Unfortunately, all dental websites are not created equal, which makes moving a website to a new server or host much more difficult. Websites come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are very simple, while others are extremely complicated with complex databases and specific server requirements. In this article we are going to try to cover the ins and outs of initiating a transfer from one hosting company to another.
Website transfer jobs come in three varieties: The Pro, The House of Cards, and The Hostile Takeover. Before we get into the specifics of each type we need to set some ground rules. Whether you are breaking up with your girlfriend or changing car insurance, honesty is usually the best policy, so be honest with your current web company. If you are unhappy with your current service, call your account representative and tell them; they may be willing to help. If they can’t offer you a solution, tell them you are interested in transferring your website and ask how the files will be provided to you and if they offer transfer assistance.
Websites get transferred for a variety of reasons, sometimes personal, sometimes professional, sometimes we just want one company to manage all our marketing. Whatever the reason, we will assume that at this point you have spoken to your current host and you are now involved in one of the following three scenarios.
This is the easiest of the transfers. Your current host understands that websites sometimes move, and they will be more than happy to give you your files. They should also help you transfer your domain to your own account or to the new company. More than likely The Pro will give you a cd, thumb drive or a zip file of your website, and any XML exports or databases your site requires. They will also typically leave your files on their server for 30 days or more, just in case.
This is probably the most common variety of transfer. The House of Cards got this name because the transfer could come crashing down at any time. Common problems with transfers like this are poorly coded websites, strange and “custom” server configurations, and inexperienced developers. More often than not, this type of website was built by “my nephew who builds websites.”
This type of transfer is typically incredibly limiting for future edits and makes updating the site expensive. Key indicators for this type of transfer might be: the host makes you wait a long time to get the files, the host is unsure if they can make you a copy, or the host needs to give you a complex set of instructions to move the site to a new server. If your website is more than 3 years old and you feel like you are dealing with a house of cards, it is probably time to consider salvaging your content and building a new website on a widely known platform like WordPress or Joomla.
This is the worst possible kind of website transfer. In fact there is no transfer. Your previous web company holds your files and domain hostage either for ransom or just because they are feeling vengeful. In this case, the best course of action is to build a new website and cut your losses. This type of website is most common among web hosts preying on uneducated clients, as well as on template sites using stock images and generic content. If your previous host starts using words like “proprietary” or “copyrighted” there is probably trouble ahead.
Unfortunately if you find yourself in this position, your best course of action is to focus your efforts on buying back your domain name and starting fresh with a new website – even if you have to scale back and purchase a new template from a reputable site. It is easier to start fresh with a smaller site. Good content and correct file structure is a better option than trying make your old site work. Often times fixing a site is more expensive than building a new one.
Obviously one article can’t cover all the nuances of transferring a website, but now you have a better understanding of how to approach your dental website transfer. We hope your transfer goes as smoothly as possible, no matter who built it or who is taking over. And by the way… GPM websites fall in the category of “The Pro.”
Before you transfer your site, make sure it was built to convert. Take the free quiz today.