When you first decide to start a WordPress site, there are a few things you must do. You need to set up a hosting account, buy a domain name, install WordPress, and set up your site. A year after all of this has been done and your site has been doing well, you receive a mail reminding you of renewing your hosting account. There’s one problem though: renewal costs are much higher than signing up afresh for a new account. The only way out of this situation is ‘WordPress migration’.
Migrating a WordPress site can be a strenuous process, especially if you’re new to the ecosystem. Managing a site includes routine tasks such as adding content, and customizing your site, while also performing backups. A these tasks are very different in terms of the know-how required to move a WordPress site.
What makes WordPress migration such a complex task, is the fact that a number of things can go wrong during the process. (This is why it’s important to have a backup of the site before the migration begins). The site also needs to be constantly monitored through the process.
There are a few factors which could help determine what your migration experience is like:
Based on these factors, you can choose to perform a WordPress migration in two ways:
Every process has its pros and cons, but the tradeoff depends on how important the above factors are, to you.
You can do this , or via a tool, like a WordPress backup plugin like . WordPress sites consist of 2 main parts: files, and a database. Both these parts are equally important and must be backed up before you make any changes to (or move) your WordPress site. To backup the site, you need to , and .
After your files are safely placed on your local computer, you must export the WordPress database. You will need access to cPanels as well.
To move your site to a new domain, you’ll need to create a new database on the hosting service you’re moving to. This also means creating a new MySQL user with a secure password.
Open cPanel on new host
Note: Once this has been done, keep the database name, new MySQL username and its password safe.
You’ll need to change the database name, the database username, and the database user password.
Make sure that this backup doesn’t overwrite the previous backup. This backup should contain all the new changes made to the database. Follow the same steps as mentioned in Step 1
After this, you’ll have to move the files and database to the new domain via FTP and phpMyAdmin, respectively. Follow the below steps:
a. Login to your FTP account
b. Find WordPress or public_html folder
c. Upload the entire WordPress folder from your computer
When you’ve got external links on your site, they might break when you move them to a new domain. This is why it’s important that you update the links to point to the new domain. You can do this either manually, or via a plugin like or .
You'll have to update your DNS settings so they point to the new server instead of the old one. You can get the details required from your domain registrar.
This is also why alternatives exist.There are migration services provided by web hosts, and WordPress migration plugins.
Migration plugins on the other hand, are tools that significantly simplify the manual migration process for you. There are quite a few WordPress migration plugins available in the repository. While their processes vary slightly, they all work on the basic principle of performing a backup, moving it to the new location, and automatically offering a Find and Replace so that URLs can be rewritten.
For the sake of illustration, we’re going to take you through the process of migrating your WordPress site with Migrate Guru, a WordPress migration plugin that is great for moving large WordPress sites.
Migrating a site with Migrate Guru comes with a few simple prerequisites:
Once Migrate Guru is installed on the source site.
You can do this by logging in to the site you want to move (the source site), navigating to ‘Plugins’ and clicking on ‘Add new’. Type in ‘Migrate Guru’ in the search bar, and click on ‘Install Now’.
Once installed, activate the plugin.
Step 1: Choose the host you want to migrate to, via Migrate GuruStep 2: Fill up the form, click ‘Migrate’
If your destination host is on Migrate Guru’s list of hosts, choose one of them.
If you can’t see your host in the list, you can choose to move your site via FTP or cPanel, depending on which option you have the credentials for.
If you select FTP instead of a host, this is what you should see:
You’ll be asked for the following details:
If you select cPanel instead of a host, these are the details you will be asked for:
Step 2: Fill up the form, click ‘Migrate’
If your site is HTTP Authenticated, click on 'Advanced options' and enter the username and password for the source and destination site. They are needed ONLY if either the site being moved or the destination site is 'https://' instead of 'http://'. If the URLs of either one begin with 'https://', they are HTTP authenticated. These credentials can be retrieved from the site's server logs. Some website hosts offer apps in cPanel that make it easier to browse those logs.
Once you have all the details required, fill up the Migrate Guru form, and click on the ‘Migrate’ button.
Doing so will take you to a real-time progress screen where you can see how much of the migration process is over, and how much is left.
Migrate Guru will send you an email notification confirming that the process of migration has begun. Meanwhile, you will also be taken to a screen that portrays the real-time progress of your website migration. The link for the same can also be found in the mail notification.
Once the migration process is completed, you will receive another email from Migrate Guru notifying about the successful migration, and the link to the migrated site.
After your migration is over, it’s important that you repoint the DNS of your site to the location it’s been moved to. It takes about 4 hours for this to happen.
For most hosting accounts, you can edit your DNS settings from the cPanel, under a variant of ‘DNS settings’.
WordPress migration can be a pain especially if you’re new to the ecosystem or are unfamiliar with the processes required. However, having a WordPress migration plugin like significantly reduces the time and effort required to move your site without any downtime.
Author Bio: I'm Akshat Choudhary, the founder and CEO of BlogVault, MigrateGuru & MalCare.
I love building products that solve real problems for real people, and have been building systems and products since 2005.
My core beliefs behind building any product are to make sure the end-user doesn't need assistance... and to assist them in the best possible manner if they need it.