Transferring your website without any downtime
Through the development of a web site webmasters may find that their web hosting needs may have changed from the initial time they setup their site. Either through development of more involved sites that require more intensive programming or language support or just simply a site that has grown to large and busy for the current setup. In some cases, a webmaster may find themselves stuck with a web host that they have encountered numerous problems with, whether that be support issues, or billing issues. In summary, some sites need a change in web hosting companies.
Sounds like a simple thing, purchase your hosting, move your files and update your DNS setting with the domain registrar. Stop, if that's what you think, because if you are not careful some of your loyal repeat customers may be surprised to see that your site is not working anymore, which can happen if you don't handle a transfer correctly. As your visitors and customers are what makes your site thrive, you want to make sure you follow a few steps.
1. Find a New Host.
Purchase your hosting with your newly chosen web host. By utilizing web hosting coupons you can not only save money on the cost of the new host but some hosting companies will pay you to transfer from your old host or will credit you the amount of time you still had with your old host.
Lunarpages is well known for their hosting and will add the amount of time you had remaining with your old host to your Lunarpages account for free up to 6 months.
HostICan will pay you up to $40 to transfer from your old host. Both companies offer a coupon to encourage you to make the switch and both companies are suited for webmaster moving their sites with the credits they offer to transfer.
Lunarpages offers $26.00 off plus 1 Free month plus any transfer credit with the Lunar pages coupon code : WHC26OFF.
HostICan offers $30.00 off plus up to $40.00 of transfer credit with the Hostican coupon code: GREATNESS-12.
2. Download Your Files.
Using your FTP file transfer program or whatever method you use, download all your site's files and folders to your computer. Transfer the entire site as you want to keep the directory structure intact.
3. Upload Your Files.
Using the information you received in your welcome email from your new host, upload your files to the new site. Since the site's Domain Name System (DNS) information has not been changed yet, you will have to use the IP address to connect to the site. Your email should have this alternate IP address to connect with, otherwise contact your web host for this address.
4. Setup your Email Accounts.
Now setup all your sites email accounts with your new host. These accounts won't work but you want to have them ready to accept emails the moment your site moves so a user's email to you won't bounce.
To make sure you don't miss any emails when you make changes to your Domain Name Server information, it is suggested you create two email accounts in your email program (ie. Outlook, etc), one for the new site address and one for the old address. Use the IP address for each host and you will ensure to get any email sent from a user who is still getting your old host and from users who are being directed to your new host. If you don't get that much email or aren't worried about missing a few emails, then you can disregard setting up the emails for the old host.
5. Update your Domain Name System information
Using the company that you used to register your domain, login and change the DNS settings to the name servers your new host listed in your welcome email. After you make these changes it can take anywhere from 24-48 hours for the change to propagate through the internet. Until these is complete some users will get your site on your new host's servers and some will still get your site from your old host. After 48 hours it should be safe for you to cancel your old account as all users will now be accessing your new host.
6. Your site has been transferred flawlessly and most likely unnoticed by your users.
If you follow these steps your users will never notice that your site has been moved and you will keep your users happy. It may still be a good idea to post a notice on your site that you are planning a host change and give users a date range that this will occur so in the event your transfer doesn't go smoothly, your users will be aware and will be more understanding of any downtime and more likely to return.
About the Author:
Aiden O'Neill is a freelance writer and editor for various web sites within the webmaster community.