If you think WordPress is merely a blogging platform, you’ll be disregarding all the awesome plugins and features the CMS possesses to power your business. Take WooCommerce for instance. The powerful eCommerce plugin is used by a majority of online stores globally.

Also, if we count only the websites using a CMS, WordPress stands out as the undisputed leader with a market share of 64.4%.

The reason?

WordPress offers an incredible level of customization and supersedes other CMS in areas, such as UX, mobile usability, speed, and security. Moreover, it has over 55,000 plugins and 8,000 themes that make it the most popular CMS globally.

As a result, most developers and website owners prefer to migrate to WordPress from Sitecore, Joomla, and other CMS options. In fact, WordPress users enjoy its large developer community and scalability in terms of SEO and other features.

But moving your WordPress site to a new host can be quite challenging. If not done properly, one could lose files and experience crazy downtime, errors, and SSL certificate issues. Whether you are a pro at using WordPress or new to this world, we have a few best practices that’ll help you move WordPress to a new hosting server.

Choose Your New Host Carefully

Most website owners consider a site migration because of benefits like an affordable plan, better performance and customer support, and security among others. However, not all hosts are the same. Depending on the type of hosting you prefer, consider these quick pointers.

  • If you are looking for shared hosting, Bluehost consistently tops the list. The hosting scores high when it comes to quality, performance, and customer service. In fact, hosting providers
  • BlueHost and SiteGround are officially registered on WordPress.org.
  • For cloud hosting or location-specific hosting, we recommend SiteGround.
  • If you prefer managed WordPress hosting, opt for WP Engine, SiteGround, or Liquid Web.

Depending on the nature of your business, consider factors like security, data storage, speed, and customer support when choosing your hosting. For instance, an eCommerce website would prioritize security and speed over the other items mentioned here.

NOTE: Once you have bought a hosting plan, do not install WordPress. Your account should be devoid of any files at this stage.

Choose the Type of Migration You Are Comfortable with

WordPress migration can be done manually or using a plugin (automatically). If you choose the latter, then I assume you are comfortable using FTP or File Transfer Protocol, accessing databases, and modifying files at the backend.

Alternatively, you can use some fantastic backup plugins that can create complete site backups and help you move the site without much hassle. We’ll see more on these plugins in the subsequent section.

Large sites have multiple files and folders and are prone to errors when plugins are used. In such a case, the manual approach works better.

Further, most hosting providers offer free migration services as a part of their package. Make sure you research well on this aspect before choosing a host.

Move Your Site Manually

Though migrating a WP website manually may sound like a complex task, we’ve tried to simplify the process by breaking it down into steps.

Step 1: Take a Backup

Once you have chosen the new hosting, take a backup of your site’s files and folders using the FTP tool. Tools like FileZilla, Core FTP Pro, and Cyberduck (for Mac) can help you with this step.

Navigate to the WordPress root folder (named public_html or www in most cases). Right-click on this and choose Download. This will save a copy of your root directory to the

Step 2: Backup the WordPress Database

After copying the files, it’s time to take a backup of your database the holds information related to the site’s content, users, and much more. In most cases, you can access your database through the control panel.

If you use cPanel, look for a section called Databases and click on the phpMyAdmin option.

Step 3: Export the Database

Choose the site’s database from the list, select the Quick option under Export Method, and hit Go. So, now you have a copy of your website’s database in .sql format.

Export the Database

Step 4: Create a New Database on the New Host

If your new host uses cPanel, simply follow these steps.

  • In the Databases section of cPanel choose the MySQL Databases option.
  • Create a new database and add a user. Make sure you note the name you use.
  • Access the new database through phpMyAdmin.
  • Use the Import tab in the new database to upload the .sql file you created in the previous step.
Step 5: Upload the Files to the New Host

Log in to your new server through the FTP and navigate to the root folder. Right-click anywhere and select Upload. Locate your folders and select the files you need to upload.

Step 6: Update wp-config.php File to Point to Your New Database

At this stage, if you visit your website, it won’t work as you still have to update your wp-config.php file to point to your new database. Locate this file in your root folder, right-click, and select View/Edit.

Next, update these three lines in the file with values that point towards your new database. For instance, replace the lowercase variables with the credentials for your new database.

define(‘DB_NAME, ‘db_name’);
define(‘DB_USER, ‘db_user’);
define(‘DB_PASSWORD, ‘db_pass’);

Save and close the file.

Step 7: Make Sure the Domain Name Server (DNS) Points to the Correct Host

For this step, you need to enter the following details into your domain name account.
Information from your new host

Access to the registrar where you purchased the domain name

Count on WordPress Migration Plugins

It’s natural to experience anxiety when migrating to a new host. After all, you don’t want to ruin the efforts you put in to create the awesome website you own today. Fortunately, you can count on some awesome WordPress migration plugins that can simplify the process and help you fully clone your site to perfection.

When choosing a WordPress migration plugin, consider the following questions.

  • Does the plugin offer support for serialized data?
  • Is it well-coded and highly performing? Is it likely to create performance issues for your new hosting service?
  • Does it have a backed-up database as SQL files?
  • Does it allow the migration of the entire database or small components?
  • Does it have automatic fixes for all the problems encountered?
  • How compatible is it with various operating systems?

The answers to these questions will help you select a plugin that suits your needs.

WordPress migration plugins like Duplicator, JetPack, Migrate Guru, Migrate DB Pro, and
BackupBuddy among others can help you get you up and running quickly. Most of these plugins create complete website backups and offer recovery services.

Summing Up

WordPress is the core of several modern businesses because it allows easy user management and offers SEO benefits and robust security features. Further, the CMS comes with thoroughly-tested API integrations that suit specific business needs.

However, migrating WordPress sites can be a stressful experience as there are too many minute details to pay attention to. Failing to pay heed to them is risky as it may damage the whole website.

Use the best practices shared above to easily move your WordPress website to a new host.

Published by Gaurav Belani

Gaurav is a Senior SEO and Content Marketing Analyst at Growfusely, a Content Marketing agency that specializes in data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in Digital Marketing and loves to write about Blogging, Link Building, and Content Strategy to help clients grow their search visibility. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and listening to music. Connect with him on Twitter @belanigaurav.

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