Thinking of moving your website to a new web host can be overwhelming for any website owner.
But if you’re not getting the support you want, or your site has outgrown the current web host plan and your hosting company has nothing else to offer, you want to find hosting that better fits your needs.
Where do you start? What do you need to know?
It doesn’t have to be difficult, if you ask the right questions before you start.
Here’s my list of questions that will make the move to a new web host go more smoothly.
1. Why are you changing web hosts?
What are you looking for in a new host? Better bandwidth? More storage? More options for customer support?
Identify what’s important to you.
You’ll always get lots of recommendations from friends and colleagues. Before you start your journey of finding a new host, create a list of your requirements.
A list will help you narrow your choices and make it easier for you to filter the hosts that fit your needs.
My friend Claire Brotherton has an excellent post outlining the 7 important things to look for in a web host.
2. Will the new host meet your requirements?
Now that you’ve made your list, will the new web host fit your requirements?
Does the new host have the amount of storage you need? Is there a plan that fits within your budget?
A web host that only has customer support available from 8:00am to 6:00pm may not work for you if you have a question at 9:30 at night.
3. Do you have anything on your current site that relies on a specific software version?
It can be easy to overlook the software requirements for your site.
For example, WordPress sites have the minimum requirements (as of February 2017) of:
- PHP version 7 or greater
- MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.0 or greater
- HTTPS support
And don’t forget about operating system. Is your current site on Windows or Linux?
4. Do you have the login and password for your current web host? Or SSH login/password?
To move your site to another host, you’ll need to have access to your existing web host account.
If you’re on WordPress, that’s not your login and password to update content on your site.
It’s the username and password from your web hosting company. You may need to ask your designer/developer for the information.
5. Do you have the login and password for the new web host?
To move to the new host, you’ll need the login and password to transfer the files.
Or, depending on your hosting plan, your new web host may migrate (move) your site for you.
6. Do you have the login and password for your domain name registration?
When you move to a new host, you’ll need to update the name servers at your domain name registrar. That could be your web host.
Or you might discover the domain name is in your designer’s or developer’s name. That’s not ideal.
I recommend keeping your domain name and web host in your name. And at separate companies.
Examples of domain name registrars are:
7. Does your current web host and your new web host use cPanel?
cPanel is a web-based control panel used by Linux hosting providers to make it easy for website owners to manage their sites.
Given your current and new web hosts both have cPanel, you can use cPanel to move your site to the new host.
8. Have you lowered TTL for your domain name?
Time To Live (TTL) is the value in seconds of how long your domain information is cached at Internet Service Providers.
A lower TTL means your domain name server (DNS) information is updated more quickly.
Check your domain name registrar website and online help for information on how to lower TTL. Here’s an example from Media Temple, about TTL and how to raise or lower it for your domain.
9. Are you hosting your email at your current web host?
If yes, what are your plans for moving email? Depending on your new web hosting plan, you may or may not have email accounts available.
You’ll want to check with your new web host to confirm they support email.
If your email is currently hosted at a company that is not your web host, do you have the password and login for the email account?
You’ll need the information to change the DNS settings to your new web host servers.
Personally, I always recommend clients keep their email accounts and web hosting at separate companies.
10. Do you have an SSL certificate with your current host?
If yes, will your new host transfer the SSL certificate? Or do you need to take the steps yourself?
Perhaps your new host offers a free SSL certificate. Find out what steps you need to take to get the new certificate set up, and what needs to be done about the current certificate.
These 10 questions will prepare you for your move to a new web host. Whether you’re planning to migrate your site tomorrow, next week, or next month, you’ll have the information you need to make the move go smoothly.
Have other suggestions you recommend for moving to a new host? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments.