How to minimize losses while changing a web host- A complete guide to move your website

There could be a lot of reasons and we want to move our host. The reason could be anything whether the server is all time down or it does not offer large bandwidth, space, etc.

1.Keep your previous host active

Before you change host you have to keep the previous hosting active until all the switching like DNS alteration, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), e-mail set up has been done. Your site will not be down during the transition.

2. Vigilantly choose new host

You do not want to put yourself in the same situation in you are (if you are reading this article than you want to likely you want to move your site).

You have to choose a web host depending upon your requirements. If you requires MySQL, ASP.NET or services like these than you have to go for Windows platform for it. My advice is to choose an apache server because they offer everything a webmaster needs.

Make sure they offer web space and bandwidth a little more than you need.

3. Keep copy of all the files on your site

change hosts
You should download each and every file on your site in case some catastrophe happens while switching the host. This step is done through FTP easily. The FTP services are not provided by free hosting companies and if you are using free hosting than you are in trouble.

There are webmasters who keeps copy of their website and you must be one of those webmasters. This must be done before changing host. It is not advisable to tell you host that you are about to switch to new host. Otherwise, they can reduce space, bandwidth or such things. You can keep a backup in two ways:

a) You can download a file just like you upload it.
b) FTP – You can download your site through it.

When you use free web hosting then they are forcing ads on your site to offset the prize. If you would save a file you would also save ads. You have to edit the file in order to remove these unwanted ads.

What you have to do after having a backup is shift all your data to your new host. Do not make it official on your former host. You just have to make sure that everything is OK at both the the hosts.

4.Create a new mail address

To keep in contact with your clients make sure that you have the same mail address as before.

5. Once you have done all the arrangements like uploading your site to new server, create an mail address and all that stuff. After it, just change the nameservers or DNS to your new hosting address.

The DNS is obtained when you made the payments for the web space provided by them. It will take a day or two to accept all the changes you have made and that is why terminating the web hosting by your existing host should not be done.

Now you have your website on new host running, you can end up your previous host service.

Precautions to be taken

1.The most essential thing is to make sure that all the internal linking is being doing fine. You will not encounter this problem if you own a domain name. If you’re hosting was embedding advertisements without your prior permission than you should move your hosting as these types of websites are not profitable in the long run.

2. You might be wondering what will happen to your precious site. If you own a domain it just have change its address and nothing else but if the URL was provided by hosting companies than it is changed and the whole website direction is changed.

3. When you own a domain all you have done is shifted your website and it will not affect your search engine ranking as have a URL to direct on and your spectators will not even make out that you have changed your address.

4. You would lose all of your visitors if your URL gets changed. Your search engine ranking will get affected as they will not have a place to go.

a) Do not keep a redirection page

What webmasters would do generally if their URL gets changed is they put up redirecting their old website to the new one but I have encountered few problems with it. There are two approaches to look upon:

o You can put a link of your new website (and this time make sure you own a domain) and tell your visitors to click on that link in order to go to previous site.
o Or you can simply put a redirection which will direct your visitors too your new one.

There are few problems with both the approaches. In the first one, if you would ask them to click on the link below most likely they would not like it and go to some other website.

In the second one, the redirecting method visitors will be directed to new website and they might not notice your new URL and if keep on following this method then search engine will delete that URL from their index because when the crawler see a redirection it just delete the URL from its database and you do not want that to happen as your new website would take some time to get indexed and appears in the search engine.

How to overcome this problem?

You can modify the .htacess file. This file tells your server what to do when a visitor seek you. Most of the hosting services will offer editing of .htacess file. You have to ensure whether this could be done or not.

Permanent Redirect
/previoussiteurl.htmlhttp://newsiteurl.com/fileserver.html

In this way as your audience will try to go to previoussiteurl.html the server will load fileserver from your newsiteurl.html. This knowledge of redirection will be transparent to the user. You do not have to worry about will they click on a link or not. They would not notice change in the location only if they do not see the browser changing its address.

If you are worried about the loss you would incur than that it is inevitable. Google have said that in this case of redirection they will transfer your page rank to the new one but personally I do not think they are successful in doing so.

What to do in case you do not have .htaccess?

Most of the free hosting would not like you to access .htaccess file. So you can use some other methods of redirection.

You can use META tags for redirection of pages in the head section of your html or php file.

meta http-equiv=”refresh”

meta URL=http:// newsite.com content=”0;

The ‘0’ tells browser to load immediately the new page. If you want to display some message to your users you can make the length of the content to 3. This will increase the time to 3 seconds before redirecting the page.

Update Link of your website

If you have a unique hit counter on your website that tracks the IP’s of all the visitors that came to your website than you can make list of all the referrals or websites that has your link on their website.

When the websites works as a referral to you, you must inform that they should change the address and change it to the new address otherwise it will ultimately result in the loss of visitors.

The next step is that to submit your website to the search engines. You should be patient as it takes a while to catch new sites by search engines and especially bing.

You can check the total links of your website through opensiteexplorer. In this way you would be able to track each and every link that was acting a referral to you.

You would have some trouble while maintaining contacts with the webmasters who had given you a link. Some of them would have been disappeared, some of them would not have e-mail contacts and most of them would not bother to change that address for you.