Moving to a new and better host
April 17, 2011 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I am moving to a new host for my website and I have a couple questions.

I am moving to a new host for a couple of different reasons (cheaper, poor support at my old host, etc.) and have a couple of questions about the process.

I know the basics of web hosting, but have no clue when it comes to moving the whole site around. My thought is that you just zip up the whole public_html folder and then extract it on the new site, is that correct? I also have 3 WordPress sites on my current site listed under subdomains, ( and I was wondering how to move these to the new host, do I move the databases too and how does that work?

I have my main email set up with google apps for your domain and my email address is do I have to do anything with google to switch it over (nameservers?) or is all pretty much set?

When I select that I want to start hosting with the new company they give me these 2 choices:

I want to transfer my domain to

I will update my nameservers on an existing domain Or I will register a new domain.

Which would be easiest? I already own the domain just want the new host, transferring the domain seems to be the easiest to me but I have no clue which one would be easier.

If you could help me with any of these questions that would be great! Thanks!
posted by lilkeith07 to Technology (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I understand if you want to keep it private, but we might be able to help you better if you can tell us the names of the old and new hosting companies. The configuration details often vary from host to host.
posted by yaymukund at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2011

Best answer: odinsdream did a nice job of breaking things down. I have just a couple of things to add:

1) When I was buying shared space (I now rent a dedicated server), most web hosts also controlled your DNS settings. This means when you switch hosting providers, you'll have to change your DNS servers with your domain registrar (Godaddy or Network Solutions or whomever you bought from). Doing this will mean that a new company is controlling your DNS settings, and so you'll need to have them re-apply the DNS server changes to use Google Apps for your domain. (If you don't know your domain name registrar, you can use WHOIS to find out.)

If you're not sure that you are going through your hosting provider or not, do you remember how you added your subdomains or Google Apps in the past? If you added your subdomains by going through your hosting provider in any way last time, they control your DNS settings and you will need to choose the first option and re-apply all your exsiting DNS settings for Google Apps and your subdomains.

2) The two options you have been given by your hosting provider depend on whether you control the name servers from above. If they are associated with your old hosting provider, then the answer is that you want to transfer your domain. (This is very likely the case.) That said, if you're at all concerned, it wouldn't hurt to ask the new hosting company about this--if they actually have good support, and they want your business, they should be quite happy to explain this issue (and any others!)

3) Many web hosts offer control panels for their customers to manage their site, including do things like get statistics and a complete site backup. In my case, I've used cPanel for years and it definitely allows a site owner to get a full backup, including MySQL databases in addition to your public_html directory. If you aren't sure whether you have a control panel, you can try http:///cpanel and use your site username and password to log in. There are other control panels too, such as Plesk, but I'm not familiar with them. Your original welcome email from your hosting provider likely explains what is available. If at all possible, use the backup software that comes with the control panel and use a new host that has the same control panel software installed. This will make things much easier. My last migration I switched 5 sites I host using these backup files with only a couple of snags.

If you really don't have access to this sort of tool, you're going to have to get not just your public_html directory but your MySQL databases, and perhaps the other files in your home directory that are not in public_html (depending on what's there).

4) Which leads me to--moving hosts is always scary! I hate even migrating from one server to another let alone across providers. Aside from the above issues, another thing I would worry about is that the new server will have different software settings (Apache config, PHP config, etc) or versions (eg PHP 4 vs PHP 5 a different major version of MySQL or a new version of Apache) that might cause problems. For that matter, make sure that you're moving to the same OS/web server stack. A few specific issues to be worried about: whether your old site relied on PHP's "Register Globals" or whether you are using any .htaccess settings that might depend on your web host enabling them (e.g. mod_rewrite).

But rather than worry about these fine details, my approach in cases like this is almost always to just do a migration of the server without changing the actual DNS settings. Then I use the hosts file (available on Windows, Mac and Linux) to allow me to browse to or on the new server to check that everything works before I switch the DNS settings to let the world see it.

5) [Not something you asked aabout, but something you might find useful] If you want to see how your new DNS settings are propagating after you migrate, you can use to see your site's IP address by location.

posted by alexallain at 5:07 PM on April 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so far, the old host I was using was and the new host I am moving to is
posted by lilkeith07 at 5:11 PM on April 17, 2011

I see that both your old and new hosts have offering that include cpanel (it looks like all made2own sites do). If so, you might be in luck when it comes to migrating your files and data.
posted by alexallain at 5:15 PM on April 17, 2011

Best answer: People have given you good advice. I have specifically moved a bunch of Wordpress content around and most of the time it goes totally fine. If you have three installs set up you'll need to export all three databases. WordPress has a tool called "export" that is under the tools settings that you can use to get your files. It is very easy to use and I've been pretty lucky with it. It exports an XML file that you can then use the Import feature [in the same place!] to move it into your new setup. You'll have to make sure that you have the right number of databases at your new host and that you've set them up correctly before you go importing your data. If your host offers a turnkey WordPress set-up then you just need to go in and turn it on and import the data. If it's more complicated you might need to fidget some. If you're doing this soon you can come back here [or MeMail me] and I'll be happy to help as will other people.
posted by jessamyn at 6:45 PM on April 17, 2011

Response by poster: Its been awhile, but last night I finally signed up with a new host and was able to move everything over, all the files are over and I was able to copy over all the databases. Is there anyway to test out if everything works before changing the nameservers over? So that I can still have my site active while ironing out any problems that may have come up during the move.
posted by lilkeith07 at 5:49 AM on May 19, 2011

You probably have an actual directory where the files live that you could pull up the URL of and look at it that way. This would depend on how your host was configured but for example my personal domain is but you could also see my files at [wordpress files are under there, but this is a basic level example]. There should be a way to test this with your host. Some of it will work strangely because WordPress does a lot of weird redirecting behind the scenes so if you have it configured to put the site at it won't know what to do if the pages can't be accessed via If you can see all your files in the database, it's really likely that whatever does go wrong, it will be straightforward to iron out, so you may just want to get the domain running first because that's going to be one more thing to test in any case.
posted by jessamyn at 8:12 AM on May 19, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you very much, everything seems to be up and running just fine, now just need to switch over all my ftp accounts to the right ones and have them set up Google Apps for me. I will lose some emails overnight but I am glad to be away from a host who just vanished. Thanks all!
posted by lilkeith07 at 8:59 PM on May 19, 2011

« Older Help me resurrect my Xbox - for the 4th time!   |   Companions to love of my life The Last Express? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.