WordPress site migration is a complicated task. Most people would pay a professional, rather get their own hands dirty. It's understandable. Migrations require technical know-how and familiarity with the terminology involved an i.e. database, SQL, core files, wp-config.php, etc.
Whether you need to migrate a client project from one host to another, or you've had enough of your slow host, there are several reasons you may need to migrate. I am not going to lie; migrations are hard. There's a bunch of hassle involved, and the risk of losing data is significant. To do it right requires planning, understanding how WordPress files and its database work.
In the previous article of this series, I talked about how you can migrate a WordPress in a completely hands-on manner. Read that article even if you do not want to do it that way, because you will know what is what and how WP works.
What if I told you that you could make migrations easy? There are several plugins that make WordPress migrations easy. In this post, you will learn why should you use plugins to migrate WordPress and plugins to help you.
Why Use Plugins to Migrate?
Manually migrating a WordPress website from one host to another is how most people tackle migrations. While manual migrations are effective, they take time. In a manual migration, you need to download database, theme and media files, migrate all of them to the new host. The risk of data loss is high and so is the risk of making mistakes.
Plus, all the downloading and uploading can be overwhelming. Why not use a better and more organized method of WordPress migrations? Several WordPress plugins help migrate sites. You can configure every aspect of them.
WordPress plugins, like always, help extend the functionality and accessibility of the CMS.
WordPress Migration Plugins
UpdraftPlus is one of the best WordPress migration plugins. It boasts a wide range of features and a premium version! At the time of writing, it has 900,000+ active installs. Aside from being a fantastic migration tool, it also allows you to restore the site to a previous person with just one click!
- Cloud storage: It provides you with the ability to store the backups on Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Google Drive among other storage locations.
- Backup & restore: Backups created with UpdraftPlus are easily customizable via a user-friendly interface. In case you want to restore a backup, you can easily do so. It is just a 2-click process.
- Clone websites instantly: This is one of the premium features of the plugin. It enables you to clone or migrate entire site almost instantly.
- Schedule backups: UpdraftPlus can be configured to create backups in intervals (like daily, weekly or monthly).
Premium version: There is a premium version of the plugin available too. Which includes many advanced and useful features.
BackupBuddy is certainly the most credible and reputable migration solution from this list. It is one of the WordPress solutions by iThemes, which is the company behind iThemes Security plugin. This plugin is entirely paid.
- Backups: With BackupBuddy, you can backup database, files, media files, and everything which constitute a WordPress website. Schedule backups, store them on cloud storage locations, or on BackupBuddy Stash, it's all up to you.
- Restore site: If you have accidentally deleted a post, comment or theme file, you can just restore to the previous state with a few clicks. You can individually restore a file, database or entire site quickly. Your call.
- Migrating and cloning: Migrating becomes nothing but a selection of few clicks with BackupBuddy. You are also able to clone site locally or to a new domain name.
- Malware scan: BackupBuddy is renowned for its backup services. Malware scan is another handy feature which makes sure your database and files stay clean.
Duplicator is another solid contender among the WordPress migration plugins. It enables users to clone, migrate and backup a WordPress site. It has more than 800,00 active installs. Whether you want to deploy your site from staging environment to the production environment or want to just create a backup, Duplicator can help you.
I personally use this plugin to create local staging sites.
- Different approach: It does not pack theme, media files and SQL database to a ZIP archive, like most migration plugins. Rather, it takes a different and approach. An installer containing directories, installation files, and the database is created and used to migrate websites.
- Create backups: Duplicator has the ability to create backups. However, the free version of the plugin lacks the ability to schedule backups.
- Duplicator Pro: The premium version of the plugin enables many advanced features like scheduling backups, Google Drive support, multisite support, email notifications, etc.
All in One WP Migration
All in One WP Migration is a flexible and intuitive solution to migrate WordPress sites. With over 200,000+ active installs, it is one of the most popular migration plugins in use today. It has following features:
- Compatible with hosts: Because it does not depend on any extensions, it is compatible with most PHP supporting hosts.
- Search and replace: It comes equipped with unlimited search and replaces so that you can fix broken links and common serialization problems in the database.
- Fewer errors: All in One WP Migration uses chunks to import a backup, which bypasses web servers' upload restrictions of 512MB.
- Paid extensions: There are many paid extensions which enhance the features of the plugin. For example, Unlimited extension deletes the import limit of 512MB.
The free version of the plugin should be a viable solution for small WordPress sites. For bigger sites & storing backups on cloud locations, you will need its paid extensions. Which are worth it considering the pain they take out of a typical migration.
WP Migrate DB
WP Migrate DB is another one of the migration tools for WordPress. It has a free version and paid addons. It is a much more developer's friendly plugin than anything else I mentioned here. WP Migrate DB permits you to export an SQL file rather than a ZIP archive like most plugins. Which is then to be imported to an SQL management system.
- Search & replace: Fixing broken links or changing domain name from posts, pages, etc. becomes easy with the plugin's search and replace capabilities.
- Backup before migration: Sometimes accidents happen, and migrations get messed up. To ensure you have a backup strategy, WP Migrate DB lets you make backups before the migration process.
- Select tables: You have entire control over the database tables you migrate. Which can be useful if you don't want to migrate entire rather just comments table?
- Paid add-ons: There are several paid extensions too. If you run a multisite and want to selectively export and import a subsite to a single site installation, Multisite Tools addon will help.
Whether it's WordPress, Drupal or a custom website, migrations are known to cause problems. That's why most people chose different solutions for migration. But when right tools are used, it all becomes a piece of cake. The migration tools discussed in this post are the best in their own manner. I hope you find them useful.
Lastly, I'd like to ask you, what is your favorite WordPress migration plugin?
As usual, don't hesitate to leave any questions or comments below, and I'll aim to respond to each of them.