Guide: Transferring Your WP Site Using FTP

step by step guide to migrating and transferring your website

Looking to transfer or migrate your WordPress website to a new host? Why not hire a website technician? Oh, come on. This is 2017. You can do it yourself. Today, we live in a DIY World. So, don’t discount yourself. No, you don’t need any strategic talent or special powers. As long as you have a desire to save your wallet, you are good to go. Without any tech background, you can migrate WordPress site to new host like a pro. So, are you ready to take matters into your own non-tech hands? In this article I’ll show you two ways of transferring your WordPress site onto a new host or server. One way includes the use of a plugin (which may cost a little money) and the second way is done manually (easier than it sounds). The plugin will definitely save you grief and if you’re planning on migrating or backing up your site safely, I would highly recommend it.

The DIY Way to Migrate Your WordPress Site

Here is a brief overview of the manual process:

  1. Export your website’s database from your current web host
  2. Export your WordPress static files using an FTP program (FileZilla)
  3. Point your domain to the new hosting company
  4. Create a database with your new hosting company
  5. Import the files onto your new web host

1. Exporting Your Website’s SQL Database 

Go to your hosting panel dashboard and there you should see a “phpMyAdmin” option (can be found on your old web hosts website). Click on that and then select the ”Databases” option on the menu bar that you will notice on the top. It will display all the databases. Once you choose them, it will show all the tables it contains such as “wp_posts,” “wp_users,” “wp_links, etc. Check all the buttons beside them and click on the “Export” button. You should choose the “Quick” option while exporting and choose the format as “SQL.” Click on “Go,” and the download will begin. This exports all of your WP databases into a standard that will be easy to import and read later on – couldn’t be easier.

2. Exporting Your Website’s Static Files Via FTP (FileZilla)

That’s it; you are done with the download of your websites databases. Now you will need to download the static files. For this, you will need an FTP program which can be downloaded for free from FileZilla. It’s a commonly used program by webmasters for moving files over the Internet. To begin, you need to setup FileZilla to your existing hosting account. The setup part can be a little bit tricky because the process will differ a bit for every hosting company. Search Google for: “FTP Setup Using Filezilla plus the name of your hosting company” to know the exact steps for setting up FileZilla to your existing host. This process just requires a little bit of Googling but it’s really just installing FileZilla and punching in some numbers to help you connect to whichever hosting company you’re with.

Once this step is done, the rest is a cakewalk. Upon set up, you can simply drag or copy/paste files from your server to your computer and vice versa. After logging into your hosting company using the FTP program, you will see the list of files of the existing site on one side and the file that needs to the copied on the other side. From the files that you will see on one side, go to “public_html” of your host and copy paste the entire folder to your computer, i.e., the other side. Now, you have both the databases and the static files downloaded on your computer. The databases and static files comprise your entire website! You are now ready for lift off.

3. Moving to the New Home

First up, you will have to get your domain ready to accept the new host. Go to “Domain Name Server Setup” within your domain registrar and choose “Custom DNS servers”. Most hosts send you an email with two or more DNS server addresses which you need to add as “Custom DNS servers” option. If you don’t have the server addresses, contact your host. This step also varies from service to service, so a quick Google should get the job done. Within a few minutes to 24 hours max, your domain will point to the new DNS servers. This process helps to connect the domain to your new web hosting company. Now all you need to do is make a few minor adjustments and transfer the previously exported files over to the new host.

4. Creating a New Database:

You are closer than what you think. You have the downloaded stuff ready, and the domain is set up to accept the new host as well. Now, the only thing left is to upload the new site. What you will need to do over here is create a new database on the new hosting server. Under Cpanel dashboard, choose the “MySQL Database Wizard” from the “Databases” section. The first step is to create a name for the database. Enter something of your choice and click on “Create Database” (I normally just name my database the name of my website). You will then be asked to create a username and password for that database. Save the details somewhere as you’ll need it very soon. You will be prompted to specify the rights that the new user should get. Choose “all privileges” since you created this username for yourself.

The next step is to edit the wp-config file. This is where you will use the new database information that you just created. Head to the static files backup (from step 1) and find the “wp-config.php” on the main folder. Open the file in a text editor and enter/replace the database name, username, and password that you just created. This will tell WordPress to look for your WordPress content under the new database.

5. Uploading the Site:

You are almost done with site migration. The only step left is to upload the old database tables into the new one to transfer your WordPress site completely to a new host. To begin uploading, connect to the FTP program with your new host. Drag and drop all the backup files into the “public_html” folder of your new host and wait for it to finish.

Now, upload your database tables (from step 1) into the newly created database. Click the “database” menu under “phpMyAdmin” (on your new web host’s CPanel or website) and choose the new blank database that was created a bit earlier. On the top menu, you will see an option called “Import.” Click that and use the “browse” button to select the WP SQL tables from your hard drive. Finally, click “Go” button. If everything goes well, you will see a success screen pretty soon. Bingo! You are done with the site transition, all on your own.

Updraft Plugin: The game changer?

Updraft plus plugin to migrate your website

If you dislike all of the technical trouble shooting above, I highly recommend the plugin Updraft. Updraft is quite optimistically the future WordPress migration plugin for hassle free and quick site movement. I’ve used it multiple times to migrate my various websites and I use the free version for daily backups and restorations if anything goes wrong. The biggest risk to migrate WordPress site is data loss and downtime. With Updraft plugin, you don’t have to worry about either. The best part about this plugin is that it just seems to work all the time, and the deployment part is a piece of cake as well. If you plan on migrating with Updraft it will cost money but I guarantee it will save you a ton of time.

How to migrate with Updraft: Install the plugin -> do full backup of your WP site -> install Updraft on a new WP site with your new host -> restore using migration tool

That’s really all there is when it comes to using Updraft. I personally use the plus version as it gives substantially more options when backing up and restoring websites.

You can check out their site here.

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