Step-by-Step Guide to Migrating a WordPress Site with Zero Downtime

Thursday May 18th 2017 by Tracey Jones
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Step-by-Step Guide to Migrating a WordPress Site with Zero Downtime

Moving a WordPress site from one host to another can be a daunting task, especially for those who are doing it for the first time. There are many risk factors related to WordPress migration, such as potential downtime and data loss that could leave you nowhere.

So, if you want to avoid these risks, you will need to follow all of these steps very carefully. Besides this, make sure you choose a reliable host that can offer you unlimited bandwidth and disk space, advanced security measures, update and backup your site on a regular basis and much more. Once you are done with the search, you can begin your migration process.

Note: Don't cancel the current hosting plan until you migrate your WP site fully to the new host as it could lead to potential downtime.

In this article, we will go through the entire WordPress migration process with zero downtime. We will use the Duplicator WordPress plugin that will help you copy and migrate a site from one location to another with ease.

So, let's get started!

1. Pick a Reliable New WordPress Host

As I mentioned above, choosing a suitable hosting plan for your WordPress site is crucial for the success of your WordPress migration. If you are not satisfied with the services of your current host, you should immediately switch it with a more reliable one that can manage your growing Web traffic — and also fulfill your future requirements with ease.

Since, the performance of your site depends on how much server space and bandwidth you can expand as your business grows, make sure you keep these two factors in mind while opting for a new WordPress host.

2. Install and Activate the Duplicator Plugin

Once you have selected your new hosting server, you need to download, install and activate the Duplicator plugin on your old host. This is a free WordPress plugin that helps you migrate, or copy, a Web site from one location to another, without any downtime. You can also use it for backup purposes as well. After activating the plugin, consider the following steps:

  • Go to the Duplicator plugin → "Packages" option available in the drop-down menu.
  • Now click on the "Create New" button available on the top right corner of the screen.
  • Click "Next" to create a new duplicate package for your Web site.

After you have clicked the 'next' button, it will start scanning your entire Web site. If the result shows "Good" after the scans, you can click on the 'Build' button to generate both the "Installer" and "Archive" files. This will help you download the packages with ease.

Quick Tip: The Archive is a cloned copy of a Web site, while the Installer will automate the installation process on your new host.

3. Import Files to the New Host

This is one of the crucial steps in WordPress migration.

Now the time is to upload both the 'Archive' and 'Installer' files, that you've created in the previous step, to your new Web host. For this, you may need to use a free FTP tool.

In this step, you will need to submit the IP address of your new host right in the FTP plugin settings. This will let you transfer your old site to the new host with ease.

These files need to be located in the root directory of your new host. For that, you will need to ask for the path from your new hosting service provider.

Quick Tip: Make sure both your archive.zip and installer.php files are located in an empty root directory.

4. Reduce Potential Downtime

Once you're done with the uploading process, you'll need to access your installer.php file via a Web browser. However, the command will return a 404 error because your domain is still pointing to your old host. If you want to resolve this, make sure that you tweak the 'hosts' file on your computer system. You can trail the following process to ensure zero downtime:

  • Look for the IP address of your new host in your CPanel dashboard. Now click on the "Expand Stats" to jot down the "shared IP address".
  • Hit the Windows button that can be seen on the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Now click on Programs → All Programs → Accessories → right-click on Notepad → click Run as Administrator. Click YES to approve the Windows UAC prompt. This will open the Notepad as an administrator.
  • In the Notepad file, you will need to click File, click Open and click C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc to choose and access the host file.

At the bottom of your host file, you can see your old IP address. You just need to change it with new 'shared IP Address that you cloned from your new host. You can also replace oldwebsitename.com with your new domain name. Don't forget to save your changes.

5. Migrate Your Site Using Duplicator

While the above steps will help you to access your new domain from your computer and successfully run the installer.php file on a Web browser, this particular step will help you migrate your WordPress site using the Duplicator plugin.

In short, during this step we will move our database; create a database username and password to let you easily import your database to your new host. To make your job simpler, you should consider the following steps:

  • Type 'http://www.mydomainname.com/installer.php in your Web browser.
  • Create a database for the new hosting in cPanel.
  • After creating the database, enter your database username and password. And don't forget to click on 'Test Connection'.
  • Now, scroll down to read the disclaimer, click the box for approval and click on run deployment. This will start importing your database to the new host.
  • This step is all about verifying the new, as well as old URLs. To know more, click on the "Run Update" for the accomplishment of the process.

6. Update the Domain

All these steps include the complete procedure of moving a copy of your WordPress site to the new host. However, the old host is still running. This means you will need to change the DNS 'nameservers' to let people access the new location instead of old one.

If you are registered with the new hosting provider, such as GoDaddy, or Namecheap, then you just need to login to the account of your nameserver and click on Launch next to Domain.

This will access a new window to let you change the domain settings, choose your domain name and click manage to ensure few changes to your nameserver. Now add your custom DNS nameservers and don't forget to save the changes.

Quick Tip: The DNS nameserver change process might take some hours. But this will ensure that you can easily transfer your site to the new host, without affecting the usability and accessibility of the site.

Conclusion

These are the six effective steps that will help you migrate your WordPress site to the new host, without any downtime or data loss. With the use of the Duplicator plugin, you will be able to move your old site and database to your new host.

About the Author

Tracey Jones describes herself as a bit of a geek. She is a proficient Web developer specializing in HTML to WordPress conversion. When not writing or coding, she enjoys table tennis, bushwalking and spending time with her family. To learn from her in-depth knowledge, reach out to her on twitter.

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