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Preparing for Migrations

Category: Getting Started
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Whether you are just joining KnownHost and migrating from an outside hosting provider, or need to purchase a new server at KnownHost and move accounts within our network, our staff is ready to assist with migrations. Please see our Migration Assistance page for more information on the types of migrations we offer.

It is helpful to prepare for your migration ahead of time, as well as understand the steps that will be performed while the website is being migrated. Therefore, this page is intended to help provide a checklist and recommendations to ensure your migration is as smooth and trouble-free as possible. We will cover pre-migration steps, testing websites during a migration, as well as DNS updates and other post-migration steps.

About our Free Migrations Policy

Most hosting providers will provide a control panel for hosting. This can include DirectAdmin, cPanel, Plesk, etc. Included with our Managed Support coverage, our support team will provide free migrations between supported control panels. Among migrations we can assist with, this includes:

  • DirectAdmin → DirectAdmin
  • cPanel → DirectAdmin
  • Plesk → cPanel
  • DirectAdmin → cPanel
  • cPanel → cPanel

For cases where the server is not using one of the supported control panels, we do have the ability to assist with manual migrations of website files, databases, email accounts, and other data. You may contact our billing or support teams if you are interested in a manual migration and would like an estimate of the time and cost involved in the process, as well as recommendations on hosting plans to match the needs of your websites.

What Happens During a Migration?

During a typical migration, our support or migrations team will follow this procedure:

  1. Check Source Server/Account’s disk usage to determine if the account can be migrated to the destination
  2. Compare and match any necessary server configuration items between servers (such as PHP version, modules, settings)
    If there are any 3rd party services or special configuration needed for your websites to operate, please let us know.
  3. Package the account on the source server to a backup (or use transfer tools which can copy accounts directly between servers)
  4. Copy the backup to the destination server and import the backup data
  5. Review migration logs and some of the migrated websites to ensure there are no obvious issues with the transfer
  6. Provide information on how you can test the websites before updating DNS
  7. Provide instructions to point DNS to the new server

Please note that once the migration is complete, you must ensure DNS has been pointed to the new server in a timely manner. Otherwise, any changes made to the websites will not be present on the new server.

Before You Begin

Before migrating your website, we recommend you think about the needs of the migration and plan accordingly. While we strive to make migrations as seamless as possible, please keep in mind that moving any amount of data to a new device or a new network is an involved process. Our experienced technicians will work with you to address any questions or concerns you may have ahead of time. This section will outline many of the most common issues or questions relating to migration, so you can plan for some of the more common migration scenarios.

Downtime

One of the most common questions relating to migrations is “will there be any downtime?” The answer to this question is usually “no” but there are some caveats.

When DNS is pointed to the new server after the migration is complete, you should not notice any actual “downtime.” However, for a period of time, you may notice some traffic pointing to the old server and some traffic pointing to the new server. This is known as DNS Propagation and can take anywhere from a couple of hours up to 24-48 hours, depending on the type of domain in use, the ISP in use, and where the website users or visitors are located globally.

The main thing to keep in mind when migrating to a new server is that the migration will take place as a snapshot in time. Any changes that occur between the time the website is migrated and the time DNS is updated will not be present on the destination server. If there are any changes being made, the account will either need to be re-migrated entirely, or overwritten using transfer tool, to copy differences in the account’s files, emails, and databases. Because of this, it is important to plan for the migration ahead of time, and to test the website and update DNS in a timely manner to avoid any issues with data consistency between servers.

Migration Time Estimates

It is not possible to provide detailed estimates on the length of time migration will take. For smaller websites under a few GB in size, the websites and databases can often be copied in under an hour. For larger websites that have large amounts of files, a large amount of data in gigabytes, or large amounts or large sized databases, it’s not uncommon to see the migration take up to several hours or even a day or more. This will also depend on factors outside of our control, such as the network speed between the two servers.

If a specific migration time is desired, and especially if several accounts or a large amount of data needs to be copied, it can be helpful to run a preliminary migration of data for testing purposes. If the migration is between two cPanel servers with root access, it is possible to do a first pass migration of all data to the new server for testing using the Transfer Tool. The websites can be checked for proper functionality before performing a final sync of data using the “Overwrite” option for all accounts. This also has the benefit of syncing only changes to files, emails, and resyncing databases between servers. This is an excellent strategy to use in order to limit the amount of time spent syncing data, which can allow migrations scheduled for a specific time to complete much more quickly.

After Migration

Our support technicians will perform pre-migration checks to ensure compatibility between servers, and will migrate your websites and accounts. Please avoid making changes to the websites while the migration is in progress, as there is a chance the changes will be lost during migration. Any changes that are made between the time the files are copied to the new server, and when DNS is pointed to the new server, will not be present when the migration is finished.

At the close of the migration, our technicians will reply with information on how to test the websites on the new server, as well as how to update DNS to finalize the migration process. Please review these instructions and update the DNS records and/or nameservers as soon as possible, as this will prevent any issues with consistency of data between servers.

Testing Websites on the New Service

Once the websites have been copied, instructions will be provided (including sameple local hosts file entries) for testing migrated websites before changing DNS. We recommend this method over other methods such as “temporary URLs” because the local hosts file method ensures that both website redirects/rewrites will work properly, and page assets like embedded images will not involve broken links.

Updating DNS to Point Websites to New Service

Once the websites have been checked and are working properly, please follow the instructions provided by our technicians to update your DNS records or nameservers to point to the new server IP addresses. If this is your first time using KnownHost, or if you have migrated websites to a website using a new primary domain/hostname address and new nameservers, you will need to register your nameserver addresses before you are able to apply custom nameservers for your domain.