The migration process can sometimes be tricky and intimidating. For this reason we’ve created migration documentation to help you jump over the hurdle and join the WP Engine family. Follow the instructions closely, and if you need assistance, be sure to let us know specifically what step of the migration process you’re on – this will make the support turn around time faster, and allow us to refine the migration documentation.
The WordPress website consists of three main components: 1) The WordPress database 2) The WordPress files and, 3) The domain name. The migration documentation will walk you through the steps of transferring over each of the three components and then set the expectation at each stage. Read over the entire Migration Process document first to familiarize yourself with the steps, then proceed with the migration.
PREPARING TO MIGRATE:
At WP Engine we run the latest release of WordPress to stay current with the new features and security updates. Before migrating your website, please upgrade your site to the latest WordPress version, and also update your plugins. This will prevent many common migration issues.
EXPORTING AND IMPORTING YOUR DATABASE:
Your WordPress database contains all of the website content like posts, pages, categories, and etc. While WP Engine has its own admin tool, most web hosting companies offer the cPanel to manage your website. You will use the cPanel to export your website’s database in order to migrate it to WP Engine. Once you have the database export file from your previous site, you’re ready to import it to WP Engine. After the database is imported, the website will appear broken. Don’t worry, keep going to the next step.
TRANSFERRING WP-CONTENT FOLDER:
The wp-content folder is the default location where WordPress stores media and resources such as images, themes, and plugins. To complete the content migration you will need to transfer the wp-content folder from the old host to WP Engine. After the WP-Content folder is transferred, the website will still appear broken, or only half-way there. Don’t worry, you’re almost there.
ADJUSTING THE IMPORT:
By this point of the migration process, you have all of the content transferred over. However, the imported database is configured to use your domain name that most likely still points to your old server. There are two solutions at this point: 1) Adjust the database so that it’s configured with your temporary WP Engine url or 2) Spoof or your local DNS using the hosts file trick so that your domain name resolves to your WP Engine IP. By the end of this step you will be able to view your migrated website on WP Engine.
Does ‘DNS’ and ‘hosts file’ sound like cryptic terms to you? If so, take your time to read:
How you need to proceed next will depend on your preference, and wether you are migrating single site or a multisite.
Single-sites: You may use the hosts file trick or update the website domain with the temporary WP Engine URL. The advantage of using the hosts file trick is that it requires no modification to the database, and it will give you a realistic display of how your website will appear once you’re fully migrated. The disadvantage is that you will not be able to view your live website by the domain name while the hosts file is pointing to WP Engine.
- Emulate DNS Change with the Hosts File Trick AND Add Domain in Client Portal
- Update Database with Temporary URL
Multi-sites: The multi-site database contains many references to the live domain name, particularly if you have child sites. The best solution to preview your website is by using the hosts file trick. If you have subdomains or additional domains mapped to your child sites using a plugin like the WPMU Mapping, then you will also need to point those domains to WP Engine in order to preview them.
DEBUG & SYNC NEW CONTENT:
By this stage of the migration process, you can view your migrated website on the WP Engine servers using the hosts file trick or the temporary URL. Your live website will still be on the old server until we make the DNS change. Now is the time to test your migrated website and make sure the plugins and themes work as designed. While debugging your migrated website, the live website might be updated with new content. If such is the case, there is an easy way to update the migrated website with the new posts and pages using the built import/export function.
The last and final step is to update the DNS records. This will point your domain name to the WP Engine IP and complete the migration. If you did not use the hosts file trick, then you will need to change the migrated website’s URL from the temporary one to your actual domain name. After this step your website will be fully migrated.