Manual WordPress Migration is anything but simple and straightforward. The technology used today makes every service faster, easier and smarter than it was, just a few years ago. Right from the days of Apple iPod, the world has seen a shift in intuitive technology. Unlike Polaroid camera and old school music, it is futile to feel nostalgic about obsolete technology. It can only become more irrelevant as time passes by.
With that said, let us examine the details of WordPress Migrations and the cause of concern within the steps required for manual migration.
Problems encountered in steps for Manual Migration
To manually migrate your WordPress site, you need to perform the following steps:
1. Backup your entire site:
You can do this manually. It is preferable to use a tool, like a WordPress backup plugin like BlogVault for higher efficiency. WordPress sites consist of 2 main parts: files, and a database. Both these parts are equally important and must be backed up before you make any changes to (or move) your WordPress site. To backup the site, you need to copy of the files via FTP, and the database, imported via phpMyAdmin.
Performing a manual migration, is like baking a multi-tier fancy cake from the scratch at home with minimal resources. Going all the way with each step is a back breaking process and frankly, quite cumbersome. Time spent on manual migrations is time wasted from creating good content for your website.
2. Backup the database
After your files are safely placed on your local computer, you must export the WordPress database. You will need access to cPanels as well.
- Log in to your cPanel
- Navigate to Databases section
- Open phpMyAdmin
- Choose the Export tab
- Select a method
- Pick a format
Click Go button to save the database on your computer.
3. Create a new database on the new host
To move your site to a new domain, you’ll need to create a new database on the hosting service you’re moving to. This also means creating a new MySQL user with a secure password.
- Open cPanel on new host
- Navigate to MySQL Database
- Create a new database
- Create a new MySQL user
- Add new user account to the newly created database with all privileges selected
- Copy database name, username, and password
Since all the content is stored in the database and has references to the old URL, it must be updated to the new url in database. Handling this is a big challenge. Under wp-config.php enter the following command if your URL does not correspond to your actual site’s:
These command statements tell WordPress to ignore the values in the database and use the home and site URL values that you specify in the wp-config.php file.
4. Edit the wp-config.php file to reflect the new database changes
You’ll need to change the database name, the database username, and the database user password.
- Open the WordPress folder you backed up previously.
- Make a copy of wp-config.php file just in case you do something wrong
- Open the wp-config.php file and find the following code:
/*The MySQL database username */
/*The MySQL database password */
- Change the database name, username, and password to newly created ones
- Save changes
While performing the import export commands, many things can go wrong. One of them is the expiry of phpMyAdmin session. To access your database using phpMyAdmin and export the SQL data is therefore, quite risky. You also won’t be able to export a big database. It is worse for the import process because the previously mentioned dump file of your database has to be uploaded first.
Your last resort is to request a backup of your database to be created by the support team of your previous web host provider, or to ask your new host to import the dump file into a new database for you.
5. Perform another backup
Make sure that this backup doesn’t overwrite the previous backup. This backup should contain all the new changes made to the database. Follow the same steps as mentioned in Step 1
WordPress websites are bound to be very big, owing to the mass of multimedia files. Most people start downloading their files and folders locally via FTP. Then they upload them to the new host. Naturally, that takes an inordinate amount of time.
You could, alternatively, download your files’ archive directly from your old hosting provider to the new server. This would require SSH access to your new host and it should also be taken into consideration that some hosting providers offer only SFTP.
Manual migration is as time consuming as it is necessary. With WordPress migrations, the entire approach is similar to delicately building a house of cards: even if you know how to, it takes time, and hurrying up the procedure only increases the probability of the process failing. Import the Backup on new domain.
6. Import the Backup on new domain
After this, you’ll have to move the files and database to the new domain via FTP and phpMyAdmin, respectively. Follow the below steps:
- Login to your FTP account
- Find WordPress or public_html folder
- Upload the entire WordPress folder from your computer
These are going to be in the folders
wp-content/uploads and will contain themes, plugins and media files respectively. Any mishap can lead to fatal crashes in the final running of your site.
When data available in legacy system is not available in target system after migration process, it is termed as data loss. Data loss is known to be the highest risk in data migration. In the case of WordPress Migrations, this is equivalent to data present in website residing on previous web host being absent in the destination site on new web host, upon migration. The site is no longer the same one you worked so hard to maintain all this while.
7. Link your site to the new domain
When you’ve got external links on your site, they might break when you move them to a new domain. This is why it’s important that you update the links to point to the new domain. You can do this either manually, or via a plugin like Better Search and Replace or Search and Replace.
Some web hosts allow permissions like 777 for your files. When you transfer files from one host to another, the corresponding permissions are moved too. Such file permissions present an enormous security risk. If you are switching to a host that considers security a priority (which is a good thing) it will unfortunately result in an “Internal Server Error” page. This is to do with the correct permissions issues.
8. Update (or repoint) your DNS
You’ll have to update your DNS settings so they point to the new server instead of the old one. You can get the details required from your domain registrar.
Now you have to deal with redirection problems. WordPress still thinks your site is located in the old server with the old domain so you have to rework WordPress to understand the new situation. On your WordPress admin dashboard go to General under Settings tab.
You migrate your site to a new hosting provider and take a look at your featured images. That is when you realise all the old thumbnails of your featured images appear ugly and distorted. This means that your web site now looks completely off.
Just trying to adjust image sizes in Media under Settings category on your WordPress admin dashboard, won’t solve the problem. Regenerating these thumbnails to specific sizes will take an inordinate amount of time and extra effort. This goes on to show that any inaccuracies in data migration could result in major setbacks in the running of your site.
Domain records changes need a particular propagation period to take place. This is the time required for all the world’s DNS servers to update their records about your site domain name. You would have edited your domain information like nameservers, admin name, email, etc and this takes time.
Additionally you have to disable the comments on your old hosting account, or even place the old installation in maintenance mode. This is the dreaded downtime period.
As a result of the above mentioned issues, users of your website will end up suffering. Manual migration processes that take up to 72 hours become annoying if your hosting account has been suspended. You can not afford to allow your site going down. It will affect customer ratings, user experience and satisfaction, and ultimately damage a site’s reputation on the whole.
The above problems can be summarised as follows.
The Problems with WordPress Migrations
- Difficulty of Use
- DIY state of migration
- Lengthy process where anything can go wrong at any step
- Tremendous Effort required
- Exporting/Importing your WordPress Database
- phpMyAdmin Timing Out while Exporting/Importing a Database
- Transferring Files, Plugins, and Themes
- Handling WordPress Configuration after migration
- Very slow
- Files take a Long Time to Download and Upload
- Losing Comments or Other User Activity During Propagation Time.
- Consequences of tardiness include customer impression, usage and quality plummets
- Data is incomplete/ wrongly manipulated while cloning
- Internal Server Problems with File Permissions
Migrate Guru, as a WordPress plugin can completely banish all these issues with just a click of a button.
Migrate Guru – A WordPress Migration plugin
- Migrate Guru does all the work for you.
- It is a quick and simple 3 step process where you select the web host, enter the destination site details in a form and click Migrate!
- No import or export actions required. User does not have to select string to be replaced, or manually import FTP package, or select the cloud services to upload.
- Migrate Guru performs complete transfer of files, so you do not have to.
- As long as you have entered the correct details in Migrate Guru form, there is no need to worry about the configuration after migration. Migrate Guru takes care of that, for you.
- Migrate Guru servers are used. Off-site servers diminish chances of data loss completely.
- Migration occurs phenomenally fast, in the case of a plugin.
- User servers are not used at all. Instead Migrate Guru servers are used. Therefore, there will be no issues with file permissions or data itself.
- The complete and exact data is replicated or cloned in Migrate Guru.
- Once you enter the destination web host, Migrate Guru transfers the content to the new site. You do not have to change DNS to assign it to the destination site.
- Since the entire files and databases are transferred completely, there will be no data loss. Plus, at the speed at which the migration takes place, there is no need to panic about user activity loss.
What makes Migrate Guru truly unique?
It sets itself apart from the rest of the plugins. Here’s how –
- Guaranteed Crash Proof Migrations
- Three steps – One click only
- Off-site source server and storage
- Real time progress and email alerts
- 80% faster than your conventional migration procedure
- Completely free!
How does Migrate Guru work?
- Select a destination host.
You can migrate to any web host out there, so you have a lot of choices.
- Enter the details into the form.
Note down destination site credentials when you had acquire the new site from the web host.
- Click Migrate.
Follow the migration progress with the real time progress screen. You also receive emails for when the migration begins, and ends.
Your website migration is complete!
Learn more about this WordPress migration tool. You know it is 80% faster, now you can find out more amazing features.
To watch Migrate Guru in action click here.
Download Migrate Guru from here.
Let me know what you think about this WordPress migration plugin.
Author: Akshat Choudhary
I’m Akshat Choudhary, the founder and CEO of BlogVault, MigrateGuru & MalCare.
I love building products that solve real problems for real people, and have been building systems and products since 2005. My core beliefs behind building any product are to make sure the end-user doesn’t need assistance… and to assist them in the best possible manner if they need it.