Step 3: Switching Web Site Hosting Companies

So its time to switch web hosts… Step 3

If you have not reviewed Step 1 (preparation) and Step 2 (selecting the new web host) you should do so now. Some of the items you need for this step are covered in those steps. Though the process of switching web hosts can be fairly straightforward, if you can find just one item that deserves better scrutiny it will be well worth while.

3) Upload your site to the new web host

After your new web site host sets up your account you should receive a welcome letter or some other communication with the instructions for accessing your it. The information will include an IP address a temporary (or alternate) domain address (usually consisting of some combination of your new user id and one of the web host’s domain names), or both. If you were not able to select them when you signed up for your account, you should also receive your new user name and password.

  1. If you have your own SSL certificate, find out who should receive your certificate and key files at the new host. Send these files to the appropriate person.
  2. The new host will often set up an default “under construction” page for new accounts. Use your temporary domain name or IP address and confirm that the under construction page comes up correctly in your web browser. If not, contact the new web hosting company to determine what the problem is.
  3. Upload your files to your new hosting account using the instructions provided (usually in the welcome letter). Be sure to maintain the same directory structure under your document root or “root web” directory. If, for example, your primary site images are kept in a sub folder called “images” make sure your uploaded site still has an “images” directory with your images in it.
    If you are using an FTP (file transfer protocol) program, be sure that text files are uploaded using “ASCII” and binary files (images, pdf, etc) are uploaded using “Binary”.
  4. Modify and upload (or re-upload) any program scripts you are running. The host should provide (either in the welcome letter or in an online manual) specific path/access information for programs like perl and their mail programs that you should use in any programs that you bring with you. For example, if you have your own copy of a form processing program like a modified formmail.pl, you need to make sure that the path to perl is updated and the location of sendmail is adjusted. If your programs read or write any files the paths to these files may need to be adjusted also.
  5. Modify any URLs in your web pages that may have changed. This particularly applies if you were using a “shared secure certificate” (accessing your files via HTTPS and the host company domain name rather than your own). Standard directories such as “cgi-bin” may be changed to something like “cgi”. Any html forms or links addressing these will need to be adjusted.
  6. Using the host company’s tools, set up your email accounts, aliases, lists (if any) , and autoresponders (if any). You should have this information from the first step (preparation).
  7. If you are moving a database (such as MySql) upload your database. If the new host requires a database name change (often the primary database is your user id) update your programs to access the new names.
    Do not hesitate to contact support if you have any questions. Site owners often become frustrated and dissatisfied when trying to figure things out on their own when a quick call or support ticket may solve the issue in minutes.

Site Move Quick Tip:
Try to establish a contact with a specific support person at the new hosting company. Having someone available for quick questions can make a big difference in a good move.

Site Move Quick Tip:
Remember that the new hosting company wants your business so they typically will have some means of help with moving your site. It does take some work but the people they have available may be more equipped to spot and handle potential problems. If you have a complicated site consider this option as it may be well worth the price.

Quick Tip:
This step is often combined with step 4 (testing). If your site is mostly based on HTML files you should be able to complete this process very quickly but if your site has a number of programs you may find that there are a number of modifications that need to be made. Expect to spend some time at this.

Test your site on the new host   >