Some folks are lucky enough to stay with one website hosting service, but for many of us, we will probably change from one service to another for various reasons throughout the course of our websites’ lives. While the process of changing can appear difficult, it can be broken down into five easy steps that you can follow…with, perhaps, just a little help from your web designer or developer.
Step 1: Upload your site to your new host
Assuming that you have chosen and contracted with a new web host and a new hosting plan that fits your needs, your first step will be to upload your website and all files associated with your website to your new host. Your host should give you the FTP (file transfer protocol) address as well as a password and the appropriate directory to which you should upload your files. Perhaps your web designer or developer will upload your files for you.
By the way, you’ll need a clue that your website has changed servers, and if your website is identical with both old and new hosts, you won’t easily know that the changeover has occurred. Obviously, if your site has undergone a revision, that will be your tip off. But if the site is identical with both hosts, place a small clue, such as two periods at the end of a sentence, in the site on the new server so that you will be able to know when your website has switched over.
Step 2: Test your site
Once you believe that all files are uploaded, you’ll want to test your website on the new server. Since your old host is still hosting (and displaying) your website, you’ll need to check the success of uploading the site to your new server through a temporary address provided by your new hosting provider for this purpose; this URL can be an IP address (such as
http://126.96.36.1999/). You’ll want to go to that address and make sure that your website is displayed without missing files or other problems. Working with web designers or developers can be very helpful here since they can help walk you through this process and verify if it appears that your site is ready to go.
Step 3: Change your DNS
Once it appears that your website is uploaded correctly and ready to go live, the next step is to make it the live site. This is accomplished through redirecting your domain’s DNS (domain name server) to your new web host. The registrar that holds your domain can do this for you if you don’t have access to do this yourself. All you need to do is have your new web host provide you with their DNS address, and just point your domain name there. Again, your domain name registrar can do this for you if you don’t have access to do it yourself.
Step 4: Wait for the servers to change
At this point, you’ll play a kind of waiting game for a few days. It may take a few hours or up to 48 to 72 hours before things settle down. The site won’t change servers instantly; it does take a little while. As you’re checking out your site, remember to reload or refresh your browser, and frequently empty your browser’s cache (usually in the Tools section) so that you will see the most up-to-date site. This will be easy to do if your site has simultaneously undergone a revision because you’ll know right away that if you see the revised site, the changeover has occurred. If there is no revision, however, hopefully, you placed a small clue somewhere, like an extra period (see step 1), that will tip you off to the changeover. Once you have evidence that the changeover has occurred, wait at least 24-48 hours before moving to step five. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Step 5: Cancel your old hosting account
When sufficient time has passed and your website is hosted on and displaying from your new hosting server, you can safely cancel your account with your old host. Make sure, however, that you download any needed files first before you cancel your account. Once they are gone, they’re gone forever!
That’s it! Follow these five steps when changing web hosts, and within a few days, the entire process will be over with minimal disruption to your website.