Here is the step by step process I used to move a WordPress development site to an already existing site to “go live” with the new design. Here is what you will need:
a) Source site (your development site with your completed design in WordPress)
b) Destination site (the current hosting that your domain name is pointing to- where the old site lives that you want to update)
Note: Be sure that you hosting for the new site is Linux and NOT a Windows server. Also make sure you have the latest version of PHP installed with json. If you don’t have these things, you will have problems. (Check with your host if you are not sure) I know you are not going to want to take the time to do this, but DO IT!!. It is going to save you a lot of grief.
c) BackupBuddy (which is a paid plugin, but well worth it if you want to make your life easier.)
Note: before you start the whole transfer process, to be prudent, you should check on a few things.
1) Make sure you have enough disk space on your server for the transfer. If you are close to your allowed amount, the process could be shut down and you could be left with no site up.
2) Make sure to disable any caching plugins or security before starting the process. You can re-enable them after the process is finished. If you have caching on your server, make sure to temporarily disable that as well or it could cause problems. For some security plugins, this may mean that the login URL will change, so be aware of that.
3) Make sure you have a login that is associated with an email that you have access to. I’ve never needed this, but just in case, it’s always a good measure to take.
4) Check the PHP version on the server! I know I said this already, but it’s important.
1) The first thing we do is login to the development site WordPress backend and make sure BackupBuddy is installed and that you have the latest version. If it is not already installed, install it by going to Plugins > Add New and choose upload as the method.
Once you have it installed on your development site, make sure you have the latest version by activating the license and enabling auto updates. Then, you will need to create a full backup. You can do so by simply going to BackupBuddy > Backup & Restore and clicking on the Full Backup button.
If you have any problem with the backup not completing, I usually look for past backups and delete all but the one most recent. Sometimes I find that the file size is just too large. Once I delete any extra backups, I can usually create a new backup with no problem. If your site is really large, you might have to simply download the lastest backup and then delete it too.
Another tip if your backup keeps stopping without completing is to go into BackupBuddy > Settings on the left hand menu and then go to the Advanced Settings/Troubleshooting tab at the top. Near the bottom you will see the Zip section. Uncheck the first option for “Enable zip compression”. This gives BackupBuddy more time for data to be zipped before it timeouts, which has been a problem for me sometimes.
2) You will see an option to download your backup right away, or you can refresh, or go back to Backup & Restore and download your backup in a zip file there.
3) After you download the backup zip file, you will need to download the importbuddy.php file. You can download it from BackupBuddy > Restore/Migrate.
Now you are done with the development site and you will need to move to the destination site. Your domain name should already be pointing to your new destination site. You destination site should NOT have WordPress installed and should be empty. If you have any files or a current site there, you will want to save all the files and folders to a folder called something like “oldsite” to be removed as soon as the install of your new site is complete.
You will also need to create a database for this new site. BackupBuddy says it will help you create a database if you have a cpanel, but I’ve never had much luck with this feature, so I like to do it myself. To do this, you usually need to go to your Cpanel and create a database through the PHPmyAdmin area. Create a user for the database at the same time. Be sure to write down your database name, user, and password. You will need it later.
Through either ftp or Cpanel, you need to upload the zip file of your backup and the importbuddy.php file to the root of your destination site.
Once you have done that, you will need to viist yoursite.com/importbuddy.php in your browser. When you do this, you should see the following. If you don’t see this, verify that you have upload the importbuddy.php file and your backup to the correct place.
Then click the blue Next button, and you should see the step 2 screen.
This will extract the files into your new site.
Step 4 will bring us to the database connection. This is where you will need all the database information I asked you to write down before. Fill it in here along with your URL at the top. The MySQL Server name will usually stay as ‘localhost’ unless your hosting company tells you differently. Keep the wp_ prefix for the database tables as is to avoid permission problems later.
Use the “Test database settings” button above the blue next button to make sure you have entered the correct info and and the connection is working.
Hopefully, you will get a success message like you see here. If not, your hosting to make sure that ‘localhost’ setting is correct and check for typos. Once it says the connection is successful, click on the blue Next button. Hopefully you will get the message below.
And you can click on the Finish Database Migration button. Cross your fingers and hopefully the next window will come up.
Now is time to really cross your fingers and check out your URL. If you are seeing the new site, you’re ready to click the button to delete migration files. Congratulations!
Possible Problems You Might Encounter
If the site is not looking quite right, login to the back and re-save the Settings > Permalinks and check again.
BackupBuddy doesn’t see backup file Today I had a problem with a BackupBuddy move. I uploaded the backup and the importbuddy.php to the new site with no problem, but after I put in my password, there were only options to “Upload a Backup” or “Restore from stash”. For some reason, importbuddy was not finding my backup file. And when I tried clicking on any of the two options that did display, the screen got dark, but nothing happened.
I could, however, check the Status Log and noticed it was giving me this error:
Call to undefined function json_encode();
So, I contacted hosting support and they upgraded me to the latest PHP version and made sure json was installed and then everything worked with no problem.
Import Budddy doesn’t run through all steps Today I had a site that would not backup. It kept stalling at the very first step. I updated BackupBuddy, I made sure there were no extra files on the site to make a bigger backup. Nothing was working. Then I went to BackupBuddy > Settings > Advanced Settings and changed Default global backup mode from Modern V2 to Classic V1, and the site backed up quickly.
Internal Service Error problem when click on other pages I thought the site had migrated successfully because the home page showed up fine, but when I tried to click on other pages, I got a white page that said Internal Service Error. My solution was to login to the file manager in my cpanel and delete the htaccess file. I then was able to login to the backend and save the permalink settings under Settings > Permalinks and this fixed the problem.
White screen on home page only Check files for index.html file. Note- not the index.php file. You need that, but you can delete the one that ends in .html
lessphp fatal error: load error: failed to find See my post here.
Can’t connect to database One person from BackupBuddy suggested that if you just can’t get the database to connect through BackupBuddy (of course, make sure you have all the info correct first), then you should just install a new version of WordPress on your site and overwrite that database with your .sql file downloaded from your phpMyAdmin area as detailed below and overwrite the files with your backup zip file from BackupBuddy.
If all this fails, you can still do the move the old fashioned way as detailed in this excellent tutorial:
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