How to Transfer Your Website to HostGator

This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.

Have you been thinking about moving your WordPress site to HostGator, but you’re not sure what’s involved? This post is for you. 

We’re going to cover what to do before you make your migration request, what to expect during the migration, and what to do once we tell you the migration is complete.

Just like moving your stuff from one apartment or house to another, the secret to a good move is to be prepared. So, we’re going to start with planning your WordPress move—what to do, what to know about special situations that may affect your move, and what *not* to do to get ready for your move.

Let’s get the no-no’s out of the way first. 

DON’T do these 4 things before you move your WordPress site

There are a few things you’ll want to avoid doing before your move.

  1. DON’T wait until your current hosting plan is about to renew. It can take a while for your move to be complete, and you’ll need access to your old hosting account during the move, so plan early to avoid paying two hosts.
  2. DON’T repoint your domain name servers yet. Hold off for now because it can complicate the migration process. We’ll explain below when it’s time to change your name servers.
  3. If you have an eCommerce site, DON’T schedule your move during a peak sales season or while you’re running a big promotion. Moving an online store requires some extra steps to ensure that incoming orders don’t get lost in the shuffle, and the fewer orders you have to redo, the better. On that same note…
  4. DON’T start your eCommerce move until you have a backup plan for capturing your orders. We’ll discuss your options in detail below.

DO these 3 things before you move your WordPress site to HostGator

It’s important to do these things beforehand, in order, so your move will go as smoothly as possible. 

  1. Give yourself a couple of weeks for the move, from planning to finish. It may not take that long for us to get to your site in the queue. But allowing yourself that much time can keep you from running into problems—like having your old hosting plan come up for renewal during the move.
  2. Register for a hosting plan at HostGator. You’ll need an account with us to request a site transfer.
  3. Gather the information you’ll need to give HostGator to move your site. 

You’ll need access to your WordPress site’s files and database through your current host in order to make the move. Be ready to share:

  • Your website account’s domain name
  • The IP/hostname
  • The control panel URL for your website
  • The name of your current hosting provider
  • The kind of control panel your current host uses
  • Whether your site has an SSL certificate
  • Any additional instructions, such as “please move all sites on this account” or “please only move the site at www.randomexample.info”
  • Your current host account username and password

FAQs for getting ready to move your website

Got a question? Here are some we get a lot.

What if I want to move more than one WordPress site to HostGator?

We can handle that for you. If you’re moving multiple sites from one hosting service and they use the cPanel dashboard, we’ll just do a cPanel to cPanel migration for all the sites you want to move, instead of just one.

What about my website’s email?

Having email addresses with your domain name is important, and so is keeping access to them after you move. If your current host uses cPanel we’ll move your mail information with the rest of your cPanel data. If it’s not on cPanel, we may need some extra information. (See below.)

What if my current site doesn’t have cPanel?

We can do a manual migration to get your files and the databases. To do that, we’ll need FTP access to your current hosting account to retrieve the files, and you’ll need to adjust your settings so that we can have that access. If you’ll also be moving your website’s email, we will need IMAP or POP3 access to your email accounts. 

What if I can’t get access to my website’s files and database? 

Some hosts, like WordPress.com, don’t grant users access to all of their site data. In those cases, HostGator can do a lot to make the move work, but we may not be able to move all of your data. Get as much information as you can, and we’ll work with it. (See what HostGator can—and can’t—migrate from common hosts here.)

What about my SSL certificate?

If your current host uses cPanel, we can move your existing SSL certificate without needing any extra information from you. Otherwise, you may need to request the certificate and a key from your old host for us to move that SSL certificate.

That being said, once your site is live here at HostGator, you can take advantage of the free SSL certificate that we provide with your hosting package. So, you don’t have to move your old SSL in order to have a secure site on our servers.

Kick things off: Ask HostGator to migrate your WordPress site

With time on your side, a HostGator hosting account, and your website’s info in hand, you’re ready to get this WordPress site migration party started. 

Make your site migration request

You can contact us to request your migration or fill out our site migration form in the Support section of the HostGator portal:

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When you fill out the form, you’ll add that info we talked about in Step 3 above:

Watch your inbox

After that? Just keep an eye on your email. We’ll email you when we start migrating your site, and we try to update migration customers about every three hours. If we run into any problems during the migration, we may ask you for more information so we can complete the move.

Finishing up your WordPress site move

After we finish your migration and test it, we’ll email you instructions on how you can test your site. You can always call us if you want one of your team members to walk you through that test. 

Once everything’s been checked and any errors have been fixed, it’s on to the next step—repointing your domain name servers.

When should you repoint your domain name servers?

Changing your domain name servers (DNS) over to HostGator sounds complicated, but we have instructions that can help you make the switch at your old hosting service. 

The reason why we ask migration customers to change their name servers is because it’s always easier for us to assist you if we host your DNS—especially if you need help with your domain’s email accounts. 

Switching your name servers starts the next phase of your WordPress move: propagation. 

What you should know about propagation

So far during this process, your website has still been live at your old host. During propagation, things start to change, and you may have some questions.

What is propagation?

Propagation happens when your new name server information goes out across the web so that other servers can update it and point visitors to your site’s new location.

How long does propagation take?

Propagation takes about 24 to 48 hours, and it’s one part of the process that we have no control over because it’s happening around the web. You may want to time your name server change and propagation for your site’s least-busy days.

What happens if people visit my site during propagation?

During that time, requests for the website could go to the old host or to the new one. You might want to add a temporary notice to your site letting people know you’re making some changes that might briefly affect their experience.

What happens to orders in my eCommerce store during propagation?

Orders that come into your store during propagation might get processed on the new site or at the old location, and the ones that are on your old version might not make it over to the new site. You could temporarily close your site during propagation, but you don’t have to. 

After your site is propagated, we can do what’s called a re-migration to bring any orders over from the old site so everything’s up to date. That way you don’t miss out on any orders and your customers stay happy. 

What happens after propagation?

You’ll want to check your site again after everything’s on HostGator to make sure it works properly. Then you can cancel your previous hosting account and enjoy your new plan. Welcome to HostGator!

Ready to start planning your move? Check out all the perks and features that come with our managed WordPress hosting plans.

Natasha is a Tier III Web Advisor at HostGator. She has been working in web hosting and the tech industry for over 7 years. In her free time she enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons and spoiling her 4 cats.