How To Migrate Your Website From One Domain Or Host To Another Using The Duplicator WordPress Plugin – not the most catchy title I’ve ever written but it describes what I’m about to show you perfectly. If you’re a website owner, there’s a chance that one day you may decide to change your web hosting company or move your site to a new domain name; or if you’re working on a site on your local computer and want to transfer a copy of the whole thing onto a live website, this post has you covered. I’ve tried a few WordPress website cloning plugins recently and have run into a few problems with most of them. Although the premise of cloning your website from one place to another sounds like it should be fairly standard, each plugin has had its own variations in the process it uses to achieve it. But of all the plugins I’ve tried, Duplicator is the one that has worked consistently, with every single site I’ve used it on. I’ve moved sites from localhost (my computer) to the internet and have moved sites from one domain name to another with no problems at all. Here’s my step by step guide to using the Duplicator plugin.

Stage 1 – Make A Copy Of The Old Site

First of all, in the WordPress site you want to take a copy of, search for the plugin named Duplicator – make sure it’s the one by Life In The Grid, as there are others that are similarly named but work differently. It should looks something like this.

Go to the Duplicator Packages option and click the Create New, top right.

Look through the package options and change anything you need. Pick a name for your archive (this is not important) and enter suitable file filters if you want to leave any folders or files out of the move. If you’re moving the full site I suggest leaving the File Filters option unchecked. At the bottom you’ll see the Installer settings. These are the credentials for the database of the site you’re moving to. If can fill these in now, they will be pre-filled in the installation procedure later, or you can leave them blank and just enter the values when prompted later. I normally leave mine blank and get the information required ready for later.

Click Next and Duplicator will do a scan of your files, as shown below.

Once the scan is complete, you should see this screen. If you have any large files you may get a red Warning and if you’re using the free version of the plugin you are limited in the total size of the site you can package up. If you do find your site is too large, you can manually FTP the contents of the wp-uploads folder to your new site and exclude these from the Duplicator archive – simply go back a step, check the Enable File Filter option and click [wp-uploads].

Click the Build option to start creating the site archive. This step packages up the whole site – database and files – into a single zip file and also creates an installer file.

After a couple of minutes, or more if your site is large, you will be shown the Package Completed screen, complete with two blue buttons. Click on each of these buttons to download the zip archive and the installer.php files to your computer.

This is the end of the first stage of moving your site.

Now we’ll move on to installing the archive onto your new site.

Stage 2 – Create The New Site

On your new website, you need to have WordPress installed and an FTP account set up. Use the FTP logon details and a suitable FTP program to transfer your installer.php and zip archive file to the top level WordPress installation folder. You also need to DELETE the wp-config.php file from this top level folder using the FTP connection. I use Yummy Lite FTP on the Mac to transfer my files but you can use any FTP program. Once you’ve uploaded the two files, you then need to go to your browser and navigate to the installer.php file on your website. The address for this will look something like: http://www.mynewwebsitename.com/installer.php You will then be presented with the following screen.

If this is a brand new site and you have nothing of value to lose, I would recommend clicking the ‘Connect and Remove All Data’ option, so that the database on the new site is clean and reflects exactly what was on the old site. However, if you have data in a database on the site you are moving to, I would use the ‘Create New Database’ option to keep your new data separate.

Fill in the hostname, database name, database user and password and click Test Connection. You should get two success messages in the grey box. If you don’t, check your connection details until you get this right.

Once you have a successful connection, tick the warning box at the bottom and then click ‘Run Deployment’. But please, make sure you are ready and have backups of your site if this is not a brand new installation. Things can go wrong and there is a slim chance you may have to reinstall WordPress but as yet, I have not experienced any such problems.

Now cross your fingers and wait 🙂

If you forgot to delete the wp-config.php file, you will get this warning message:

If you got the above warning, just go back to your FTP connection and delete the wp-config.php then try again.

The installer will take just a couple of minutes or so, you can sit and watch this screen while it processes…

Hurrah! You’re almost there!

Now’s the time to confirm the old and new site URL and paths (the paths should be filled in for you) and if you’d like to change the title of the new website, enter this under the New Site settings now.

If you’re happy to transfer the admin accounts fro the old site to the new, there is nothing more to do, but if you wish to create a new admin account, use the ‘New Admin Account…’ option now to enter the username and password of the account you wish to create.

Remember: don’t use the name ‘admin’ for your admin account – this is the most obvious one that hackers use to try to get into your site. Make the password strong and you’re good to go.

Click ‘Run Update’ to complete the installation.

If you’re seeing the following screen, your site is installed!

You should now review any warnings or errors (ignore if zero counts shown), then click on the Save Permalinks option. Logon to your new site using an admin account and click Save on the Permalinks page TWICE. This ensures all post paths are written out currently.

Now test the site, click around, check everything looks good… you’re done 🙂

Stage 3 – Clean Up

One last little job… to keep things clean, you should remove the installer.php and zip archive files from the new site, for safety and security. I recommend doing this using the FTP connection you set up earlier, so you can see that they’ve gone.

On the old site, where you have Duplicator installed, you can also click on the ‘Clear Build Cache’ option in the data cleanup section so that any large archive packages are removed.

That’s it! No more wondering how to move your website from one domain to another! Once you’ve done this a couple of times, you’ll get used to the steps and it will be a very quick process to go through.

Thanks to the LifeinTheGrid team for creating such a useful plugin!

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