The common reasons to move WordPress sites include launching a new site or moving an existing site to a new host. As a web designer and developer, you probably have your favorite hosting platforms. I have mine. You use this platform to help support the maintenance side of your business, where you charge monthly or annual residual fees to support your clients.
You will want your site migrations to run as smoothly as possible so your clients have confidence in your abilities and trust your judgement.
Moving a WordPress Website
For most of you, the mechanics for moving a WordPress website from one host to another or from one domain to another will be handled by tools from your hosting provider or by a plugin. However, you will need to know what is happening in the background in case something doesn’t work correctly, which is common.
There are three major components to a WordPress move: domain name, database, and website files.
The domain is the address at which the site is located. For instance, hallwaycommuter.com is a domain name that points to an IP address that points to a virtual server that is configured to serve files when a request is made for them at the server. This can be changed to point to an entirely different server.
WordPress websites store their data primarily in MySQL databases, which are typically quite fast and stable. You can access the databases via a number of ways, including command line via SSH, or more commonly through a web host tool such as phpMyAdmin, which gives you a simple editor for viewing tables or for making changes to the data.
The website files reside on a web server, which can be on the same server as the database or on a different server than the database. These files consist of the .php and .css files that run the website as well as any additional content, including images and documents.
Steps to Moving the Site
When you move a WordPress website to an entirely new website host or to a different server, you will be completing these steps:
- Make a copy of the website files. either via FTP, a plugin such as Updraft, or through the hosting company control panel. Download that copy so you can upload it to the new server.
- Export the database and data in the MySQL database. If you want to do this by hand, use this guide on the WordPress.org website. Again, a plugin can be used for this.
- Upload the site files to your new WordPress installation on your new host. You can install Updraft on your new installation and import the site via it. Or you can upload the site files via FTP and import the database via phpMyAdmin using this guide.
- If you changed the domain name for some reason during the move, then you will need to change the file name paths in the database so they reflect the new domain. You can do this via phpMyAdmin or through a plugin. The free plugin I recommend for this is Velvet Blues Update URLs.
- Change the DNS settings so they point to your server.
Test, Test, Test
Finally, be sure to go through all the website pages and functionality to make sure it is working correctly. If you are launching a new website, you might also find our checklist on launching a wordpress website very helpful.