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How to Move WordPress to a New Host or Server With No Downtime

Are you planning to move your WordPress site to a new hosting company or a different server? The biggest risk when switching web hosting or migrating a website to a new server is data loss and downtime.

Both of these can make your website temporarily inaccessible to users and search engines which can result in loss of sales and search engine rankings.

In this step by step tutorial, we will show you how to safely migrate your WordPress site to a new host without any downtime.

We’ll also answer the most frequently asked questions about moving a WordPress site to new hosting provider, so you can avoid making some common mistakes.

Migrating WordPress from one host to another

Important: Before we start, we want you to know that a lot of WordPress hosting companies offer a free migration service. It might not be listed on their website, so all you have to do is ask. Usually it’s free, but some may charge a small fee.

Having that said, let’s take a look at the steps we’ll cover to move WordPress to a new hosting server (without any downtime).

  1. Choose a new WordPress host
  2. Setup the Duplicator Plugin for Easy Migration
  3. Import your WordPress site to the new host
  4. Change the Hosts file to prevent downtime
  5. Create a MySQL database on your new host
  6. Run Duplicator website migration script
  7. Updating your domain name server
  8. FAQs about moving WordPress to new host

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step 1: Choose Your New WordPress Host

If you are stuck with a slow web host even after optimizing WordPress speed and performance, then it’s time to move your WordPress site to a new host that can handle your growing traffic.

When looking for a new WordPress hosting provider, it’s important to choose carefully, so you don’t have to move again any time soon.

Here’s who we recommend:

  • For reliable shared hosting, we recommend going with Bluehost. They’re officially recommended by WordPress.org. Using our Bluehost coupon, WPBeginner users get 60% off and a free domain name.
  • If you’re looking for cloud hosting or location-specific providers, then we recommend you check out Siteground. They have data centers across 3 different continents.
  • If you’re looking for managed WordPress hosting, then we recommend you check out WP Engine. They are the best and most well-known provider in the industry.

After buying your new hosting, do NOT install WordPress. We’ll do that in a later step.

For now, your new web hosting account should be completely empty with no files or folders in your main directory.

Step 2: Setup Duplicator for Easy Migration

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the free Duplicator plugin on the website that you want to move. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Duplicator is a free plugin that we highly recommend. You can also use it to move your website to a new domain name without losing SEO.

However, in this article, we will walk you through how to use it to migrate your WordPress site from one host to another with zero downtime.

Once you have installed and activated Duplicator, go to the Duplicator » Packages page in your WordPress admin area.

Next, you need to click the ‘Create New’ button in the top right corner.

Creating a new package in Duplicator

After that, click the Next button and follow the steps to create your package.

Duplicator create a package wizard

Make sure that your scan results check out (everything should say “Good”), and then click the Build button.

Build package

The process may take several minutes to complete, so leave the tab open as the plugin does its job.

Once the process is complete, you’ll see download options for Installer and the Archive package. You need to click on the ‘One click download’ link to download both files.

Download package files

The archive file is a copy of your complete website, and the installer file will automate the installation process for you.

Step 3: Import Your WordPress Site to the New Host

Now that you have downloaded both the archive and installer files, the next step is to upload them to your new web host.

You can do this by connecting to your new web host using FTP.

If you’ve never done this before, check out our beginner’s guide to uploading files via FTP to WordPress.

Normally, you would enter your website’s domain name as host when connecting your FTP client.

However, since your domain name is still pointing to your old host, you’ll need to connect by entering your server’s IP address or server hostname. You can find this information from your new hosting account’s cPanel dashboard.

Finding server IP or Hostname in cPanel dashboard

If you are unable to find this information, then you can ask for support at your new web hosting company, and they will help you out.

Using the FTP client, you need to upload both installer.php file and your archive .zip file to the root directory of your website.

This is usually /username/public_html/ folder.

Again, if you are not sure, then ask your web hosting company.

Make sure that your root directory is completely empty. Some web hosting companies automatically install WordPress when you sign up.

If you have WordPress installed in your root directory, then you need to delete WordPress first.

Once done, you need to upload both the archive zip file and installer.php file to your site’s root directory.

Step 4: Change The Hosts File to Prevent Downtime

Once you’ve uploaded both files to your new host, you need to access the installer.php file in a browser.

Normally, this file can be accessed using a URL like this:

http://www.example.com/installer.php

However, this 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, other tutorials might tell you to change your domain nameservers and point it to your new hosting company, but that’s wrong.

If you do this now, then your visitors will see a broken website as you migrate it.

We’ll show you how you can access your new site temporarily on your computer, without affecting your old site.

This is done with a hosts file on your computer.

The hosts file can be used to map domain names to specific IP addresses. In other words, it lets you trick your computer in thinking that the website is moved even though it’s not.

Let’s take a look at how to add an entry for your domain name in the hosts file, so that it points to your new hosting company.

Making these changes will allow you to access the files on your new host using your own domain name, while 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 do is find the IP address of your new web hosting server. To find this, you need to log into your cPanel dashboard and click on expand stats link in the left-hand sidebar. Your server’s address will be listed as Shared IP Address.

On some web hosting companies, you will find this information under ‘Account Information’ heading.

Find 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.

A 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 navigate to the C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc folder. From this folder, select hosts file and open it.

If you’re using Mac, then you need to open the Terminal app and enter this command to edit hosts file:

sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

For both Windows and Mac users, at the bottom of the hosts file, you need to enter the IP address you copied and then enter your domain name. Like this:

192.168.1.22 www.example.com

Make sure that you replace the IP address with the one you copied from cPanel, and example.com with your own domain name.

Once you’re done, save your changes.

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 6).

Step 5: Creating MySQL Database on Your New Host

Before we run the installer on the new host, you will need to create a MySQL database on your new hosting account. If you have already created a MySQL database, then you can jump to the next step.

Creating a Database in cPanel

Go to your new hosting account’s cPanel dashboard, scroll down to Databases section and click on MySQL databases icon.

MySQL databases in cPanel

You will see a field to create a new database. Enter a name for your database, and click “Create Database” button.

Creating new database

After creating the MySQL database, you need to scroll down to the MySQL Users section.

Next, provide a username and password for your new user and click on the ‘Create a user’ button.

Create a MySQL user

After that, you need to add this user to your database. This will give the username you just created, all the permissions to work on that database.

You can do this by scrolling down to ‘Add User to a Database’ section. Simply select the database user you created from the dropdown menu next to user, then select database, and click on the add button.

Add user to database

Your database is now ready to be used with WordPress. Be sure to make note of the database name, username, and password. You’ll need that information in the next step.

Step 6: Begin the Duplicator Migration Process

Now we’re ready to run the installer. Navigate to the following address in your browser window, replacing example.com with your domain name:

http://www.example.com/installer.php

Duplicator installer initialized

The installer will run a few tests and will show you ‘Pass’ next to archive and validation tests.

You need to check the terms & conditions checkbox and continue by clicking on the Next button.

Now, you will be asked to enter your MySQL host, database name, username, and password.

Your host will likely be localhost. After that, you will enter the details of the database you created in the previous step.

Connect to the database

You can click on the ‘Test Database’ button to make sure you entered the correct information.

If Duplicator is able to connect, then you will see a string starting with Pass. Otherwise, you will see the database connection error details.

Click on the next button to continue.

Duplicator will now import your WordPress database from the archive zip into your new database.

Next, it will ask you to update site URL or Path. Since you are not changing domain names, you DON’T need to change anything here.

Simply click on the next button to continue.

Duplicator will run the final steps and will show you the login button.

Duplicator website migration finished

You can now login to your WordPress site on the new host to make sure that everything is working as expected.

Step 7: Update Your Domain Name Servers (DNS)

At this point, you’ve created a complete copy of your WordPress database and files on your new hosting server, but your domain still points to your old web hosting account.

To update your domain, you need to switch your DNS nameservers. This ensures that your users are taken to the new location of your website when they type your domain into their browsers.

If you registered your domain with your hosting provider, then it’s best to transfer the domain to a new host. If you used a domain registrar like Domain.com, GoDaddy, Network Solutions etc, then you need to update your nameservers.

You will need the DNS nameserver information from your new web host. This is usually a couple of URLs that look like this:

ns1.hostname.com
ns2.hostname.com

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 look different. However, the basic concept is the same.

You need to look for domain management area and then look for nameservers. If you need assistance with updating your nameservers, then you can ask your web hosting company.

For GoDaddy, you need to login to your GoDaddy account and then click on Domains.

After that, you need to click on the Manage button next to the domain name you want to change.

Manage domain

Under the ‘Additional Settings’ section, you will need to click on ‘Manage DNS’ to continue.

Manage DNS

Next, you need to scroll down to the Nameservers section and click on the change button.

Change nameservers

First, you will need to switch the nameserver type dropdown from ‘Default’ to ‘Custom’. After that, you can fill in the your new hosting provider’s information under Nameservers.

Updating DNS nameservers

Don’t forget to click on the save button to store your changes.

You have successfully changed the nameservers on your domain. DNS changes can take 4 – 48 hours to propagate for all users.

Since you have the same content on your old host and the new host, your users wouldn’t see any difference. Your WordPress migration will be seamless with absolutely no downtime.

To be on the safe side, we recommend that you wait to cancel your old hosting account until 7 days after your migration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few questions many of our users ask while moving WordPress from one host to another.

1. Can I signup for the new hosting account without registering a domain name?

Yes, you can absolutely signup for a hosting account without registering a domain name.

Domain name and hosting are two different services, and you don’t necessarily need to register a domain name when signing up for new host. For more details see our guide on the difference between domain name and web hosting.

Some hosting providers will ask you to select a domain name as the first step when purchasing hosting. They will also allow you to enter a domain name if you already got one.

2. Do I need to transfer my domain name to the new host?

No, you don’t need to transfer your domain name to the new host. However, transferring your domain name to your new hosting will make it easier to renew and manage under the same dashboard as your new hosting account.

For more on this topic, see our ultimate guide on domain names and how do they work.

3. How do I fix error establishing database connection error in Duplicator?

If you are seeing an error connecting to the database or database connection error in Duplicator, then the most likely reason for this is that you entered incorrect information for your database connection.

Make sure that your database name, MySQL username, and password are correct. Some web hosting companies do not use localhost as the host for their MySQL servers. If this is the case, then you will need to ask your web host’s support staff to provide you with the correct information.

4. How do I check if my website is loading from the new host?

There are several online tools that allow you to see who is hosting a website. After you have transferred your website to the new host, you can use any of these tools, and they will show you the name of the web hosting company hosting your website.

If it hasn’t been long since you migrated your website and made changes to your domain name server (DNS), then chances are that your site may still load from your old host. Domain name changes can take up to 48 hours to fully propagate.

5. Do I need to delete any files or data from old host?

When switching hosting companies, we recommend that you keep your old website for at least a week. After that, you can delete files from your old web host. If you are canceling your account, then your web hosting provider will delete all your data according to their policy.

6. How long should I keep my account active on the old host?

Once you have migrated your website to the new host, and if you don’t have any other websites hosted with your old web host, then you can cancel your old web hosting account.

However, in some cases, you may have already paid them for yearly hosting. You should check their refund policy to see if you are eligible for any refund upon cancellation.

7. How do I move a WordPress site with SSL/HTTPs?

You will need to install SSL certificate on your new hosting provider. After that, you can follow the same steps mentioned above. Just make sure that you use HTTPs in the URLs, like https://example.com

8. Bonus: Free Site Migration by Your New Host

If you’re looking to switch your web hosting, but the steps above sound too complicated, then you can choose the following providers, and they will migrate your website for you.

SiteGround, InMotion Hosting, and WP Engine offer free website migration for WPBeginner users.

We hope that this step by step guide helped you move WordPress to your new host with no downtime whatsoever. If you come across any issues with your WordPress migration, then check out our guide on the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Reader Interactions

268 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Im having issues with the host file.
    Changed it to the correct settings but still seeing the old host site,

    • If your domain already points to the new host then you would not need to change it, if the domain is pointing toward your old host it would need to be changed.

      Admin

  2. Thank you for this very well-written tutorial! It helped me move from a hosting service that upped their prices so that I can get the newcomer discount with a new host. Thanks!

  3. Your article states that the new host folder must be empty before continuing on with the migration. How does this work for someone where I am migrating sites to a host that has other sites already on it?

    • your hosting provider would normally have a folder for each specific site and you would add your site to the empty folder.

      Admin

  4. Thank you very much for this article! I just used it to switch hosting providers after getting tired of downtime with my old provider. Appreciate the great documentation.

  5. Hi, I successfully transferred my website using the Duplicator plugin. Everything works, but now the website is running rather slowly. Is this a common side effect? Any suggestions for fixing this?

  6. Hello, Thanks for your guide.
    1. I managed to the last steps but there are several issues in Database section, e.g. “DATABASE ERROR: database error write” -> is it common to get this error?

    • That sounds like you may have had an issue during the transfer process. You would want to reach out to your hosting provider to ensure they don’t see an error on their end.

      Admin

  7. white transferring the site enter the database credentials screen an error showing.
    “Error Processing Request an error occurred while testing the data base connection! Please try Again.”

    • You would want to ensure your database information is correct for one of the more common causes.

      Admin

  8. Bluehost charges to migrate a website. Is that for the service or can I migrate it myself as above and not have to pay the fee??

    • The fee would be if you want them to do it for you. If you follow our guide above then it does not have a cost.

      Admin

  9. I will share my experience: for one case, I had to switch off the plugin responsible for SSL. Than it was possible to migrate the website correctly. Anyway, thank you for this tool! It is awesome!!

    • Glad it was helpful and thanks for sharing the workaround you used if someone else runs into that issue :)

      Admin

  10. Stuck in step 6 after trying to open the installer.php getting privacy error message in chrome
    “Your connection is not private
    Attackers might be trying to steal your information from site (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards). Learn more
    NET::ERR_CERT_COMMON_NAME_INVALID”

    • Reach out to your hosting provider to ensure you have your SSL certificate set up correctly.

      Admin

  11. This was a great step to step and helped me migrate a site when another plug-in failed on me. Thanks for your guidance!

  12. stuck on step 4 I updated the notepad etc host doc but now how do I access the installer.php file? I tried typing in example.com/installer.php with my domain name into browser with no luck. I have saved the duplicator installer.php file into the www folder in the new hosting files.

    • You may want to check with your hosting provider to ensure there isn’t an issue with the location of the folder or if the folder was set under a different domain.

      Admin

  13. Hi! I’m stuck at Step 6/ I really need help. I uploaded the installer and .daf file in the correct root folder but still experiencing the 404 Not Found Error. I don’t know what to do next.

    • You would want to reach out to your hosting provider to ensure you’ve placed the file in the correct location.

      Admin

  14. I get an error on Step 1: Deployment:

    Service Unavailable
    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

  15. Hi, thank you for this guide.

    I was thinking you might need to add on the “nameserver” part that when migrating to a new web host is complete it is not necessary to change the but you need to change the A records to point the IP address of your new web host from your domain registration account settings. thank you and more power!

    • While that is an option it is not the most beginner-friendly and can cause confusion later for some users which is why we recommend the nameserver change at the moment.

      Admin

  16. Great write up and direction. I had couple from web, but yours is by far the best.
    You provided a lot of details that no one does, like prepare cpanel files before installing. It help me a lot, thank you very much

    • You would need physical access to your hosting provider’s service to do that.

      Admin

  17. Thanks for this but im still confused, I am using a CDN and the DNS are pointing to the it, should i first pause the CDN or can still do the process ignoring it then i wont have to update the NS? How should i do it right with no downtime?

    • You can still follow this guide. When changing where your namservers are pointing you would update where your CDN is pointing rather than your nameservers.

      Admin

  18. Lovely clear instructions, moved site over easily. My old host site I could access with or without the WWW , after the change over and before changing the nameserver I could access new site in host file with WWW and the old site without WWW. Thanks

    • You would want to reach out to your hosting provider to ensure your nameserver change was set up and that you don’t still have your hosts file changed.

      Admin

  19. What if I have a website already on my new web host? If I upload the backup files (installer.php and the zip file) to a new folder in the root directory, how can I run the php file?

    • It would depend on the specific host, most you should be able to update your hosts file to be able to visit the page while others you can also set the new site on a temporary address.

      Admin

  20. Got to step 6 and typed in a browser the website address, got the no results found page come up on my website. Don’t know if I completed the Note pad step correctly for directing the page with the I.P address.

    • You may want to reach out to your hosting provider’s support to ensure you are using the correct IP for the site and the site is not on a temporary address.

      Admin

  21. Please reply, I’ve successfully moved to new hosting. But I’m confused about – How I’ll log in to my WordPress when old hosting is expired?

    Because there is no WP is installed, and no login is created on new hosting. Please explain,

    • When moving your site to a new hosting provider, your login information for the site should be the same as it was and this method should add the WordPress files for you.

      Admin

  22. All Done but when I Click a new domain link then loading and enter previous domain link. All pages show previous links in the URL. So how can I fix it pls?

  23. Migration worked (no errors / warnings) however error when going wp-admin :

    There has been a critical error on your website. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.

    Learn more about debugging in WordPress.

    • It would depend on the files and hosting provider. If you reach out to your hosting provider they should be able to let you know.

      Admin

  24. Hello, I would like to see if the procedure you specify in this post would also help me if I want to duplicate my website in a subdomain of the same website.
    If possible, could you give me more information on additional steps that I should take?

  25. Hi, great article, i’ve transferred the website and this is set up on the tempoary domain pending transfer of the one i’m going to use. One issue i’m having is opening the wordpress interface after logining in successfully on the new website. I get a 404 error, is that because it won’t work until the Domain has been updated?

  26. I get this error each time i try building it
    Host Build Interrupt
    This server cannot complete the build due to host setup constraints.
    To get past this hosts limitation consider the options below by clicking each section.
    I’ve tried a lot but it still says the same thing while file size is little. Is there anything i can do please?

    • The plugin should list options that you should be able to try or you can reach out to your hosting provider and they should be able to assist.

      Admin

  27. Hi,

    I am a first time web site creator. I have created a domain in WordPress how do I add hosting now? I assume WordPress is hosting my domain.

    I tried cancelling the subscription, however I may lose part of the money. Please advice.

  28. I have just moved my website successfully using the backup and upload method, but immediately I changed DNS to new host, site traffic drop by 90% and continued even after 3 days of migration. Please is there any mistake I’ve made. Meanwhile, site works very well.

    • You would want to ensure any caching on your host’s end has been cleared and ensure there are no DNS issues that your host can see when you updated your information.

      Admin

  29. Under Step 6, you wrote “Next, it will ask you to update site URL or Path. Since you are not changing domain names, you DON’T need to change anything here.”

    My question is, what if I am changing domain names, what do I change there”.

  30. Hello, thank you for this.
    Is it possible to use these steps to move my website to my Bluehost server which has a website hosted already?

  31. Hi,

    How do you mean by this?
    Important: Don’t forget to undo the changes you made to hosts file after you have finished the migration (step 6).

    Thank you

    • Once the migration is complete you would want to edit your hosts file to remove the IP address you added for your domain, otherwise, you would always see your site through there without knowing what your visitors would see.

      Admin

    • If it is a new domain name then you shouldn’t need to worry about changing your hosts file would be the only difference :)

      Admin

  32. I’m am just about to transfer my live business site to bluehost. Is there a simpler way to move the site? Such as installing a back up of the old site to the new hosting with a temp domain name, then changing the temp name when getting the domain name to point to the new server? I’m a bit nervous to carry out all the steps above!

    • While you could do that if you wanted, it would work out to a very similar process as the process above and depending on the backup tool you could be missing a few things on your site :)

      Admin

    • If you take a look at the plugin’s page they list the features that their pro version offers :)

      Admin

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