Take Fear Out of Moving Your WordPress Site to New Server
 In WordPress

Red Headed Lady with Fear of migrating her WordPress site.Once when I was first starting out I wanted to move one of my WordPress sites from one host to another. I called the hosting companies tech support and was told to copy the files into the new directory. I did that and it did not work. I was so green then I didn’t understand that it is not so easy when you are using a database program and the database has to come over too and be synced with those files. At least I still had a fully functioning site on the other host and finally got someone to help me migrate the site in the proper way. I still hate the process even though now I have a secret weapon I am going to share with you today.

Using Backup Buddy for WordPress Backups and Migrations

I never do extensive repairs or customizations to a live site.  Instead, I make a mirror site on a sub-directory of one of my hosting accounts, using it as a test site. This way, I can make the changes, see that they work and get approval from the client before moving the mirror site back to overwrite the original.

In some cases, creating the mirror site could take longer than actually doing the work on the site. It was a big pain in the …neck. Then,  I started using Backup Buddy,  a premium plugin that does full site back-ups and sends them off  to the cloud or to your hosting account. I use Amazon S3 to store the backups. You can get a Backup Buddy account for a single site rate for about 59.00 per year and the developers’ license is a great deal at $150.00 per year for unlimited use on unlimited sites.

When I get a new client, I install Backup Buddy on their site so I can do backups while I am working on the site.  Depending on the amount of new content that goes on a site,  you can choose to do daily weekly or monthly scheduled backups or you can do one whenever the urge strikes you :-).  Once the site goes live, I will keep them on Backup Buddy if they want me to maintain their site. Otherwise I keep the final backup and deactivate  the plugin key.

Amazon S3 Cloud Storage for Backups

The Amazon S3 cloud storage account was easy to set up. And get this, for the first year they don’t charge you a dime. Since I have all my client backups going there, I was a bit worried about what the charges would be when my year was up. But, it was so insignificant,   a whopping 4.00 or so each month.  And it would probably be less if I went in and cleared the old backups out more often.

Using BackUp Buddy For Site Migration

In addition to site Back-ups, Backup Buddy is great for migrating sites to another server. To migrate a site, you must set up a new database on a hosting account either the root directory, if it is empty,  or if you already have a site in the root, then you add it as a sub-directory.

Setting up a new database is not as hard as it may sound. I use Bluehost which has a C-panel. You log in and go to C-Panel and find the My SQL Database Admin tab. That brings up a fool proof set of steps to walk you through adding a new database and setting it up.

This process will walk you through the following steps:

  1. You will need to name your new database, and give it a password.
  2. You then create a user name. After that the  user name needs to be assigned to that database you just created.
  3. Then you set the permissions for “All”.
  4. Be sure to write down the database and user names as well as the password!

You then go to Backup Buddy and get your fresh complete backup and download it somewhere you can get to it.  Hit the Big Button that says, Migrate or Restore and it will download a importbuddy.php file. With FTP, drag both your backup and this import buddy files from your desktop into the directory on your server that you want the new site to appear in.If you are not wanting it in the root, make a new directory and drag the zipped backup and the importbuddy.php files into that directory. (Once, I forgot this step and did not make a new directory  making a new directory and I overwrote the site that was in the root directory! Whoopsie!) Don’t make my mistake. Be careful and think it through.

Once you have the database set up, the directory made and the two files in it, you are ready to run the importbuddy script. Type your site url into the address bar and /importbuddy.php at the end. Like this: http://your site url.com/importbuddy.php. This will start running the script which will bring up a series of seven windows asking you for some info. Just fill it the required fields with your handy names and passwords that you jotted down before.  Et Voila. You should have a complete copy of the original site. Yes that would include all of your user names and passwords and your configured plugins, and your images and your forms and Everything!!!

The Frightening Part

What I Hate, Hate, Hate, is the part after I have made changes to a client’s mirror site and have to replace the currently live and fully functional  site with the new version I have just created. That means I have to blow away the original site files so I have a clean directory and make the new database, and follow all of the steps from above.

Yikes. There is something so wrong about the step where you erase the original site files. I mean it is the right thing to do but it kind of makes me sick to my stomach. It is silly that I feel that way since I have a fully working backup site. But,  I don’t care, I still hate to wipe out an existing site. There is something so permanent about it and for control freaks there is still the chance that the new site won’t load or some other horrible fantasy and then what will I do?

But let me tell you, doing this without Backup Buddy is so much worse. Trust me. A few moments of terror, versus hours of tedium.  Now, my friends who are database geeks may scoff at using Backup Buddy,  but I am not fooling, it is plain old scary to nuke an existing live site and then do the migration. So if I have to do it I want it to come out completely set up. Doing it the old fashioned way does not bring over all of the configured  plugins  and certain images and there is a lot of cleaning up to do. With Backup Buddy everything is complete.

Do you have any horror stories of a time you erased a site? How about if you couldn’t get it back. Ugh. Let’s hear about it!

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Showing 3 comments
  • Rayzel Lam

    I did once had trouble when I transfer my site to a new host it cost me a day and a half before it was up.. I'll never gonna do that again. Making backup files is really necessary…
    My recent post My hCG Diet Journey: R5VLCD20 General Update

    • judi knight

      Rayzel, Everyone screws up something major at first. I tried to move my site and didn’t know you just couldn’t copy it since the database was attached. I thought I lost all of my work but some kind soul helped resurrect it. Our motto is it is easier the second time.

  • Pete

    After the latest WordPress Update I was scared to death i would lose everything. The week before the site was giving me the white screen of death. Luckily that time it was at the host.
    I grabbed a backup Plugin (updraft) that backs me up now so it is set and forget.

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