DEV Community

Cover image for A Survival Guide to Migrating Away from your Failing WordPress Host
lizziekardon for Pagely

Posted on • Originally published at on

A Survival Guide to Migrating Away from your Failing WordPress Host

Not all hosts are created equal. When it comes to Managed WordPress Hosting, that fact is becoming ever more clear to us with near-daily sales calls from people with business-critical WordPress sites at a loss because their current host is failing them. This is a conversation that happens all too often, so we're addressing it here in hopes that we can reach a few more of you experiencing this, and offer an action plan (or, at least, a glimmer of hope). All is not lost.

There are lots of reasons why your current host might stop working for you. For example, the exciting time comes when your site grows and if you've been using shared web hosting that no longer works.  Or maybe your host lacks the WordPress fine-tuning in their infrastructure or hosting stack, so your site isn't operating at maximum capacity based on the CMS you've chosen. It could also be something like your host lacks the support knowledge to identify an issue and help you optimize; they just try to shamelessly upsell. More basic? Maybe the infrastructure of the hosting company itself is changing, or you just simply don't share the same morals and ethics.

Whatever the reason, they're all frustrating. The good news? They're all avoidable. Migrating hosts can seem like a big task to take on, maybe even something you avoid, but the benefits outweigh the extra work. Here's your survival guide to getting it done with the least amount of friction to your day-to-day.

Why your current web host might be failing right now

In order to put together an action plan, you first need to understand what about your current situation isn't working. Here are a few scenarios to get your brain thinking. You should think granularly here, because the more specifics you have, the better you'll be able to choose another provider for your migration. failing host

  1. Your host doesn’t provide true managed WordPress services. Patches and updates are applied without proper testing and QA.
  2. Your host doesn’t provide a deep level of DevOps knowledge. They cannot help you troubleshoot the bottleneck in performance.
  3. Your host has sold you on a physical server that runs outdated hardware and you can no longer scale or keep up with demand.
  4. Your host sold you on shared containerized hosting and the shared VPS cannot keep up with the demand of your site and the other customers on the server.

Issues like this can't be ignored. The security, performance, and scalability of your site are fundamental benefits to using a top-notch managed WordPress host. If the host themselves is becoming a blocker in any of those areas, it's undoubtedly time to migrate on.

What to prepare before moving to a new host

This checklist will help you get the basics together before you decide on a new host. Use these findings as conversation points in any meeting you take, the faster you understand a new host's ability to meet your needs in these areas, the better you'll be able to understand the best fit for you.

prepare for migrating

  • Understand how many WordPress apps you have and if they are single WordPress installs or multi-site installs.
  • How much disk space do all of your WordPress websites consume?
  • How much disk space your database consumes?
  • Access to migrate the database via PHPMyAdmin or command line via SSH access.
  • Do you have any custom code outside of the WordPress directory?

Have the answers to these questions at the ready, and bring each one up during any sales calls you take. The representative on the other line should have followup questions or solutions at the ready, and be fully familiar with each point you're presenting. If they stumble at any of these discussion points, that's a red flag.

3 Things to ask a new web host when you’re in a pinch

What if your host fails you at the absolute worst time? Maybe you're in the middle of a campaign that's challenging your servers, or your updates are outdated and exposed your visitors to a security breach. This is a stressful situation, and you need to make sure you’re making the right move if you choose to do so at such a delicate time.

Our high-level suggestions are simple. First, you want to make sure you’re moving into something more reliable not just affordable. Second, if you don’t have time to put out the fire yourself, find a team to help. There's no shame (or wasting of resources) in outsourcing when it's critical to your business.

A few questions to ask yourself in the midst of putting out the fire and switching hosts:

ask your host

  1. Does the new web host offer white-glove migration and onboarding services?
  2. Do they offer reliable infrastructure and hosting servers?
  3. Will there support work with me to identify gaps in performance or security?

Keep these questions at the ready, so you can seek answers to them immediately should there be an issue. In all likelihood, if this happens you'll be distracted, and looking for the shortest distance between where you are now, and fixing the issue. These questions can help you make the actual best decision when your mind is elsewhere.

Remember: It’s not your fault your web host is failing

If you know your WordPress site inside and out and it’s still crashing, it’s not your fault. Plain and simple. The facts suck, but it's the sad truth and a common example of what can happen when an industry like Managed WordPress Hosting grows to the point that businesses see an opportunity to exploit users.

Most big-box web hosts use flashy features and marketing to get you hooked into a low-price, only to upsell you later. Smooth-talking reps and high design sales collateral doesn't necessarily translate to excellent hosting (unless, of course, you're talking to the Pagely reps. We're all smooth talkers and our hosting, and onboarding, is as excellent as it is flexible and customizable).

find the right hostMost web hosts don’t reveal that you’re not on dedicated hardware and they are sharing resources with other customers, which is absolutely the wrong solution for any user looking to scale and optimize performance. You can't be bogged down by another customer's resource usage, it's a risk you just shouldn't be willing to take.

When it comes down to it, Managed WordPress Hosting means different things to different hosts. Most of them just keep WordPress auto-updated for you, but not your plugins, and they lack the knowledge to truly optimize and secure your site. For small scale blogs and businesses just getting started, that might work. For you? It won't.

If we leave you with one thing and one thing only, don't be afraid of migrating hosts if your running into issues with your current provider. The success of your business cannot wait.

We're happy to dig into these points more with you. Contact us here, or leave us a question in the comments.

Need help evaluating your WordPress Hosting infrastructure? We offer a free WordPress readiness checklist that you can request here.

Any hosting horror stories? Let me know in the comments... I want to hear it all!

Top comments (0)