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Switching Hosts 101

We understand that switching from one web company to another can be a challenging and painful situation. Most of us don't want to deal with the arduous process of gathering passwords, transferring all of our files, canceling service with our old host, and signing up for new service; all the while hoping that in the end, the new web company is going to work out for us. Fortunately however, with a little bit of planning and foresight, we think you'll be able to make the process a heck of a lot easier.

Here are our top 5 website moving tips to help you kick your old host to the curb, and keep your sanity!

1) Communicate with the new guy

Make sure your new webmaster is going to take care of the transfer from start to finish, and not leave you in the lurch. Communication is important here, so make sure they are fully briefed and ready to help you with the transfer. They should be able to tell you how long it's going to take, and what to expect from beginning to end. Make sure to tell them how many domain names are pointed to the site, how many email accounts you currently have, and anything and everything you know about how your site works (for example: whether it's a WordPress or CMS-powered website). The more information you give your new webmaster, the simpler the transfer will be for everyone involved.

2) Fire your old host

We know it's a hard call to make, but we think it's important that you handle this directly if at all possible. The "it's not you, it's me" excuse can work wonders for you here should you wish to keep things friendly, but whatever words you choose, make sure to let your old provider know that you are looking to cancel so they are in the loop and able to help you as needed. Make sure to let them know that you're going to need a few days to transfer your website so that they don't shutdown your account prematurely.

3) Round up them passwords

While you're on the phone, your old host should be able to provide you with an FTP username and password ("FTP login") so that you can download and transfer your website files (your new webmaster will hopefully be doing this on your behalf). Also, make sure to obtain your domain name login and registrar info as well since your new provider will need to update your domain's name servers. Having your information organized beforehand can save you a whole lot of headache down the line.

4) Backup your emails

Before moving ahead with the switch, make sure to download any important email messages and save them locally. You will need to do this since your old messages will no longer be available at the new host. We recommend exporting your entire inbox, sent folder, and any other folders where you have messages stored. Messages should be ideally exported as ".EML" files which will allow you to re-import them easily after the switch.

5) Give the green light

You're now ready to proceed with the transfer; make sure your new webmaster has everything they will need to: transfer your site, reconfigure your domain name, and setup your email account on their end. Make sure to let them know about any questions you have before moving forward.

If you've followed the above steps, there's a good chance that your website and email service have been successfully transferred, and a decent chance you don't have any new gray hair to show for it! Cheers.

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