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Changing to new host? No more worries!
by: Priyanka Agarwal
John's online business is expanding. His customers are increasing day by day. However, he feels very frustrated at the moment as he finds his website is 'down' about every 4th day. Whenever he calls up the support team of his web host, he gets the same old answer that his problem will be rectified soon. If the problems do persist it will surely hamper his business. He has been with his present hosting provider for the last year but now he feels he has to find a new web host as soon as possible because his present hosting package is also not able to meet up with his growing demands. This is not a one-off occurrence that has happened only to John, it happens with many people like him. Changing the web host might become a cumbersome task if John and other people like him don't know the correct procedure of doing it. So, let's have a look at the following easy and simple steps:

First of all, it's very important to have a backup of your website and everything related to it, like databases, scripts etc. It will be very helpful in case there is data loss because of any unforseen reason. Save at least 2 copies of everything and store them separately, so that you can work with one and the other one will function as a backup. You can take backup in various ways. One is by using software programs like a FTP program (e.g. Smart FTP http://www.smartftp.com/) for downloading data.

Now, the time is to look for a new web host that meets all your requirements and provides better technical services than your previous host. Since you have already been through the search procedure it won't take you much time to come across a reliable hosting company.

Once you have taken a new web-hosting plan and you are ready to upload your web pages, databases etc., check that you have received an IP number, FTP or FrontPage login, and password from your new hosting company. Now, upload all your files to the new server; you are just repeating the same procedure that you've done in the past when you uploaded your files for the very first time.

Only a few more steps more and you will be completely done. Before transferring your DNS servers over from your previous host to your new one, debug and test the new site from an individual IP number. Check that all the web pages exist, the links point to the right pages and that all your scripts are running. One important point which people always forget is their domain name expiration date. If you plan to move near the expiration date, it could cause you lots of problems. To be on the safe side, make sure that you have at least 3-4 weeks in hand before the domain name expires, or just renew it for another year.

To transfer domain name service to a new host identify registrar using "WHOis" lookup http://domreg-m6.net/domains/WHois.asp, verify registration of your domain name, identify the name server information for the host your are transferring to, and make changes in the DNS information at the registrar. During this DNS transition period new DNS information has to be propagated throughout the world's DNS servers. This propagation might take 2-4 days as an International root name server will firstly have to check all the various Domain registrars for updates, and then every ISP provider will update their DNS setting to show the new changes. Not only this, even Internet, i.e. Internet routers and caching engines have to update/clear its DNS cache as well. During this propagation period, you keep your old site running so that the visitors whose ISP provider haven't updated can still visit your website.

It's advisable that you don't cancel your old hosting service during the transition period, as you will need to check your mail from both the hosting providers, as some will direct e-mail to your old server whereas other Internet regions will send mail to your new server. After one or two weeks you can annul the account with your old host.

On the very first notion it sounds like a painful task to find a new web host and make all the necessary changes, but with the steps known, people like John will not find this procedure problematic. With so many automation software packages available, it has now become easier to switch over your web site from old host to new host. If both hosting providers have the same operation system platform, the procedure will become even simpler. But remember, the most important task in the whole host-changing scenario is to find a host that meets your requirements so that you don't have to go through this entire procedure again in the future.

About the author:
Priyanka Agarwal
Hosting evangelist
http://www.m6.net/


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