How to transfer a website to another host [ Back to The FAQ ]

summary: click on each for the details!

1. Get an account with the new host

Most hosting providers have online forms where you sign up. They will expect you to have a credit card or PayPal account for online payment. Everything is done automatically.

2. Upload your files to the new host with ftp.

Your hosting provider will give you the information for this (server name, login, password).

3. Check your site on the new host, by editing your "hosts" file

Your files are on the new server, but the world still sees your site at the old one, because the "DNS" (the phone book of the internet) still says your site is at the old server's IP number. You don't want to change the DNS yet, in case your site isn't yet looking right. So you can tell your computer to see your site at the new host:

  • Put a line at the end of the "hosts" file on your computer, using the ip number of the new host.
    So for example, if your domain name was excellent.org and you were shifting your site to TibetBridges, you would put:
    74.54.139.178 www.excellent.org
  • Where is the "hosts" file?
    In MSWindows you will find it in C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
    In Linux you will find it in /etc/hosts
    You can edit it in any text editor (such as Notepad on MSWindows).
  • What is the "hosts" file?
    It is a file that *all* computers have. You can use it to tell your computer the ip address for a domain. See explanation of hosts file at http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial51.html
    The i.p. number you put in your hosts file is the ip number of the new host. It tells your web browser to find your domain at new host's server.)
  • Now go to your website in your browser
    You will see the site coming from new host, not from the old one. If you have forms, photo gallery, or any other special things on your site, be sure to check that they are working also.
  • (After you have completed the steps below, you should remove that line from your hosts file.)

4. If your site all looks good, then change the dns at your registrar

  • Log in in to the registrar for your domain, and navigate to the section to change your DNS servers, to the server names that your new host will give you.
    DNS server names will look something like this:
    ns1.websitewelcome.com
    ns2.websitewelcome.com
    
    This will tell the whole world that your domain now lives at the new host. (In this example, "websitewelcome.com" is the dns server for HostGator, where TibetBridges lives)

    See explanation of DNS at
    http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial28.html
    See how DNS, hosting, and registration work at
    http://tibetangeeks.com/technologies/web_development/web_hosting/01-web_site-three_legs/
  • It will probably take about half an hour for this setting to propagate (spread all over) the internet.

Then:

5. Wait until the dns change has spread (propagated) through the internet

Don't update your site while you are waiting. You may be updating at the old location, not the new one.

6. Now you can continue to grow your site :)

7. Know more

If your site is being hosted on TibetBridges ... Jeff Lebow is the person who is providing this web server for us. We can give back to him by using this power the best we can!