How to prepare, plan, and execute a Website Migration

 

 

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A website migration is the process of moving the files of a website from one web hosting company to another. A migration can happen for many reasons:

1. You have expanded your website and need more web space;
2. You need more features (i.e. a database, shopping cart or multimedia file hosting);
3. You found a better deal on web site hosting;
4. Or a relative/friend/colleague has server space and has offer to host your website for little or nothing.

Regardless of the situation, doing a website migration is inevitable. It is like moving from one home to another. In this article, I am going to give you several tips to make the big move as smooth as possible.

Tip 1: Schedule the Migration.
Its best to schedule the migration when there are not as many web users visiting your website. Check your website traffic (or get your online marketing department) to see when traffic levels are low, which for some cases may be the evening or the weekend, depending on the website. For a corporate website, it may be the weekend, but for a gaming website, it may be midweek.

Tip 2: Notify ALL Stakeholders.
Inform anyone and everyone who has an interest in the site, not only internally (employees, stockholders) but externally as well (supplies, customers and website visitors). A simple link redirecting to the date and time of the migration as well as the anticipated completion date should suffice.

Tip 3: Set a cutoff date for edits.
Set a deadline for all content updates to be submitted. Postpone any major additions to the website (i.e. new sections, new features) until after the migration. A good measure has been 3 business days before the migration. Any changes submitted beyond the deadline date would have to wait until after the move.

Tip 4: BACK-UP the website.
The day after the content deadline date, back-up the website. This means all files, images, scripts, multimedia and other files. One can back-up the website on a CD-RW (CD rewritable disk), Zip Drive, or an external hard drive. It is important to back-up a website not only for a migration, but weekly or biweekly if possible. The bonus is that you have an archive of the website.

Tip 5: Make sure you have the new web hosting information.
This includes:
1. FTP (File Transfer Protocol Information):
a. The Hostname. This can be the Internet Protocol (IP) address. This is a numerical address of the physical server (big computer that is almost always on) where the website will reside.
b. The account username
c. The account password

2. The Control Panel login information.
This is the Operations manual for the web host will be located. This may or may not be the same information as the FTP login. You will need this information to activate features for your website such as web submission forms, databases, shopping carts and other interactive features.

3. Domain Name Servers.
These are the addresses of the servers where the new website will reside. Most web hosts have 2 to 3 domain name server addresses reserved. You will need this information to transfer the domain name (www.yourcompany.com) to the new web host’s server(s) after all the web site files have been transferred.

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