Behind every secure, successful WordPress site is a strong hosting plan. However, it’s possible the solution you originally chose for your website is no longer sufficient for your business’ growing needs. When this happens, you may find yourself wondering how to change hosting providers.
Whether you want to upgrade from shared to dedicated hosting, need more security or storage features, or are driven by another incentive, switching providers can help you meet your goals. Making sure you execute the migration properly, though, is critical for preventing data loss and downtime.
In this post, we’ll discuss some of the reasons for switching hosting providers for your WordPress website. Then, we’ll walk you through how to go about it in six simple steps. Let’s get started!
Common Reasons to Change Hosting Providers
Your hosting provider plays a crucial role in the performance of your WordPress site. Unfortunately, not all web hosts are created equally.
Although your current plan may have once met your budget and traffic needs, things change. As with many site owners, you may find that, over time, switching providers is your best option.
There are many reasons for (and benefits of) changing your hosting provider. The most common and obvious one is to achieve better, faster performance.
If your site takes more than a second or two to load, it might be attributed to your host’s lack of sufficient hardware or poor server configuration. Similarly, if you’re regularly paying monthly fees for additional bandwidth usage, it’s probably time to look for a plan better suited to keep up with your traffic growth.
Between advanced security measures and speed features such as built-in Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), some web hosts offer tools that simply make shelling out a few extra bucks a month a no-brainer. Finding a WordPress hosting provider that stays updated with the latest trends and technology, offers ongoing and accessible support, and delivers a positive user experience is well worth the investment.
At the end of the day, the best way to help your website succeed is to find a hosting provider you can rely on. Plus, the migration process is easier than you might realize.
How to Change Your Hosting Provider for Your WordPress Site (In 6 Steps)
Here, we’re going to walk you through the basic steps of how to change your hosting provider for a WordPress site. However, keep in mind that the process can vary by host. For example, some providers, such as Kinsta, offer free migration with their plans while others, such as SiteGround, come with a free migrator plugin. These options can be particularly useful if you’re not comfortable handling your website’s files and server configuration.
Step 1: Choose Your New Hosting Provider
Of course, before you actually move your site, you need to first decide where you’ll be moving it to. If you haven’t already, do your research to determine which one meets your particular needs.
You have a lot of options to choose from, and deciding between them can get overwhelming. However, it’s helpful to narrow your focus to the specific reasons you’re wanting to change hosting providers. For example:
- Do you want to use managed hosting? (WP Engine can help. WP Mayor readers can enjoy a special discount.)
- Is speed your biggest concern? (Servebolt is worth checking out.)
- Are there specific locations you want your host to have data centers in? (Kinsta has 22.)
- Is a strong level of support a priority? (If so, SiteGround is a cost-effective option.)
If you’re having trouble deciding, be sure to check out as many customer reviews as you can. Also, remember to consider what features are included in the costs of their plans.
Step 2: Export Your Website and Database from Your Old Host
After you’ve decided on a new web host and purchased a hosting package, it’s time to dig into the migration process. The next step is to download a copy of your WordPress site from the old host.
There are multiple ways to go about this. One, which is slightly technical and time-consuming, is to do it manually.
For this route, you would log in to the cPanel of your current hosting provider. Next, navigate to Databases → phpMyAdmin → Export:
Select the option for Quick – display only the minimal options and SQL for the format. Click on the Go button. It will download your database as localhost.sql.
For your WordPress files, you’ll need to use an FTP client such as FileZilla. Connect with the details of your existing site, then right-click and download the root folder or the public_html file.
Another option is to use a plugin such as the Duplicator plugin, which can help simplify the migration process. After you install and activate the free plugin on your WordPress site, navigate to Duplicator → Packages:
Select Create New → Next → Build. Once it’s done (it may take several minutes), click on the One-Click Download option:
That’s it! Now you have the installer files and archived copy of your website.
Step 3: Add Your Domain and Create a MySQL Database on Your New Host
The next step of the migration process is to create an environment for a new WordPress installation. More specifically, you need to add your domain and create a SQL database in which to import your old site data to.
To add your domain, login into the cPanel of your new host using the credentials emailed to you during sign up. Navigate to Domains → Addon Domains. Note: This section will vary by host.
Once you’ve filled in the details for your domain, it’s time to create a new database. To do this, navigate to the MySQL Database application within the cPanel of your new host. Again, the location of this varies by host. For example, if you’re using SiteGround, you’ll look for MySQL Database Wizard.
Open the MySQL Database and create a new database. Enter the database name, then continue to add a user account:
Be sure to check the All Privileges option. Also, make note of your database name, username, and password as you’ll need it later in the migration process.
Step 4: Import Your WordPress Site to Your New Host
Now it’s time to import your site files to your new host. The method you use for this will depend on which option you chose for exporting.
For example, if you use phpMyAdmin on your old host, you can also use it on your new host (assuming they offer this management panel; if not, you may need to contact them for instructions) to import your database. Login to your cPanel and navigate to phpMyAdmin → Import:
Next, click on the Choose File button and select your .sql file. Then click on Go. After a minute or so, you should see an ‘important successful’ message.
Note: Make sure your root directory is empty. Some hosting providers such as WP Engine will automatically install WordPress. If this is the case, delete WordPress before continuing.
If you used the Duplicator plugin, you can use the cPanel File Manager to upload the installer.php and archive .zip files to the root directory of your site. Typically, this will be under the /username/public_html/ folder. Otherwise, you can also upload your WordPress files via FTP client (connect using the credentials provided by your new web host).
Step 5: Edit Your Configuration File
In order to ensure WordPress and your database are properly connected, you need to update your configuration file with your new database information. Navigate to your File Manager in the cPanel, then locate and open the wp-config.php file.
Locate the following lines:
Replace the database name, username, and password with the credentials from Step 3. Save and close the file.
Step 6: Redirect Your Your Domain Name Server (DNS)
The final step needed in order to change hosting providers is to reconfigure your domain’s DNS settings. Your DNS record is like a map pointing visitors to your site. It’s necessary to prevent them from arriving at an error page.
To do this, first log in to the account of your existing nameserver. Then locate the email that contains the nameserver information for your new host. It will look something like this:
Replace your old information with the updated one. Again, the exact location for this setting will vary by domain registrar or web host.
However, you’re going to look for a DNS/Manage DNS section, then edit the nameservers with your new information. The switch can take anywhere from a few minutes or hours to a full day to finish.
If you’re not satisfied with your website’s speed, security, or performance, changing hosting providers may be your best option. However, making sure you handle the migration process is critical for minimizing downtime.
In this post, we discussed how you can change hosting providers for your WordPress website in six steps:
- Choose your new web host.
- Export your website and database files from your old host (manually via cPanel or using the Duplicator plugin).
- Add your domain name and create a database in your new host.
- Import your website to the new host.
- Edit your configuration file.
- Redirect your DNS.
Do you have any questions about changing hosting providers for your WordPress site? Let us know in the comments section below!