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WordPress manual migration guide to new web hosting provider or your own dedicated server

WordPress is a free-for-all and open-source content management system (CMS) that allows users to create and maintain websites and blogs without requiring extensive coding knowledge. Initially launched in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, it began as a simple blogging platform but quickly evolved into a comprehensive website-building tool.

WordPress is a free-for-all and open-source content management system (CMS) that allows users to create and maintain websites and blogs without requiring extensive coding knowledge. Initially launched in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, it began as a simple blogging platform but quickly evolved into a comprehensive website-building tool.

One of the remarkable features of WordPress is its vast community of developers and users. This community contributes by creating plugins and themes and providing support through various forums, making it easier for newcomers to understand and utilize the platform.

Importance of website migration and potential reasons for it:

Website migration refers to moving a website from one hosting environment to another and transferring the site's files, databases, and configurations. This procedure, while sometimes complex, is essential for various reasons.

Changing Hosting Providers: Not all hosting services are created equal. A website owner might start with a particular host and then realize they need more resources, better uptime, faster speeds, or better customer support. In such cases, moving to a more suitable host becomes necessary.

Site Optimizations: Over time, as a site grows, it might need to restructure its architecture, change its domain, or switch to a more secure HTTPS protocol. These changes often require a migration.

Business Acquisitions or Rebranding: Companies that get acquired or go through a rebranding phase might need to merge their digital assets or move them to align with the new brand identity.

Development and Testing: Sometimes, developers move a site to a testing or staging environment to test new features or updates without affecting the live site. Once tested, the site might need migration back to the live server.

While website migration can be daunting, it's crucial for many site owners to ensure that their digital presence aligns with their goals and delivers the best possible user experience.

Prerequisites for WordPress migration

Before initiating the migration process, ensuring a few prerequisites are in place is essential to secure a seamless transition. Here, we'll detail each prerequisite step and explain its significance in migration.


Importance: A complete WordPress site backup is the cornerstone of a successful migration. It acts as a safety net, ensuring you can restore your WordPress site to its previous state without losing data if something goes wrong during the migration.

What to Backup: It's imperative to back up both the website files and the database as they contain all the necessary information, including your site's content, user data, and configurations.

Backup Solutions: Various plugins and tools are available within the WordPress ecosystem to facilitate easy backups. Some popular options include UpdraftPlus, BackWPup, etc.

Suitable Web Hosting provider for WordPress

Importance: Selecting the exemplary web hosting service is critical as it directly impacts your website's performance, security, and scalability.

Considerations: When choosing a web host, consider factors like uptime, speed, customer support, and compatibility with WordPress. Also, consider your specific bandwidth, storage space, and server type needs.

Research: Prioritize doing extensive research and reading reviews to gauge the credibility and performance of potential hosting providers.

FTP/SFTP Credentials

Importance: FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) transfer files between your computer and your web server. Having the necessary credentials allows you to upload or download files securely.

Acquiring Credentials: These credentials can typically be obtained from your hosting provider. It includes information such as the server address, username, and password.

Using FTP/SFTP: Utilize applications like FileZilla or Cyberduck to establish a connection between your computer and the server using the credentials acquired.

Database Access

Importance: The database is the backbone of your WordPress site, storing essential data such as posts, pages, and user information. Access to the database is required to migrate this data to the new host.

Obtaining Credentials: These credentials can be found in the hosting control panel. You need the database name, username, and password to access it.

Database Management Tools: Tools like phpMyAdmin manage databases effectively, allowing for operations such as exporting and importing database files.

By adhering to these prerequisite steps, users are gearing up for a smoother, more secure WordPress migration process, minimizing potential errors or data loss during migration.

WordPress Manual Migration Process Explained

Files Transfer

Moving a WordPress site manually involves transferring files and databases separately. This section delves deep into transferring files between the old and the new hosting servers. The transfer of files is facilitated through protocols such as FTP or SFTP. Let’s break down each step to understand this process better:

Understanding File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)

FTP/SFTP Overview: FTP and SFTP are standards for transferring files over a network. While FTP is a traditional method, SFTP adds a layer of security, encrypting the transmitted data. That makes SFTP a more secure choice for transferring sensitive data.

Why Necessary: These protocols are necessary to transfer files between your local machine and your server securely and efficiently. It helps move the WordPress files to the new host without losing data.

Using Applications Like FileZilla or Cyberduck

Introduction to Applications: Applications like FileZilla and Cyberduck are popular for managing file transfers via FTP or SFTP. These tools offer user-friendly interfaces to connect your local machine to your web server.

Setting Up: Download and install one of these applications. They usually require you to enter the FTP/SFTP credentials to set up a connection between your local system and the server.

Step-by-step Guide on WordPress Migration to New Server

Connect to the Old Hosting provider or old server

Acquiring Credentials: Obtain the FTP/SFTP credentials from your old hosting provider, including the server address, username, and password.

Initiating Connection: Use the credentials in your chosen FTP/SFTP application to establish a connection with the old host.

Download WordPress Files

Locating Files: Once connected, navigate to the directory where your WordPress files are stored (usually in a folder named public_html or www).

Downloading Files: Select all WordPress files and download them to your local machine. Ensure that the directory structure is intact.

Connect to the New Host or new server

Acquiring New Credentials: Obtain your new hosting provider's FTP/SFTP credentials.

Initiating a New Connection: Establish a new connection in your FTP/SFTP application using the credentials from the new host.

Upload WordPress Files

Uploading Files: Once connected to the new host, navigate to the directory where you want to upload the WordPress files. Usually, it will be a folder named public_html or www.

Initiating Upload: Start uploading the files you downloaded from the old host to the new host, preserving the directory structure.

Following this systematic approach, users can safely and securely transfer their WordPress files from the old hosting server to the new one, a critical step in the manual migration process.

It's recommended to verify that all files have been transferred correctly before moving to the next phase of migration, which involves transferring the database.

WordPress Database Migration

After successfully transferring your WordPress files, the next pivotal step is to migrate your website's database. It houses all your critical data, including posts, pages, and user information.

The popular tool for this process is PHPMyAdmin, extensively used in web hosting. Here, we’ll guide you through this process step by step.

Introduction to PHPMyAdmin

Overview of PHPMyAdmin: PHPMyAdmin is a free and open-source tool with a graphical interface (GUI) to manage MySQL and MariaDB databases. It allows users to easily create, modify, delete, and manage databases without command-line interfaces.

Accessing PHPMyAdmin: Typically, PHPMyAdmin can be accessed through your web hosting control panel. The control panels like cPanel, Plesk, or DirectAdmin usually have direct links to PHPMyAdmin for database management.

Step-by-step Guide to WordPress Database Migration

Access PHPMyAdmin on the Old Host

Login to Hosting Account: First, log in to the control panel of your old hosting account.

Navigating to PHPMyAdmin: Find and click on the PHPMyAdmin icon or link, usually found under the databases section, to access the tool.

Export the WordPress Database

Selecting the Database: In PHPMyAdmin, locate and select the exact database that your WordPress site is using. You can find this information in the wp-config.php file of your WordPress installation.

Exporting the Database: Navigate to the "Export" tab once the correct database is selected. Choose the "Quick" export method and the format as the “SQL,” then click on the "Go" button to start the export process. That will generate an SQL file, which will be saved on your local machine.

Access PHPMyAdmin on the New Hosting provider

Login to New Hosting Account: Log in to your new hosting provider's cPanel or PLESK control panel.

Navigating to PHPMyAdmin: Like the old host, navigate to PHPMyAdmin through the control panel.

Import the WordPress Database

Creating a New Database: In the new host’s PHPMyAdmin, create a new database to import the exported data.

Importing the Database:

Navigate to the "Import" tab in PHPMyAdmin.

Click the "Choose File" link and select the previously exported SQL file from your local machine.

Hit the "Go" button to start the import process.

Post-import Steps

Updating Database Connection Details: After importing the database, update the wp-config.php file in your WordPress installation to reflect the new database name, username, and password.

Checking Data Integrity: Verify the data has been imported correctly by browsing various sections like posts and pages within your WordPress dashboard.

These steps ensure a smooth database transition from the old to the new host. Once the database migration is completed, you will be one step closer to having your website fully functional in the new hosting environment. Testing the site thoroughly is recommended to confirm that the migration has been successful.

Updating wp-config.php File as part of WordPress migration

In migrating a WordPress site manually, updating the wp-config.php file is pivotal. This file harbors critical information that facilitates the connection between the WordPress site and its database. You can find it in the root directory of the WordPress website installation. It encapsulates details like database name, username, and password.

First, to modify it with new database credentials, access the root directory using an FTP/SFTP client. Locate and download the wp-config.php file. Before altering, ensure to back it up to avoid loss of information.

Open the file wp-config.php using a text editor and find the segment containing database credentials listed as DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, and DB_HOST. Here, update the old database name, username, and password with the new credentials obtained from the new host.

Generally, DB_HOST is noted as 'localhost,' but it may vary depending on your hosting provider; ensure to confirm this detail. Save the new changes and upload the file back to the server.

By accomplishing this, you establish a secure link between the new database and your WordPress site, ensuring its smooth operation post-migration.

Handling Domain Name Change during WordPress migration

During a WordPress migration, it's common to undergo a domain name change, which necessitates the alteration of URLs throughout your site to align with the new domain. A seamless transition can be achieved using different methods.

One approach is utilizing WordPress plugins designed for this purpose. Plugins like "Velvet Blues Update URLs" or "Better Search Replace" can automate URL updating, reducing the chances of issues or errors and saving time. These plugins allow you to effortlessly replace old URLs with new ones across your site, ensuring consistency and functionality post-migration.

Alternatively, if you prefer a hands-on approach, you can manually update the serialized data within the database. This method involves accessing the database through a tool like PHPMyAdmin and manually locating and editing the URLs.

However, caution is necessary as incorrect edits can potentially break your site. Ensure to back up your database before making changes to prevent data loss and facilitate restoration in case of errors.

This method should be undertaken with a clear understanding of database management to avoid mishaps.

By carefully handling the domain name change, you pave the way for a successful migration, aligning your website with its new online address.

Post-migration Steps for WordPress Website

Checking Website Functionality

After migrating your WordPress site, it's imperative to verify its functionality meticulously. Start by:

Testing Pages and Posts: Navigate through various pages and posts to ensure that all content is displayed correctly without any errors.

Functionality Check: Test different functionalities, including forms, comment sections, and plugins, to ensure they work as expected.

Potential Issues and Solutions: Look for common issues, such as broken links or missing images. Having a contingency plan to resolve these promptly will be beneficial.

Updating Search Engines and Users

Once the site is functional, update search engines and your user base about the migration:

Search Engines: Notify search engines about the migration using tools like Google Search Console. This step helps in retaining your site's SEO rankings.

Informing Users: Keep your regular users and subscribers informed about the migration, mentioning any possible downtimes or changes in domain names to maintain trust and transparency.


Finally, focus on optimization to enhance your website's performance on the new host:

Clearing Cache: Clear the cache to prevent old data from slowing down your site. It will also help in displaying the most recent version of your pages.

Broken Links: Check for and repair broken links to ensure a seamless user experience.

SEO Settings: Verify that SEO settings are intact to maintain your site's search engine rankings.

Performance Optimizations: Focus on optimizing your site's performance on the new host by leveraging features or tools the new hosting provider might offer for better site speed and user experience.

Following these post-migration steps ensures a smooth transition to the new host, maintaining your site's functionality and user experience.

Troubleshooting Common WordPress Migration Issues

Migrating a website is meticulous; sometimes, issues might crop up post-migration. Here, we address some common problems and how to troubleshoot them:

"Error Establishing a Database Connection"

Causes: This error usually occurs due to incorrect database credentials in the wp-config.php file or database server issues.

Solutions: To resolve this, double-check the database credentials in the wp-config.php file, ensuring they match the new database details. If the problem persists, ask your web hosting provider to check for server-related issues.

Broken Images or Links

Causes: Usually due to incorrect URLs in the database or file paths that weren’t updated during migration.

Solutions: Utilize plugins like "Velvet Blues Update URLs" to update URLs in bulk or manually update URLs in the database via PHPMyAdmin.

Login Issues

Causes: These might be a result of a corrupted .htaccess file or issues with the database.

Solutions: Try resetting the .htaccess file to its default settings and ensure the database prefix in the wp-config.php file matches the one in your database.

WordPress Website Speed and Performance Post-migration

Causes: Potential issues include unoptimized images, excessive plugins, or poor hosting service.

Solutions: Optimize images, remove unnecessary plugins, and consider using caching mechanisms to improve speed. Furthermore, collaborate with your hosting provider for server-side optimizations.

Proactively identifying and addressing these common issues can streamline the migration process and ensure a smoother transition to the new hosting environment.


In conclusion, though complex, manual migration of a WordPress site offers precise control over the entire process. Each step is significant in successfully transitioning from preparing prerequisites like backups and choosing the right web host to carefully migrating files and databases.

Moreover, the meticulous updating of the wp-config.php file and adept handling of domain name changes are crucial components that safeguard the integrity of your site during migration.

Post-migration, a rigorous check on website functionality and updating search engines and users demonstrate responsible website management. Furthermore, promptly addressing common post-migration issues signifies professionalism and assures users of a seamless browsing experience.

As you embark on this manual migration journey, equip yourself with patience and detailed planning to steer through the process with minimal hitches, ensuring your website continues flourishing in its new home.

Useful links / Resources

  • How to Migrate Your WordPress Website

  • The Best Way to Migrate a WordPress Website (WP Engine)

  • How to Move WordPress to a New Host or Server With No Downtime (WP Beginner)

  • Support Article (in Spanish)

  • Support Article (in Portuguese)

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