Ten Steps to Changing Your Web Host
Does this scenario feel familiar? Your current
Web host offers spotty support and is “down for maintenance”
more often than you’d like. You wonder if you are losing sales
or customers. (Yes, you probably are.) Still, there’s no
immediate crisis, and you don’t know if the hassle of changing
hosts is worth it. After all, you’ve heard horror stories about
lost data and e-mail during transitions. So, you do nothing and
Well, changing hosts doesn’t need to be such a
hassle. Follow these ten simple steps to ensure a trouble-free
(This assumes you have your own domain name
that you will maintain after the switch, and that you intend to
stick with the same operating systems and database.)
If you read the tips on the following page and
are still wary about doing it yourself, consider hiring someone
to do it for you.One company that specializes in switching hosts
is WebSiteMovers.com. They handle small and large Web sites and
a variety of technologies.
- Carefully select a new host. Make sure it
offers all the functionality you need, and uses the same
operating system/databases etc. An accidental change to UNIX
from NT or vice versa could cause unexpected problems.
- Back up your old site. In fact, burn
several CDs of your old site and stash them around your
office. It’s also a good idea to make a copy of your log
files so that you can compare site statistics from your old
and new systems.
- Do not inform your old host about your
plans to switch - yet.
- Determine if:
- Your new host uses the same default
directory names for CGI scripts and other files. If not,
you will have to do some re-coding.
- Your new host uses the same e-mail
protocols. If not, you will have to change some settings
in your e-mail client.
- Upload your site to the new host.
Remember to set up all e-mail accounts,
e-mail aliases, auto responders, databases, scripts, etc.
- If you use .htaccess files to restrict
access to certain directories, make sure you do this on the
new host. If you’ve never heard of .htaccess, do nothing!
- Test, Test, Test. Test all scripts,
shopping carts, and any other interactive elements. Run a
link checker program. Make sure you test the new IP address,
not the URL. If you do the latter, you are testing the OLD
- Change your DNS settings. To do this, go
to your domain name registrar’s site and find the DNS or
nameserver option. Insert the new primary and secondary
nameserver information that you have received from your new
host. You will probably have to verify these changes by
replying to an e-mail sent to the address you used when you
first registered your domain. Failing to respond will result
in no DNS changes being made.
- Continue to check both your old and new
e-mail accounts during the transition. An easy way to do
this is to set up parallel accounts in your e-mail client
(Outlook. Eudora, etc.). When you stop receiving mail in
your old account, just delete it.
- Cancel your old hosting account. It can
take one to two weeks for all nameservers to point to your
new host, so keep both sites running concurrently for a
while. Do not cancel your old account until sufficient time
Follow these steps to a fast and trouble-free
transition. Good luck!