How to migrate a WordPress website in 2020 – Three easiest ways ranked

Learn how to migrate a WordPress website in 2020 using the three easiest methods and one tried and true method. Once you’ve mastered these, you’ll be migrating websites in no time.

Migrating a website can be a stressful event. When I first started years ago and was fresh to everything online it was one of the most stressful things I could do. But it doesn’t have to be. The reality is it’s a quick and easy task, and with the following three plugins you will see just how painless the process actually is.

How to migrate a WordPress website

1. Migrate Guru

How to migrate a WordPress website

When it comes to migrating a WordPress website to a new host they don’t come much easier than this (apart from getting your host to do it for you). This one tool will allow you to effortlessly migrate your website to a new host in next to no time. The best part is it’s free to use and will work with every host.

How to migrate a WordPress website using Migrate Guru.

1. Go to your new host and install a blank version of WordPress. It really doesn’t matter about login details as they will be replaced once you migrate. Simply install a basic WordPress website by selecting the default options. Yuo can learn how to install WordPress on your hosting account here. Ensure you use the same URL unless you are changing the site URL.

2. Install Migrate Guru: Migrate & Clone WordPress Free on the website you intend to migrate. follow our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin. Once installed you will see the following screen. Simply enter your email and agree to the terms and conditions. You can even watch a migration demo video to see it in action. Once you’ve entered your email (ensure it’s an active inbox) and have agreed to the terms and conditions click the migrate site button

How to migrate a WordPress website

3. You will be greeted with the following page with different hosting and migration options. All of the most popular hosts are listed to allow for faster migration with minimal effort. If you are unsure what to select, FTP is a safe bet as it’s generally available with every host but has a few more details to enter.

How to migrate a WordPress website

4. If you select each different option you may notice that the options are almost identical. That’s what makes this tool so easy and reliable. Looking at the FTP option for migration you will see the following page.

How to migrate a WordPress website

5. Begin filling in the details for the migration. It will only take a minute or two to complete

  • Destination Site URL: Enter the URL of your website. If you are changing the URL enter the new URL here
  • FTP Type. FTP is the most insecure method and not recommended. It’s best to select SFTP or FTPS. But if the others don’t work and you still want to use this tool, it will have to do,
  • Destination Server IP/FTP Address: Get these details from your new host. They should provide them during sign up and you probably accessed them to install WordPress
  • FTP Username: These should have been provided by the new host and may be identical to your login username
  • FTP Password: Once again these details would have been provided by your host.
  • Directory Path: To find the directory path visit the file manager or login to your site with FTP and follow the folder structure until you get to the root of your WordPress installation. With most control panels WordPress will usually reside in the public_html folder

6. Once done click the migrate button. The page will verify the details. If the details are correct it will begin the migration. If they are incorrect it will send you back and ask you to check them again.

Now it’s time to wait. You can close the window and even shut down your PC. Once the tool has finished migrating your website you’ll receive an email informing you of the success or failure of the migration. The time it takes to migrate a site will depend on many different factors such as distance between hosts, speed of hosts and the size of the site being migrated.

2. All-in-One WP Migration

How to migrate a WordPress website

When deciding how to migrate a WordPress website it’s hard not to think about All-in-One WP Migration. This used to be my number one pick for migration tools, but it does come with some limitations. Namely, if you have a large website you will have to purchase the pro version to use this tool. Unlike Migrate Guru, it has a size limitation to the free version. The web interface for uploading is also restricted to the upload limits imposed by your hosting provider. So even if you have a paid version you may still have to upload the site by FTP. But for smaller sites, this tool still does an amazing job.

1. Go to your new host and install WordPress. You can select a basic configuration as everything will be replaced once the site has been successfully migrated.

2. On both the new installation of WordPress on the new host and the old host install the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.

3. On the old host go to All-In -Oe WP Migration >> Export on the side menu.

4. Click Export to and select file. The free version is limited to file exports only. The plugin will begin to prepare the site for export. The larger the site and slower the host the longer this process will take.

How to migrate a WordPress website

5. After a little while, you will be presented with the following screen

How to migrate a WordPress website

6. Click download and the site will download to your PC. It will download a special type of file format that will only work with this plugin. Some virus tools may give a warning about the file which you can safely ignore.

7. Once the file has finished downloading go to the freshly installed version of WordPress on the new host and click on All-In-One WP Migration >> Import. Simply drag and drop the downloaded file into the white area. If you notice an upload limitation as presented in the screenshot you will need to increase the limit if your file is larger. The easiest way to increase the limit is by following the link that says How-to: Increase maximum upload file size, download their plugin and insall it on your website. It will handle it for you. If your host has hard limits in place you may need to ask their support for help if the plugin doesn’t increase the limit.

How to migrate a WordPress website

8. The upload process is broken into stages. Stage one is the upload. Once it has fully uploaded you will be greeted with this screen warning you that it will replace all content on the site. Click continue

How to migrate a WordPress website

8. Once the migration has completed you will be greeted with a success screen with a link and instructions to save the permalinks twice. This is a necessary step to ensure it has worked correctly.

How to migrate a WordPress website

Simply click on the Permalinks Settings link and it will open a new window. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click save. Scroll down again and click save again then check the site. With any luck it has successfully migrated.

3. Migrate & Backup WordPress – WPvivid Backup Plugin

How to migrate a WordPress website

When it comes to how to migrate a WordPress website it’s difficult not to include a backup plugin, and WPvivid is amongst the best of them. Why would we include a backup plugin as one of the best? Simple. A backup plugin not only makes backups of your website and store them securely, but it can also assist you with migrating your website. WPvivid goes one step further by connecting the new and old site for a seamless migration.

1. Install WordPress on your new hosting account.

2. Install the WPvivid backup plugin on both the freshly installed website and old host website.

3. Begin the migration process by visiting the new site and heading to WPvivid >> Backup and restore. Once on that page click the key tab.

How to migrate a WordPress website

4. Choose how long you want the key to be active for. You can select 2 hours, 8 hours and 24 hours. 8 hours in the default value.

5. Click generate and a key will appear.

How to migrate a WordPress website

6. Copy the key and head to the old site. Go to WPvivid >> Backup and restore and click on the Auto-migration tab.

How to migrate a WordPress website

7. Paste the key generated on the freshly installed site into the empty field and click save

How to migrate a WordPress website

8. Once saved select what you want to migrate. We recommend the top option, database + files. this will ensure a full migration.

9. Click clone then transfer.

If all goes well it should migrate to the new host without any hiccups and you’ll be up and running in next to no time.

WPvivid has a pro version which offers additional migration options, but more importantly, it offers many more backup options. Apart from standard backups, the pro version allows more remote locations to store your backups and also offers incremental backups, which will result in faster restores and less load on your hosting account. Get your pro version of WPvivid here.

4. FTP for when all else fails

If you find that all of the above methods have failed there is a tried and true method that will work. It’s the old fashioned FTP manual method. While not as easy as the ones already mentioned, provided you can connect to the new and old host it always works.

How to migrate a WordPress website in 2020 with FTP

1. Begin by downloading Filezilla. Filezilla is a free FTP tool that will allow you to browse files on your hosting account

2. Once installed enter your FTP credentials to login to the old host. Your old host will provide the FTP details in your account area. You will typically need the host URL to connect to, username and password. In some cases, you may need to enter a different port number that the default of 21 or 22. All of the details are available on your old account.

3. Head to the public_html folder of the folder where WordPress resides. You’ll know that you are there when you can see the folders wp-admin, wp-content- wp-includes and other folders such as wp-config. 

4. Begin downloading all files. Use the shift key and select all items and begin downloading to your PC. Depending on the size of the site and the speed of the host this can take a long time. Tghe longest I’ve ever experienced was 26 hours.

5. Next you’ll want to grab the database. It’s best to get the database at the last minute as it will record any changes to posts, comments and sales on a WooCommerce store.  Head to PHPmyadmin on the old host. You may need to login. If you don’t know the login details you can get them from the WP-Config.php file. Simply open the WP-Config file and look for the lines below. The details may be different and we have changed the details for our security

define( 'DB_NAME', 'mysite_youcantgetin' );

/** MySQL database username */
define( 'DB_USER', 'mysite_bdusername' );

/** MySQL database password */
define( 'DB_PASSWORD', 'Rand0MLy63nEr83D' );

The DR_USER and DB_PASSWORD values will allow you to login to PHPmyadmin

6. Once in PHPmyadmin select the database name in the left column then click on the Export tab on the top row. You will see the below screen. Ensure Quick – display only the minimal options is selected and SQL is the option selected from the dropdown then click go at the bottom right

How to migrate a WordPress website

The database will begin to download.

7. Now you have a full copy of your site it’s time to begin uploading it to the new host. Begin by connecting to the new site with FTP and head to teh public_html folder.

8. Select the download location on your PC and drag them to the upload field at the bottom of Filezilla.

9. Right click and select process queue. It will begin uploading the files.

10. Create a new database on the new host. Out guide on how to install WordPress has instructions for creating a database. Use the database details to login to PHPmyadmin and store them in a safe place. You will need them shortly.

11. Select the database you just created and select the import tab across the top

How to migrate a WordPress website

12. Select the downloaded database using the file browser and click go or simply drag and drop it into the window. It will upload. If everything goes smoothly the database will now be on the new host.

13. While the files and database are now on the new host they still need to be connected. Go to wp-config in the root of your install using FTP

14. Enter the new database details in the field you used earlier.

define( 'DB_NAME', 'newsite_youcantgetin' );

/** MySQL database username */
define( 'DB_USER', 'newsite_bdusername' );

/** MySQL database password */
define( 'DB_PASSWORD', 'Rand0MLy63nEr83D' );

Once you’ve correctly entered the details the site will begin to load.

You can view the site to ensure it has migrated correctly by modifying the hosts file on your PC. This will allow you to set the new server IP and view your website as though it is being served from that location. This is great for testing to ensure it all worked correctly.

15. the final step is adjusting the DNS settings which will be provided to you by your new host. In a few hours your site will be live on the new host.

That’s how to migrate a WordPress website in 2020 using the three easiest methods available, plus a third for when things simply don’t want to work. Don’t allow the task of a migration deter you from finding a better host. It’s easier than ever to move your website around.

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How to migrate a WordPress website

Written by: John Cook


About: I'm John Cook. I'm a qualified data scientist, currently undertaking a Masters of data science at RMIT University and a Masters of information technology at CSU in Australia, a blogger, developer and WooCommerce fanboy. As the founder of Swift Designs, WC Success Academy, Wiz Plugins, Commerce Mania and Learn WP by Swift Designs, my goal is to empower website owners around the world to take full control of their WordPress powered websites. I've been developing websites for close to 10 years and have a deep understanding of WordPress and how it works. As an active plugin developer with several plugins in the WordPress plugin repository, this gives me a unique understanding of the inner workings of WordPress. My goal with Learn WP is to allow WordPress website owners the ability to discover the true potential WordPress has to offer in an uncomplicated and easy to understand way

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