Moving a Website to Another Server

Have you outgrown your existing hosting provider or want to move your website to another server? This article is for anyone who might want to risk moving it on their own. Here is an overview of the process plus common mistakes to avoid when moving a business website from one server to another.

There are many reasons you might move a business website from one web server to another. You may have outgrown the previous server, it may be part of disaster recovery, or you want to reduce hosting costs.
Most control panels will let you backup your site and download it with FTP or by secure shell. Before you get started do an inventory of all the parts of your website. Do you have databases? Where are applications located?
Before you get started lower the “time to live” in DNS for your domain. This will speed up the propagation of your new address after the website move.
Plesk Control Panel will let you backup the site too, including the databases. They even have a website migration tool that can greatly simplify the move, assuming you have access to both servers involved. This may not be the best option if you've sold a website or one side does not have Plesk.
Cpanel (another popular hosting control panel) will let you do a full backup of your website. You can download this file, then upload it to the new server. Be sure your full backup includes any databases, custom configurations, or related e-mail accounts.
When ever possible isolate the website to be moved. If you can setup a temporary account in your control panel so you can separate databases, e-mail, sub-domains, and other site elements before moving them. Many control panels will let you move the site into a separate account, then they can log in to download content, export the database, and setup on a new server.
This is important because websites often share databases and other resources that could prevent you from moving your system. Once you are able to separate and document interactions between sites you are less likely to crash anything in the move.
One thing to remember is to test everything about your site before taking down the old server. Too many times I've seen clients make a mess of their server during a migration, you'll always pay more to have a company fix this than you will pay hiring someone to do it for you.
Setup a temporary sub-domain (or test domain) on your new server. Before switching completely over to the new provider, you'll want to test every feature you tested when isolating your website. Once your new web server is tested, then change your IP address for your domain in DNS.
Because moving your server can be a pain, hire a professional to manage or conduct your website server migration to minimize risk. Expect a day for planning, case testing, and system backups before you even get started. This protects your interests and keeps downtime to an absolute minimum.
Keep these points in mind the next time you move a server, also consider capacity planning to keep moves few and far between. Website migration done right creates documentation and protection against systems failure, done wrong and you'll want to look for another job.
© 2008 B2B Website Profits, All rights reserved.

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Justin Hitt
A business analyst who specializing in sales generating marketing copy. Author, copywriter, and publisher of newsletters that help clients transform business relationships into profits guaranteed. More than 20 years of experience with technical writing, sales copy, and lead generation. Reach him by Fax at +1 (877) 486-8461