What You Need for a Painless Move to a New Web Host - dummies

What You Need for a Painless Move to a New Web Host

By Peter Pollock

The easiest way to make a fairly painless move from one web host to another is to make sure you have everything you need. The following checklists should help you compile all the necessary elements.

Pre-Move Checklist

These are all items you should take care of before the day of the big move.

Domain name

  • Is your domain name provided free with your current hosting? Transfer it somewhere you can continue to own and manage it.

  • Do you have forwarders or redirects set up on the domain? List them all.

  • Do you have parked domains? List them all.

  • Do any of your parked domains have forwarding or redirects? List them all.

  • Do you have add-on domains?

  • Are there any forwarders or redirects on your add-on domains?

  • Do you have subdomains? Subdomains must be configured correctly prior to moving data.

  • Do you know how to change the nameservers on your domain(s)?


  • In advance of the move, make a backup to your own computer of all your website files using FTP.

  • Check whether you have any hidden files or .htaccess files and ensure that they are copied across. You also need to check that any file paths in those files remain correct.

  • Find out how to connect to your new server via FTP before you change the nameservers. You need this info to be able to upload your files.

  • Notify your visitors in advance that there may be some disruption on move day.

  • Are there any password-protected folders? List them all with their usernames and passwords.

  • Do you use any caching plugins with your website? Caching needs to be switched off before the move and switched on again afterward.

  • Do you use databases? Make a backup in advance. List all databases, usernames and respective passwords.

  • Is the database name/username format the same on the new server you’re moving to? If not, you need to create a new database name and username and update the configuration file within your website.

  • Find out which file holds the database username and password info within your site so you can edit it if necessary on move day.

  • SSL certificates. If you use a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate, you need to find out in advance how to change it over to the new hosting.

  • Dedicated IP addresses. Most sites do not have dedicated IP addresses, but some, particularly ones with SSL certificates, do. If you have one, you will need to get a new one from your new host.


  • Which e-mail addresses need to be transferred over? List them all.

  • Does the new host allow for transfer of e-mail history? Most do not allow for transfer of e-mails already received.

  • Make sure all e-mail users back up or download any e-mails they need to keep in advance.

  • Warn people you regularly correspond with via e-mail that e-mails might get lost or undelivered during the move. Until the domain propagation is complete, some e-mails could be delivered to your old server.

  • Do you have mailing lists? How do you copy those mailing lists across? Some may have to be copied manually.

  • Do you use an external mail service? Copy the MX records across to the new server.

  • Do you have any mail aliases? List these to ensure that you re-create them correctly.

  • Do you have any mail forwarders or group forwarders? List all of these.

  • Do you use server-based spam filtering? Check that no legitimate e-mails have been caught in the spam filter.

  • Do you have spam filter rules set up? List these so they can be re-created.

  • Do you have auto-responders on any mail accounts? Note what these are so you can re-create them.


  • Do you have any extra FTP accounts set up? List them and re-create them in advance.

  • Do you use cron jobs? List them so you can re-create them on move day.

  • Do you use the server’s built-in backup facility? Does the new server have the same facility?

  • If you use your server’s built-in stats system, check with your host to find out how to transfer the stat history to your new server.

  • Do you regularly use Secure SHell (SSH)? Talk to your new host about how to configure SSH access.

  • Do you use FrontPage Extensions? Check that your new host allows them.

Moving Day Checklist

These are all thing you will need to address on moving day.

Domain name

  • Parked domains

  • Add-on domains

  • Forwarders and redirects

  • Subdomains

  • Change the nameservers on your domain(s) after the data is all moved.


  • Download all files via FTP and upload them to your new server.

  • Put a notice on your site saying that there will be some disruption or put up a “We are moving” front page.

  • Re-create password protection on appropriate folders and inform users of changes.

  • Use phpMyAdmin to download all databases and then re-create them on the new server and upload the data into them.

  • If the database names, usernames, or passwords have changed, update the configuration files in your website.

  • If you use an external database manager such as MySQL Workbench, update your logins.

  • Reconfigure SSL certificates with new server details.


  • Re-create all e-mail addresses.

  • Transfer e-mail history.

  • Copy across or re-create mailing lists.

  • Check that MX records are the same as on the old server.

  • Re-create mail aliases.

  • Re-create forwarders.

  • Switch on server spam filtering and configure it.

  • Re-create auto-responders.


  • Re-create all FTP accounts and notify users if details have changed.

  • Re-create all cron jobs.

  • Set up server-based backup facility.

  • Check that SSH access works correctly.

  • Reinstall FrontPage extensions, if needed.