How to Migrate WordPress to Another Host Without Downtime

Share the love!

This post will take you through the steps needed to seamlessly migrate WordPress to another host without having it go down in the process. To achieve this, we will use a little trick to fool your computer into thinking your domain is on the new host. This allows you to test it to your heart’s content until you are ready for everyone to see it at the new location.

Why should I re-host?

There are many reasons why it makes sense to rehost. Perhaps you have outgrown your current hosting provider, or it isn’t reliable enough. Maybe you are ready for greater freedom from the free tier of wordpress.com.

Can a beginner do it?

This guide takes you through:

  • backing up your site
  • restoring it at your new host provider
  • testing it by making a small change to your computer’s configuration
  • updating the domain records to make it live

It is not a complicated process, but if you lack confidence, many hosts offer a free migration service, so it is worth checking that out.

There are a great many hosting providers available for WordPress, so I have made this post as generic as possible and described the process rather than specific detail, as that will depend on which host you choose.

Here are the steps:

Update WordPress to the latest version

I recommend doing this first because the WordPress version you start with on the new host is likely to be the most recent. It is best to make sure that your site works now with the latest version to avoid issues later.

Backup your original site

Take a full site backup. The best way to do this is with the Updraft plugin. Download the backup files to your computer. Here is my guide to taking a backup with Updraft.

Create an account at your new host provider

If you haven’t already done so, make an account at your new host provider. Make sure you choose the same domain as your old hosting provider.

Install WordPress on your new host

Once your account is created go ahead and install WordPress. Many hosts provide a one-click wizard to do this. It may take a few minutes to complete.

Hosts will often provide you with a temporary URL. Use it to browse to your new site and you should see the setup screen for WordPress, or the Admin screen if the setup is complete. Make a note of the temporary URL, just in-case you need to use it again.

You should now have a vanilla version of WordPress installed on your new hosting provider, probably with a temporary URL.

Install and activate the Updraft plugin

Go to the plugins tab and install the Updraft plugin, we will be using it to restore the backup you made earlier.

Restore the backup you made earlier

Upload the files you downloaded to your computer. Then go through the restore process.

Your new WordPress site will now no longer work on the temporary URL because restoring it will have reset the domain name to your original one.

Check everything is working

Here is the magic. To allow you to test your new site, we are going to change your computer’s settings so that when you browse to your domain, you arrive at your new one, not the old. We can do this by updating your computer’s hosts file.

Before we continue, find the IP address for your new site. Usually, you will find it in the Control Panel. For Bluehost, you will find the IP address under ‘Server Information’.

Server information

Now update your hosts file :

On Mac OS: enter this in a terminal window:

sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

At the bottom of the file, enter the IP you noted down followed by a space and then your domain name e.g.

192.168.0.41 www.mysite.com

To save and exit press CTRL+X then Y.

On Windows 10: Open Notepad as an administrator. Press the Windows key, then type ‘notepad’, then right-click the Notepad app and select ‘Run as Administrator’. Open the file ‘C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts’.

At the bottom of the file, enter the IP you noted down followed by a space and then your domain name e.g.

192.168.0.41 www.mysite.com

Then save the file.

After the update, you will find that when you browse, you will arrive at your new site. You may need to restart your browser. You can check that you see the new site by ‘pinging’ it.

Open a terminal or command window on your computer and type:

ping www.mydomain.com

It should return an IP matching your new one

Check all is well

You should now find that you have an exact copy of your old site. If you are happy with what you see, continue to the next step.

Switch the domain to the new host

The last step is to update the domain registry according to the directions your new host gives you. To do this, you need to know where your domain is registered. If you are not sure, use this site https://whois.icann.org/en  to find out.

Usually, you would update the nameservers to those specified by your new host. These are the servers that store the domain information such as hosting and mail information. Hosts prefer you to use their nameservers because it gives them the freedom to switch you to another server without downtime. Once the nameservers update any changes you need to make to the domain records such as adding subdomains or mail records would need to be done at your new host.

Alternatively, transfer the domain registration over to your new host. If your domain has been registered with your old hosting provider, then it is probably best to transfer. If it is registered using a domain registrar such as LCN or 123-reg then it is best to update the nameservers without transferring.

My preference is to keep all my domains with a single registrar, and then point the names servers only to the web host. That way I can manage all my domain registrations in one place.

It can take up to 24 hours for domain changes to take effect. When you are confident the updates are complete, you can safely remove the changes you made to the local hosts file on your computer. You should still see the new site.

Congratulations! You can now safely cancel your old hosting.

Join my mailing list here and get access to all my free resources

Share the love!

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.