Preparation for a Plesk to Plesk Windows Migrations

Posted on by Patrick Hawkins
Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you ever need to upgrade the hardware on your Windows server with the Plesk interface, Liquid Web’s Windows team is happy to help you through the migration. While it is not the simplest process you will ever be a part of, keeping in communication with our Heroic Support will make things go smoothly.


There are a few things to keep in mind when starting out on a Windows Plesk server migration.

Migrations are not simple and can take time. Depending on a variety of factors, including the amount of data being migrated, the stability of the original server, or other unforeseeable issues, a typical migration can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It is best to plan for this process to take a few weeks. Rest assured we will be in contact with you the entire time, keeping you updated as the migration progresses.

Once the backup is started, refrain from making configuration changes to the original server. While a website, database, and email data can be migrated over after the initial backup is performed, Plesk and IIS configurations cannot. If you absolutely must make a change, please let us know, so we can make the change on the destination server as well.

Any settings changed outside Plesk will not copy over. IIS changes made in IIS instead of Plesk, third-party programs, security settings and databases setup outside Plesk: none of these will migrate over. If you would like Liquid Web to attempt migrating them, they will likely incur additional migration fees. Any such migrations would be beyond scope support, meaning that we could not fully guarantee them. We would appraise any upfront costs and wait for your approval before we proceed with any migration.

Testing is critical. Due to the many differences between each server, we cannot guarantee the functionality of each item. Given the complexity involved, we ask you to verify that items work correctly before the destination server is live. We will, however, investigate any issues that you come across during the testing phase of the migration.

Before the Migration

Before the migration it is a good idea to run through this checklist:

Delete unneeded data from the server. This includes email, site data, or databases. The less you have to migrate, the less time it will take. Email messages especially take a long time to migrate.

If you are moving to new IP addresses, make sure the TTLs are lowered on your domains’ DNS. We recommend doing this after the backup is taken thus the original TTL values can be automatically restored on the destination server. If you do this before the backup, make sure to note the old values.

Fill out the pre-migration form. The Windows team will send you a pre-migration form containing questions that are crucial to the migration process. If you do not answer these questions, the migration may take longer as the Windows team will need to periodically stop the process and ask you these questions anyway.

During the Migration

When the migration itself gets underway, the Windows team will determine which of two migration methods will work best for you: using the Plesk Migration Manager, or a more manual Backup and Restore.

Plesk Migration Manager

The Plesk Migration Manager is a program that is installed on the originating server. It provides an automated backup and restores to the new server. This method requires RDP access to the originating server, and the client will be keeping an RDP connection open and running throughout the migration process.

The Migration Manager does cause some downtime on the individual sites. Before this step, a Windows team member will contact you to schedule your downtime when it is most convenient for you.

Backup and Restore

In the Backup and Restore method, a Windows team member will take a full Plesk backup, suspend the originating server, transfer the backup to the destination server, and run the restore. This method eliminates the need for RDP access. If, however, you want one final sync of the data from the old server to the new at the end of the process, RDP access would be needed.

Like the Migration Manager, this method does cause some downtime on the individual sites. Before this step, a Windows team member will contact you to schedule your downtime when it is most convenient for you.

Testing Your Sites

After either migration method is completed, you will have time to test your sites. If you are moving to new IP addresses, there are a few methods you can use:

  • Edit the local hosts’ file on your computer to browse sites normally using the new IPs.
  • Use the Plesk Site Preview function.
  • Log into the destination server via Remote Desktop and browse the sites through the RDP session. Note: this method only works if you are swapping the IP to the new server.

Any time that DNS changes, you will want to reduce the TTL values for your domains to reduce propagation time.

Final Sync and IP Swap

After you have tested your sites on the new server and found them to be working, we will then schedule the DNS update or IP swap as well as the final data sync. If we have control over DNS, then we will update that for you when scheduled; if not, we will rely on you to make that change.

At the same time that either the DNS is being updated or the IP is being swapped, we will start the final sync. Website content, data, and mail will be copied over. (The mail final sync only works if both servers are running the same mail service.) Only content that is newer than the initial migration will be synced. Plesk or IIS settings on the new server will not be updated. During the sync, web and mail services on the originating server will be turned off to make sure that no data is lost.

To Recap

We have covered a lot of ground here, so here are a few things to remember:

  • Do not make changes on the originating server once the migration process has started.
  • All downtime will be scheduled and discussed beforehand.
  • Keeping in touch with Windows team members will help make the whole process smooth.


Liquid Web’s Heroic Support is always available to assist customers with this or any other issue. If you need our assistance please contact us:
Toll-Free 1.800.580.4985
International 517.322.0434

Avatar for Patrick Hawkins

About the Author: Patrick Hawkins

Patrick Hawkins is a former Test Engineer and Managed WordPress admin with Liquid Web

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