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Moving your site to a new hosting provider in China: six-steps guide

The prospect of moving an existing site to a new hosting account is often a daunting one. Whether you are planning the move because of poor service/performance of current host, or because of other reasons, including better price/value of the new host, location (moving your site to China for faster access within the country) etc., good planning and preparation is the key to ensure full success.

Depending of the complexity of your site (html vs database-driven, existing email accounts etc.), the move can be done from less than an hour to several hours or even days. It is therefore important to start the process well before your current account is due, and not to close that account until completion to ensure full access to your source files.

We have clients moving to us all the time so we are providing this quick guide that can help them in the process.

1) Create a new account: with your new host, and make sure that it has all the technical capabilities your site requires to function.

2) Back up your files: to your hard drive, through FTP. Depending of your site configuration you may need to back up existing databases from your old hosting control panel. If you have mails not yet downloaded to your computer, do it using your preferred email program (Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, Foxmail etc.)

3) Check your files and links: your new host may provide you with a temporarily url/subdomain. If not, you can use another site your own or create a sub-domain just for this purpose.

4) Create new email accounts: with your new host, from the Control Panel and matching your old email accounts.

5) Transfer your domain by pointing your DNS to the new host: to change the domain name servers values, you will need access to the control panel of your domain name. This can be a problem if the domain is with your old host, or worse, if the domain came for free with your existing account. Many Chinese hosting providers keep tight control over their clients DNS in order to force them to stay in business with them.

After DNS modification it might take several hours to a couple of days for them to propagate over the Internet.

6) Closing your old account: or letting it expire, once the switch is successful, your site working fine on the new hosting account and the email resolving well.

If your domain is with your old host or came for free, you might also consider transferring the domain altogether but the process is much more complicated. To keep things simple you might even consider keeping your domain name with your old host and continue paying them the yearly registration fees (usually less than $10 a year).

If you have a very active database-driven site, it is advised to temporarily stop your website at step 2 until the DNS are updated, since any change to the website will be reflected on the old database and not on the new one from the back up.

We hope this guide will be useful in migrating your hosting account. As you should find out, switching host is less difficult than usually thought if preparation is done well. If you require professional assistance feel free to contact us.

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