Apr 30, 2021
How to Migrate WordPress the Right Way: A Comprehensive Guide
As you switch to a new web host, it will be necessary to migrate your website. While the website migration process is relatively straightforward, it’s essential to do it the right way to preserve your data and the site’s performance later on.
This article will show four methods to migrate a WordPress site to a new hosting service – a manual method, using a WordPress plugin, a migration tool, or your hosting provider’s backup service.
Why Migrate Your WordPress Website?
For some website owners, migrating a WordPress site is a bothersome experience as there are many details to pay attention to during the transfer process. Others believe it’s too risky, afraid they may damage the whole website.
However, even if some risks are involved, website migration can be a seamless process and will bring several benefits if done correctly.
Here are some of the most common reasons why webmasters migrate their WordPress website to a new server:
- Affordable plan. Since there are plenty of hosting providers to choose from, you may find another hosting company that offers a better value for money than what your site is currently using. For example, Hostinger shared hosting plans start from $0.99/month.
- Better customer support. Having access to customer support around the clock ensures higher uptime and better website performance.
- More hosting resources and features. Getting the necessary hosting resources and tools is vital for further scaling up your website.
- Better server security. Ensuring data safety of your website should be your priority as a webmaster. Security also plays a big part in protecting your site’s credibility and visitors’ privacy.
How to Migrate WordPress Website
There are four ways to migrate your WordPress site to a new hosting service – manually, using a WordPress cloning plugin, an automatic migration tool, or the hosting provider backup file.
As each method has its advantages and disadvantages, make sure to consider your website’s size, the required technical knowledge, and the migration costs before making your choice.
1. Migrating WordPress Site Manually
Manual migration requires transferring the site files and database and then editing the wp-config.php file. You can do so via the File Manager on your hosting control panel or a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client like FileZilla.
Despite requiring advanced technical knowledge and understanding of databases, this method is less prone to cause errors.
1. Backup Your WordPress Files and MySQL Database
First, you need to download all the WordPress files to your computer. You’ll upload these files to your new hosting account later on.
- Connect FileZilla to your old site server.
- Open the public_html folder and select all the WordPress files inside it.
- Right-click and select Download.
After downloading your WordPress files, it’s time to create a backup of your WordPress database.
- Access the phpMyAdmin page from your hosting control panel.
- Select the database where you store your WordPress files and select Export.
- Pick the Quick method to export your WordPress database file, and then choose SQL as the format.
- Hit Go. Your database file will be saved automatically to your desktop directory.
2. Upload the WordPress Files and MySQL Database to Your New Host
The next step of migrating the WordPress site is to upload the files you have downloaded to the new host.
- Since the WordPress backup file is in ZIP format, you need to decompress it first.
- Connect FileZilla to your new hosting account and navigate to the public_html folder in the Remote Site column.
- Locate the files you want to upload from the Local Site column. Right-click on the files and select Upload.
Once that’s done, upload the MySQL database to the new host.
- Open the control panel of your new hosting account and head over to MySQL Databases.
- Create a new database and take note of the database name, username, and password.
- Head back to Databases -> phpMyAdmin and select your new database.
- Click the Import tab at the top of the page.
- Select Choose File and upload the MySQL backup file you’ve downloaded earlier.
- Leave all settings as they are and hit Go.
3. Update wp-config.php with Your New Database Details
Next, specify the credentials of your new MySQL database by editing the wp-config.php file in your new hosting account.
- Reaccess the public_html folder from FileZilla and locate the wp-config.php file.
- Right-click and select Edit.
- Change these values with your new database details:
- DB_NAME – database name.
- DB_USER – admin username.
- DB_PASSWORD – admin password.
- DB_HOST – database hostname. This value is usually localhost, but it may vary depending on your hosting platform.
- Select Save. When the popup window appears, click Yes.
If you plan to use a different domain name for your WordPress site, make sure the new domain points to the new hosting platform correctly.
2. Utilizing a Cloning Plugin
Another method to migrate a WordPress site is by using a cloning plugin. There are hundreds of PHP cloning scripts in the WordPress plugin directory to choose from.
However, we recommend using the All-in-One WP Migration plugin as it is easy to use and provides all the necessary migration tools to ease the process.
Before starting the migration process, make sure you have the WordPress cloning plugin installed and activated on your old and new hosting accounts.
The following steps will show you how to migrate a WordPress website using a migration plugin.
- Open the admin dashboard of the site you want to transfer and navigate to All-in-One WP Migration -> Export.
- Click Export to and choose the File option from the dropdown menu.
- Wait for the plugin to finish retrieving your site files. Once the process is completed, download the backup file in the .wpress format from the pop-up window.
- Open the WordPress admin dashboard in your new hosting account and navigate to All-in-One WP Migration -> Import.
- Click Import from and pick File. Then, locate the files you’ve exported. Keep in mind that the maximum upload file size is 128 MB.
- Once the process is completed, click Finish.
If the import method doesn’t work, you can upload the backup data generated by the plugin manually via FTP or File Manager.
- Navigate to All-in-One WP Migration -> Export on your old server and generate the .wpress file.
- Login to FTP and upload the .wpress file to the folder wp-content/ai1wm-backups within the All-In-One WP Migration plugin folder.
- Navigate to the WordPress admin dashboard of your new server, go to All-In-One WP Migration -> Backups. The .wpress file should appear there.
- Select the Restore icon next to the .wpress file. Click Proceed to begin the migration process.
The final step of using the plugin is to re-save your permalink structure. You need to change the structure twice as it will reconstruct the .htaccess file.
- From the WordPress sidebar menu, select Settings -> Permalinks.
- Choose a new structure and press Save Changes. If you’re using a Custom Structure, make sure to copy it first.
- Reload the Permalinks settings page and select your original structure. Hit Save Changes once you’re done.
3. Using an Automatic Migration Tool
Hostinger’s automatic migration tool is the fastest and easiest way to transfer your WordPress website. This feature will take care of the entire migration process for you.
The tool requires your WordPress username and password and the link used when logging in to the WordPress admin panel (yourwebsite.com/wp-admin).
Additionally, the migration tool will need the link to the previous hosting provider’s login page along with the old hosting account’s username and password.
The following steps will show how to use Hostinger’s migration tool.
- Log in to your hPanel and navigate to Migrate Website under the Website section.
- Click on the Request Hosting Migration button and choose WordPress Migration.
- Fill in the required fields with your WordPress site and hosting account details:
- WP-Admin URL ‒ link to your WordPress admin panel. For example, yourwebsite.com/wp-admin.
- WP-Admin username ‒ the admin username used to log in to your WordPress admin panel.
- WP-Admin password ‒ the admin password used to log in to your WordPress admin panel.
- Hosting provider URL ‒ link to your hosting account login page. For example, yourhostingprovider.com/signin.
- Username ‒ the username used to log in to the old hosting account.
- Password ‒ the password used to log in to the old hosting account.
- Once you’re done, click Submit.
4. Web Hosting Backup Service
The last migration method takes advantage of the web hosting backup service to move WordPress files to the new host.
Some hosting providers, like Hostinger, generate backups periodically. You can use those backups to migrate your WordPress site to the new server.
Since many hosting providers use cPanel, follow these steps to backup your WordPress site using this option.
- Navigate to Files -> Backup Wizard from your cPanel.
- In the backup wizard menu, select Backup -> Full Backup. This backup option covers your home directory, WordPress database, email forwarder configuration, and email filter configuration.
- Set your preferred backup destination ‒ for this tutorial, we’ll go with Home Directory. Don’t forget to add your email address if you want to be notified once the backup process is completed.
- Click Generate Backup to start the process.
After obtaining the backup ZIP file, you can restore it on the new hosting account using the same method.
- Navigate to Files -> Backup Wizard from the cPanel of your new hosting account.
- Within the backup wizard menu, select Restore -> Home Directory.
- Choose the backup ZIP file you’ve created, and then click Upload.
Alternatively, restore the backup data by manually uploading the ZIP file to the root folder of your new hosting provider. This can be done via the File Manager in the control panel or an FTP client.
Ensure all the site files within the old host’s public_html folder are moved to the new host’s public_html folder.
NOTE:”Cookies are blocked or not supported by your browser” is an error that commonly occurs after migrating a WordPress site to another host. If refreshing the browser doesn’t resolve the issue, try to deactivate any installed security or cache plugins one by one and delete browser cookies.
Best WordPress Migration Plugins
All-In-One WP Migration is one among many WordPress migration plugins on the market.
To help you choose a tool that best suits your preferences, we have compiled a list of the ten best WordPress migration plugins to choose from.
- Downloads: 3,000,000+
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Notable features: drag-and-drop import, WP-CLI integration, compatibility with major Linux distributions and macOS
- Price: freemium
All-In-One WP Migration is an easy solution to migrate your WordPress site hassle-free. It lets you upload databases, media files, themes, and plugins to another server without any technical knowledge.
Having the drag-and-drop import functionality further simplifies the migration process for you.
Besides being compatible with major Linux distributions, macOS, and Microsoft Windows, this migration plugin also works with numerous hosting providers.
Since the plugin imports files in chunks under 2 MB, it can bypass the upload size restrictions most providers implement. It takes a single click to generate a copy of your site and restore it to another host.
If you want to migrate your website to cloud storage services, All-In-One WP Migration sells cloud storage extensions for $99 each as a one-time payment.
Some of the supported cloud storage services include Dropbox, Google Cloud Storage, and OneDrive.
Multisite extensions are also available to expand the plugin’s functionality ‒ prices range from $69 to $99/extension as a one-time payment.
For example, the Unlimited Extension removes the import limit of 512 MB and supports WP-CLI commands. All extensions come with premium customer support.
- Downloads: 1,000,000+
- Rating: 5/5
- Notable features: site pre-configuration, manual and partial backup, and staging area
- Price: freemium
Duplicator is one of the best WordPress migration plugins for several reasons. Besides simplifying the website migration process, it also helps users copy and clone their site to another host or staging area with no downtime.
The plugin also serves as a backup solution, bundling site files into a ZIP file for optimal mobility.
The website pre-configuration feature further streamlines your work. Instead of configuring themes, plugins, and site data every time you want to create a backup or migrate to a new host, Duplicator creates a package with all the preconfigured files.
If you have the budget to spend on paid tools, Duplicator Pro offers abundant premium features.
It provides users with scheduled backups and integration with popular cloud storage platforms like Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Google Drive Storage. You will also get better support for larger websites and databases.
The premium version of this migration plugin costs from $69 to $149/year or $799 as a one-time payment. All plans come with customer support and updates for the duration of the license.
- Downloads: 3,000,000+
- Rating: 5/5
- Notable features: scheduled backup, email reporting, and compatibility with other backup plugins
- Price: freemium
UpdraftPlus is one of the best WordPress backup plugins worth trying out. With over three million downloads, it’s a popular choice for webmasters looking for a backup and restoration solution.
This backup plugin supports remote backup directly to popular cloud storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3. It also lets you back up the site to an FTP server, an in-house storage space called UpdraftVault, or email.
You’re able to browse the backup content in WordPress for easier access and set automatic backup schedules.
While the plugin’s free version comes with more than enough tools to ease your work, UpdraftPlus Premium offers excellent value for money. From $70 to $399/year, you’ll be able to copy and migrate websites as well as send backups to multiple remote destinations.
The premium version also comes with database encryption, premium support, and 1 GB of storage for the UpdraftVault.
The best part of investing in UpdraftPlus Premium is that it allows you to restore backups from other backup plugins. It also accepts generic SQL file backups ‒ uncompressed, GZIP-compressed, or BZIP2-compressed.
- Downloads: 450,000+
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Notable features: unlimited backups, customized backup retention, and email notifications
- Price: freemium
WPBackItUp is another excellent user-friendly WordPress migration plugin with tons of helpful features.
With the one-click backup functionality, beginners can migrate their WordPress site files to another server hassle-free. Plus, you don’t need MySQL knowledge to use the plugin ‒ further emphasizing its ease of use.
Besides offering unlimited backup quotas, WPBackItUp allows you to download the backup files locally without needing an FTP client. You can customize the backup content and retention, allowing you to save space by only keeping the backups you want.
Users of the free version will have access to its support portal to get tutorials and check the knowledge base.
WPBackItUp works in low memory and shared hosting environments, and it’s also more than capable of supporting large websites. Furthermore, the plugin is compatible with all WordPress platforms, including Windows, Linux, and Azure.
Like the previous migration plugins, WPBackitup comes with a free and premium version that costs $79 to $199/year.
WPBackItUp Premium comes with one-click restore, automated backup schedules, and WordPress site migration functionality. It also lets you copy a site for staging or testing and restore backups to a different WordPress version.
5. Migrate Guru
- Downloads: 50,000+
- Rating: 5/5
- Notable features: one-click site migration, real-time alerts, and crash-proof migration procedure
- Price: free
If you’re looking for a free alternative, consider using Migrate Guru. This plugin provides an easy and crash-proof way to migrate WordPress sites to whichever server you’re moving to.
You only need to fill up a form detailing your site’s new host, and the one-click migration functionality will take care of the rest.
Migrate Guru can clone up to 1 GB of sites in less than 30 minutes. Users with large websites will find the migration size limit highly flexible, as Migrate Guru allows you to copy or move files with up to 200 GB. The entire process happens on its servers, reducing the risk of crashes.
Unlike other migration plugins, Migrate Guru doesn’t offer integration with cloud storage platforms. Instead, the plugin automatically copies your WordPress site to its server and keeps all the crucial files there until the migration is complete.
Migrate Guru is compatible with all web hosts across the world. It comes with multisite support as well as email and real-time alerts.
A knowledge base is also available to answer frequently asked questions about the migration procedures and the plugin’s functionality.
- Downloads: 80,000+
- Rating: 4/5
- Notable features: incremental backups, WooCommerce backups, and in-built staging
- Price: freemium
BlogVault is a robust backup and staging solution that comes with plenty of premium tools. It utilizes an incremental backup system to avoid overloading your server and offers free offsite storage with round-the-clock availability.
The plugin archives all backup data for up to 90 days, giving you the chance to fix faulty configurations within your site by restoring previous settings.
Migrating your WordPress site is easy as BlogVault supports over 5,000 web hosts across the world. Besides offering a zero-downtime guarantee, the plugin can rewrite your website URLs and help you migrate to a new domain, DNS, or server.
Additionally, it provides a staging environment, offline site restoration, and encrypted offsite storage.
BlogVault comes with a free and premium version ‒ the latter costs from $89 to $249/year. If you’re running a WooCommerce site, consider upgrading to the Advanced plan as it provides WooCommerce particular backups.
You’ll be able to backup your store’s product databases and orders automatically without affecting the site’s performance.
Other notable features included within the premium plans include WordPress security, site management tools, and uptime monitoring.
While personalized support is only available for premium plan users, its YouTube channel provides answers to beginners’ most frequently asked questions and tutorials.
- Downloads: 60,000+
- Rating: 4/5
- Notable Features: automated daily backups, one-click restore, and unlimited storage space
- Price: $4.77-$47.97/month
VaultPress is a backup plugin powered by Jetpack, a popular WordPress toolkit developed by the same team behind WordPress.com, Tumblr, and Akismet.
This plugin specializes in backup and security scanning, providing automated daily backups with unlimited storage space and protection against spam and brute force attacks.
The lowest-tier plan, Backup Daily, comes with automated off-site daily backups. Medium to large-sized websites with lots of visual content may find the mid-tier plan, Security Daily, more accommodating as it offers unlimited video hosting and comment protection.
Meanwhile, the Complete bundle provides a real-time automated scan and site search for up to 100,000 records.
You can purchase VaultPress as a standalone plugin for $4.77-$47.97/month, paid yearly.
Alternatively, buy the Jetpack Backup for $23.97/month to get real-time backups, one-click site restores, and archive any changes made within your WordPress site.
8. Backup Guard
- Downloads: 70,000+
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Notable features: selective database restoration, live backup and restore progress, and Dropbox integration
- Price: freemium
Backup Guard is another excellent freemium plugin capable of handling your WordPress site migration.
The free version offers plenty of backup and restoration tools you can use to move data between hosts with ease.
In addition to providing unlimited backups, the plugin lets you download backup files directly to your computer.
You’re also able to exclude specific database tables from your backup and restore site files in parts, as well as specify custom exclude paths to create a better user experience.
With the plugin’s live progress functionality, you can easily monitor the current backup or restore progress. You can also monitor backup or restore log files and cancel the backup process whenever needed.
Additionally, the plugin supports WordPress multisite networks and Dropbox integration. These features make Backup Guard ideal for websites maintained by a team of developers.
Upgrading to the premium version, available from $25 to $99/year, will grant you access to an automatic migration tool and a multiple-schedule backup feature.
Other notable features include backup retention, mail notification, and integration with Amazon S3, Google Drive, OneDrive, and FTP. All premium plans come with one year of support and unlimited updates.
- Downloads: 100,000+
- Rating: 5/5
- Notable features: auto-migration, backup retention, and email reporting
- Price: freemium
WPvivid offers an easy backup and migration solution worth trying out.
The free version offers the features necessary to help you migrate your WordPress site to a new server, set a scheduled backup, and save the backup files to remote storage with ease.
For more backup and migration features, consider upgrading to WPvivid Backup Pro. From $49 to $149/year, you get to not only access premium backup tools but also create a staging site, encrypt databases, do incremental backups, and white label the plugin.
Other premium features include setting user role capabilities, multisite backups, unused image and temporary files cleaner, and unlimited backup retention.
WPvivid currently supports integration with Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon S3, Google Drive, FTP, and DigitalOcean Spaces.
10. WP Migrate DB
- Downloads: 300,000+
- Rating: 4.5/5
- Notable features: selective database table migration, post type exclusion, and WP-CLI integration
- Price: freemium
WP Migrate DB is a WordPress plugin specifically designed to simplify database export and migration. It lets you export your WordPress site database into an SQL file, which you can then import into the new server via phpMyAdmin.
The plugin also supports WordPress serialized data and arrays, reducing the risk of data corruption while maintaining the backup’s integrity.
The plugin comes with a compatibility mode to resolve any plugin conflicts when migrating to a new server. You’re also able to whitelist plugins, preventing them from loading and slowing down the process.
A pause/cancel feature is also available in case you want to abort the migration process.
Consider upgrading to WP Migrate DB Pro if you have the budget to spend on a premium tool.
With this premium version, you can decide which database tables you want to migrate and exclude certain post types from the posts table. Furthermore, it lets you synchronize your media library files between two WordPress sites.
WP Migrate DB Pro comes with four plans, costing between $49 and $599/year. They all include one year of updates, priority email support, and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Migrating a WordPress website to a new hosting provider can bring several benefits. You can get a more affordable plan, better customer support, more hosting resources and features, and better server security.
As there are several ways to accomplish this, make sure to consider your personal needs and the technical knowledge that will be required.
Here’s a quick recap of the four WordPress migration methods explained:
- Manual transfer. Use an FTP client or the File Manager in the host’s control panel to transfer files and databases.
- Using a cloning plugin. Export and import WordPress files with just a few clicks.
- Utilizing an automatic migration tool. Quickly migrate to Hostinger by submitting a migration request.
- Web hosting backup service. Make use of the backups created by the old host to move website files to the new server.
We hope this tutorial helped you migrate your WordPress site with ease. Finally, let us know in the comments which method you chose or prefer doing.