In this episode, I’m covering why you might need to move a WordPress website and a plugin that makes migrating a WordPress website easy-peasy.
LINKS IN THIS EPISODE:
All in one WP Migration – This plugin is pretty darn good, and is a great, free alternative to
Backup Buddy – This plugin does migrations and backups. Not free, but it is probably one of the best in the market.
TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE
One of the most common questions I get, and that I see on Facebook, is how do I move my WordPress website?
There are a lot of different ways that you can migrate a website but one thing you can’t do is just simply go in and copy all the files from where it’s currently existing to where you want it to go and expect that it’s all good. WordPress doesn’t work that way.
You actually have an entire database, which is where all of your actual page content, your post content, and all of your settings are at. If you don’t move the database, then the site doesn’t migrate. All you’ve got is a whole bunch of files and nothing else.
There is a little more complexity in moving a WordPress website.
Now, one thing you might be asking yourself is why would I ever want to move a WordPress website? It’s all happy and snug here on my current web host. There several reasons that you would want to move a website. The first one, for people like me who develop websites for living, is that we don’t actually develop the sites at our customers site on their hosting. I tend to develop everything on my own hosting where I have my set up subdomains for my clients. We can make design changes, we can make content changes and it doesn’t affect their current live website. So, their current live website is happy and running somewhere else.
The other thing, for clients that have never had a website before, this also allows us to do all the development stuff, maybe put coming soon site where they’re at, or they can save themselves a little bit of money on that first month’s hosting while we develop the site. So all the work is being done on my hosting and then I have to move it to where the client’s web hosting is, whether they’re hosting at WP engine, or site ground, or blue host, or host gator, or Go Daddy or insert your favorite web host here.
The other reason you might want to move your website is if you become unhappy with your current web host and there are a lot of reasons for that. At some web hosts, their equipment or their customer service starts to degrade over time. I’ve actually moved several sites from one hosting company to another because I was unhappy with my old web host. Their servers were going down on a regular basis and their customer support used to be amazing. I became unhappy with them because that the equipment was dying on a regular basis and, when I would call for customer support, I got no one who could actually answer any questions and it would take them forever to get around to fixing anything.
Back in the old days of HTML, you could just copy all the files and put them in a zip file and just take over t a new host and copy them there and change your DNS settings. With WordPress, it works a little differently. There are files which, is WordPress, your plug-in files, and your theme files but the actual text that you’ve written is stored in the database.
The database actually stores all the text so you have to be able to move all of the database. The database also contains settings, including URLs, so we can’t just export the database at one host, import it to another and expect everything will go easy peasy. There are things that you have to go in and actually edit and if you do not know what you are doing – do not edit your MySQL database by hand. It’s really easy to mess up and everything will break. There is no undo function in MySQL. If you drop a table, it’s gone forever.
I don’t recommend that you edit databases directly unless you know what you’re doing and I’m assuming that if you’re on this podcast you probably aren’t a my SQL database expert.
How do you normally migrate a WordPress website? There are plug-ins that will help do this for those of us who don’t want to go in and edit in the database directly.
The plugin I’m most familiar with is Backup Buddy. I’ve been using it for years but backup Buddy requires that you be able to get into your cPanel settings for your hosting company, create a database, create a database user and password, and then you upload this import file. You run a script called import buddy and then you go in and edit the config.PHP for the WP – config file where you are actually adding in where the database is located. It requires a text editor it requires being able to FTP into the site to add that information to the WP config file and that may actually be beyond what you want to be able to do.
There are other plug-ins that will do this and I stumbled across one of couple weeks ago when I was developing a website for a client who is converting from old-school HTML site to WordPress. She purchased some WordPress managed hosting from Go Daddy. When you get managed WordPress hosting what they do is they actually install WordPress for you, and it’s a nice clean installation, there is no information about your website. You have to go in and and make all of your setting edits yourself – the title of the website and the personal links and all that other good stuff – and the only thing you have installed is only one post called hello world. There’s usually one page called sample page and there is no media.
The themes included are the default themes. Some managed hosting will install 45 other themes besides 2016 and then they will have a few other plug-ins that they have installed that they install on all their websites. Some of them are are required plug-ins for them and then some of them are just desirable. What I noticed on this particular site was they had a plug-in called all-in-one WP migration. I didn’t actually have her Go Daddy account information at the time so I thought I would give this a try with this all-in-one to BP migration plug-in and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, then you know I’m out a little bit of time. In the meantime, I get to play around and see if the plug-in works.
This is a free plug-in; it’s on the WordPress repository and I’ll have a link to it in the show notes. It is a plug-in that does migration and they say it’s the only tool that you will ever need to migrate a WordPress website. The nice thing with all-in-one WP migration is: it assumes that you have WordPress installed at the target hosting. Where you are moving the site from is what we will call the source and where you’re moving it to we will call the target.
You will have to have WordPress installed at the final location where you want your website. You don’t have to go into MySQL or cPanel. You don’t have to create a MySQL database. It’s already done it in a WordPress installation.
They’ve installed this plug-in on the target website and you install it on the source website. Then Iyou activate the plug-in in both places. From there, you actually just click on the source, go in and click on the export button – and there are some settings as to what you can export like you when one export the spam comments a you don’t have to do that I don’t want to export the page revisions you don’t need any of that – but you can also tell it not to export themes or anything. What you want to do when you’re migrating a site is to export the themes and plug-ins, the media and posts and pages and the settings. Once you click on this export you will get a file that you can download to your computer and that will be this weird file. It’s big long filename, but it is everything.
Don’t unzip it; don’t do anything to it. Just save it somewhere on your computer.
Now you go to your target site, and you’ve activated the plug-in, and you tell it you want to import. It’ll ask you to either drag and drop the file into a box or select the file. You’ll select the file that you exported from the source. It’s nice enough that it will throw up a big alert box that says the import process will overwrite your database, your media, plug-ins, and themes. If you’re doing this over a current site that has posts and pages, you can lose everything, but if you are migrating to a brand-new installation of WordPress you don’t have to worry because there isn’t anything there that you want anyway.
So once you have decided that, yes you’re okay, just click on continue and it will do its thing. it will take that file and unpack it. The next thing it will do is after it’s all done it’ll give you another box it says the data’s been imported successfully. Now it needs you to perform two more steps. So you have to go into the the settings area on your WP admin and go to the Permalinks and you have to click on ‘save the permalinks’ – but you have to do it twice.
There’s a video that this developer has -its only three and half minutes long. I recommend you watch it for three and half minutes and that will walk you through the whole process. That’s how easy this is – they can explain the entire thing in three and half minutes.
Once you click ‘save permalinks’ twice, not once but twice, now everything is good to go and you should have all of your posts and pages and all of the media and the themes and plug-ins. Everything is good to go on the new site and you’re happy.
So I did all of that and I was pleasantly shocked that it really was just that easy. The whole export import process probably took me less than 10 minutes and that includes watching the video and reading the directions like two or three times to make sure that I had it all right.
The plug-in developer also says that you can use this for backup purposes. You can use exports and save that so that you can have a complete copy of your website in case anything horrible should happen.
I decided, well what would happen if I imported all of this data on top of a current live site? I had a development site that I’m about to get rid of because it has served its purpose, but it had plug-ins it, had themes, that had ,pages and settings – all of that stuff was there. I took the same file from my client and I simply imported it into this development site to see what it would overwrite or what wouldn’t overwrite. Unsurprisingly, actually it did overwrite the posts and pages and all the settings so they change the name of the website and the taglines and every thing else. What was interesting, though, was it does not actually delete the old themes. I had some plug-ins and some themes on the site that I was importing to that were not on the source and when I was done those plug-ins and themes were still there. The plug-ins were not active and neither were the themes.
So clearly what this plug-in does is it overwrites the database but it does not delete everything in the plug-ins and themes folders; it just simply copies the new stuff in there. Now if you’ve got an old version of a plug-in on your target and a new version of the plug-in on the source, then what you end up with is the new version of the plug-in because it’ll overwrite all files. So I ended up with this website with copies of themes that I didn’t want to use like 2011, because seriously nobody would ever choose to use 2011 right now.
The plug-in works really well. I did try to see how it works if you were trying to recover from a backup and I did not get the backup process to work completely correctly. Something seemed to hang up on the target and I think that was my web hosting wasn’t happy with something. So I just kind of gave up after a while because who has that much time to play around with these experiments ?
What the end result here is: if you are looking for a free plug-in that will migrate your website from one host to another and does it without you having to go into cPanel and create a database and database user and a username password then all-in-one WP migration is a really good choice. The developer does keep it up-to-date and it is compatible with the current versions of WordPress as I have recorded this which is at 4.5.3. It’s just really simple. There’s a nice help video, should you need it, and again when the entire instructional video is about three and half minutes long, you know that the process is not to be difficult.
If you’re not ready to make the full investment in a plug-in like backup Buddy, then all-in-one WP migration is a really good alternative for you to move a website.
So that should about do it on the how to migrate a site and a little bit about the why. Should you have any questions about what I’ve talked about here, feel free to contact me.
If you enjoyed this episode, I would love to have you pop on over to iTunes or Stitcher or your podcast service of choice and leave a review. 5 stars would be awesome, but hey, no pressure, ok? Leaving a review makes it easier for other folks out there to find this program.
If you have a question you would like answered, go to Pint Sized Sites dot com and look in the top menu for “ask a question”. Fill out the form and leave your name, if you are so inclined, and I’ll find an answer to your question in a future episode.
Thanks again for listening! Until next time!
Affiliate disclosure – Yes, I have a couple of affiliate links in here. I only do that for products I personally use and recommend. Click on them or don’t – it’s entirely up to you. But the affiliate income helps pay for the podcast hosting, so it would be appreciated.