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The WordPress Migration Checklist: a simple roadmap

Darren H

19 May 20226 min read • WordPress

If there’s one thing people fear when conducting a website migration, it’s breaking their website in the process.

After all, website migrations can be a pretty tricky task involving a lot of moving parts. One wrong move and you could be left with a non-functioning website that loses traffic and revenue for every second of downtime experienced.

That said, if it’s time to go, then it’s time to go. If you need to migrate your website, then you’ll simply have to get down to it - but don’t worry, we’re here to make the process less daunting with this WordPress migration checklist. Bookmark it as we share how to migrate a WordPress website step-by-step (and also spill the beans on how you can score a free, done-for-you migration!)

Why might you want to migrate your WordPress website?

Migrating a WordPress website involves moving its files from one server environment to another, such as from a subdomain to a main directory (or vice versa), or from a staging site to the live, publicly accessible version of your website (also known as a production site).

There are many reasons why you may need to undertake a site migration. These include:

  • Migrating to a new domain name, especially as part of a rebranding exercise.
  • Rolling out new website features after testing them on your staging site.
  • Moving a website into an existing multisite network.
  • Switching hosting providers.

And on that last point:

Which web host should you switch to when migrating your WordPress website?

If you’re doing a WordPress website migration because you’re changing web hosts, you’ll want to make sure that your new web hosting provider is high-performing and can meet your website’s technical needs.

Well, Krystal fits the bill perfectly. Our Onyx managed WordPress hosting plans are designed for performance and scalability, ensuring that visitors get the best possible technical experience while on your website. When you opt for a Krystal hosting plan, your website will be served from 100% solid-state drives (SSDs) and powered by LiteSpeed caching for page load speeds up to two times faster than some competing hosts. At the same time, we offer a 99.99% uptime guarantee so that your website will remain always available, and always ready for business.

Our award-winning support team is also on standby should you need help with boosting your website’s performance. For a start, they’ll be happy to walk you through our managed WordPress hosting plans and migration process - and you can get in touch with them here!

How to migrate your WordPress website

Ready to migrate your website? Then let’s cover two ways of doing so, namely:

  1. Using a WordPress migration plugin.
  2. Doing a manual WordPress migration.

Using a plugin to migrate your WordPress website

Between using a specially designed WordPress migration plugin to migrate a WordPress website and conducting a manual migration, the plugin route is much easier.

That’s because the plugin will generally provide step-by-step instructions for migrating your website and have features, such as one-click backups, to facilitate the migration process. Your job is then to follow the instructions to complete the migration. If you don’t have much web development experience, we strongly recommend that you use a plugin instead of attempting to perform a manual migration.

Before you get started, however, decide whether you want to use a migration plugin or a backup plugin. While both types of plugins can assist with a website migration, migration plugins tend to contain a wider range of features for migrating a website. That said, you may need more technical knowledge to make the most out of such migration tools. In contrast, backup plugins may be more straightforward to use: you’ll use the plugin to take a backup of your website, and then restore this backup on your destination environment.

Popular WordPress migration plugins worth checking out include:

  1. All-in-One WP Migration.
  2. Duplicator Pro.
  3. WP Migrate DB.
  4. Migrate Guru.
  5. WP BackItUp.
  6. Super Backup & Clone.

Manually migrating your WordPress website

If you’re more technically minded, or are just feeling up for a challenge, then follow this WordPress migration checklist for migrating your website the manual way!

Step 1. Backup your website

The backup serves two purposes:

  1. Helping you save a copy of your website’s files for moving to the new environment.
  2. Just in case things go wrong during the migration (for example, you lose valuable data or your website breaks), and you need to start over.

You can obtain the backup by using a WordPress backup plugin such as those mentioned above. Alternatively, you can use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client like FileZilla to do a direct download of your website files from your current server. Get your FTP, SFTP or FTPS credentials (as relevant) from your current web hosting provider if you aren’t sure what they are.

Step 2. Export your WordPress database

Next, you’ll export your WordPress database, which contains the contents of your WordPress site such as posts and comments. To do so, log into the cPanel backend in your current hosting account, then navigate to Home > Databases > phpMyAdmin. Click “Export” and export your database in SQL format.

3. Create a new WordPress database in your destination environment

You’ll populate this new database with the contents of your existing database. Create the new database by accessing cPanel in your destination environment (such as your new web host), followed by Home > Databases > MySQL Databases. In the process, you’ll be asked to set a name, username and password for your database. Make a note of these credentials - you’ll need them in the next step.

4. Update your wp-config.php file

Go into your WordPress file backup (from step 1) and open the wp-config.php file. This file stores information on the database that should be connected to when your site is loaded. And because you’re moving your database elsewhere, you’ll need to update your wp-config.php file with information on your new database.

In the wp-config.php file, search for three lines that look like these:

define('DB_NAME, 'db_name');

define('DB_USER, 'db_user');

define('DB_PASSWORD, 'db_pass');

Replace “db_name”, “db_user” and “db_pass” with the name, username and password for your new database respectively (see the previous step).

5. Import your WordPress database

From the cPanel of your destination environment, go to Home > Databases > phpMyAdmin. Select the new database you created in step three, and click “Import” to import the database for your current website (as exported in step two).

6. Upload your WordPress files to your new host

With your database migrated, you’ll now bring over your WordPress files. Use the FTP credentials for your destination environment to log into your new server and navigate to the public_html folder.

Upload all your WordPress files to this folder, then sit tight and wait until the upload is complete.

7. Set up your domain (if it has changed)

If you’re changing domains as part of the migration, use the Search Replace DB script - you can get it from GitHub - to conveniently search for all instances of your old domain name in your database files, and replace these with your new domain name.

You’ll also need to update your website’s DNS records to point to your new name servers. This can be done through your new website’s admin panel.

8. Test your migrated website

You’re almost done with the migration! Your website should now be up and running in the new environment, so do a thorough check that things are working as they should. For instance:

  • Visit your homepage, product pages, cart and checkout pages and blog section, and verify that everything looks right.
  • Test key website functions, such as logging into your website, posting a new blog post and submitting orders, to see if any errors crop up.
  • Check for broken images and old URLs, and replace these with new URLs as necessary.

How to migrate your WordPress website to Krystal

Instead of using a migration plugin or manually migrating your website, how would you like to have someone migrate your WordPress website for you?

That’s what you stand to enjoy if you migrate your WordPress website to our servers. We want to provide our clients with the best possible experience, and it starts with treating you to a free WordPress migration when you sign up with us.

To take advantage of our free migration service, register for a Krystal hosting plan and open a support ticket from your client area. We’ll contact you to execute the migration on your behalf. Then, when the migration is complete, you’ll be all set up to enjoy Krystal’s phenomenal features and support!

Keep this WordPress migration checklist handy!

While migrating a website can be a complex task, we hope you’ve found this pre-migration checklist useful for understanding what you’ll need to do when migrating your site. You can also use a WordPress migration plugin to simplify the migration process if you’d rather not dive into databases yourself.

And if you’re looking into site migrations because you’re switching hosts, check out our managed WordPress hosting plans. They’re built to scale with you, so no matter whether you’re running a modest personal website, an ecommerce store or a website for a big-name organisation, we’ll have the perfectly sized plan for you. We’ve cherry picked the very best enterprise-grade hardware and top-notch performance features that ensure lightning-fast page load speeds for a superior user experience, while SSL encryption and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection keep your website safe from security risks.

Finally, we’ll also take the migraines out of website migrations - we’ll migrate your WordPress site to our servers for you, and for no charge at all. Get in touch with our support team to learn more and kick-start the process today.

About the author

Darren H

I'm Darren and I'm the Senior Copywriter at Krystal. Words are what I do. Aside from writing, I play guitar and sing in my band Machineries Of Joy, work on getting my 2nd Dan in Taekwondo and seek adventure with my wife and daughter.

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