I’ve worked on websites that are hosted on numerous servers. Sometimes the various servers can actually be pretty frustrating, because they all have their own unique characteristics, UIs, and tools. They can vary quite drastically in what they allow you to do and how.
But even though I have my own favorite servers to work with, I don’t generally encourage people to migrate to a new server because it introduces the risk of downtime and broken email!
However, sometimes it makes a lot of sense.
Some of the reasons our clients have migrated servers:
The American server that goat-design.com used to be on, HostGator, doesn’t offer free Let’s Encrypt certificates. SSL costs about ¥4,500 / year.
Some are much more expensive. Using SSL on one well-known Japanese hosting company can cost more than ¥20,000 / year!
Lack of functionality
Again, one well-known Japanese hosting service has some severe limitations on the tools available for working on your website. For example, if your domain is a “.com” you can’t use DNS settings or even change the nameservers.
Site getting hacked (and zombified)
Sometimes websites get hacked and persistent malware will remain on the server, reviving itself over and over. You can’t clean it off, no matter how many times you try! Considering this, you might save the most trouble and money by simply moving to a clean server.
I suggested just that to one client. He hired us because his site was hacked and converted into malware! His site got lots of traffic through Google. This should be a good thing, but in this situation Google was putting his website in the search results together with a big, red “this site is malware!” warning.
We moved his site to a clean server and asked Google to give it another scan — which they did!
And they quickly stopped putting warnings on his links.
Using an old server became very tedious
There are so many server companies out there, and they all seem to do things a little differently. Some are very old and continue to use old systems and UIs.
We had one client who is good at working on websites, but he wanted to move to a new server. His server was reliable and stable, but their system is very old. Doing simple tasks started to feel like too much work.
So he hired us to help migrate to Sakura, and it was a very fun project for me.
He sat in on the process, taking notes. I enjoyed showing him some of the measures you can take to harden WordPress security.
We had a client whose WordPress was starting to break. They couldn’t back it up and some other features were starting to fail. Why? Their PHP version was very old. All I had to do was push a couple buttons to update PHP…
But there was one more layer to the problem: they were running three sites! Their server allowed you to upgrade PHP, but all three sites would have to share that new PHP version. That means we were looking at 3 potentially broken sites to dig through and fix old code.
The solution: the client decided to migrate the one site they wanted us to work on to its own Sakura account. This allowed us perform the PHP update without breaking the other sites.
Slow load time
Now, this one is kind of a bonus because we’ve never been asked by a client to migrate their site for this reason. But I’ll tell you two things about load time:
- It’s incredibly important. Not only does it affect how people feel about your site, potentially causing them to bounce out before seeing a single page. But it can also affect your search rank — from search engines directly measuring the speed, and by users bouncing out.
- The server has a huge impact on load time. The fastest website I’ve ever built was not thanks to anything special I did with the images or code. It was thanks to the client’s server — a VPS plan.
If load time is a big problem with your site, migrating might be a wise step for you.
For a guy who generally doesn’t encourage migrating servers, I have to admit that there are quite a few good reasons to do it. And honestly, it’s also very satisfying once you get through the risky part, because it can allow you to powerfully and quickly solve some big problems.