Whether you decided to migrate your WordPress website or want to learn about what WP migration is and what it entails- you’re in the right place.
What is a WordPress migration?
WordPress migration is the process of moving your WP site from one hosting to another. Additionally, moving a development site from localhost to live server/domain is also a WP migration, as well as changing your WordPress website domain.
The three types of WP migrations are sharing many similar properties. In fact, moving WordPress between hosting accounts is almost identical to moving WordPress from localhost to live server.
Changing the domain name of your WordPress website is somewhat simpler, as it entails only domain configuration on your server, as well as changing old URL entries inside your WP database.
Before dedicating a bit of time to all 3 WP migration types, let’s answer another popular question:
Why would you migrate a WordPress website?
This is the question you should answer before actually doing a WP migration.
If your website is working properly, and you are satisfied with how your hosting works(performance, software updates, etc), as well with the price you pay and the support you get when needed- then you don’t need a WordPress migration.
However, there are so many WP websites online(roughly 37% of all websites in the world), so many hosting companies, as well so many use cases of WP, that migrations found their way in serving those who need them.
The reasons to migrate your website can be found in hundreds, but here are some that we found most often in our 10 years of experience:
Moving to a less expensive hosting
It happens all the time. Many website owners aren’t tech-savvy, and pay a lot when ordering their first hosting account. However, over time they realize that they pay too much for it, whether by ads, word of mouth, or some other medium. After figuring it out, they want their site moved to the cheaper hosting account.
Moving to a host with better performance
Whether you pay for your hosting a little or a lot, and especially if you pay a lot- you expect your website to load all the time, and as fast as possible.
But what if your site has poor speed, takes ages to load, and often appears to be down or broken? It won’t only hurt you, it will hurt all your visitors and your business.
This is why we see performance-driven WP migrations all the time, and it is definitely a well-justified motivation.
Moving to host with updated software
When hosting WordPress, certain requirements must be fulfilled. At a bare minimum, you need PHP 5.6.20+ and MySQL 5.0+, but as also noted on the linked requirements page- you should ideally aim for PHP 7.4 and MySQL 5.6.
Why? Because the newest PHP and MySQL have better performance and security, while outdated versions of the two will slow down your site, make it incompatible with certain themes and plugins, as well always impose a security risk.
As you can see, having an updated server plays a very important role, and if you were unlucky enough to end up on a poorly updated server- you may decide to migrate your WordPress website to a better environment.
Moving to a host with a better location for your business
Do you know that server location plays a large role in your website speed and performance? Assuming you’re on a good server in Germany and your site is well optimized for speed, the visitors from Germany will probably see your website in ~1-2s. However, if your visitors are in Canada, it may take them anywhere from 5-15s.
The exception is websites on cloud hosting(majority of hosting accounts worldwide is still traditional), or when you utilize a CDN(content delivery network). But if your clients are from Canada, why go with hosting outside of Canada and order a CDN, when you can order hosting in Canada and solve your problems?
In a nutshell, you should aim for a server as close to your customers/visitors as possible. If you didn’t know this by now, and you want it changed, you may be a good candidate for WordPress migration.
Moving to a managed(or better managed) hosting account
There are many hosting companies around the globe(around 330 000), so it’s no wonder that there are many different setups and tools on them.
And it’s no wonder that some are easier to use than others. The main distinction is managed(your website is handled by server admin) and non-managed(you take care of everything) hosting accounts.
There are also many in between, but what’s important for non-managed is what options you actually have.
Some will give you an industry-standard administration tool(like cPanel or Plesk) where you can do almost everything, while others will simply give you access via FTP/SFTP for files and PHPMyAdmin or similar tool for your database(s).
This is why some people go with one hosting account, then later realize they can’t do anything they need and want to move elsewhere.
Migrating websites to consolidate
While many people have just one website or no websites at all, there are people(including myself) that have many websites. In the worst case, they add websites to hosting accounts without giving it much thought, ending up paying more than needed and making it harder to control and administer those sites.
But even if you manage your hosting accounts and websites reasonably, things happen through time, and it’s possible that you will end up having more than one hosting account with free space that could be used.
This is why some people decide to do a WordPress migration in order to consolidate their websites and hosting accounts and put everything under one tree.
As we said, there are many reasons why would you do a WordPress migration, and we just listed the top six that we saw during our 10 years of practice in this industry.
Now, let’s move forward and see why many people are hesitant to WordPress migrations:
Why do people avoid WordPress migrations?
There are many reasons why people avoid or are afraid of WP migrations. This is why we deem it important to list the ones we heard most often, as well as provide an explanation the best we possibly can:
Lack of awareness
Same as with anything else, you can’t think of WordPress migrations if you aren’t aware that’s even possible.
And unfortunately, the spectrum of WP website owners is so wide, that many people fall into this category.
When they experience problems with their hosting, especially performance-wise, they will simply accept it as what it is, without considering a WordPress migration.
Luckily, they can read this text and start thinking in multiple directions, as well as use our migration services if they aren’t tech-savvy enough to do it themselves.
Lack of technical knowledge involved with WordPress migrations
Many people are aware that their hosting sucks, and would love to change it. However, they lack the technical knowledge to do it which stops them in place.
There will be many more quality articles on this website that will explain in detail how you can perform a WordPress migration yourself, but if you don’t have the time or will to learn- you can hire us to do it for you, quickly and professionally.
Lack of time to do a WP migration
One of the most valuable assets is time, no doubts about that. And while some have plenty of it, others run serious business and don’t want to spend a day on something that can be done by others.
This is where our services look for its customers- in people that need their WP sites moved, but don’t have time to do it and are willing to pay for it.
Fear of breaking the site or part of the site
We don’t want to scare you, but this reason is actually pretty justified.
WordPress migration is a technical task, and certain things must be done properly in order to call a migration successful.
If you want to migrate your site in order to make it better but break it during the process- that’s not good.
For this realistic fear we have simple advice:
- Do your best in learning and educating yourself about WP migrations or
- let the professionals do it for you.
Fear that site will go down during migration
Yet again this is a realistic fear, as doing the WP migration without taking care of everything properly can indeed break your website or put it offline.
To avoid this, you need to learn about how DNS works, and how it relates to your website and domain name.
And of course, if you aren’t willing to do it properly, it’s best to leave this task to a professional that will make sure your website works properly both during and after the WordPress migration.
The 3 types of WordPress migration
As we already mentioned, we can divide WP migrations into 3 simple types- hosting to hosting, localhost to hosting, and domain change.
As this is WP migration 101, we won’t go into too many details. This article is intended to be introductory and give you an overview of what WP migrations are and what they entail.
But you can bookmark our blog and visit it often- we plan to release many WP migration tutorials as well case studies for specific hosting providers.
So let’s see the difference and similarities between these 3 types:
Hosting to hosting WordPress migration
This is the most common WP migration type. It boils down to taking WordPress files and database from one hosting account and moving it to another hosting account. Once files and databases are on the new server and connected properly, you switch your domain name to point to your new hosting account.
Localhost to hosting WordPress migration
Localhost means locally hosting your website on your PC/Mac or a PC/Mac of your developer/administrator.
Localhost uses pretty much the same software as online hosting to power your WP site, like PHP and MySQL, so the process of migration is pretty much the same as with the previous type:
- you take files and database from your localhost(or your dev/admin send them to you)
- you move those files and database to your new hosting provider and connect them properly
- then you point your domain to your new hosting account, and if everything is alright your website starts working on your domain
Changing the WordPress domain name
Changing WP domain name is a bit simpler than the previous two migrations, as it doesn’t entail migration of either files or database, and assumes your website is already hosted on a hosting that you like and aren’t interested in changing.
In simplest terms, changing your WordPress domain name boils down to:
- Pointing new domain to your existing hosting account where your website is hosted
- Changing database URL values from old domain to new domain
- Deleting the old domain from hosting if you don’t need it anymore
Final thoughts on WordPress Migration 101
Hopefully, you arrived at the end of this first tutorial, and learned at least a bit about what WP migration is and how they work, as well the main reasons and fears behind them.
We tried not getting too technical, as the purpose of this article was meant to learn you a bit about WP migrations, and not how to actually do them.
But don’t worry, if you come this far and like it, subscribe to our blog or visit it soon and you will find more technical and specific hands-on material that will learn you how to migrate your WP website like a pro.
In the meantime, feel free to give this article another read, maybe on another day, and make sure to let us know in the comments how you like it and especially if you have any questions about the presented materials.