Web Hosts? Step-By-Step Guide
Changing Web Hosts? Step-By-Step Guide
Every webmaster cringes at the thought of moving hosts. Like moving
your home it can be messy and sometimes problems arise. But if you
follow these simple steps, your move will be less painful.
Backup Backup Backup
If you've been diligent with your backups, you've got a lot of
insurance to fall back on yet always make the latest backup. If
you haven't, before you do anything else, do a backup now. Backup
anything and everything you can and don't forget your database if
your site relies on it. Save at least 2 copies and store them separately.
One for you to work with, and the other as an archive. Do not underestimate
how easy it is to copy over these files as you make changes or simply
mess it up.
If you're moving to a host who has as different control panel,
make a manual backup by downloading all your files because different
control panels may not be able to restore the backups made by your
old host. They also have different directory structures so your
file trees will be in a mess. If you need to, make a small note
file with notepad with memos for you to remember the old server
configurations. This will help you as you make changes on your new
host server and save the confusion moving back and forth between
hosts. Remember to make the correct transfer type (ASCII or Binary)
as you download. If your download is not right chances are you'll
have a tough time getting your site to work on the new host server.
If server logs are especially important, remember to backup those
too. There is no good way of moving logs yet because different hosts
may log statistics differently. So the best thing to do is to download
it and use a log analyzer on your computer to make references to
Gather Odds & Ends
- A Good FTP program which you should have by now
- Get your new host server's DNS
- It's also helpful to have a script that tells you the server
environments installed on your new host server for quick references.
- Get the temporary URL on your new host so you can check your
site before you make a DNS change.
- If you have your host control the domain inform them not to
change your DNS until you tell them to
- If you run scripts: ? Get a copy of the original installation
guide and the script. Sometimes after moving the scripts just
do not work right so you might need to install the script from
scratch. ? Get a list of all the server paths such as Perl, Sendmail
and home directory on your new server. ? If your script needs
special server modules or programs ensure they are installed and
where. Even though these might be covered before you ordered the
account with the host but sometimes your host has removed it or
haven't installed it yet.
Inform Your Visitors
It is common and good practice to inform your visitors and customers
of the server move. If you run a e-store, this helps assure your
customers you have not fled with their money if there is any downtime.
Also give an alternate email so you won't lose emails in the transfer.
You might also want to give periodic updates prior, during (if there
is downtime) and after. If your site is large, doing this is helpful
because your visitors can alert you whenever there is a part of
the site not working.
Try to schedule the move at a time where there's least traffic.
Backup again just before you do the move so you'll have the latest
data. Start by first copying or creating your custom error pages
onto the new host server. Put a small note in there about the move.
You can always remove it later. Then upload the most visible parts
of the site first i.e. the main pages then move on to the less critical
parts of the site. If you have a large site with many divisions
you might want to split them across different days and instead move
the least critical first. Just ensure you always do a backup before
you do any moving. Use the temporary URL to check your site, visiting
as many pages as you can.
Once you're satisfied, change your DNS over. This typically takes
about 24-48 hours so you have time to make some minor changes if
need be. You might want to also take this time to modify your old
site's error pages to inform your visitors of the move and give
a new URL if there are URL changes. To help you determine if the
DNS has resolved, make a small change on the new pages to differentiate
between the old and the new.
After you've moved and the DNS resolved, do not release the old
account yet. Keep it as long as two weeks running concurrently.
Go back and check the old servers for activity. Check your old email
account and if you have a web based contact method on the old server
check to see if any communication is left there. Once you're comfortable
all email and traffic is correctly directed to the new host server,
you can cancel that account.
HostVoice.net ( http://www.hostvoice.net)