Moving a WordPress site to DigitalOcean

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We’ve been looking at moving our WordPress site to DigitalOcean for their scalable infrastructure and better performance. Could you please guide us through the steps of moving our WordPress website to a DigitalOcean server?


The client wants to move their WordPress site to DigitalOcean and needs guidance on how to do it.

Moving a WordPress site to DigitalOcean

Migrating an established website from one host to another isn’t always as simple as ABC. For leaders, making decisions about necessary changes such as changing hosts hinges on identifying and evaluating various factors. It’s incumbent on businesses to keep up and optimize.

As a leading cloud hosting provider, DigitalOcean offers robust, flexible, and user-friendly hosting services that can significantly enhance a website’s performance and user experience. What follows is a comprehensive guide for business leaders and team managers considering moving their WordPress site to DigitalOcean.

Migrating a WordPress site shouldn’t feel stressful

Two things, then I’ll get to some quick solutions you may want to consider before deciding to make the move elsewhere:

  • One: website properties (i.e. your .org or .com website) and internal communication tools (i.e. Email, cloud hosting, file sharing, data storage, etc.) are not one and the same.
  • Two: Moving your WordPress site around from server-to-server isn’t actually very hard to do, and has no real negative implications.

Related read: Should we host our email and website on the same host or server?

I think both points hinge on moving your WordPress website host as needed, and never feeling attached to a server.


Making the Switch: Migrating Hosts to DigitalOcean

There are several ways you can move your WordPress website, but there’s surely a method that should work, regardless of which hosting services you’re currently using.

Four methods for moving your WordPress site

  • Manually moving your files
  • Using a tool or plugin
  • Get the host to do it for you
  • Hire a migration service provider to do it for you

There are several steps involved in migrating your site, no matter which method you choose.

Depending on how complex it is, may require expert assistance. Before you begin, make sure you have a recent backup of your site and know your way around WordPress and basic server setup. If not, seek professional help before risking irreversible damage.

Manually migrating a WordPress site to a new host

This method involves direct control and manual handling of all aspects of the migration. Considering how simple other methods can be, we don’t suggest this to anyone who lacks experience migrating websites and the associated data successfully.

Using a plugin to migrate your WordPress site to a new host

There are several WordPress plugins available for website migration, such as Duplicator, All-in-One WP Migration, and Migrate Guru. These plugins simplify the process by automating tasks such as file copying and database migration.

Generally speaking, these plugins work by packaging your website into a single file, which can then be imported in the new hosting provider.

Using a service to migrate your site to a new host

If you’re not comfortable handling the migration yourself or if your site is complex, you can use a professional service. Generally, a professional WordPress migration service will take care of the entire process for you, ensuring that no data is lost in transition and your site remains operational.

Using hosting provider’s migration services

Some hosting providers offer their own migration services, either free or paid. These services are usually simple and straightforward. You need to provide them with access to your website and they will take care of the rest. An advantage of using this service is that they are already familiar with their own infrastructure, thus minimizing potential compatibility issues.

Why Switch to Digital Ocean

Successful leaders recognize that every decision affecting an entire organization necessitates the involvement of relevant stakeholders. While there exists no secret formula guaranteeing unanimous approval each time, effective communication remains crucial. Expressing precisely the necessity for switching to DigitalOceans can foster understanding among stakeholders.

1. Cost-Efficiency: Explain how a hosting plan with DigitalOcean can provide more resources for fewer costs, underlining the long-term financial benefits.

2. Performance Improvements: Stress the profound difference it would make to site loads’ speed and overall user experience.

3. Enhanced Security: Highlight the superior security measures provided by DigitalOcean, which would significantly reduce any potential risks and cyber threats.

Whatever reason your organization is considering migrating your WordPress website, if this feels outside of your team’s technical comfort zone, consider reaching out to experts who can make the process simple and painless, no matter how large or complex your website may be.

If DIYing the migration, what steps should we follow?

In general, it would depend on the plan and services you’ll utilize at DigitalOcean, but a great way to get started would be to create a new WordPress Droplet using the 1-Click installation here.

Then, you could use the Duplicator plugin or All in One WP Migration, which allows you to create an export of your existing website, and then import that exported archive to the newly created WordPress installation on the DigitalOcean side.

Let’s break it down:

1. Backup your current website

Using All in One WP Migration, let’s go ahead and make a copy. So, in AIO, backup your current WordPress site including the files and database.

2. Create a Droplet on DigitalOcean

In your DigitalOcean account, set up a new droplet. You’ll need to select an image for the droplet. Unless you’ve been told otherwise, you’ll want to use the 1-click installer for WordPress and make this simple.

3. Use AIO Migration to import the backup

There are multiple ways to migrate a WordPress site, but really the most straightforward way is by using a plugin. We’ll go with All-In-One WP Migration. Install this plugin on your old WordPress site and export a copy. Then, install WordPress on your DigitalOcean droplet, install the All-In-One WP Migration plugin on the new site and import the copy you’ve exported.

4. Configure DNS to point to DigitalOcean

You need to go into your DNS settings where your domain name is currently registered and hosted and change them to DigitalOcean’s nameservers.

5. Test your website

This is to ensure that everything is working fine – your themes, plugins, and especially permalinks. You may need to reconfigure license for certain plugins, and you should always do a quick QA of the site on multiple devices.

That should be it!

You’ve moved a WordPress site from one web host to another. Verify that everything works as expected – don’t forget about configurations like permissions, breadcrumbs navigation or sidebar widgets which can cause post-migration hiccups but are easy enough fixes when given prompt attention.

If you’re not comfortable doing the migration yourself, you can use a service or hire someone specialized in WordPress migrations to ensure it goes smoothly and without downtime.

Which DigitalOcean plan (or droplet) is best for a WordPress website?

The plan that’s best for your WordPress website on DigitalOcean depends on the requirements of your specific website, such as traffic volume, size of the website, and how dynamic your content is.

For a small to medium WordPress website, the basic $5/month plan might suffice. However, if you expect higher traffic or if your site is larger with lots of dynamic content, you should consider the larger plans.

Always monitor the performance and adjust your plan as necessary. DigitalOcean offers the flexibility to upgrade as your site grows.

Please remember that these are unmanaged servers. If you’re not technically inclined to maintain the server, consider hiring a system administrator or use a service like Cloudways that offers managed DigitalOcean servers.

Is DigitalOcean good for WordPress?

Yes, DigitalOcean can be a good choice for WordPress depending on your needs and expertise. It provides a scalable cloud platform with high performance that can handle heavy website traffic. They offer One-click WordPress installations, which makes it very easy to get started.

Using DigitalOcean does require a little more technical knowledge to manage, when compared to some other WordPress hosting provicers. You would need to be comfortable setting up your own server environment and managing security, updates, and backups yourself.

If you are a developer or someone who is tech-savvy, DigitalOcean can be a good option. If not, it may be better to look at a hosting service that offers more managed solutions.

What DigitalOcean Droplet region should I choose?

In general, we suggest going with something near your target customers. It’s generally recommended to choose a droplet that’s geographically close to the majority of your users to reduce latency and increase website load speed.

For example, if most of your users are in the United States, you may want to choose a region in the United States such as New York or San Francisco. If your users are primarily in Europe, you may want to select a region like London, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt.

Serving your content from a location closer to your end users generally leads to better performance.

Additional reading

  • Here’s a good resources on transferring files to DigitalOcean Droplets with Filezilla (or another FTP tool of your choice).
  • From the tangle of shared hosting, navigating white screens of death and plugin purgatory—just another day in the digital odyssey for RadiVis! This blog post covers many aspects and challenges you may face during this process as discussed in the context of migrating their blog.
  • An additional resource from the DigitalOcean Docs about migrating date from other providers. It covers more in-depth and discusses the challenges you might expect when migrating from AWS, Linode, Rackspace, or any other cloud IaaS.
  • We’ve extensively covered the best migration plugins for WordPress and encourage you to explore those to see which might be a better fit. In general, we like AIO WP Migration, but the choice is yours.

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