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Moving Your WordPress Blog to a New Host

Transferring your WordPress blog from one host to another is a reality that some website owners must face, and transferring an existing website, with all its content, files, and data from one host to another, can seem a very daunting task.

You have two different ways to go about it:

  • Manually, through backing up your database and downloading essential files

  • Using a plugin to automate as much of the process as possible

Obviously, using a tool to automate the process is the easier and more desirable way to go, but just in case you need to do it manually, here are the instructions for doing it both ways.

Create a backup and move manually

Create a backup of your database with all the recent content you’ve published to your blog. “Content,” means the content that you (or others) have written or typed into your blog via the WordPress Dashboard, including:

  • Blog posts, pages, and custom post types

  • Links, categories, and tags

  • Post and page options, such as excerpts, time and date, custom fields, categories, tags, and passwords

  • WordPress settings you configured under the Settings menu on the Dashboard

  • All widgets that you’ve created and configured

  • All plugin options that you configured for the plugins you installed

Other elements of your website aren’t stored in the database, which you need to download, via FTP, from your web server. The following is a list of those elements, including instructions on where to find them and how to download them to your local computer:

  • Media files: These are the files you uploaded using the WordPress media upload feature, including images, videos, audio files, and documents. Media files are located in the /wp-content/uploads/ folder; connect to your web server via FTP and download that folder to your local computer.

  • Plugin files: Although all the plugin settings are stored in the database, the actual plugin files that contain the programming code are not. The plugin files are located in the /wp-content/plugins/ folder; connect to your web server via FTP and download that folder to your local computer.

  • Theme files: Widgets and options you’ve set for your current theme are stored in the database; however, the theme template files, images, and stylesheets are not. They are stored in the /wp-content/themes folder; connect to your web server via FTP and download that folder to your local computer.

Now that you have your database and WordPress files stored safely on your local computer, moving them to a new host just involves reversing the process:

  1. Create a new database on your new hosting account.

  2. Import your database backup into the new database you just created:

    1. Log in to the cPanel for your hosting account.

    2. Click the phpMyAdmin icon and click the name of your new database in the left menu.

    3. Click the Import tab at the top.

    4. Click the Browse button and select the database backup from your local computer.

    5. Click the Go button and the old database imports into the new.

  3. Install WordPress on your new hosting account.

  4. Edit the wp-config.php file to include your new database name, username, password, and host.

  5. Upload all that you downloaded from the /wp-content/ folder to your new hosting account.

  6. In your web browser, browse to your domain.

    Your website should work and you are able to log on to the WordPress Dashboard using the same username and password as before because that information is stored in the database you imported.

Use a plugin to back up and move to a new host

One plugin that you can use to move a WordPress website from one hosting environment to another is aptly named BackupBuddy. This plugin isn’t free or available in the WordPress Plugin Directory — you need to pay for it, but it’s worth every single penny because it takes the entire backup and migration process and makes mincemeat out of it.

This means that it’s very easy, and you can be done in minutes instead of hours. Follow these steps to use this plugin to move your site to a new hosting server:

  1. Purchase and download the BackupBuddy plugin.

    At this time, the cost for the plugin starts at $75.

  2. Install the plugin on your current WordPress website.

  3. Activate the plugin on your WordPress Dashboard.

    Click the Plugins link in the navigation menu and then click the Activate link under the BackupBuddy plugin name.

  4. Navigate to the Backups page in the BackupBuddy options page.

    Click the Backups link in the BackupBuddy menu.

  5. Click the Full Backup button.

    This initiates a full backup of your database, files, and content and wraps it neatly into one .zip file for you to store on your local computer.

  6. Download the importbuddy.php file.

    Click the importbuddy.php link on the Backups page and download it to your local computer, preferably in the same directory as the backup file you downloaded in Step 5.

  7. Connect to your new web server via FTP.

  8. Upload the backup.zip file and the importbuddy.php file.

    These files should be uploaded in the root, or top-level, directory on your web server. On some web servers, this is the /public_html folder; on others it might be the /httpdocs folder. If you are unsure what your root directory is, your hosting provider should be able to tell you.

  9. Create a new database on your new hosting account.

  10. Navigate to the importbuddy.php file in your web browser.

    The URL for this would be something like http://yourdomain.com/importbuddy.php.

  11. The BackupBuddy page loads in your web browser.

    Follow the steps to import the backup file and install WordPress, including the database information needed: database username, name, password, and host. This entire process takes about 5–10 minutes or maybe more depending on the size of your website.

  12. Load your website in your web browser.

    After BackupBuddy does its thing, your website is ready to use just as always.

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