1. Research. I heard about GoDaddy and was using it for Domain registrations for some months and I just went ahead and bought the web hosting service from them (knowing myself this is not a surprise as I bought my laptop in 5 minutes!). Later I found some other good web host servers with better ranking, packages, support credentials. Before you decide the purchase, ask your friends about their web hosts, the pricing, support and mainly the interface. My former host had a nice Fantastico deluxe enabled control panel. GoDaddy’s control panel was horrible and there was no Fantastico deluxe and I took lot of time before figuring out how to navigate. Being a big company in one service need not guarantee their strengths in another area. So do not trust any brand name for granted.
2. Do not commit if you want to try the service. If you want to try the service, do not commit to purchase web hosting for longer periods. Most web hosts give monthly packages. So, you can try them. But if your site is not small, then moving often can be a trouble. So think twice before trying. And think thrice before trying. Because most of the web hosts give a cheaper rate only if you pay in advance for 2-4 years and it is a lot of money and you cannot cancel it if you find the service is lacking later. So, before you pay think about the money and period you are gonna be committed.
3. Get help in moving the site. GoDaddy did not have this support and it is not a pleasant thing to move data, databases and set them up all again especially when you are a newbie. There are lot of service providers who would help you do this.
4. Backup your data. You never know what happens when moving your site.
5. Support Vs Storage. You gotta decide about this. My previous service provider was a reseller and a small vendor. And he was also my friend. So I could call him for all silly questions and he would generally give great support. It was really important when I was a newbie. I would miss him in odd timings as he cannot afford 24X7 support. But whenever he is available the support is great. In a big company like GoDaddy, I usually get support queries answered in few hours barring the weekends. The answers are vague, formal and impersonal and I miss the personalised and friendly support. Also, I cannot hope to get really tricky questions answered by GoDaddy. But the other advantage with guys like GoDaddy is that the problems with their service can be global and you can hope to find solutions already discussed in Forums. When I moved to GoDaddy initially, I was lost for a while. But, once I found the way now, I benefit more from the almost 1000 times more storage space and bandwidth given by GoDaddy for almost the same price compared to my previous host.
6. Start thinking early before your current hosting expires. Because, then you may have the risk of losing your data if you don;t have backups. Also, if you need time setting up things with the new host, you cannot let your site down for days.
7. Keep an eye on the SQL files. I could not import my SQL database for WordPress since it was too big. There were hacks for splitting them and working around. But I was too lazy to try them all and went for importing just the xml file backup into wordpress. I really screwed this up as the import assigned new page and post Ids and lot of my links went broken and I had to manually fix them. Also, there is bug for UTF-8 encoding in WordPress. I forgot to fix this before importing and all the Tamil text became ???? marks 🙁 Though you can avoid these careless mistakes and can redo things always, I would suggest one small tip to get the links intact: Always, link to the post title based PermaLink URL and do not link by post or page ids. This way, even if the page ids change in the moving, the PermaLinks and hence the internal links stay alive.
8. Risk the chicken. If you have more than one site and if one of them happens to be of lesser importance, try moving it first. This will allow you to afford mistakes and learn from them and you can move the important sites later with peace of mind.
9. Go for shared hosting. Most of the web hosting providers give a shared hosting plan for a slightly higher price than the basic plan. Go for it. This would allow you host multiple sites under the same account and save you lot of money. Even if you don’t have additional sites now, you may always have some in future or you may gift your best friends with a free hosting. With hosting becoming very cheap, you always have lot of storage space, right?
And there is one more thing which you should do after moving.
Write a blog post like this 🙂