You’ve decided to change your domain and now it’s time to migrate WordPress to a new location.
Sometimes a new domain name is in order and you’d like to migrate your website. There’s always a fear though of losing all that content you’ve spent time building up. This article aims to help you get through the move painlessly, without losing a thing.
It’s been suggested in many places that you can simply use the WordPress export tool to pull a copy of your site. That’s good for pages and posts, but it doesn’t always bring along your images with them. We’ll take you through the steps below to migrate your WordPress site without losing any content, data, plugins or settings.
On your new domain, you’ll need to install a fresh copy of WordPress.
Most hosts now provide 1-click installs that takes less than five minutes. You know this already because you’re about to migrate your site, so you’ve been through this before. In case you need the tutorial, here’s the highlights:
- Visit your cPanel and choose the one click install
- Follow the steps to choose the correct new domain where you’d like to move your site to
- Make note of your new credentials for the new domain
- Log into the new WordPress installation at the new domain
Install the WP All In One Migrate plugin
You’ll need to install this plugin on both the old site and the new site. The process is that on the old site, you’ll export a copy of your existing site and on the new site, you’ll import that copy using the plugin features. This plugin is, by far, the easiest and least confusing plugin that we’ve found for this job so far.
Visit the old site first.
First we are going to export a copy of the old site. This creates a back up of the site as well, which is always a good idea. You never know what might go haywire, so it’s always good to have a back up.
Make sure to click the Advanced Options link in the plugin dashboard. There are some choices here that you’ll want to check off so that you save some space and time. For example, it shouldn’t be necessary to export your spam comments from the old site (why anyone would export those is a mystery, but ok, at least you have a choice!) If you want your site to be EXACTLY the same as it is now, just on a new domain name, you’ll want to make sure the following are unchecked as seen below:
Post revisions aren’t necessary to export; again, this is just something that takes up unnecessary space and time. You WILL want to export your plugins, media, themes files and the SQL database for this transfer, so make sure that those boxes remain unchecked. The last box, maintenance mode, is optional. I like to do it in case someone happens to be visiting your site on the front end at the time. It’s just polite and will keep it from messing anything up in the export file if there’s on one visiting your current site.
Now, you’ll want to click on the “Export to” green button. Choose File. You have other options here, but none of them are free except exporting to file.
This creates your back up file. At this point, you can download the file directly to your computer using the flashing green box. Go ahead and download the copy. If you don’t do it now, there’s another option to do this in the backups area of the plugin. This is handy if you decide you don’t have the time to complete this all in one sitting (it can sometimes take an hour to upload on the new domain, depending on the size of the file.)
If you need to come back later to grab a copy of the file, it’s stored in the backups section of the All In One WP Migrate tool. Just click the green download icon and you can pull a copy. Take note of the file name and where you’ve saved it; you’ll need it later. Then we are ready to move to the new site and follow the final steps for migration.
Now we are ready to hit the new domain and migrate WordPress to the new site.
Log in to your new installation of WordPress and install the All In One WP Migrate tool via your plugins dashboard if you haven’t already. Once you’re logged in, visit the import section and get ready for simplicity and waiting. This time, you’ll click the green “Import From” menu and choose “file”. It will allow you to upload the file you just got from the old site.
You’ll notice a limit of 512 MB; more than that and you’ll need to pay for the upgraded version. There are ways to work around this which will be a bit more time consuming. You could do the export on the old site of only the media library, not the theme files and plugins. That will usually save a ton of space. It just means that you’ll have to manually install your theme, plugins and settings on the new site first, then upload the content files that you took from the old site.
Click the upload button, choose file, navigate to your downloads folder (or where you saved the file from the old site) and select it. The file should start uploading automatically, showing you a progress bar. Go have a coffee now, it’s going to be a little while, especially if you had lots of images and videos on your old site. It takes time to get it right, so be patient.
Check your new site
Does it have everything moved? Check the front end and back end. Look in your media library. Give a thorough check of the site to make sure nothing is missing. Good? Great, you’ve just migrated WordPress to it’s new home! Congratulations!
Now, you need to decide if you’ll “dispose” of your old site or just redirect visitors to the new site. You shouldn’t keep them both alive. I’ve heard rumours that duplicating content like that can give Google the heebie-jeebies and kick your search rankings down.