Switching Web Hosts? Five Important Tips to Keep in Mind

Posted on September 11, 2013 by

Moving to a new web host is often an inevitable step for a growing business. As your company reaches new levels of success, you’ll need the resources to expand your site and meet the needs of your increasing customer base. A better server or hosting package will enable you to handle more traffic, add advanced site capabilities, use larger databases and more.

The only catch is that the move must be handled properly. Otherwise, it can cause significant damage to short-term search engine rankings and your overall business. A rushed move can also result in catastrophic mistakes that could have been avoided if you’d followed certain guidelines.

To make the move as smooth as possible, keep the following tips in mind:

• Get your destination host ready for the switch. Be sure to leave plenty of time for this. You’ll copy your existing site to the new location, but don’t delete or change your old site yet! Keep all your traffic going to the old site for now as well or otherwise you’ll be out of luck if errors are present. If you’re moving to a shared hosting package, the backend aspects of setting up the domain on the server will usually be taken care of by the company. If not, they’ll provide an easy interface for you to use. If you’re moving to a dedicated or virtual dedicated server, you’ll need to get under the hood to set up this aspect of the operation.

• Check the new site’s functionality before shutting down the old one. Since your domain name will still be pointing at your old host, you’ll need to use your new location’s IP number to access the new site. Depending on the site’s architecture, you may need to take further steps to test it properly.

• Install your SSL certificate on the new host if your site needs this type of protection. This way it will be secure from the moment the site goes live at its new home.

• Update your domain name system (DNS) settings. In most cases, this is as easy as going to your domain name registrar and putting the new name server information into the right spot on its handy form. Your new web host should provide you with the proper data to use. It can take up to a day for new DNS information to propagate, so don’t assume that you’re actually looking at your new site when you type in your domain name. You can use an uptime monitoring service to know what’s going on or choose a low-tech solution by putting a tiny mark on one of the new site’s pages. When you can see the mark, you’ll know the DNS has switched over. Then go back in and remove the mark.

• Once the switch is complete, check everything again just to be sure, and make fixes if required. After everything is confirmed to be both present and working at the new host, you can shut off your old account.

These tips will help you make your web hosting migration as easy as possible. Like anything else, the job gets easier with practice, but hopefully you won’t have to go through this often. Therefore, it’s best to choose a scalable web hosting plan that will serve your company’s needs for years to come.

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  • Editor