I’ve previously recommended WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting, but I recently had a chance to try out one of their newer features first-hand. They’ve had a nice manual WordPress migration checklist for a while, but I was excited to try their new automated WordPress migration system for moving an existing website to WP Engine.
My personal blog/website at aaronhockley.com had been using a different web host for around six years, but they’ve failed to keep up with things and I was seeing increasing downtime and other problems. It was time to move to something more reliable, so I moved it to WP Engine.
The WP Engine migration system with their plugin promised to make things quick, easy, and without downtime… did it deliver?
In a word: yes.
First, you sign up for a WP Engine hosting plan (Photowebo readers save 20% on their first payment using that referral link), then use their automated system to move your existing site to the new service.
WP Engine Automated Migration Plugin
The key to their automated migration is their migration plugin, which you install into your existing WordPress site (the plugin is found on the WordPress plugin repository and installed in the usual ways). Once you have the plugin installed and activated, you provide it with the information about your new hosting account. It’s not a complicated set of information… just a few pieces as you can see in this screenshot:
I went to my old site and installed the plugin and put in the information for my WP Engine account.
Once you click that blue “Migrate” button, the magic begins. Well, it’s not actually magic. But here’s what’s hapening behind the scenes:
- all of your posts, pages, and other content on your website are being copied to your new WP Engine hosting
- your uploaded files, including photos, and videos, are moved as well
- the links within your site are updated to ensure that they all still work correctly after the migration (there’s no need to manually update anything in your WordPress database)
My site had several years of articles (around 800 posts) and took approximately half an hour to migrate including all the images and such. During the migration, you can observe a status page that shows the progress, and it’ll send you an email when it’s complete.
Moving Safely, Previewing, and Finalizing
One of the great things about the automated tool is that after it migrates your site, you can visit a new URL for your WP Engine site (it’ll be something like yoursite.wpengine.com) and make sure that everything’s working. You can explore your site, verify all your links, and otherwise make sure that things are in proper working order. You then run the migration tool a second time, giving it your real URL instead of the temporary WP Engine one, and it does a final update to ensure all of your links will work with your actual domain name.
The final step is to update the DNS with your domain name registrar so that your domain name now lands at your new WP Engine site. I updated my DNS with [Namecheap][nc] and found that everything propagated quickly. My site looks and behaves the same, I maintain all of my search engine rankings,
What can’t it do? At this point you can’t use it to migrate from WordPress.com, since WordPress.com doesn’t allow you to install plugins. But it should work with any regular self-hosted WordPress site on a host like GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator, etc.
The WP Engine migration system is slick, letting you easily move your WordPress website to a new host. If you have a less-than-awesome web hosting company, this system makes it so easy to migrate that you really don’t have any excuses to stick with the poor service. Give WP Engine a shot and tell ’em Photowebo sent you.
Using WP Engine's automated migration tool to move a WordPress website: a case study – https://t.co/M8f9LZfBYE
— Photowebo (@photowebo) April 6, 2016