Most people (web owners, webmasters, etc.) often have to change their hosts, as the quality of the services provided leaves much to be desired. The most common reasons why people decide to change their hosts: repeated and / or long downtime, poor technical support, rudeness of the technical support department or even the complete lack of answers from the hoster. 

Sometimes the reason for the change of hoster can be that the services provided no longer fit the website. Perhaps the website traffic is too large and / or the website has become so important that a more advanced hosting option (dedicated or distributed) was needed, and this hoster does not provide such services. Unfortunately, few people change their hosts for such a “good” reason.

Whatever the reason, here are the steps needed by anyone who wants to change the hosting provider as quickly and easily as possible: 

Find a good hosting provider

Although this may seem obvious, but I must focus on this. Find a good new host! If this is your first hoster, then in order to realize a new attempt, you will need all the help you can find. A good hoster will help you! 

If your current hoster is good and you change it to a cheaper one, which will be worse than your previous host, then you will be very sorry for your deed. Soon you will find that you are willing to pay more in order to get back the quality of service you are used to.

If your previous hoster was bad, then changing it to another bad hoster, you do not feel the difference. Most likely, you will be disturbed by the need to pay more for better service. Do not worry! Usually you get what you pay for! Changing a bad and cheap hoster to another one, no less bad but cheap, is like running in a circle; so you will not move anywhere! 

If you want to break this vicious circle and get a good result – find a decent host. But this does not mean that it should be expensive! He must be a quality hoster! 

Common problems associated with the change of hosters. 

There are several common problems that may arise when changing hosters. But if we know about problems, then we humans usually find their solution.

The first problem with the change of hosting providers is downtime. If you leave your hosting provider due to unreasonable downtime, an increase in downtime is not what you are looking for, is it? 

Another common problem is the loss of incoming email messages. Some email messages are very important and you never know when they will arrive. Losing them can mean losing important transactions and, therefore, money. Who wants this? 

Make a backup of the entire site

. Experienced webmasters always have a backup copy of their website (s) available. Often they store similar copies in several places: on two different hard drives, one on the hard drive and one on the CD, etc.

Oh yeah! I know that some hosting companies publicly advertise the fact that they regularly make copies of websites. Although they can keep backups, serious backup systems are rarely used because of their cost. And even if the hoster uses a similar system, an extra copy does not hurt, is it? 

In any case, if you change the host, the first thing you should do is copy the content of your website (usually FTP is used for this, but you can also use FrontPage if you are used to using it). 

Pay particular attention to maintaining the same directory structure so that the site functions well on the new server. If you change it, some links and other links will not work as it should.

If your website can be classified as large, it would be nice to ask the host whose services you currently use (and who will soon become your former host) when it’s best to make a backup. If you overload the server, the hoster can stop the backup process and even turn off your website. It is always better to ask permission. But do not say that you want to change it. 

Check the new place

Upload the website to its new place and configure the account settings, set file permissions, directory passwords and email addresses. If the hoster allows it, set up a collecting email address. Thus you are guaranteed to receive all e-mail, even if you forget to set up one of the boxes, the e-mail sent to it will not be returned to the sender.

After the account has been created, the hoster should send you an email with the account name, password, IP address, which you can use to gain access to your account / website, name servers, etc. If in the hoster email all necessary information is not reported, or you simply do not know how to use it, ask your hoster to help you. If you carefully chose your new hosting provider, he will be happy to help you.

All hosters know that new customers usually need good support to prepare and launch their sites. The first impression means a lot, even not very good hosters at the very beginning sometimes provide significant support. The lack of technical support at this stage is a bad sign. If the quality of support is unsatisfactory already at this stage, then this may mean that, despite all your efforts, you did not find what you were looking for. 

Now, if you are new to the network, do not expect the hoster to help you with the design of your site. Hosters do not really care about hosting issues that do not concern him, if you understand me. Just as you choose a hoster, the hoster selects its clients.

Let’s go back to the checkout … Check out as many pages as possible. Make sure internal links work fine. Get used to the control panel .. 

Check your email accounts. Make sure that you can connect to the mail server and that you can send email. Since at this stage you have not changed the name servers yet, you will need to set up new accounts in Outlook (or in any other similar program you are using). In this case, you must use the IP address instead of the usual ‘mail.your domain.com’. You do not know what I’m talking about? Ask the hoster to help you. How to set up Outlook is one of the most popular questions in this area.

With all these newly configured accounts, you can see if there are any errors. In addition, you can send email messages. However, at this stage, these email messages will not fall into your inbox, because the name servers have not yet been changed. 

Moving the databases

If your website is accessed using a database, then everything is a bit more complicated, especially if you have a forum where people often leave messages. 

Be that as it may, first try to determine what you need to change, so that people visiting your old website actually use or add data to your new database located on your new host. Ask your new provider to help you with this.

Before you really change anything, create a new database (with the same name as the old one) on the new server. Check it out, make sure it works fine. You should try to do everything in your power to avoid potential problems discovered at this stage. 

Now I will separately analyze situations with frequently used and unused databases: 

1. If the database is used not very often and / or not terribly, if a small amount of information recently added by visitors is lost, or you are the only one who adds data to the database then you can change the hosting provider virtually without any downtime.

You just need to upload a copy of your database to a new hosting account. If your visitors can add information or you should regularly add new things to the database, then set everything up so that the new database can also be used by the old website. All this must be done and verified just before you change the name servers. 

2. If new data is added to the database very often and this process cannot be controlled directly by you, then everything is much more complicated and I do not know the ideal way to solve this problem. I will advise you the best I know, but if I were you, I would discuss it with your programmer and / or a new hoster in order to get their opinion on this matter.

The problem is that the possibility that the database will be changed at the moment when you transfer it from the old hoster to your computer and then to your new hoster is very high (especially if the database is large and your connection speed is to the internet is not high). Add to this the time that is needed to ‘instruct’ the old website to add new data to a new place and settle other conflicts, and you will understand that some new data can be recorded in the old database while you are busy with all this movement.

In order to speed up the process, you can ask your new host to move the database. By this is meant that the new hoster will load the database from your old account to your new account. This should speed up the process of moving the database twice and minimize the difference between the moved database and the database located at the new hoster. 

Using the IP address and services of the new host to navigate your website, you can determine if there are any problems. Eliminate them before moving on. If their removal takes too much time, then you can move the database again, after you fix all the problems.

Once the database has been moved and the error messages will no longer appear, you will need to set up the old website (hosted by the old hoster) so that it uses the new database hosted by the new hoster. And again, a new hoster can help you with this. As you may have noticed, the importance of choosing a good hosting provider providing high-quality and timely technical support is becoming increasingly clear. 

Now the old website has to write data to the new database. This is similar to remote hosting of your database, which is quite widespread. In fact, it is used by some hosters that run databases on individual machines, and not on actual web servers.

Another strategy (if you can call it that) is to temporarily close the site and notify visitors that a renovation is underway. From time to time, even very serious and professional websites of very prestigious companies temporarily close their websites for reconstruction. There is no shame in this; Some things are simply impossible to do on the go. After all, when you repair the TV, you have to turn it off. 

When you have suspended the site, you can do whatever you want, and in the order in which you want. Closing a website also has flaws, so you may want to do everything as quickly as possible. 

Prevent loss of e-mail messages

During the transfer (read on; this term will be explained) your site ‘lives’ in two different places. However, depending on the way the information is transmitted, email messages can be delivered to your old and not to the new hoster. 

In order to guarantee the delivery of email messages when new name servers are sent all over the Internet, you need to create a new account in Outlook (or in any other similar program you use).

Most hosters use as a email server a typical ‘mail.your domain.com’. At a time when your website is undergoing a transition period, called a transfer, ‘your domain’ may indicate not the new, but the old hosting provider, so you can never be sure which people will connect to or where the email messages will go. In order to solve this problem, you can create in Outlook two new accounts for each of the email addresses @ your domain.com. In this case, instead of ‘mail.your domain.com’ as a server for incoming email messages, you should use the IP addresses that are specified by each hoster when creating accounts.

You can use these new account addresses to monitor email messages sent to your domain, but ‘landing’ in two different places. After the transfer process is completed and you send all email messages from the old server to the new one, you can use the regular email server mail.your domain.com and delete all accounts created based on IP addresses. 

Alternatively, you can connect to the control panel using IP addresses instead of the domain and then access the webmail properties. 

Changing Name Servers

Name servers associated with your domain are used to determine the real location of the website. Typical domain names are as follows: ns1.hostingcompany.com and ns2.hostingcompany.com, but their shape may be completely different. 

If you have carefully checked how your website behaves on a new account, then everything should work smoothly. Now you are ready to change the named server. This means that you will need to either log in to your account on the domain registrar, or contact the registrar and ask him to make changes.

Usually, after the change has been made, it will take about 2 days for the entire Internet to ‘notice the change’. This process is called transfer. However, some Internet providers may continue to use the old named servers for about two weeks, so it’s better during this time (2 weeks) not to close accounts with your old hoster. Check whether any email messages are sent to the old hoster and make it your habit to control activities such as registering with your old hosting account. After two or three days, the activity should be at zero, but, as I said, some people continue to get there for some time.

Usually after about two weeks, the activity level should be set to zero and you can notify the old hosting provider that you no longer need his services. Do not forget (or do not pretend that you have forgotten) to ask the old hosting provider if he should not return any money to you. This is your money and you must do everything within reason to get it back. 

Conclusions

Changing a hoster is hardly a pleasant process. It would be better if you did not have to do it often. Therefore, it is very important to choose a good host.

Changing a hoster is not very difficult, but this process requires a certain amount of consistency and synchrony. It is important to check before actually changing anything. џ I remember once changing the name servers, although the website has not yet worked on a new account. џ thought that solving this problem would not take long and thought like this: “Why not rush things and start the program while I work on it?” 

Thus, it took me more than one day, and until that time I and some other visitors could not get on my website, since most of the network already used the new named servers. It really was not the best day of my life!

Therefore, check before making changes. џ I wish you so rarely change hosters so that you would have to re-read this article each time to remember what you once did!