Small business owners have an important task when it comes to their small business website, including choosing the right web hosting company that fits all the important requirements, such as budget, speed, customer service, etc. Alas, sometimes it is necessary to say goodbye to one hosting company and start again with a new web host.
But what is involved when you are ready to change your web host? If you are a small business without an experienced webmaster, you may want to heed the following steps to get your small business website on the right hosting server.
Choose Your New Web Host
First, it is important to choose the correct host. If your current web host is not meeting your business needs, do a bit if research. There are plenty of “Top 10” small business web hosting reviews online that can give you a comprehensive idea of a web host’s price, service, and features. When you find the suitable host that fits your small business website requirements, make your purchase.
It is recommended that you buy at least 12 months of service, but no more than 24 months. Many web hosts will attempt to get you to pay for 3, 4, even 5 years of service in advance for a lower price. However, one or two years still allows you to change the web host in the near future if necessary without losing money.
Backup All Web Files
Be sure you backup all the current web files that are used on your current web host. You should have these files backed up in your own server. Double check that you have everything.
Inquire if the New Web Host Has Free Migration
Some web hosts will provide “free migration.” This is a great help to get your web files set up properly on the new host. If your host offers this service, be sure to take advantage.
Upload Web Files to New Host
Once you have purchased a new web host, it is time to get your small business website files onto their servers. One way is to simply use the provided account access software, also known as the control panel. This process uploads just a few or even one file at a time and can be a long process. But smaller websites with fewer files can manage this process fine.
If you have a larger website with many pages and files, consider using a FTP client software. This software is usually for purchase, but the interface allows the user to access two servers (or hard drives) at once, and transfer files in bulk. It’s quick and easy, and is also a godsend when your website requires frequent updates or maintenance.
Double Check All Navigation and Outside Links
After your files are uploaded, your website is still not “live,” meaning your domain is still pointing at your old host. But you can access your website using your host’s server URL. It may look like this:
Using this “backdoor” access, you can test that all your small business website files have been uploaded and in their proper folders, and assure that all links are working properly as well.
Point Your Domain Name Server (DNS) Setting to New Web Host
When you are ready to go “live,” you need to point the DNS to your new web host’s servers. Your new host will provide you with the proper nameserver information, and there are usually two of them. You will need to log on to your domain registrar and input both Nameserver1 and Nameserver2 and save the settings. It usually takes up to 48 hours for this domain “pointer” to become active.
Double Check Your New Host is Live
To make sure that your small business website is “live” on your new web host, you can easily upload a special note on your homepage that is only on the file uploaded to the new host. When that note is seen when you type in your URL domain, then you know the change is complete.
Cancel Old Hosting Account
One important thing to mention is to never notify your old host that you are changing hosting service, or close your account before the change is complete. Some hosts may practice “dirty business” and shut down your account before your new account is live.
However, once your domain is properly pointed to the new host, go ahead and contact your old host to let them know about your cancellation. Be sure that if you set up an auto withdrawal type of payment, it is turned off as well so they do not try to improperly charge you.