Moving WordPress to new limited server – Working notes

May 30, 2021

These are quick instructions written, mostly for me. But somebody with a more than basic understanding of how WordPress works and that knows basic trouble shooting should be able to follow along. If you’re not fully comfortable with WordPress it’s advised to contact somebody with experience.

You’re trying to move a WordPress install either from one hosting company to another or you’ve built a site on your computer and need to get it to the hosting. The hosting company has strict limits (processes, memory, etc.) that won’t let your backup software deploy the site or other issues with the site. These are notes on how I did it for one of those that had a one click install for WordPress and small limits to processing times. The client purchased a new hosting and needed the site moved to that hosting package.

What you’ll need:

A currently Active website or a local copy running on computer

A plug-in to create and deploy a database backup. In this case the full site was timing out and the database being a lot smaller worked.

You may need:

An FTP client if they don’t have a file manager area.

I’m going to use an example of a limited WordPress hosting site, it only allowed 1 WordPress install. To install you push a button to create a WordPress install, you can’t deploy your site through this system.

If you already tired and have issues:

If you tried to deploy your site but got error messages and/or the site has a lot of issues. Some of those issues could be: images in the media folder shows as grey boxes, there’s errors when you try to use the theme that was part of your deign. Look through their instructions to delete that WordPress install and create a new one, so you can have a clean install to work from.

Instructions:

If the site is live go into the FTP or File Manager for the site and download the ‘uploads’ folder.

Located in the ‘wp-content’ folder. If you have a local install you may want to open to that folder on your computer.

On your new hosting log into their FTP or File Manager location and open the ‘uploads’ folder. From here you’ll want to upload the year folders, 2020, 2021, etc. Override or merge the one that is currently in there. There shouldn’t be anything in that folder if there is it shouldn’t be anything you would be using with the site you’re moving. Keep your connection open you might be needing this again later.

While that is uploading the files log into your original site, go to the plug-ins folder. Now in the new site install the same plug-ins (either through the WordPress install or upload like the year folders). If any of these are subscription based go ahead and add your accounts to it; this may not be needed, I do it just in case there might be a miss match between the plug-in and database. Some plug-ins will register to that site.

Run the database backup on the original site. You can find one on wordpress.org; watch the ratings and check the last time it was updated if over 6 months you may want to avoid it. I’m using one I purchased, but the price is only worth it if you’re doing these freelance.

Install the database backup plug-in to the new site. If the database plug-in doesn’t allow uploading then you’ll need to upload the backup to a folder, when you install the plug-in you may see a new folder created for where it will store files, you may need to run a backup before it will show-up. Usually this will be in the ‘uploads’ folder, refresh when you run a backup, look at the names of any non-year folders. If you can’t find the folder you’ll need to consult the documentation of the plug-in to find the location.

With the database file uploaded deploy the database backup. If successful it will send you to the login page. You’ll login to the site using the original site’s user and password (these are stored in the database that you just brought over).

From here look over the site to make sure it functions correctly. Double check the subscription plug-ins are registered. Check through other setting, they should be as they were from the original.

If everything looks good and you’re ready for this to be your permanent site. Change your DNS records over if you haven’t already; may take up to 48 hours before they fully transfer over.

TIP: Before I change DNS over on one of the two sites I’ll put something in the footer like a ‘*’ so I’ll know when the transfer happens. Such as a ‘*’ in the old site after some element. Then when it gets transferred to the new domain and the ‘*’ is gone I know I can work in it.

These instructions might not work in every case, different hosting packages have different limits. Some may not run certain plug-ins or even themes (such as the drag & drop builders); I’ve seen one that had a list of the plug-ins they would allow all others won’t load. They could have small memory allotment that will bring your site down if you have too many plug-ins loaded.

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