Website Migration Process

This page is used to document the processes used to migrate sites from other web hosts to a web hosting account with Anchor.

The aim is to make the migration as seamless as possible from the customers prospective.

A summary of the process:

  1. Make sure you have all necessary information
  2. Request set up of the hosting account
  3. Replicate DNS
  4. Re-delegate the domain
  5. Copy the site content
  6. Test the site on the temporary domain
  7. Configure email services
  8. Change DNS records.

Before you begin make sure you have everything you will need to complete the migration. This includes, among other things:

  • Domain password or registry keys
  • Access to the web hosting account on the existing web hosting provider
  • Ability to perform database dumps on the existing web hosting provider
  • All SSL certificate files (if there is one)
  • Checked that the hosting platform is compatible (i.e. versions of applications, Linux vs windows).
  • List of all existing email addresses

Setup the web hosting account with Anchor

Make sure that the website hosting account is setup with Anchor. Setting up the account will not interfere with the operation of the existing live site. When the web hosting account is configured with Anchor you will know as you will have received the email containing all of the account configuration details.

DNS Configuration

We redelegate the domain name to the Anchor name servers in advance of moving any other services, this is commonly referred to as the DNS.

DNS is usually handled by the same company that handles either website or email hosting or both. It is however technical independent and is a service that can be handled by different companies.

DNS is where the change is made made when a website is switched from one hosting provider to another.

We change the DNS to be hosted by Anchor but set the DNS records to continue to point all services at the existing hosting service provider. Once the DNS records are hosted by Anchor we change the TTL (Time To Live) attribute to reduce it from the standard 24 hours to 10 minutes. This allows us to make changes between providers in as little as 10 minutes once the services are ready to be migrated.

We first need to make sure we have an accurate copy of the records from the existing host. The best way to do this is to request a copy of the records from the current host or DNS provider. If this is not possible, Anchor will can often adopt investigative methods to collect the records.

Site Copying

Once DNS migration has been initiated we have approximately 24-48 hours before the domain can be redelegated to our name servers. This will give us ample time to move the content across to our servers. There are essentially two ways this can be completed depending on what information we have. If you have FTP/SSH details then you will be able to log in and copy the files across. Important things to note:

  • Databases? Make sure a dump is taken and saved in the home directory
  • Provided you have SSH access, the easiest way to copy the content across is to tar up the entire home directory and then SCP it across.

A simple way of copying an entire website if you have FTP access is using LFTP. Login to the server the account is on as root and:

$ su - <username>
$ cd public_html
$ lftp <ftp host>

lftp :~> user <ftp username>
Password: <hmm what goes here?>

lftp :/> ls (just to make sure you're in the correct folder, otherwise cd to the folder containing the website)
lftp :/> mirror

This will mirror the entire contents of the website into your current folder. You still need to manually copy any databases across.

Without SSH/FTP access:

A few caveats:

  • Wget will only work when there is static content on the webpage, no dynamic pages (eg php, python, ruby), no databases.
  • Your mileage may vary when it comes to flash/javascript.

Site Testing

Once the website has been copied test it on the tempoary URL (as provided in the introductory email) for the hosting account setup and compare against original website to ensure everything is working correctly. If anything is not working, make sure it is fixed at this stage.

It is important that you confirm with Anchor that you have completed your testing of the website.

Email Configuration

Assuming that all email services are to be migrated, a full list of email addresses that are required must be provided to Anchor. If mail services are remaining with the existing host, or they are already handled externally it is important that you let Anchor know.

Once they have been provided, you will be supplied with:

  • New Username / Passwords
  • Any changes in mail settings from their prior web hosting account

Note that if email services are to be migrated in most cases you will be changing the username and password details for email services. This change is the one that will have the most direct impact on the end user of the hosting services and it's important that it is communicated properly.

It is usually advisable to configure multiple profiles in the email client for each user such that both the new and the old mail server are checked for emails across the transition period.

Finalise Migration

Once everything has been checked and rechecked we can switch the site across our servers for web and email hosting (by switching the DNS).

You should contact Anchor to confirm a time to make the change.

If the website uses a database it may be necessary to complete a final synchronisation of database immediately prior to changing the DNS.