Pitfalls when Migrating a Website to a New Hosting Company

Pitfalls when Migrating a Website to a New Hosting Company

What should have taken a few hours it went on for 8 long days… The objective was to migrate one of my sites from WordPress.com to Hetzner South Africa.

Reason to Move from One Hosting Company to Another

Who hasn’t heard of WordPress.com? WordPress.com the brand that is in the same stable as famous brands such as Akismet (the spam filtering service that filters spam from comments, trackbacks, and contact form messages ); Jetpack (the multi-plugin offering security, performance and site management tools ); VaultPress (the best backup there is), WooCommerce (by far the world’s largest eCommerce platform).

WordPress.com products are of very high and their services is equally outstanding. So, why move?

The long and the short of it: Cost. Many of the readers will remember the days when the South African Rand was on par with the American Dollar.

R1.00 = $1.00.

Today (19 June 2019) the exchange rate is: R1.00 = US$0.07 (one Rand equals 7 cents).

Below the WordPress.com pricing. You can also access the WordPress pricing page here >

[Click on the screenshot to enlarge it]

I was on the ‘Business’ plan. Renewal was due in August 2019 and the fee was US$300.

If you earn in a hard currency then US$300 is not much. If your income is in Rand $300 is a cool R4286!

WordPress does not accept monthly payments. You pay $300 upfront for the year. Not so cool…

Reputable Hosting Companies

Reputable international companies include BlueHost, Hetzner Germany and WordPress.com as already mentioned.

There are also respected hosting companies in South Africa including Afrihost, Hetzner South Africa and MWeb.

Hetzner Head Office is based in Germany. Their South African operation includes offices in Cape Town, Western Cape and a Data Centre in Centurion, Gauteng.

I am hosting one other website with Hetzner South Africa and their service is excellent.

Trying Different Migration Options

So, all I had to do was to migrate my website from one outstanding hosting company to another outstanding hosting company. It should just take a few hours, right?

It took me 8 frustrating long days!

How I went about Migrating my Website

I downloaded my backup to my computer.

I transferred the backup via https://wetransfer.com/ Hetzner informed me that the file they received had errors and so therefore could not be extracted.

I transferred via FTP using FileZilla. Errors in the file, it could not be extracted…

I transferred the file via Google Drive. No joy also!

Hetzner mentioned that some of their Clients were able to transfer their files with a plugin by the name of Duplicator – WordPress Migration Plugin. When I searched for it on my Admin Area this particular plugin was not supported by WordPress.com (I wonder why). But there was another plugin I could use: All-in-One WP Migration. The file was duly transferred to Hetzner but it still had errors.

Real frustration was now setting in… days and days of getting nowhere. I finally tried one last option which, I am very pleased to report, it did work.

It was the option I discarded at the very beginning because it only allows an import file to be 32MB max in size and mine was 1.5GB. I tried once and it failed. I tried a second time and it worked. There were some initial glitches on Hetzner’s side which they were able to fix. After extraction the website is about 95%. I lost about 5% of the site but I can live with that.

How to use your Export and Import?

Go to the Admin Area of your website.

Go to ‘Tools’ > ‘Export’ : select ‘All content’ and follow the prompts.

Ask your new hosting company to install a fresh WordPress for you.

Go to the Admin Area of your new installation of WordPress > ‘Tools’ > ‘Import’: WordPress Run Importer

‘Choose File’ > ‘Upload File and Import’. And that’s it!

Please note: if you have a small file, you shouldn’t experience any difficulty. If you have a very large website then you will have to break it into chunks. Get hold of an experienced Developer to do this for you.

In Summary – The Do’s Should you Consider Migrating your Website to a New Host

Before transferring your website to a new host:

  • make sure you have a good backup of your entire site
  • do a search to ensure the hosting company you wish to move your site to, is competent
  • phone the hosting company you want to transfer your website to and get the following from them 1. pricing 2. how do they suggest you transfer your file 3. can they help you at their end once the file has reached them. Email the person you spoke to confirming the telephone conversation.
  • phone the existing host and let them know the reason you want to move – in fact they might give you helpful suggestions.

The best of course is to have a trusted host from the beginning and stay with them all along. Best wishes should you however need to migrate your site to another host.

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