Hosting - How do I move my SMF forum to a different host

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The move consists of nine steps:

  • Step 1 - Prepare by checking whether you have an SSL cert. You should also discuss transfer and installation with your new host.
  • Step 2 - Make a file system backup.
  • Step 3 - Make a database backup at the same time to ensure that the two backups are in sync.
  • Step 4 - Restore the files and the database within the target system. Note that restoring the files and database can be a substantial and time consuming task and that some hosts have size limitations on restoring these. Large databases can sometimes pose a challenge and your import will not complete due to size constraints. Some of the strategies that can be employed for managing a forum with a large databases are as follows:
    • Clear the error log before carrying out the database backup.
    • Clear the search index (where the largest tables are often located) before carrying out the database backup and rebuild the search index once your forum is functional.
    • A SQL file splitter can help because it breaks the database backup into smaller pieces.

If you encounter problems ask your new host to carry out this step.

  • Step 5 - Run repair_settings.php on the new system to ensure that your paths, URLs, and database credentials are correct.
  • Step 6 - Carefully inspect any redirects that may exist in either .htaccess or index.html to ensure that they are not referencing old directory/file structures.
  • Step 7 - Inspect the settings for each mod that you have installed. Look for folders or URLs that need updating. Repair_settings.php does not update mod settings, so you have to identify these and update them yourself.
  • Step 8 - As a safety measure and to ensure that everything is linked together correctly, it is recommended that you run the forum database maintenance function, the 'find and fix any errors' maintenance function, and the attachment integrity check. If any of these generate errors it means that something has gone wrong.
  • Step 9 - Coordinate the IP address change with your registrar. Note this takes time and may make the forum inaccessible for a while.
  • Step 10 - If you use Google or Bing webmaster tools, or if you have a robot.txt file, you should confirm they are working as expected after the site migration has taken place.