In this article we'll take a look at the easiest way to migrate your WordPress site from one hosting and the plugins that can help you do that
Sometimes it just so happens that you're not entirely satisfied with your current hosting providers or you just saw an offer that was too good to pass.
Changing to something better is always a great thing, but in the case of WordPress it might be a bit of a hussle. The migration of a WordPress site can be quite complicated for inexperienced users, and more often than not they just prefer commissioning the job to a third-party company.
If you decided to do it yourself, however, don't worry - today we'll be discussing how you can easily and painlessly migrate your site from one hosting to another by using a WordPress migration plugin.
What is your WordPress composed of and why does this matter?
Basically, when you need to transfer your WordPress site (or create a back up, for that matter) there are two separate things you need to take care of - the files and the database.
A WordPress site is composed by the following files:
- WordPress Core Installation
- WordPress Theme
- WordPress Plugins
- Images and Files
- Additional Files
As the main website for the WordPress project states:
Everything that has anything to do with the look and feel of your site is in a file somewhere and needs to be backed up.
This means that in order to back up or migrate your site properly, you need everything from your main WordPress directory (including subdirectories) as well as your .htaccess file.
The database contains other important information, stored in a data structure. Things like updates of your WordPress and its plugins, the texts, etc are all stored in the WordPress database (while images for example aren't - they are part of the files we just spoke of).
In fact, sometimes when creating a backup you can restore just one or the other, depending on what was broken (for example, an update to your WP theme may be dealt with by simply restoring the files while the plugins require a database restore).
This information can be very useful when you want to manually back up WordPress site, as the two main components play different roles (equally important, of course).
The same is true for manual migration - you need to know what your WordPress is composed of in order to migrate manually.
But what if you want a better and simpler solution?
What are WordPress Migration Plugins?
Migration plugins are designed with one purpose in mind - to make your life easier.
WordPress has been created to be used by people with minimal technical knowledge, and so are the plugins in general, including the migration ones. They usually offer users nicely designed interfaces, and include options to both migrate and back up your Wordpress.
Basically, what these plugins do is take care of all thing you need to do automatically or at least with a minimum hassle. They round up everything you need to tranfer - all the files and the database - and do so on their own.
Sometimes they require a few actions, but they are usually directly within your WordPress (with the possible exception of changing the DNS records).
So, now that you've read what WordPress is composed of and how the plugins can help you with the technical side, let's dig in, and see what are some of the best WordPress migration plugins are.
Before we go further, we'd like to mention that depedning on what new hosting provider you have chosen, you might not even need to search for a plugin. Some hosting company can transfer your site for you - for example, we do offer a free migration with each purchase of a hosting plan, even for the shortest periods.
Which are the Best WordPress Migration Plugins?
When you plan your migration (and especially if you have a site that already has some traffic) consider what is the time of the evening that you'll have the least possible amount of visitors. This is typically at nightfall, with some exceptions.
Also, make sure to get informed on what you need to do with your domain - if you are not transferring it to your new hosting company, a DNS update will be required.
If a company is doing the migration for you (and you haven't transferred your domain with them), all you'll need to do is to locate your old domain name servers (if you don't know what these are, read this incredibly useful article on DNS: target="blank"}) - usually they are found somewhere in the administration panel or easily located in cPanel.
Then you can provide them to the support and they'll do the rest.
If you want to do this manually, we'd recommend a thorough reading on how it's done, especially if you have an active email box, as this requires additional actions.
Duplicator is probably one of the most popular migration plugins and one of the oldest ones around.
Let's start with the fact that it does have a free version, unlike many alternatives. Of course, the free version has some limitations, but still, it's a nice start.
Duplicator can be used for several actions, amongst which are migrations (as per their own claim with zero downtime which means your site will not be offline at all) cloning your WordPress for testing purposes, back ups and other important functions.
The free version of the plugin can be found in the WordPress repository (we linked it above) and it works very well for smaller sites.
If you have a big, heavy site with a lot of images, however, you will likely need to byt the Pro version, which will also come with extra perks, like automatic backups and WordPress multi-site migration.
One of the downsides of this otherwise amazing plugin is the fact that it requires a little bit of technical knowledge. If you have some basis, or you aren't contrary to spend some time reading documentation, you will definitely love the flexibility of Duplicator.
If that's not the case, though, perhaps you'll find yourself better with some of the other entries in our list.
This is how Duplicator works
You'll need to create a “Package” out of the data on your site (it does that automatically, don't worry) This package will contain all of your data + an additional file which serves for installing the said package on your new host.
The plugin will perform a scan on your WordPress ite and if there is any issue of any kind, it will show a warning about it (for example, size limitation:
Then all you need to do is upload the package and the installer to your new hosting and proceed with the guided installation.
Duplicator automatically sets everything up on your new server. You can even change your domain name and have Duplicator update all of the URLs!
Duplicator provides a few easy steps when moving your files to the new host. You can take a live site and move it to a local environment for more development. Backups are also included, provided manual and automated options to ensure the safety of your files.
As well as features for theme reuse, staging, and removal of messy importing or exporting, this plugin is the option for migration of your site without the need of any special skills.
A lot of the main features are included in the free version of the plugin, but there is always the option to upgrade for more functionality. For example, in premium plans you have scheduled backups included, as well as storage and email notifications. There are also multisite migration options. With Duplicator Pro you have a personal license for $59 which gives you three site licenses. If you need support for more sites, you can always pay more.
Why chose Duplicator?
There are both free and premium versions, useful for users with different skill levels.
- Aside from migrations, you can use Duplicator for moving and cloning.
- It’s the best choice for pulling a live website down a local environment.
- The site transfer is done in just a few simple clicks, which makes it the easiest WordPress migration tool available.
- The plugin includes, depending on your version, both manual and scheduled backups which protect all of your website content.
- You can make site duplications. Whether for live site or a site in development.
- No complicated import and export scripts. You can migrate your entire site with a few simple clicks.
- The pro version has cloud storage, as well as the most popular 3rd party options like Dropbox, Google Drive and Amazon S3. You can make configurations on the email notifications.
In the premium version, there is fantastic support for multisite migrations. Again, in just a few simple clicks, you can move all sites.
This plugin offers one-click integration. This makes it the fastest option when moving sites to different servers. Further, all website transfers are managed on the Migrate Guru servers, and this means there is no danger in your website crashing duе to the pressure.
Some of the perks of this one:
- No storage or any resource is required from your own server.
- The process is simple and clean, without the need to worry about the size of your site or the files on it. You don’t need to use add-ons, and almost any host can provide support for this plugin.
The downside is that Migrate Guru has no feature for site backups, which is included in most migration tools. Aside from that, the plugin is entirely free and there is no pro version.
Why should you choose Migrate Guru?
First and foremost, it’s free! All migrations on the Migrate Guru servers are completed, meaning there is almost no chance of your website crashing during the migration.
It’s one of the faster plugins, as you can clone a 1GB site in a little under 30 min.
Migrate Guru is, in fact, a one-click migration plugin, which means for every migration you make all you
WP Migrate DB
WP Migrate DB is more complicated compared to other migration plugins, but it also offers a lot more control over the whole migration process. For a lot of advanced users, WP Migrate DB is the best solution.
The core plugin completes a MySQL dump, which is basically an export of the database of your site. The plugin does a lot of the work for you, like replacing URL’s and file paths, as well as managing serialized data. At the end, you receive an SQL file on your computer.
In order for the migration to start, phpMyAdmin needs to be engaged so that the SQL file can be imported to the correct database.
All of these functions are included in the free version. For $139 you get access to the premium version. This gives you four sites and one user.
When you upgrade, aside from the premium email support you receive, you also gain access to a variety of features that are essential when syncing media between different sites. Some of the best tools can exclude post types, do migrations from a multisite and to a single site, as well as options for pausing or canceling migrations.
In short, if possible, it’s best to go with the premium version as it gives you much more user-friendly migration options.
Why choose WP Migrate DB?
Provides developers with a great way to download a full database and move it to different locations.
The free version is more than enough for a lot of developers who wish to download the files and migrate them to other servers.
All URL paths, file paths, and serialized data gets handled in the background. Then the plugin provides you with a complete SQL file which you can download.
The premium version allows you to push or pull databases. It’s considered one of the safest migration plugins. You can safely sync full media libraries between two websites. This one is included in the premium package. You can exclude some post types. With this plugin you can choose which tables to migrate.
All-in-One WP Migration
This plugin is famous with the massive following it has, boasting millions of installations and thousands of positive reviews. The main point if the All-in-One Wp Migration is to download your files without having any tech knowledge.
An interesting feature is that it provides a drag and drop interface for your site upload to a different location, which makes for one great interface.
During the export, you have Find and Replace options, and it also fixes any problems you might have with serialization while changing domain names or any old file system paths.
The developers of this plugin have done some amazing work when partnering with hosting companies. This will relieve you from the stress of worrying whether they will be any performance issues.
The All-in-One WP Migration plugin is quite flexible in terms of bypassing some of the size limitation for WordPress. This is done my migrating your website in parts, and each part is under 2MB. The plugin is free, but there is also a premium version available for $69.
There is one additional feature in the premium version, which excluded files, restores backups and works with WP CLI commands.
Why choose All-in-One WP Migration
The free version of the plugin provides all the basic features needed for downloading your website and uploading it to a different location. You don’t need any specific technical knowledge to make the transfer. A simple drag and drop user interface is included in the upload section. You have unlimited find and replace solutions A long list of partnering hosting providers The ability to upload larger sites as the plugin uploads in parts. For larger sites you have the option to upload to premium, which provides you with quality customer support and options for restoring your backups and excluding files. Dozens of extensions available for 3rd party cloud storage services, like Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive.
This plugin is mainly used as a backup tool. But you have way more options: you can not only restore your files to a new location, but you can significantly simplify the whole process. For an example, with just a click, you can backup all of your site files.
UpdraftPlus can be very appealing for migrations, as it partners with the biggest cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
With UpdraftPlus you can have automatic backup schedules. In the free version, you have a standard backup procedure included. With the premium version, you have even more functionality like duplicates, quick migrations and incremental backups.
You also have access to an even larger list of cloud storage options like OneDrive and Azure. The premium version is listed at $70 for two licenses. An upgrade to 10 licenses is available for $95 and up from there.
Why Choose UpdraftPlus
Quick, easy and secure backup for all of your websites. This is available for free in the core plugin.
With this plugin, you can do both backups and restores. You can manually move files to different locations or with a one-click migration extension on the site.
One of the richest lists of available cloud integrations. This includes Rackspace Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive and Openstack Swift.
Automatic backups are included in the free version, which is not standard for most backup and migration plugins.
You can do incremental backups. You can migrate and backup multisite network, as well as move none WP files to other servers.
BackupBuddy is great for backing up your site, restoring files and moving it to entirely different locations. Since its release, it’s been installed in over half-million sites.
Very much like UpdraftPlus, this plugin serves mainly as a way to safely backup and protect your files. It’s very useful for restoring some of your older files if you have deleted them, get hacked or come across user errors.
Aside from that, all of your downloaded files can be migrated to a different location. With the help of cloud storage like Google Drive you can store a backup file remotely. After this, the plugin integrations ensure that all files are safely restored on the same website or migrated to a different one.
BackupBuddy has a migration feature that allows you to change servers and hosts. You can make adjustments to the domain and replace URL’s in one step. For developers there is also the option for cloning, along with a tool for pushing and pulling to and from staging sites.
A downside is there is no free version available, but for $52 you can implement BackupBuddy on one website. The plan for $83 offers you 10 sites, and the $130 plan gives you an unlimited number of sites.
Why choose BackupBuddy?
- Since there is only a premium version, you get much better customer support.
- Great options for pushing and pulling content between staging and live sites.
- You can clone your website with just one click.
- You can build any website to a temporary domain, and use the plugin to make the migration to a live domain
- There is excellent URL replacement, host swapping and domain changing, which are done in the background.
- Aside from migration functionality, you get site protection with the help of serialized data, backups and malware scans.
- The backups functionality is great for when you have to restore your files or move them to different servers. Some of the included features are email notifications, remote storage and scheduled backups.
Super Backup & Clone
This plugin is an alternative solution to other available in WP Directory plugins. This one can be found only on CodeCanyon and the current price for it is $35, which gets you premium support for a total of six months. If you choose, you can pay for additional support after that period.
As the name suggests, Super Backup & Clone helps with cloning, backups and migrations. It’s linked to 3rd party cloud services like Rackspace, Amazon S3 and Google Drive. You can even create snapshots of your site and restore your files at any time.
You can schedule your backups and set them for automatic download. Based on the size of your site and where the files are to be send, you can make custom migrations with adjusted settings.
In addition, the plugin provides additional support for backing up multiple network sites and migrating them to other servers. Super Backup & Clone provides beautifully grafted reports and optimal system performance, as well as streamlining the whole migration process.
Why choose Super Backup & Clone?
- Option to take snapshots of your files, which is the same as saving all of your files to different locations. Said snapshots can be used for migrations.
- The 3rd party cloud services ensure that you have all of your files safely stored elsewhere, which improves your security.
- On the dashboard, you can view history revisions, in case you wish to restore your website or migrate it to an older version.
- You can schedule and automate backups for streamlines processes.
- Some files and folders can be excluded from the backups.
- You can choose which tables to backup from your database. Select them all or just a few of them.
- With the multisite capabilities, you can migrate your network sites or restore them from the backups.
The plugin is not only a valuable migration tool, but it’s entirely developed and owned by Automatic, the company that owns wordpress.
You can install it separately, but it’s powered by the Jetpack plugin. This is why it’s better to install Jetpack and get yourself even more available features aside from the ones in VaultPress.
The first thing you need to do is backup all files on your site. It can also be used to fight off hackers or malware.
Only premium plans are available for VaultPress - starting from $39 per year to business plans like $99-$299 per year. It’s mainly used as a backup and security plugin, but there is also a user-friendly feature for easy site migration. All with the help of a one-click button.
Along with all of the migration tools, you can utilize automated archives, backups, and even spam protection for comments.
Why Choose VaultPress?
- A premium version plugin with high quality customer support It's included along with the Jetpack plugin, which provides you with a full tool package for marketing, social media and more.
- The plugin provides automated support and scheduled backups.
- You get unlimited storage spaces for all of your backups.
- Your archive is shown for 30 days.
- The plugin has an included very simple user-friendly migration button, which takes your backups and restores them to your site and sends them to different servers.
- Spam protection from an array of pingbacks and comments which can come to your website.
- Constant monitoring for brute force attacks.
- For business plans you get some pretty impressive features like ad revenue generation, security scanning, and unlimited video hosting.
From what you’ve read so far, you now know that most migration plugins come with a package of backup and security plugins.
This also applies for Backup Guard, which handles migrations, backups and file restoration. It may not be as popular as the competition, but it has an impressive feature set and clean interface.
There are both a free and premium version for this plugin. With the free version you can backup your files, upload them to Dropbox for example, and even restore sites.
Only with the Pro version you can take advantage of the migration option. Having said that, be advised that this is one of the more expensive available plugins, starting from $9.95 per month and going up from there depending on the chosen plan.
This unfortunately will get you stuck with monthly costs.
The cost may be a bit high, but the features more than make up for it. All plans have included unlimited sites, restorations and backups.
You can make the migrations however you want and schedule your future backups. Multiple schedule backups are permitted, as well as uploading and importing from OneDrive, Dropbox and Amazon S3.
Why choose BackupGuard?
It has a full feature package for security, migrations, backups and restores. Great customer support, available at all hours. You can specify the number of backups on your server. All plans allow you unlimited backups, migrations and sites. Multisite networks are supported when it comes to backups and migrations. You decide which tables to backup and use during migrations. No need for an FTP client when importing backups. You receive an email notification every time a backup is completed or a migration is done.
XClones is a professional site backup and restore plugin, designed to create safe and easy backups of any PHP/MySQL website and restore them anywhere. It also works as a native Joomla backup component, a WP backups plugin and also as a standalone PHP/MySQL backup application.
Why choose XCloner?
You can backup and restore your WP site easily. The option to create compressed and uncompressed backup using TAR open source format. You can create encrypted backups archives with an AES-128-CBC algorithm. Generating automatic backups based in cronjobs, can run daily, weekly, weekly, monthly, even hourly. Which migration plugin is best for you? Not all plugins are right for every site. In some cases, it’s best to choose one with links to cloud storage. In others, you should choose one with security and automated backups tools.