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Tips For A Seamless WordPress Migration: Dos And Don’ts

Last Updated on November 23rd, 2023

Ensuring a seamless WordPress migration requires careful planning, attention to detail, and just a little bit of know-how.

That’s where we come in.

In this guide, our WordPress experts share their top website migration tips, outlining what to do and what not to do to ensure the process of transferring your website to a new server goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Top Tips For A Seamless WordPress Migration: 4 ‘To Dos’

1. Do Plan and Prepare

The old adage that failing to plan is planning to fail may be a cliche, but, like most cliches, it’s grounded in truth.

The fact is that nothing will make or break the success of your WordPress migration more than the steps you take to prepare.

Take the time to run through proper WordPress migration best practices, such as carefully scheduling your data transfer to minimize the impact of possible downtime.

2. Do Backup Your Site Before Migration

If you read our guide to troubleshooting common WordPress migration problems, you’ll know that there’s a whole host of potential pitfalls awaiting your website on its journey to a new server.

do backup your site before migration

Although the tips in this article will help you avoid many of those problems, issues such as missing files or corrupt databases can still occur.

If they do, you’ll be grateful to have a backup copy of the last working version of your site that you can use to replace those lost or damaged resources.

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Our tutorial on how to back up your WordPress site will navigate you through this process and even recommend the best tool for the job.

3. Do Communicate With Users

A little transparent communication with your website’s users will go a long way in reducing any confusion or frustrations caused by downtime or disruptions in service.

tips for a seamless wordpress migration - do communicate with users

Consider using a plugin like LightStart to direct users to a “site undergoing maintenance” page or, at the very least, putting a notification on your homepage that lets visitors know what’s going on, why you’re doing it, and when full, regular service can be resumed.

Both you and your users will benefit if you use your social media and email marketing channels to give them as much notice as possible (along with at least one reminder) about your upcoming migration.

4. Lower Your TTL Values

One of the main reasons your website visitors may experience some service disruption is that once you’ve updated your DNS information, these updates can take a while to propagate across the Internet.

tips for a seamless wordpress migration - lower your ttl values

That means that while some users will be able to access your site on its new server reasonably quickly, there may be a period of up to 48 where other users will still be directed to the old version of your site.

A quick and effective fix for this problem is to lower the TTL (Time to Live) values of your domain records.

The TTL value determines how long DNS information is cached by internet service providers (ISPs) and devices accessing your website. By reducing the TTL value to a shorter duration, such as 5 minutes, you decrease the time it takes for DNS changes to propagate across the Internet.

As a result, changes take effect more quickly, meaning it will take much less time for 100% of your visitors to be seeing the new version of your site.

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Migrating Your WordPress Site: 4 ‘Don’ts’

1. Don’t Forget to Update Your DNS Records

We’ve just discussed how the post-migration propagation process may mean that not all of your visitors will see the new version of your website right away, though, of course, nobody will see it at all if you don’t change your DNS (Domain Name System) records in the first place.

migrating your wordpress site - things not to do

When you migrate your WordPress site to a new hosting server, the IP (Internet Protocol) address associated with your domain name changes.

DNS records act as a bridge, connecting your domain name to the corresponding IP address of your new server. Without updating the DNS records, visitors will be directed to the old server, resulting in an outdated or non-functional website experience.

The good news is that this is a straightforward process. To show you just how easy, we put together this step-by-step tutorial for updating your DNS records.

2. Don’t Rely on Your Old Sitemaps and Robots.Txt Files

Though this may be more important if you’re moving from a staging environment to a live server, WordPress owners moving their existing live site to another server will still benefit from double-checking sitemaps and Robots.txt files that still meet your current needs.

don’t rely on your old sitemaps and robots.txt files

Old sitemaps may not be compatible with the new site structure, while Robots.txt files carried over from your old server may prevent search engines from crawling pages you now want to be indexed.

As such, it pays not to assume these files will still be effective on your new server and review them accordingly.

3. Don’t Schedule Your Migration During Peak Traffic Hours

We’ve already seen why minimizing downtime and service disruption is important. One of the easiest ways to do that is to move your site to its new server during those periods when your traffic is typically at its lowest, as this will mean that the fewest number of site visitors will be affected.

Using a tool like Google Analytics to look at your web traffic trends, you’ll gain valuable insights into when your website experiences the lowest levels of activity.

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These off-peak hours are the ideal windows for carrying out your migration without significantly impacting your users’ experience.

What’s more, scheduling your migration during off-peak hours means you’ll have plenty of time to troubleshoot any problems before traffic picks up again.

4. Don’t Assume Everything Will Go Perfectly

No matter how well you plan and execute the migration, don’t assume everything will go perfectly. Be prepared for potential challenges or unexpected issues that may arise during the process.

More importantly, be prepared to thoroughly test your migrated WordPress website, checking for problems such as missing content, incorrect permalinks, and performance and accessibility problems. 

Tips for a Seamless WordPress Migration: 3 Key Takeaways

So, there you have it, four things to do to ensure a seamless WordPress migration and four things to avoid to prevent your website from becoming a major headache for both you and your users.

By following the eight top tips above, you’ll be well on your way to migrating your website successfully. Before you begin, however, let’s recap the three most important lessons we hope you learned from this guide:

  • It Pays to Prepare – A little planning goes a long way, so be sure to go through a checklist of essential tasks such as backing up your site, scheduling the migration during off-peak hours, and lowering the TTL (Time to Live) values of your domain records.
  • Remember Your Users – Communicating with your visitors is always essential, even more so when their use of their site may be disrupted by downtime or delayed propagation processes.

    So, put your social media and email marketing channels to work proactively to inform your customers about potential service disruptions. The more transparent and informative you are, the more understanding your customers will be, reducing the risk of losing them to competitors.
  • Test and Troubleshoot – If there’s one lesson about WordPress migrations that we truly learned the hard way, it’s that you should never assume everything went perfectly during the migration. From missing content to damaged database tables, the possible issues are plentiful, which is why it’s so vitally important to carry out a thorough post-migration site test.

If you’re ready to get your website on the move, learn how to do it the easy way with our comprehensive step-by-step guide to migrating your WordPress site.

A team of WordPress experts that love to test out new WordPress related software, WordPress plugins and WordPress themes.