If you run a business with an online presence, then at some point it’s likely that you’ll find yourself considering a website migration – a scary prospect for some. However, migrations don’t have to be difficult or painful and properly preparing is the first step toward making the process easier!
There are many reasons why you might find yourself needing a migration. Increasing and fluctuating traffic might require you to make the move from a traditional dedicated server to a more scalable cloud dedicated environment. Or, you might find a more suitable hosting plan or even a new web host with a more trustworthy and reliable (dare we say Heroic?) support team. No matter why you’re migrating, preparation is key. Migrations can be complicated and, if not done correctly, they can result in a loss in traffic to your site that can’t be quickly regained. The below tips have been recommended by our highly specialized Heroic Support® team and will help make the process as easy as possible.
Understand the Process
Our Heroic Support® team has nearly two decades of experience with website migrations; we know that migrating your website and data from one server to another is an extremely involved and delicate process. We’ve developed a set of thorough, time-tested procedures specifically to prevent data from being lost or overlooked. The three main phases in our migration process are: the initial phase, the testing phase, and the final sync phase.
Initial Sync Phase
During the initial sync, your ‘source server’ (the old server that you are migrating away from) is accessed by our team; software versions are checked and compared between your old and new server, data is collected, and then your sites are restored on the ‘target server’ (your new server) once any necessary changes to the server environment are made.
Also in this phase, DNS records (the files that relate your domain name to a particular IP address) are checked and TTL values are lowered. TTL stands for “time to live”, which is a number, in seconds, that dictates how long to save a particular DNS record and how soon to update it with new information. Lowered TTL values will assure that traffic to your domain name will be redirected appropriately and quickly to the new IP address.
This phase is vitally important. The migration is not yet complete, but you have the opportunity to view your data as it will appear on your new server. It’s important to go through your entire site, in an extremely comprehensive manner, to verify everything looks and behaves as it should. The technicians assisting with your migration will certainly do their own testing on the site, but as you are the most familiar with how the website should operate, you will be the person most likely to spot any errors that need to be fixed.
Final Sync Phase
In the final phase, the technicians will re-sync your data from the source server in case any data was changed since the original sync. The DNS will also be updated to officially make your new server live. The DNS change might need to be completed by you, depending on who controls the DNS and has access to the registrar. Keep in mind that during this phase the technicians will need root-level access to both the source server and the target server, as well as any comparable control panels.
An average migration from a server with cPanel to another server with cPanel takes between 2 and 5 days. This can vary widely based on the amount of data and domains, the link speed between the servers, issues found during the testing phase and the complexity of the migration. It will take longer, for example, if one of the servers isn’t cPanel. Migrations can be lengthy, but it is our thorough procedures and attention to detail that protect your data and ensure a successful migration.
Back Up Your Data
Before beginning any sort of migration, make sure you create and save backups of your entire site configuration to an offsite location. While problems aren’t likely, you’ll want to know that you can easily and quickly restore your site from backup in the event of an issue during the migration. This is especially important if you’re migrating due to instability in your old server. Secure backups are guaranteed to make the whole process a lot smoother. Of course, we recommend regularly backing up your data even if you’re not about to go through the process of a migration. Make sure to follow our tips on the best practices for data backup.
Know Your Server
It’s important to be well-versed in your website and server data prior to a migration. Auditing your server content will uncover any duplicated files or outdated information that you may not need to move. In addition, you should take this time to identify the most valuable aspects of your website. Because migrations are so complex, identifying which parts of your server are the most important to your business can help the technician ensure a successful move. Parts of your server that you will want to call attention to include any third-party apps or software that aren’t part of the cPanel standard setup. Third party apps can be difficult for technicians to find when performing migrations; letting technicians know of their existence ahead of time will eliminate potential problems. You can provide this information to the technician via a form that will be sent to you prior to the migration. This form will also ask for other important information, such as source server login information, target server configuration, current and desired nameservers, and any extra information or special requests.
Test! Test! Test!
Testing is vitally important. Testing will occur both during the migration process and after it is completed. Any issues found during the migration will be fixed as they are discovered, which might delay the estimated completion time for the migration. This is both normal and to be expected. However, it is especially important that you carefully and thoroughly test your site or application, in addition to the testing the technicians will do. Only you know exactly how all aspects and facets of your website should look and behave. Testing is one of, if not the, most important facets of a migration, but there isn’t a foolproof method of preventing errors. The process will be ongoing and testing should occur both before the final sync and after, to double and triple check everything is correct.
Migrations are notorious for being both complex and fraught with potential problems, however these tips, along with our skilled Heroic Support® team, will go a long way to make the process much smoother. With our years of experience, we can help you avoid a disastrous migration and get your website up and running on your new hardware as quickly as possible.