Most blogs and websites run on a shared hosting platform during their early stages of life due to the ease of set-up and lower costs compared to other hosting options. But as businesses scale, webmasters who operate blogs or websites with database content (flash, multimedia, forums etc) frequently discover that a shared platform can no longer provide adequate resources to provide a satisfactory user experience. This signals that time is ripe to move to alternative hosting options including VPS or dedicated hosting.
In general, here are the tell-tale signs that you need to make the move from shared hosting to dedicated hosting:
- Your traffic volume has increased significantly (more than 100,000 visitors/month)
- Your website load times have increased significantly
- You are getting 509 Bandwidth Limit Exceeded error message
- You need to run certain software that your current hosting plan is unable to accommodate
- Your site needs more security
- You need complete control over your web hosting account
Getting ready for the move
Once you have established that you need to move to a dedicated server, the next step involves migrating your data to the new platform. But before doing that, here are some important things to consider:
Step #1: Check costs
A dedicated hosting plan essentially gives you full control of a virtual server, memory and bandwidth resources. Whereas a cheap shared hosting plan lets you lease shared resources for less than $10 per month, a dedicated server is likely to cost you more than $100 per month.
Step # 2: Domain transfer
You should consider transferring your domain name to a domain registrar. While this is an optional process, it can save you a lot of headaches should you need to switch hosting providers. This is the case because there’s a 60-day wait period after initial registration or subsequent transfers.
Step # 3: Check your server options
It’s important to check whether your current host allows the server option that you want. A simple text file called .htaccess file allows the webmaster to give the Apache server various directives such as blocking access to certain files or folders so as to keep out web crawlers and spiders that use up your bandwidth. Unfortunately, this simple text file can hinder the migration process if the Apache mod_rewrite module has not been installed and enabled (which happens frequently).
Making the move
The actual migration process involves:
- Setting up your new server
- Moving your files—involves making a full backup of your files on a shared FTP server then copying them to the new server
- Creating and moving your database (for websites that use a database to power the content management system)—involves migrating your database to the new server
- Testing—performing tests on your files and database using tools such as screaming frog to check for errors and broken links
- Updating your DNS
- Moving emails
- Point your IP address to your new server
The process of migrating from a shared platform to a dedicated one can be quite challenging and sometimes a bit bewildering. Hiring a professional to handle the task is in many cases advisable.