically conduct a search using the Domain Name Search utility at WHOIS.net. You will be looking for a change in the details from the old host to the new.
To initiate a transfer between registrars a few conditions must be met. First, the domain must be unlocked and have been available for at least 60 days prior to transfer. Second, administrative contacts must be valid. Third, the domain must have a status of “ACTIVE” or “OK” indicating the domain is in use. Fourth, the domain contact must respond to the verification email to be approved. This is to ensure a valid email address is recorded in the system.
A domain transfer can fail if an invalid authorization code is input, the domain name has expired, an invalid administrative email has been entered, the domain is locked or not at least 60 days old and the administrative contact did not verify their email address. Following the aforementioned rules will ensure domain transfer success.
Upload Website Files
The fourth step is to transfer all the files you downloaded in the first step to the new server. Accompanying your new hosting account should be an FTP username and password. Using your FTP of choice, login and access the new host’s server by inputting the provided information. This will allow you to easily drag and drop all necessary files.
This task can also be accomplished using Dreamweaver and FrontPage. In Dreamweaver, by using the PUT command, you can transfer all files and pages. This is a guaranteed method of transferring your entire website with all files remaining in tack during the relocation.
Using FrontPage, simply create a new website from the files you have downloaded to your computer and publish them using information from the new host. For this tactic to be successful, it is imperative the new host has FrontPage extensions installed. This method will completely transfer your website with a few clicks of the button.
Transferring Other Web Pages
As previously stated, using Dreamweaver of FrontPage can streamline the transferring of web pages from one hosting provider to the next without any lost files. This is due to the robust programming method used to create the software. As a result, each program captures all files and can easily place them under new name servers.
The other method of transferring specific web pages can be accomplished by individually copying the source code of each web page by right clicking on the selected page and choosing the “view/source” option. The code will then appear in the Notepad application. Then simply select save file and choose HTML as the type of file to save as. The result is an entire page available to load anywhere. Unfortunately, images and video must be saved individually.
The copy method is by far the most reliable and robust way to ensure individual web pages are transferred correctly. However, this is also the most cumbersome and time consuming method. It is much easier to have a program automatically complete this task for you.
Amending your website
Whichever technique you have chosen to transfer the files, once that is complete your website may not appear the exact same as on your old web hosting provider. Typically the formatting may be off, text boxes may not line up and buttons and advertisements may be in the wrong places or be the incorrect sizes. Therefore, it is important to take time to fix these issues to ensure professionalism once the site is implemented.
The reason for these small flaws is the code or files did not transfer properly. This is more likely to occur with the website editing programs. FrontPage tends to have this issue more often due to the use of extensions for easy publishing. This will especially be problematic if the new host does not support FrontPage extensions.
Therefore, make the necessary changes so the website mirrors you had on the previous server. Unfortunately some code may need to be removed or added while fonts and sizing may need to be adjusted.
Test your Website
Once all files have been properly transferred, the website appears to be aesthetically pleasing once again; the seventh step is to test the site. This includes using email services, ensuring all links are working properly (and not dead), audio and video are functioning, buttons transfer you to the desired location and most importantly, the URL works properly. If all aspects of the website are just as they were with the old host, any additional services can be cancelled with the previous provider.
Adjust Settings in the Control Panel
Since you will be using a new control panel with the new host, your old settings will not transfer. Therefore, it is important to access the control panel and make the necessary adjustments that match your old configuration. Since you made notes of the various settings of different items in the control panel in the first step, this final step should be easy to replicate.
Additionally, there are a few tips to minimize downtime during the site transfer. First, as previously noted, do not immediately cancel your current web hosting plan until the site on the new host is fully functional. Second, prepare your new web hosting account for all sites. This is accomplished by becoming familiar with the control panel, establishing cron jobs and performing other preparation tasks.
Third, backup the backups from your computer. In the instance that any issue occurs, you will immediately be prepared to upload the files. This can save a tremendous amount of hassle and time as you will be completely prepared with the necessary files.
Transferring your website to a new hosting provider can be a streamlined process with minimal downtime, if you prepare. Once you are aware of the exact steps to take, the process is really quite simple.