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WH - 6. Switching to a new Web Hosting Company

There may come a time when you feel that your web site is starting to outgrow the services that your current web hosting company can supply. Or maybe you have found the hosting company to be unreliable, with your site down-time rising to a level you find unacceptable. For whatever reason, you think it’s time to look for a new host for your web site.

The first thing that you will need to do is some homework on the new web hosting company. Make sure that they offer all of the resources and services you need, such as disk space, bandwidth or technical support. Also ensure that they will support any scripts you are currently using. If you are using a Windows-based server as a host, make sure that your new host offers this, similarly if you are currently using a Unix/Linux-based server. Try to get some feedback from other users by looking at message boards or forums – if you’re moving due to reliability issues then you really don’t want the same thing to happen after your move.

Make sure that you have all of the files that make up your current web site backed up. You should have been doing this anyway, just as a precaution, but make one last final check now. Once this is done you can go ahead and open an account with the new web hosting company. You will then be able to upload all of your files to the new server. After uploading the files you should be able to check that your web site is running as you expect, through an IP address provided by the new hosting company. At the same time you can set up any email accounts you need.

When you are satisfied that the new host is running correctly you will need to change the DNS information held by the registrar from which you obtained your domain name. It can take from 48 – 72 hours for this to propagate around the Internet, so don’t terminate your existing account just yet.

If you set up any email accounts on the new server you will need to configure your email software so that it can access those accounts. Don’t delete your old email accounts just yet – again the changes will take time to propagate.

After a couple of days you should be able to access the new site using its domain name. Check once more to make sure that everything appears as it should, that any scripts you are using are running correctly and that there are no broken links. You should also start seeing emails appearing through the new server, although some will still be coming via the old server.

Over the next few days you should see less and less email coming through your old server. Once this has stopped completely then you can go ahead and close your account with the old web hosting company.