Are you frustrated with your current hosting provider? Has your site grown enough that you need to switch hosting or move to a different server? Having the risk of downtime and potential data loss worries most users. In this article, we will show you how to move your WordPress site to a new host or server with no downtime. The goal is to learn the migration process and make it painless and swift.
Important: Before we start, we want to remind you that most WordPress hosting companies offer free migration services. If they don’t publicly state that, then all you have to do is ask. Usually it’s free, but some may charge a very low cost. It’s low enough for most folks to afford.
Step 1: Choosing Your New WordPress Host
Moving your site to a new web host is a time consuming process. It is important that you choose your WordPress hosting provider carefully.
If you are looking for a shared hosting provider, then we recommend you to go with Bluehost. They are one of the official WordPress hosting providers. Not to mention with our Bluehost coupon, WPBeginner users get 50% off and a free domain name.
If you’re looking for cloud hosting or location specific providers, then we recommend you to check out Siteground. They have data centers across 3 different continents.
If you’re looking for dedicated servers, then we recommend you check out InMotion Hosting. Their commercial class servers and support is amazing.
Step 2: Backup Your Site
First thing you need to do is install and activate BackupBuddy plugin on the website that you want to move. BackupBuddy is a premium (paid) plugin that we highly recommend. It offers complete automated backup solution for WordPress websites, and we wrote about how to use BackupBuddy earlier on WPBeginner. However, in this article we will show you how to use it as a website migration tool for your WordPress websites.
Once you have installed and activated BackupBuddy, go to BackupBuddy » Backup. If you have just installed the plugin, then you will see a quick setup wizard.
On the quick setup wizard, provide your email address. After that you need to enter a password which will be used when you migrate your site. The next option is to choose a location to store your backup. BackupBuddy supports local backups (stored on your webserver), BackupBuddy Stash, FTP, Amason S3, Rackspace, Dropbox, or Email.
The last option in the wizard is how often do you want to Backup your site. Choose an option that suits your need and Save your settings.
Now BackupBuddy will start creating your first backup. Once it is done, you can click on the Download button to download your backup or click on the send button to send the backup to the location you choose in the setup wizard.
For users who have BackupBuddy pre-installed, you just need to create a complete backup of your site.
Step 3: Migrate Your Site
To migrate your site, you need a copy of
importbuddy.php and the latest complete backup of your site in a .zip file. To download both files, you need to visit BackupBuddy » Restore/Migrate. Click on the Download importbuddy.php button to download importbuddy.php file.
If you have not already downloaded your database backup, then scroll down on the migrate page and you will see your latest database. Take your mouse over to the database and then click on the download link.
Once you have downloaded both files, the next step is to upload them to your new web host. Connect to your new web host using FTP.
Note: In your FTP URL, you would need to put the IP address of your new host instead of your domain. This is to ensure that these files go to the new host rather than the old host.
You need to upload both importbuddy.php file and your backup .zip file to the root directory of your website. This is usually
/username/public_html/example.com where example.com is your domain name.
Make sure that your root directory is empty. If you have WordPress installed in your root directory, then you need to delete it first.
Step 4: Preparing for Migration Wizard
Once you have uploaded both files to your new host, you need to access the importbuddy.php file in a browser. The importbuddy file can be accessed using a URL like this:
However, right now the URL will take you to your old web host and you will get a 404 error. This is because your domain name is still pointing to your old web host.
Normally, folks will tell you to change your domain nameservers and point to your new host. However that will result in your users seeing a broken website as you migrate it.
We will show you how you can access your new site temporarily on your computer without affecting your old site.
Changing The Hosts File
The hosts file tells your computer to map domain names to specific ip addresses. In this step, we will show you how to add an entry for your domain name in the hosts file, so it points to your new host.
Making these changes will allow you to access the files on your new host using your own domain name whereas the rest of the world will still be accessing your site from the old host. This ensures 100% uptime.
The first thing you need to find is the ip address of your new host’s server. To find this, you need to log into your cPanel dashboard and click on expand stats link in the left-hand sidebar. This will expand the sidebar showing you information about the status of your server. The information you need to copy is the Shared IP Address.
In the next step, Windows users need to go to Programs > All Programs > Accessories, right click on Notepad and select Run as Administrator. Windows UAC prompt will appear, and you need to click on yes to launch Notepad with administrator privileges.
On the Notepad screen, go to File > Open and then go to
C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc. Select hosts file and open it.
Mac users will need to open the Terminal app and enter this command to edit hosts file:
sudo nano /private/etc/hosts
At the bottom of the hosts file, you need to enter the ip address you copied and then enter your domain name. Like this:
Replace the IP address with the one you copied from cPanel, and example.com with your own domain name. Save your changes, and you can now access your files on the new host using your domain name on your computer.
Important: Don’t forget to undo the changes you made to hosts file after you have finished the migration (step 5).
Step 5: Running The Importbuddy Migration Wizard
To run the importbuddy migration wizard, you need to run it in a browser window. It is located at:
Replace example.com with your own domain name. First, You will be asked to provide the password you created during the BackupBuddy setup wizard or the password you created for this particular importbuddy.php file.
After entering the password, you will enter the first step of the import wizard. Importbuddy will automatically display the database backup you have uploaded. Click on the next step button to continue.
Importbuddy will now extract the contents of your backup file. Once it is done, you need to click on the next step button to continue.
On the next screen, importbuddy will show you the URL and database information. It will show you the URL where your backup was created. If you are just changing web hosts without changing domains, then it will be the same for both old and new site. In case you are moving from one domain name to another, then it will reflect the change.
Below URL settings, you will see database settings. If you have not already created a database on your new host, then it is time for you to create one. Once you have created the database, you will need to enter the database information in the fields below and then click on Test Database Settings button.
If importbuddy fails to connect to your database, then check the values you entered above and make sure they are correct. Once you have successfully connected to your database click on the next step button to continue.
Importbuddy will now import your database. When it is done, click on the next step button to continue. In the step 5 of the migration wizard, ImportBuddy will update your URLs and paths. Once it is done, you will be asked to verify your site’s functionality by clicking on the site’s URL.
That’s all, you have successfully migrated your website. Make sure everything is working fine by browsing through your site.
ImportBuddy will show you some links to the common problems and how to fix them. Once you are satisfied that everything is in order, it is time to clean up the migration files. Simply click on Clean up & remove temporary files button.
You will get a 404 error, which is normal and indicates that importbuddy.php script has been removed from your server.
Important: Now you can remove the changes you made to your hosts file.
Step 6: Switching Nameservers
When moving your site to a new host, you need to switch your DNS nameservers. This ensures that your users are taken to the new location of your website.
If you registered your domain with your hosting provider, then it’s best to transfer the domain to the new host. If you used a domain registrar like Godaddy, Namecheap, etc, then you need to update your nameservers.
You will need the nameserver information from your new web host. This is usually a couple of URLs that look like this:
For the sake of this guide, we will be showing you how to change DNS nameservers with GoDaddy. Depending on your domain registrar or web host, the screenshots may not reflect the setup on your registrar or web host. However the basic concept is the same. Just look for domain management area and then look for nameservers.
First you need to login to your account and then click on the launch button next to domains.
On the next screen, click on your domain name. You will see your domain details, along with your nameservers. You need to click on the manage link under the nameservers.
On the next screen, you will see a link to enter custom nameservers. Clicking on the link will open a form where you can enter your custom DNS nameservers.
Save your changes and you are done.
You have successfully changed the nameservers. These changes can take 4 – 48 hours to propagate through out the world.
Now since you have the same content on your old host and the new host, your users wouldn’t see any difference, and your transfer would be seamless with absolutely no downtime. You can cancel your host hosting account after 3 days of your migration.
We hope that this step by step guide helped you move your WordPress site from one host to another with no downtime whatsoever. If you come across any issues, then check out our guide on the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.