This site has now been hosted with three different web hosts. Each time I’ve moved it, it’s been for a very good reason. Sometimes your relationship with your web host goes sour, sometimes you outgrow it, and sometimes you realise you’re paying out a lot of cash and getting very little in return.
Today I’m posting a comprehensive guide for those of you considering a move to a new web host. It’s a longish one, so if you’re short on time, you may want to Pin it for later.
First let’s look at why you may want to make the break from your current provider. Here are a few signs it’s time for a change.
5 Signs You Need a New Web Host
The price has crept up – Many hosts lure you in with super cheap hosting for the first year or two, but after that you find that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for the same service, and that same service may well be cheaper elsewhere.
Your site crashes or is down a lot – Every web host has the occasional glitch, but you need your site to be up and running almost 100% of the time. Regular downtime is unacceptable.
Support is slow to respond – Or difficult to contact at all. Responsive, helpful support staff are a must.
Your host uses out of date software – How will you know? You’ll probably find that some of the additional tech on your website won’t work. Some themes and plugins may not be compatible with older software. You can contact the creator of any software or tech to make sure it’s not their problem, or user error, but if they come back and say it’s an issue with your host, it could be that they haven’t updated their software.
Frequent security breaches – Again, security breaches can happen, even with the best of hosts, but they should be extremely rare. Frequent security problems mean it could be time to move on.
Where to Find a New Website Host
Ask around – In your Facebook groups, and other online blogging communities. You’ll probably find lots of people who are happy with a particular host, and that will be one worth considering. Be wary of people in your online groups, who you don’t know personally, recommending a host and offering you their affiliate links. Some people will just recommend the host with the best affiliate payout.
Check out blogs you follow – Many bloggers recommend the hosts they have personally used on their tools or recommendations page.
Do some research – All hosting companies have pros and cons. Take a close look at exactly what their various packages include, how you can pay, how you contact support, etc. Pick a company based on your own needs.
What to Look For in a Hosting Company
Once you know of a few good hosting companies, it’s time to begin investigating them. This isn’t about finding the one with the best deal (although a good deal never hurts!), it’s about discovering which company will be the best fit for your website. So with that in mind, here’s what to consider before you sign your next hosting contract:
The Renewal Price
A few hosts are known for their cheap rates. If you sign up for 2 years of service, you can lock in that rate and get an amazing discount. But after two years, you’ll pay over 80% more in renewal fees. That means your “affordable” hosting isn’t a great deal anymore.
If you’re not sure about the renewal price, you can check for the terms of service with the host you’re considering. You can also call customer support and ask a few questions about their rates.
How Many Domains You Can Host
Many solopreneurs have two or more domains. You may have separate domains for various niches, audiences, and products. Although some companies allow you to host an unlimited number of domains, you’ll want to check before you commit. This is an easy detail to overlook and it’s disappointing to pay a host, only to discover that you can’t transfer all of your sites.
Branded Email Accounts
Most solopreneurs need at least one branded email account. A branded email account looks like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you plan on working with a partner or a virtual assistant, you may end up needing additional email addresses such as: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some hosts will charge for branded email addresses. Others will allow you to have multiple addresses but cap them at 30-50. Still, there are a few hosts that give their customers an unlimited number of addresses. Depending on how you plan to grow your business, this is an important factor that should guide your purchasing decision.
The Control Panel
You need to pay attention to the control panel that’s used for hosting. Two popular options are cPanel and Plesk. Both of these programs make it easy for you to manage your websites and upload files.
But some hosting companies use a custom control panel. Depending on your level of skill with hosting, you may have difficulty using this control panel. You should always pay attention to this detail before signing up for a new hosting account.
Some hosting companies like MomWebs will happily transfer your websites for you. You don’t have to worry about backups, set-up, databases, files, and other moving headaches. Instead, you can give the login information to your new host and get back to focusing on your business.
However, some companies will expect you to pay for this service. They may charge you a certain amount of money or they may charge you per website. Always ask about these fees before you agree to the transfer.
5 Tips for Making a Smooth Web Hosting Move
Once you’ve made the decision to move to a new web host, you’ll probably be excited to make the transfer. Whether you’re moving your websites yourself or your hosting company is doing it for you, there are still a few things you’ll want to do to ensure a seamless transition.
Warn Customers Ahead of Time
You don’t have to make a huge announcement if you don’t want to. You can simply mention it in your weekly newsletter.
Try saying something simple like: “I’ll be transferring my website to a new hosting company this week. My website may be unavailable at times and my emails may bounce. But you can still reach me by (your alternative method of contact).”
Have Backups Ready
Just in case something goes wrong, you’ll want make sure you have recent backups and know how to upload them. Most site transfers go through without a problem, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Monitor Social Media
During the move, stay active on social media. You may have customers or clients that missed the notification about your transfer. These customers may still be expecting business as usual and be surprised by the sudden loss of service.
But you can be a calming force in the meantime. If there is an issue that comes up and you can’t get to it right away, let your customer know that you’re working on a solution. Then thank them for their patience.
Keep Your Account with Your Old Host
Don’t cancel your account with your old host until your new one is fully set up. If you close it too early, then your website may go down unexpectedly. Worse, if you encounter a major problem, you’ll be without a website until it’s resolved.
Before you begin a transfer, you’ll want to make two lists. The first list should contain the contact information for both hosting companies. It should also have contact information for the person that’s handling your transfer like your website designer or virtual assistant.
The second list should contain all of your login information for both web hosts. You’ll want to gather the username and password for your control panel, WordPress site, your FTP account, and databases. Having this information on hand is important if you (or your hosting company) encounter a problem during the transfer.
There are no guarantees in web hosting. But if you have backups as well as a list of all your login information, then your transfer should be smooth and painless. Once it’s done, you’ll be able to get back to doing what you do best—serving your customers!
Changing web hosting companies isn’t easy. But you’ll feel so much better once it’s done and your site is moved into your new virtual home!
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