When was the last time your weren’t satisfied with how your website is running? Not the traffic stats or received income — that’s completely different story — but with it’s speed, stability and cost.
Let’s be honest — for most of us it happens pretty often. Sometimes the problem is entirely subjective, sometimes there’s an actual issue at the heart of it. And most of the time we blame the hosting company and want to switch. But is it really worth it, to switch to another hosting company?
When you should (or shouldn’t) switch
The saying goes «The pastures are always greener on the other side». And it is not wrong. So it all comes down to how dissatisfied you are with your current hosting.
If the problem is subjective — for example, your website works a bit slower than you’d like it to, but everything else is OK — maybe you should stay. Such issues are generally pretty easy to iron out once you get in touch with the support team.
If the problem is systematic — for example, if your website is constantly down while the support is unreachable and/or unreasonable — you should switch ASAP. There are way too many hosting companies in the market to stick with a bad one.
If everything is great, but another company offers better prices — that depends on how much better the price is. As a rule of thumb, anything less than $10 per year is simply not worth it, unless your website is not making money at all. And in that case, you should probably think about monetization to offset the costs.
And, of course, it all depends on how easy the transfer is going to be.
Yes, with a capital letter. Because if you ever switched web hosts, you know how much frustration it involves.
It’s perfect on paper. You transfer the files and the databases to the new hosting, change the DNS settings and everything works once more!
Except it doesn’t. Despite the CMS developers and hosting companies claiming that it’s going to be perfect, something will go wrong. The database will not connect to the files. The files will be corrupted. The subdomains will fail to initialize. The redirects won’t work. And not because you did something wrong, but due to sheer number of different hardware and software configurations and possible errors when interfacing them.
But it’s not the end of the world. Some companies offer a free transfer performed by their team. Other companies will let you try it yourself first, but will offer support if something goes wrong. And then there are companies that won’t help you at all, but why would you be switching to something like this?
The main rule when switching hostings
Learn everything beforehand. No one reads fine print. That’s exactly what allows hosting companies to lie to you. But if you want to be satisfied with the switch — you should really dig into the terms and conditions of the service.
- Make sure your hosting offers great support. Understand — this is a pivotal moment between «The transfer went without any trouble» and «Our website has been down for two weeks and the advertisers are livid».
- Make sure there are no hidden catches. The ads sure do look nice, but they are called «ads» for a reason. A little inside info — hosting companies exaggerate a lot. So if you have a chance — test everything yourself or at least bug the sales representatives about it.
- Make sure you know the real price. There are two main tricks here:
- The price goes up after the first billing period. It can easily go from fantastic $1/mo to far less desirable $12/mo. And you will be forced to either pay it, or switch again.
- The company makes money in some other way. For example, they lock down the hosting admin tools and require you to hire their support teams to make even the slightest changes. Or they make e-mail accounts on their hosting a paid subscription service. Once again, they charge ungodly amount of money for that.
In order to make sure you are not getting bamboozled, look the company up on specialized forums and catalogue websites. Read reviews. Contact their support directly. Take every negative review as a mild alert. It’s normal to have a dozen of disgruntled former clients, but it’s not normal when they are a majority.
If you are sure that the hosting company you are switching to is legit — great. Now you just have to do it correctly.
How to switch web hostings — a step-by-step manual
- Backup everything. If your current hosting provides an option of the full-hosting backup — use it. If something goes wrong down the road — you’ll need a fallback option.
Purchase a hosting with a new company. Do not cancel your contract with your current hosting company just yet, you will need it for a little longer.
Contact the support team of your new hosting. See if they offer a free transfer. If they do — provide them with access to your current hosting and stay in touch in case they need to clear something with you. If they don’t — keep reading the manual.
Download all the files from your old hosting and upload them to the new one. If you are familiar with FTP, you can even do it directly, without saving the files on your PC.
Export the current databases and import them to the new hosting. Absolute majority of the websites nowadays run some sort of the SQL database where they store the custom data. The databases are arguably more important than files, so make sure you do it correctly.
Ask your new hosting support if they can give you a temporary domain. If they can’t — it’s OK, just go to the next step. If they can — connect it to the newly created copy of your website and make sure everything works correctly.
Transfer your actual domain to the DNS servers of your new hosting company. Once again, you can contact support or do it yourself. Make sure to test everything once more — just in case.
Wait 48 hours. During the next 2 days, your website will be loading randomly from your old and new hostings. Place a warning about it in the header of the website.
Cancel your old account. Once 48 hours since the DNS switch have passed, contact your old hosting company and cancel your account with them.
If you actually decided to pull the trigger and switch — congratulations! Also, a final advice — stay realistic. Your new hosting may be much better than the previous one, but that doesn’t mean that it is flawless.
If there are any issues — don’t be afraid to contact support and ask. They will investigate and either help you fix it or at least explain why it is happening and offer a workaround. And if they refuse to do so — well, that might be the first signal that you should switch hostings. Again.
At Unihost, we provide a free transfer by our support team to anyone who switches to our hosting, VPS or dedicated servers.
We also have a special offer to compensate for up to 6 months of pre-paid hosting you might have at the previous hosting company. In order to qualify for the offer, you have to:
- Purchase any cPanel Web Hosting for 3 months or more.
- Create a ticket for the support team with account data at the previous hoster (login, password, link to the control panel) and a note that you want to qualify for the pre-paid hosting compensation.
- Have up to 6 months pre-paid at the previous hoster, which will be transferred to Unihost.com.