How To Move Your Website From One Server To Another

2004-11-25by Serge Thibodeau

Switching Hosting

For some reason, you aren't happy anymore with your current Web hosting provider. Possible reasons might be there's too much downtime, their servers are overloaded and too slow, or maybe you found a better deal with more features elsewhere. Whatever the reasons, moving your site from one server to another could be a very simple and easy process, provided you keep a few important things in mind.

The number one concern: search engines

If you are like me, you certainly don't want the little search robots coming to your site when it happens to be down. One way of preventing that is there should not even be any downtime, provided you do everything right.

The best way to prevent your site from being down is to first look for a new Web hosting provider before you even think of cancelling the old one. Once you have made your choice, contact them and have an account opened with them. Then make sure you transfer all your files to their servers. Once that has been done and you are certain all is well, only then it is safe to contact your old provider and tell them that you will soon be closing your account. Just make sure they don't close it right away, since that would cause your site to be unavailable.

Next step: your domain registrar

Once you've done all that, you then need to contact your domain name registrar, and you need to make the changes to the name servers. The Internet runs on name servers. A good example would be: ns1.yournameserver.com and ns2.yournameserver.com or any similar variation. Name servers ensure the Internet that there are no errors and that the desired website is being displayed when you type its domain name in your browser.

Name servers simply convert domain names into numbers (IP addresses) that computers can understand. As you might expect, the number of name servers is growing constantly, since the Internet is expanding rapidly.

At your domain name registrar, you need to change your old name servers to the new ones, provided to you by your new Web hosting company. Once you have made the changes, it can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for the change to become effective. In some rare cases, it can take up to 72 hours.

Prevention always pays

Now you understand why you need to open the other account first and make sure your files are already sitting on your new server. Failing to do that would cause you unnecessary downtime, which, as you can see, is very easy to prevent.

If a search engine robot such as Googlebot or Yahoo's Slurp would come to spider your site, either at the old or the new IP address, it would not find any difference and would simply proceed with the indexing of your site.

Once a whole week has passed, and once you are satisfied that the move went smoothly and that there were no complications, only then is it safe to contact your old hosting provider and ask them to close the account.


In these modern Internet times, switching Web hosts is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Follow every step explained in this document and you should do well. On a closing note: when shopping for a new hosting provider, don't just compare price alone. There is a lot more to Web hosting than finding the lowest, rock-bottom price.

Important issues such as availability, dependability, scalability, fast and efficient customer support, knowledgeable and experienced technical staff are all important attributes. Also look for a company that has a toll free 1-800 number, since you can rack up phone bills rapidly if you need to talk to them often, especially in the beginning.

Another important thing to look for is emergency backup power. In January 1998, the Montreal area and about one half of the province of Quebec was hit with the largest ice storm we had ever seen, resulting in a total loss of power for up to 6 weeks in certain parts of the province. Hosting providers that were equipped with emergency diesel generators were not affected in any way, nor were their clients.

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Serge Thibodeau

Serge Thibodeau has been performing professional search engine optimization and priority positioning services since 1997. Serge optimizes commercial web sites of small businesses, medium-size companies as well as Fortune 500 enterprises. Additionally, he also serves as CEO for RankforSales.com.

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