We’re really pleased at Pragmatic that the managed WordPress hosting and maintenance side of the business is growing and strengthening. We’ve invested in finding and using the very best services that we can find to the benefit of our clients.

As a result, we’re getting more and more people and companies that want to transfer their WordPress site to us so it’s about time I wrote a simple how-to guide, focussed on the critical business steps rather than the technical details (which are for us to worry about). Here goes:

  1. Planning
    Always planning. First, we need to make sure that we’ve got all the details we’ll need to hand, including:

    • Access to your current WordPress site. Somehow, we’ll need to grab a copy of the site’s files and database. Usually, the easiest way is to give us access to your hosting provider’s control panel. Alternatively you can send us a ZIP file containing the file structure and a complete database SQL dump. The least desirable option is that we get Administrator access to the WordPress CMS and use a backup plugin to take a complete backup.
    • The ability to change your DNS records. DNS is what tells the world which server to look for your website on. When we move your website to our server, we need to change that signposting so that the rest of the world knows about it. Usually your DNS is controlled by your domain hosting provider (UKreg, 1and1, Heart Internet, GoDaddy, etc), but sometimes things are more complicated. We’ll help you track down what we’ll need to make these changes.
    • Timing. When we move your site, we need to take a snapshot of the files and database and that’s the copy that we’ll transfer to our hosting. But, it’ll then take about an hour for us to get the site working on our hosting and update the DNS, and further time (as little as an hour, as much as three days) before the whole web is looking at the copy of the site that’s on our hosting rather than the old server. So anything that occurs on the old site during this transition time (content changes, product orders, comments, etc) will be lost because we’ve already taken a snapshot of the site. So, we’ll ask you to confirm a time where you will do a ‘content freeze’ – i.e. not make any changes to your site – so we can minimise any disruption.
  2. Content freeze
    Once we’ve got everything planned, we’ll confirm the content freeze with you and start the process
  3. Site transfer
    We’ll move the site to our servers, test that everything is working fine and then update the DNS (or ask whoever controls your DNS to do so)
  4. Monitoring DNS worldwide
    We’ll use What’s My DNS to monitor the propagation of the DNS update around the world. Only when it’s stable for all web users will we proceed
  5. Content unfreeze and back to business
    As soon as the DNS is stable, we’ll confirm to you that  you can use the site as normal again

And that’s it! At that point, we’ll commence the usual managed service of monthly maintenance and daily backups to ensure your site performs as well as it possibly can. As you can see, most of the job is to plan things properly, which we’ll happily help you with.

If you have any questions on this process or can suggest any improvements that would improve it, please do shout out in the comments. Here’s what one happy customer says about our managed hosting service (there are more, I just can’t find any more tweets!):