Buying web hosting for the first time can be a tough decision, especially if you are a non-technical, non-geeky person. But switching a web host for the first time could be an even tougher decision and requires deeper thought. This is more important if you already have a successful website which is ranked high on search engines, because you need to switch servers seamlessly, without affecting your ranking. Lets take a look at how easy or difficult it actually is switch hosting providers without having any downtime.
“Resistance to change” is a well known doctrine of management, when a company or organisation wants to introduce some change in their style of working or internal policies. Their efforts to change is met by resistance of staff and employees, who are already set to work in a particular way and find it difficult to adjust to the change and hence prefer resisting the change rather than embracing it. So also, just the thought of migrating a website maybe frightening to some webmasters who are quite comfortable with their web host and have blind faith in them, no matter how good or bad their price or support is. The main myth that most website owners have in their mind is that if they try to shift their website and emails, there maybe loss of data and worst of all, there may be downtime which may make their services unusable or may cause their search engine rankings to drop.
It is true that if you don’t know what you are doing and dont have an action plan, it may lead to data loss or downtime. The best way to avoid that is to have a plan and do a dry run. Migrating from one host to another means that you need to get your data off from the old server to the new one. This is exactly like copy pasting your data from your office laptop to your home laptop. The only catch is that this is a live server, with the possibility of visitors round the clock. Goofing up on the migration can cause “Page not found” errors and display broken pages to the visitors of your website. This can be easily avoided by prior planning and a bit of reading up. A backup plan incase things go wrong is always a good idea. If you think you cannot manage the transfer yourself, calling for help from a professional tech support company may be a good idea.
The key to migrating seamlessly is that the new server and old server should both simultaneously have the data, so that when you switch the name servers to point to the new server, it is ready to serve up your website pages to eager visitors. When both servers are running your site parallel to each other, there is no chance that there will be downtime. Visitors will either see the pages on the old server or through the new server. Incase you feel that you are missing some files or some data is corrupt, you can always transfer them from the old server, without hassle. If you feel that a major part of your files have not been copied over or some major technical glitch prevents you from migrating at the time, you can always fall back on the old server and make it live again. Backing up your site before migration is very important. You cannot start without it.
In addition to knowing how to actually upload and download your files and databases, knowledge of DNS and Domain Name configuration will be an added advantage. If your new web host is intelligent they maybe able to guide you on how to ensure that your data consistency is maintained and that your entire migration experience is a pleasant one. Keeping good relations with your old hosting provider is also a good idea, incase you need some support from their end before, during or after the backup.