Ideally, web hosting contracts last you for at least a few years. If your website outgrows your hosting package, or you discover your host’s service isn’t as good as you initially thought, however, you might want to transfer your website to a different web hosting provider.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have seen that I talk a lot about finding a good web host. In this article, I want to discuss about something that is just as important:
Changing web host can be a hassle, but you can take steps to minimize the amount of downtime and disruption your website experiences. If you are concerned about the quality of service your current hosting package is providing, it’s better to switch hosts sooner rather than later to avoid a lot of downtime and potential lost visitors further down the line.
Web host warning signs
If your web hosting company isn’t offering you the kind of service you expected when you first signed up, this is a perfectly valid reason to switch hosts – especially if you make a living or earning some money from your site. A number of factors might cause you to switch hosts. Let’s discuss below:
Withdrawal of services
If your web host previously promised certain features or services as part of your web hosting package, but then withdrew them, this is a warning sign that either they are mis-selling their hosting packages or that their company is in trouble.
Too much downtime
A good uptime rate is a hallmark of a great web host company. An uptime percentage of at least 99.5% is a must-have feature. If you find that your website is consistently down, or that it experiences more downtime than you would like, start looking for another web hosting provider!
Lack of tech support
Comprehensive customer support is another feature of good quality web hosts. Ideally, you should try out a host’s customer support before signing up to a package. Look for a host that offers 24/7 support and at least two contact methods (for example live chat and email). If you encounter problems with your host’s support or find that customer service aren’t helpful, this could be a warning sign that you should consider switching.
Negative media coverage and/or review are other warning signs that your host might not be the best choice for your website. As web hosts usually maintain a low profile, you should investigate further if you start to see negative press regarding your hosting company in the press.
How to switch web hosts
If you’ve seen enough warning signs and are ready to switch hosts, I’ve created a step-by-step guide that will help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Find a new web host
When finding a new web host, first identify what went wrong with your current hosting company:
- was it their customer service, their downtime, their company policies, or something else?
Whatever the issue was, it’s important to pay attention to this when researching new hosting companies to make sure they meet your standards, and do not have the same problems.
I’ve published several articles on how to find a good web host, including questions you should ask potential web hosts, so take a look at these for more advice and recommendations. When you find a potential hosting company, always research previous customer reviews to find out what other users’ experience has been.
I’ve published many reviews of hosting companies on this site, so check out these reviews to see how I rate each company I’ve tested.
Bluehost is rated as the number 1 web hosting company by my editors and many fellow website owners. You can definitely start your web hosting search by looking at Bluehost first.
Back up your current site
Backing up your current website files and databases is absolutely essential before you initiate the transfer process. If something goes wrong during the transfer, having a copy of the site enables you to restore it as quickly as possible.
Upload your files and databases to your new host’s server
I strongly advise you to test your website on the new host’s server before completing the transfer. You can do this using a temporary URL. Make sure your website functions normally on the temporary URL before making it live through the new host.
Change your DNS records
This is the final step to complete the transfer from one host to another. DNS stands for domain name service. In short, when a potential visitor clicks a link to your website, the DNS helps the visitor’s computer find which server hosts the website. It does this using the server’s IP address. If you change host, you change server, and therefore the IP address of your website also changes.
If you don’t update the DNS records, visitors won’t be able to access your website. Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial to update the records once you’ve made the switch. To update your DNS records, log in to your domain name registrar and replace your old host’s IP with that of your new host.
Keep your old hosting account active for at least 1 week after the transfer
The DNS can take up to 72 hours to propagate throughout the Internet, so keep your old hosting account active in the meantime so people can still visit your site. If your site is down for more than three hours, this could also affect your SEO ranking, so it’s a good idea to make sure the DNS has updated completely before canceling your old hosting account.
To confirm the switch, you can check if your DNS (nameservers) have updated or not through a Whois query.
Transferring from one web host to another can be a smooth process if you’re properly prepared. Ensure you familiarize yourself with the steps above before starting the transfer, and you’ll soon find yourself with a more reliable and better quality host in no time at all.
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