Moving or Taking Over a Website

Bought a website? How do you transfer it from the previous owner to you? In fact, how do you transfer any site to a new hosting account? This is an eight page guide to moving sites (and domains). This is a pretty in-depth guide but  these third party links in the right column provide a more concise overview of the process.


Page 1: This page

Page 2: Pros & cons of staying with existing host vs moving the site

Page 3: An overview of the website transfer process

Page 4: Transferring ownership of the domain

Page 5: Backing up and preparing to move the site

Page 6: Uploading the site to your new server / host

Page 7: Configuring the site at the new server

Page 8: Changing name servers

What is hosting?

Websites are not normally hosted by the owners of the sites on their home or office PCs. They are generally stored on the computer servers of companies that specialise in "hosting" websites. These hosting companies sell monthly or annual plans. The owner signs up for a plan, pays his money, loads his website's files, databases and pages to the hosting company's server, makes various tweaks to ensure that everything is working as it should and then points the DNS (Domain Name Servers) for his domain to the IP number of the hosting company's server to allow visitors' browsers to resolve to (reach) that server when they are looking for his site. This is described in more details at Wikipedia's hosting page and how webservers work.



Do you have to change hosting companies when you buy a site?

Usually the buyer of the site can take over an existing hosting account (though this is not always possible, desirable or easy). In cases where sellers have multiple sites and one umbrella hosting account (or dedicated server) to cater for all of them, the buyer can't take over just the part of the hosting account that provides for his particular site. He would need to open a completely new hosting account and move the site's files etc., over.

If the buyer is taking control of all the sites in the hosting account he'll likely find that the hosting company are quite happy to change ownership and billing details for that account and transfer them all to the new owner. In this scenario, there's very little that needs to be changed apart from passwords, the creation/deletion of email addresses for the domain and a few other tweaks.

Is it better to change hosting companies or stay with the same one?

There is no one answer. If the seller has been very satisfied with the service from his hosting company he'll likely recommend that you stay with them. And the absence of stress involved in moving a complex site can make this seem a very attractive proposition. However, there are pros and cons. More details here.

I've bought a site. How does the whole process of taking over the site work?

There are two parts to every site purchase. The first is taking ownership and control of the domain name. That's followed by getting all the site's files, getting all the passwords to control them and setting it all up on a new server (or taking over the existing server/hosting account). This is all explained, step by step, separately.