The 6 Steps for Changing Web Hosting Providers

February 1, 2007 by HostSearch Staff Writer

In the beginning, that surge of passion for finally getting online made you ignore your cheap host`s bad reputation on The rock-bottom price and the sexy FLASH web site made you look past the setup fee and the 1 year contract. The thrill of ecommerce made you blind but now you see those promises of 99.9% uptime and devoted customer service were all just empty lies. Following are 6 practical steps you can take to make sure that breaking it off with your web hosting provider doesn`t leave you with the kind of heartbreak that only a down website can bring.


Back-up Your Web Site Locally

Before you fire off that email filled with 4 letter words telling your current host that you`re fed up with your site being down and you`re switching hosts and canceling payment, no matter how tempting it may be, you should pack up your things and be ready to move out first.

Copy all of the files, scripts, dlls and the database for your website to a local computer. Make sure that you don`t forget important configuration information as well. Get your SSL certificate and key if you have one and record any information about software, drivers, security settings, and registry entries you may have modified or updated that could be different on your new host`s server as well as the pop user names and passwords for any email accounts you`ve got.


Find a New Web Hosting Provider

The next step in breaking it off with your old host is to find a new one. Our HostSearch tips on finding a host should help you find the host that is right for you but also remember to gather up the software and configuration information for your site and check to make sure any new host you`re looking at will be able to support everything you`re running on your site.


Get Your Domain Name Registration Information

Go to a handy WHOIS site and check to make sure you`re listed as the administrative contact for your domain name. i.e. that you`ve been registered as the owner for your domain. If you are not you can`t legally even ask to transfer it to your new host. If you`re leaving on mutually bad terms with your old host you could be in for a long battle because your old host or whom ever is listed as the admin contact will have to give you their permission to move your site. You may wish to have your new host try and help you out with the transfer process because even though you may be on bad terms with the old host they will probably want to remain at least on neutral terms with your new hosting provider.


Move Your Site to Your New Host

Load your files and database, etc. onto your new host`s servers. They should be able to give you a temporary domain that you can use for testing until you are ready to make the switch. Make sure you change any path specific information that may have changed including relative links or script paths. Also, if you`ve had to change your database name or primary user id update your code to reflect those changes. Then test everything to make sure it all works. When you set up your email make sure to leave your email intact at your old host for a few days because you may receive email in either location. You may wish to inform your customers and site visitors that you are moving and provide an alternate email in case worst comes to worst and there is some downtime.


Update Your Domain Information

If your new web host happens to also be a domain registrar then they will be able to handle the switch for you. If not they will still probably be able to help you contact your former web host or the registrar with whom your site is registered. If you are not listed as the administrative contact this is where you will run into heartache. Make sure when you finally are reregistered you are listed as the administrative contact this time around. It`s best to make the switch at the lowest traffic time and day of the week or month if you can wait.

The change can take several days to propagate and up to a week to make its way through the internet to the most remote of domain name servers so if you can keep your old site up for several weeks after the point you make the switch.

If you make a small change to your homepage you will be able to test to see if your change has propagated properly.


Cancel Your Old Web Hosting Plan

Now that you`ve got your domain name switched, your site up and running and fully tested, for you to dust off that fuming 4 letter word filled letter to your old web hosting provider.

If you must go the 4 letter route however, first take look at your contract and make sure the contract clearly states that you own all your site`s content. If this isn`t stated in the contract then your site could be considered the property of your host. In the case of a bankruptcy it could even be considered part of your host`s bankruptcy estate and sold out from under you at bankruptcy court without your consent. You should probably rewrite that letter in more polite terms and just move on.

One last check of your links and you can officially consider yourself over your web hosting heartbreak.

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