How to Migrate a WordPress Website to a New Server

If you have a website already built but you’re thinking about changing web hosting partners, you may have some questions. Is your data safe during the transition? Will the process take a long time or disrupt service for your clients? Will the migration affect stored files? These are all legitimate questions.

The good news: migrating a WordPress site to a new server is really not complicated, though there are several important steps along the way. In this article we will walk you through the process. Remember, if you need additional help to migrate your WordPress site to Bluehost, our expert technical support team is available 24/7 by phone.

How to Migrate a WordPress Website to a New Server

  1. Backup your files before you get started. If anything goes wrong during the migration process – don’t worry, that’s pretty unlikely – you will have a good working copy to start over. While it isn’t required, some people make a hard copy backup and a cloud storage backup, just to be on the safe side.
  2. Sign in to your current web host and find the export program (phpMyAdmin is one example). The other option would be to use your FTP account for your current web host and then download wp-content.
  3. Export your database files. It is easier and faster to use the quick export option: just go to the cPanel, open phpMyAdmin, and click on the “Export” tab. Then click on “Go” and let the system take care of exporting the database files for you.
  4. Download your WordPress content folder (this is all the files that make your WordPress site your site) using a file transfer protocol client (FTP) that you’re familiar with. If you don’t have a preference, consider CuteFTP or FileZilla.
  5. If you’re moving over to Bluehost, simply type bluehost.com into your browser and sign into the site control panel.
  6. Create an FTP account to be able to upload your backed-up WordPress content folder for your new WordPress site on the new host. If you need help, here’s how to create an FTP account.
  7. Install WordPress following the onscreen prompts. This is one of the simplest steps when you choose Bluehost because we offer one-click installation for WordPress users.
  8. Import your database files. Go to the cPanel, open phpMyAdmin, and click on the “Import” tab. Then click on “Go” and let the system take care of importing the database files for you. You will need to use the .sql file you created earlier when you exported your site database from your previous host.
  9. Upload your WordPress content folder. You will need to replace the content in wp-content on your new host with the content from the site backup by FTP.
  10. Update your site database if you are changing domains. There are a number of WordPress plugins, such as Better Search Replace or Velvet Blues Update URLS, that can help with this.

Things to Remember When You’re Migrating to a New Web Hosting Service

Some people put images and content posts on their website and point them to a URL on their server. When you change hosting providers, these links become inoperable. To fix the broken links, you need to search for any instances where your files include the old domain name and replace it with your new hosting service name.

Utilize a search and replace script like this one from GitHub. Make sure you are replacing the old domain with the new one. This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to make the mistake of replacing the new domain with the old one and then the links will remain broken.

Also, delete the search-and-replace script once you are sure you’ve changed all file names and pointers. It’s a good idea to test your website links after the migration process is complete. There are a number of online tools to help you accomplish this without manually clicking on each hyperlink or navigation button, such as Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Screaming Frog.

These instructions should help you get through the process of migrating your WordPress site to a new hosting service. Bluehost believes in WordPress so strongly that we have dedicated services built especially for WordPress users and business clients. You won’t have extensive downtime while switching, and you won’t have to worry about losing any files in the process — but do make that backup just in case something strange happens.

If you need help or have more questions about configuring files, give us a quick call — we’re always happy to help!

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