How to Change Web Hosting Companies – Step by Step

Sometimes there comes a time where you have to change web hosting companies due to out growing your web hosting package or bad service. Once you have an established website or blog it is important that you change web hosting service providers seemlessly so the site appears to have no downtime (is not available) during the move.

Once you have researched what your new web hosting account requires and selected the new web hosting provider there is a certain way to conduct the move so the search engine bots and visitors don’t notice.

Selecting a New Web Hosting Company

Some search engine optimization considerations to take into account when changing web hosting companies are:

  • If you are already targeting a specific country for your search results success and decided to use a web hosting in your target country previously then keep this in mind when selecting a new web hosting company.
  • On the other hand, if you want to target a specific country in their country specific search results then finding a web hosting company that has web servers actually in that country would be a plus in your overall search engine optimization plan.

In either case above, make sure the web hosting company’s web servers are in your selected country. Dealing with a local company does not necessarily mean their web servers are actually in that country. A lot of web hosting companies lease space from data centers elsewhere. You need to know the IP address of the server you will be hosted on and make sure it is in the country you want.

Matt Cutts, Google Spam Department, specifically addresses this in his GoogleWebmasterHelp video on Youtube: Can the geographic location of IP address affect SEO?

As Matt Cutts explains in the video referenced, changing web hosting companies within the same country should not have an ill affect on the search engine optimization of your site (as long as the service is not poorer than the company you just left).

Make sure you have a web hosting checklist handy before making a commitment to the new web hosting company. Also check the contract you have with the old web hosting company for any conditions as to how long you have to stay there for the pricing you secured and if you are going to loose your domain name. Loosing your domain name because you cancelled a web hosting account is one of the things you have to consider when looking at the deals offered on the net. This is one reason we recommend keeping everything separate. 3 different companies: your domain registrar, your web hosting and your web desinger (if you hire one). This goes for hosted ecommerce software sites also.

Preparing to Change Web Hosting Companies

Once you have selected your new web hosting company and signed up you need to do a couple of things before changing the DNS (domain name server) information at your domain registrar. Don’t cancel your old web hosting yet!

Back Up Your Website/Blog

To move web hosting companies you will need to backup your website/blog to your computer using FTP software.

Back Up Your Web Based Emails

Those of you who use web based email access (you read and send website emails via your browser) instead of an email client (software on your computer) to pick up and send emails for your website will have to back up the emails sitting in your email address account(s) at the old web hosting before cancelling the old web hosting. Once you cancel the web hosting these will be lost.

Upload Site to New Web Hosting

Next you need to upload (transfer) the website/blog files from your computer to your new web hosting account. Using FTP software will make this easy. Your new web hosting company should provide instructions as to which folder to upload your site to.

If your site uses a content management system, blogging software or an ecommerce software (that you own) then you are also going to have to set up the database(s) required to run the site at the new web hosting account also.

Set Up Email Accounts at New Web Hosting

Set up the same email accounts you had at your old web hosting account. These are not going to work until you change the DNS (domain name server) information but needs to be done ahead of time so when the DNS information is changed you avoid loosing emails to the site.

Change the DNS Information at Your Domain Registration Account

Once you have all the files uploaded to your new web hosting, look in your account information section to find the DNS (domain name server) information. You will need this to change the DNS information at your domain registration account.

Log into your domain registration account. Change the old DNS information you have to the new information from the new web hosting company. Save the information and logout.

How Long Do I Keep the Old Web Hosting Account?

The stock answer to the question of how long it takes for the DNS information to be updated around the world is 24 – 48 hours. One way to see if the information has changed is to make a little change at the new location version or put a comment tag in the head section of a page so when you view the source code of the page and see it you are looking at the new location.

If you are not seeing the new location there could be a few reasons:

  • All the domain name servers around the world have not updated yet.
  • Your browser is using the cached version of your site on your computer. Try clearing your browser history.
  • Your ISP (internet service provider) is caching the net. If their proxy server is not available to you try a proxy server like Proxify® to view the site.

Once you are sure that everyone is seeing the new location it is safe to cancel your old web hosting account. Be sure to check your old email accounts at the old web hosting account before canceling. There could be a couple of emails sitting there that came in before the DNS information was updated around the world.

Changing web hosting companies is not that hard. All it requires is for you to be well organized and patient. Moving web hosting companies in the fit of anger is not a wise move. Take things slowly and do things methodically for a successful web hosting move without any downtime.

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