How to Switch Hosting Companies

The time comes in all webmaster’s lives when a better web hosting deal comes along. Usually, this happens a month after you signed a year’s contract for a hosting package, or when you finally get fed up with downtime or a lack of customer service. There are some important considerations to keep in mind before making the switch, to ensure that it will be as seamless as possible.

First, did you sign a lengthy contract with your existing host? Many companies force their clients to sign a year’s hosting agreement, making it very difficult to switch hosts should you find a better price or a better company. If you can avoid signing one of these agreements, you can save yourself a lot of hassle. If you have already signed an agreement, there may be ways to get out of it, but it will usually involve paying a fee, or forfeiting a set-up fee that was to be refunded at the end of the contract. Go through your documentation before switching companies to make sure that you won’t get caught with a large buy-out fee for your contract.

Next, back-up your website completely. If your site does not allow you to do this automatically, this means that you will have to FTP every file on your server back to your computer’s hard drive to make sure that you have recent copies of all of your information. It can be very difficult to transfer a site, and it can result in a loss of data. If you take the time to make a back-up, all you will have to do is upload your files to your new server before your old account is removed.

Now that your back-up is done, you can begin switching your files over. It is a good idea to allow at least a week’s time to get this process completed before canceling your old account. If this is not possible, you may end up with a few days of downtime, until all of the information is processed.

Once you have set-up your new account, you will be given a new nameserver for your domain name. You will need to change this once your files are uploaded onto the new server.

A nameserver acts a directing device that routes requests for a domain name to the correct IP address. If you don’t change this information, your visitors will end up on a 404 page instead of your site once your old site is removed.

Switching nameservers can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 days to completely propagate. Try to allow enough time in between your move to cut down on your site’s downtime.

Once everything is set-up and running, it’s time to cancel your old account. Make sure that you follow the cancellation process exactly so that you don’t end up paying for an extra month or other fees. If you time it right, you’ll be able to make a switch without having to pay for two servers at the same time.

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Posted on 12/14/05 10:05 PM

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