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Need a WordPress migration checklist?
If you own a WordPress website, you might soon face the need to migrate to a new server, hosting provider, or domain name. Although this seems overwhelming, migrations don’t have to be complex. With planning, you can navigate this process smoothly and protect your data.
In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive WordPress migration checklist so you’ll know all the steps before starting the move!
In a website migration, you’ll move your entire website to a different location. This might be a new hosting company, server, domain name, or Content Management System (CMS).
Migrating your website might seem like a huge hassle. You’ve already spent precious time setting up your site on your current hosting provider and domain name, so why move it?
There are many reasons why it can be beneficial to migrate your WordPress website. Here are just a few:
Once you decide to migrate your website, you’ll need to move all of your content and other data to the new location. If you skip a step along the way, this could lead to data loss.
With some thorough planning, you can easily migrate your WordPress website and avoid putting your data at risk. We’ll show you everything you need to do before, during, and after a migration to make the transition as smooth as possible!
First things first, you’ll want to back up your current WordPress website. This way, you’ll have a copy on hand if anything goes wrong during the migration. You’ll be able to simply restore this backup and instantly revert your site back to how it was before the move.
The easiest and fastest way to create backups is to install a WordPress backup plugin. With this tool, you won’t have to manually export copies of your files and database.
Duplicator is a flexible plugin that can help you with WordPress backups and migrations. It allows you to quickly download your entire website as a zip file. You can save this as a backup or use it to migrate your data to a new host:
To back up your website, go to Duplicator Pro » Packages » Create New:
After naming the backup, select a storage location. Duplicator automatically stores backups on your local server, but you can also move them to cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox:
Then, hit Next. Duplicator will scan your website and inform you of any issues before starting the backup:
Once the backup is finished, you’ll see it on the Packages page. To save it, hit Download » Both Files:
It’s also a good idea to set a recovery point. This allows you to restore your backup even if you can’t access your WordPress dashboard due to a critical error.
Simply select the backup and hit Recovery Point:
Next, click on Set to Recovery Point:
Now you’ll see an arrow icon next to the backup. Click on this to copy your recovery URL:
Be sure to save this URL in a safe place. If you need to, you can paste it into a browser window and immediately launch the Duplicator recovery wizard.
In a migration, you’ll be responsible for transferring your WordPress files and database to the new location. During this process, you won’t want to have to worry about purchasing a hosting plan or domain name.
If you’re moving to a new web host, consider setting up your account beforehand. Find the right plan for your needs and log into your control panel.
To make things easier, you can also install WordPress on the new host. Many providers allow you to do this in one click.
If you’re moving to a new domain name, you can purchase one through a domain registrar. On the other hand, you may be able to get a free domain from your web host.
Before migrating your site, be sure to have all of this information readily available:
Preparing this information in advance will help you migrate your website smoothly. If you have to worry about locating login credentials during the move, you might face more downtime than necessary. It’s best to be prepared so that you can move your site as quickly as possible.
Especially if you have a large audience, you won’t want to move your website at the wrong time. The goal of any migration is to ensure a seamless transition for your visitors. Choosing the right time can minimize the impact on user experience.
It’s important to plan your migration during periods of lower traffic or activity. Weekends, late at night, or other off-peak hours are often preferred to carry out the migration without affecting a significant number of users.
Even if minimize downtime as much as possible, your site may still go down at some point during the migration. By choosing a time when your website experiences the least traffic, you can reduce the number of users who might be inconvenienced by temporary unavailability.
If you’re not sure when to plan your migration, we’d recommend using an analytics plugin like MonsterInsights. This will give you an overview of your organic traffic, so you’ll know when your periods of downtime are:
You can’t guarantee that no visitors will be on your website as you start migrating it. This is why we’d suggest notifying your audience before the migration, so they know what to expect.
By creating a notification, you’ll urge customers to make their purchases before your site goes down. You can also let them know when your website will be back up, reducing the chances that a customer will turn to your competitor.
OptinMonster is a lead generation plugin that makes it easy to build pop-ups for your website. You can use a drag-and-drop builder to add countdown timers, coupon wheels, and email sign-ups. You’ll inform your customers exactly what’s going on with your site and when you’ll be back online:
Do you want to encourage sales before the move? Check out this guide on how to create a popup coupon!
At the appropriate time, you’ll need to put your website into maintenance mode. This ensures that you can work out any bugs or other errors before you make your new site live.
Essentially, your visitors will see a maintenance mode page instead of your usual content. You’ll work on major changes behind the scenes without worrying about accidentally breaking anything on your site.
Another benefit of using a maintenance mode page is that it tells users what’s going on. They’ll know why your website is down and when to expect your content to be back up again.
We’d recommend using SeedProd to build a custom maintenance page. Since this page builder plugin comes with drag-and-drop functionality and many maintenance page templates, SeedProd makes it easy to go into maintenance mode:
Once you activate the plugin, click on Set up a Maintenance Mode Page. Then, you can select a pre-designed template. This avoids the need to create one from scratch:
Then, add new blocks, text, buttons, opt-in forms, or other custom elements. You’ll be able to simply drag and drop them onto the page:
When you’re ready, save and publish the page. Find the Maintenance Mode box and activate it:
Now your old WordPress site is in maintenance mode! This provides a better experience for visitors since they’ll see a custom maintenance page instead of a 404 error.
Before migrating your website, it’s important to temporarily disable any plugins involved with caching, security, and redirects. These plugins, while beneficial during regular website operation, can interfere with the migration process and potentially lead to unexpected issues.
For example, many WordPress security plugins set up firewalls. This can limit or block requests necessary for a migration.
If you don’t disable caching, redirect, or firewall plugins, you could get a 403 Forbidden or 500 Internal Server error. To prevent any issues, be sure to deactivate them before getting started.
Now that you’ve prepared for a WordPress migration, it’s time to get started! Let’s walk you through the steps to move your entire website without any downtime or data loss.
To get started, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll perform the migration. Manual migrations are possible, but they require technical expertise and come with some extra risks.
Fortunately, many tools can help you move your data successfully. If you’re moving to a new WordPress hosting provider, many companies will migrate your website for you. You won’t have to worry about transferring your files onto a new server.
Instead of having to export your files and database, you can use Duplicator to compile all of this data into a single zip file. Then, simply drag and drop this into your new WordPress installations. This makes migrations fast and beginner-friendly.
Here are some extra features that you’ll get with Duplicator Pro:
Lastly, copy and paste your license key into the Licensing settings:
Now you’ll be ready to migrate your WordPress website with ease!
The first step in a WordPress migration is to download copies of your current site’s files and database. With Duplicator, you can do this without ever leaving your dashboard.
Start by creating a package. You can expand the Archive section to choose exactly what data you want migrated to the new site. For example, if you want to clean up your website during the move, consider only transferring active plugins and themes:
Finish building the backup. Then, download both the archive and installer files.
No matter what type of website you’re running, you’ll likely want to reduce downtime during a migration. This ensures that your site’s user experience and search engine ranking don’t suffer.
By updating your hosts file, you essentially create a private pathway to the new server’s IP address on your computer. This means that while you’re testing and refining the migrated site on the new server, the live site on the old server remains unaffected.
Although this sounds complicated, even beginners can update their hosts file. For Mac users, you can open Terminal and run this command:
sudo nano /private/etc/hosts
At the bottom of the hosts file, paste your new IP address and domain name:
After this, continue migrating your WordPress site. However, remember to delete this entry once you’re finished.
Your new website also needs a new WordPress database. If you or your web host has already created one, move on to the next step.
Otherwise, open your new host’s control panel and find the option to edit your MySQL databases:
Then, create a new database by naming it:
You’ll also need to add a new user to the database:
Finally, assign the new user to the new database:
Feel free to give the user all privileges. Be sure to remember your database name, user, and password for the next step.
Next, you’re going to transfer your WordPress backup to the new website. This will clone your website to the new location, effectively moving all of your plugins, themes, images, and other files.
If you’re a beginner, open your WordPress dashboard and install Duplicator Pro. Then, find the Import page and upload your archive file:
However, you don’t even need to install WordPress. To save time, open a file manager like FileZilla or cPanel and connect to your new host. Empty your public_html directory and upload the archive and installer files:
Now open a browser window and find this URL: https://your-domain/installer.php
This will automatically launch the Duplicator installer:
In the Setup section, enter your database information. You’ll need to fill out your host name, database name, user, and password:
At the bottom of the page, hit Validate. After reviewing any of the notices, accept them and continue:
In the pop-up window, confirm the installation:
If you need to, you can select specific database tables to avoid importing or updating:
Without Duplicator, you’d have to manually search your database for your old URL and replace it with the new one. Fortunately, Duplicator will do this for you. Simply enter your old and new URLs:
After this, your site will be migrated to the new server, host, or domain! You’ll see information about the installation:
Use the Admin Login button to access your migrated website!
Once you migrate your files and database, the hard part is over. However, there are a few extra tasks we’d recommend doing to complete the migration successfully. Here’s our post WordPress migration checklist!
A migration is a tricky process, so you’ll want to review your entire website to make sure it looks and feels the same as the old one. To do this, go on the front end and review both the appearance and functionality of the new site.
Be sure to test the comments section, forms, checkout page, or any other useable elements. For membership sites, make sure that the user dashboards are working correctly.
It’s also a good idea to check your website’s speed. If you migrated to a better web host or hosting plan, the server should contribute to a faster loading time.
To test this, use the IsItWP Speed Test. By entering your new website’s URL, you’ll immediately get a performance score:
If you receive a poor score, you might need to contact your new web host’s support team to resolve the issue. In the meantime, check out this guide on boosting WordPress speed and performance.
Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for your site to have some broken links after a migration. This can not only harm user experience, but SEO. Scanning for and fixing broken links can help maintain your website’s search engine rankings and visibility.
Fortunately, the Broken Link Checker plugin automatically scans for broken links and allows you to fix them. For more details, check out our tutorial on how to fix broken links after a website migration.
If you decided to switch domains, you’ll want old visitors to be able to find your new website. To do this, you’ll need to set up redirects.
All in One SEO is a WordPress SEO plugin that provides a useful Redirection Manager. Rather than installing a dedicated redirect plugin, you can use AIOSEO to effectively send visitors to the correct page:
Once you activate the Redirection Manager, open the Full Site Redirect tab. Toggle on the Relocate Site option at the top of the page:
Then, add your new domain name to the Relocate to domain field.
Hit Save Changes to finish setting up the 301 redirects. Now, whenever someone visits the old URL, their web browser will automatically redirect to the new one.
After you move to a new host, it’s time to connect your old domain to the new server. To do this, log into your old host’s control panel and locate your DNS information:
Then, edit your nameservers. Choose Custom as the Setup Type:
In the blank fields, add your new hosting provider’s nameservers. This will point your domain to the new host, but keep in mind that updates to DNS records can take up to 48 hours to propagate.
As a website owner, you’ve probably spent a long time building a good SEO strategy. To avoid losing your ranking, it’s important to inform Google that you’ve made the move.
If you haven’t already, add both your original and new websites as properties in Google Search Console. For help getting started with this, read this comprehensive guide on Google Search Console.
Using the dropdown in the top left corner, select your old URL as the property:
Next, go to Settings » Change of address:
Then, select your new website and hit Validate & Update:
To make sure your site can be indexed by Google, you can use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console. This allows you to enter any page URL from your site:
You’ll then know if any indexing problems are affecting your site’s search visibility.
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is responsible for encrypting the data exchanged between your server and a visitor’s browser. Testing your SSL after a migration can help you maintain your high level of security.
First, visit your site using an incognito window. If your SSL certificate is working, you’ll see a padlock icon next to your website’s URL.
Do you see a security warning instead? Check out this tutorial on how to get a free SSL certificate for your WordPress site!
As a final step in this website migration checklist, consider crawling your new WordPress site. Using tools like Screaming Frog or Ahrefs, you’ll identify duplicate content, redirect changes, broken links, or other issues.
This can help you become more aware of how your site is functioning. You’ll audit any SEO problems and avoid the dreaded dip in ranking after a site migration.
To migrate your WordPress site, you’ll need a WordPress migration plugin like Duplicator Pro. With this tool, you can create a copy of your website and seamlessly move it to another host, server, or domain name.
Migrating a WordPress site only takes a few minutes with the right tools. Duplicator Pro is a migration plugin that can migrate your website in a fraction of the time it takes to move your data manually. However, you’ll also need to remember that it takes up to 48 hours for your DNS to propagate after any changes.
To migrate a WordPress site, create a backup of your entire site with Duplicator. Then, download the generated archive and installer files. Use a file manager to connect to your new server and upload these backup files to the root directory. To finish the migration, visit https://your-domain/installer.php and follow the Duplicator migration wizard.
You can prepare for a website migration by setting up your new hosting account and backing up your old website. You’ll also need to plan the migration during a low-traffic time and inform your audience about the upcoming move. Additionally, consider putting your website in maintenance mode and deactivating any caching, firewall, and redirect plugins.
No, it’s not hard to migrate a website. If you’re a beginner, you can use a user-friendly migration plugin like Duplicator Pro to drag and drop your WordPress site into a new location. You won’t have to worry about manually exporting or importing your files and database.
We hope this guide gave you a full WordPress migration checklist to prepare for and successfully move your website!
You may also like these extra WordPress migration guides:
Do you want an easy-to-use tool that will migrate your WordPress site for you? Download Duplicator Pro to start taking advantage of drag-and-drop migrations!