I've always been amazed at how difficult it is to migrate a WordPress website from one location to another. It just shouldn't be this hard! I was pleased a couple of years ago when our favourite host WP Engine launched their automated migration tool, as this makes it much easier. But what if you're not using WP Engine?
My ears pricked up when I heard about a new tool called Migrate Guru. It promises to offer the fastest way to migrate a WordPress site. That's quite a claim, so I was keen to test it.
Why are WordPress site migrations so hard?
A WordPress website consists of the files and a database, both of which need to be set up to talk to each other in the correct way.
People often encounter lots of problems when trying to move a WordPress site. The most common issues include database import and transfer blunders, documenting file path mistakes, authorization mistakes, and other such barriers.
Unless you're an experienced WordPress expert, it usually takes a lot of time and effort to migrate a site and ensure everything is working correctly in the new environment. It's even harder if you're migrating to a host that you're not familiar with.
That's why I've been looking for a good WordPress migration tool for years. A WordPress migration plugin should do everything for you, saving you a lot of time and hassle compared to doing it manually. You need to be able to migrate a site in just a few simple steps.
What is Migrate Guru?
Migrate Guru is a WordPress migration plugin. It simplifies website migration by moving your site in a way that requires minimal technical knowledge.
It gives WordPress admins the ability to move, duplicate or clone complete websites. And for the techies among you, Migrate Guru underpins both serialized and base64 serialized string substitution.
You don't need to worry about moving your database, pictures, plugins etc. and moving them all independently. Migrate Guru deals with this for you.
And best of all, it's a free migration plugin!
How does it differ from other WordPress migration plugins?
Migrate Guru is different because it uses a simple 1-step process that runs on BlogVault servers. This way, it doesn’t overload the live (source) website. It also ensures that websites as large as 200 GB can be moved without any issues.
This is a much more efficient way to migrate a website than taking the load on your own server.
Its features include:
- One-click migration - Enter your host details and just click Migrate. You’re good to go!
- No overload on site - The migration process works on Migrate Guru's servers.
- Built for large sites - Traditionally, large site migrations usually fail because of live-site server import limits. In contrast, Migrate Guru can happily migrate sites up to 200GB.
- No Addons - A nice touch, as it means there are no hidden costs. Just the free plugin. (I love the way the Pricing tab on migrateguru.com takes you to a notice that it's completely free!)
- No storage space required - Migrate Guru copies your site to its own servers. It erases the site from its servers after the migration is complete, so there are no privacy concerns.
- Compatible with any web host - It works with any host, so it no longer matters if your host doesn't offer free migrations.
- Fully automatic, built-in search & replace - It's easy to make mistakes when doing a search and replace during site migration, so it's great that Migrate Guru does this for you.
- Timely alerts - You will receive real time email alerts to keep you up to date on the migration status.
How it works
This is what happened when I tried migrating a WordPress site from one server to another using Migrate Guru.
Before I started, I needed these things:
- cPanel details for your original site
- A domain with the new web host, with WordPress installed on it
- Your destination server’s IP address
Note: Using Migrate Guru does not require any technical expertise. You just need basic server details, which you can get from your web host.
Step 1 - Install Migrate Guru
First, add the Migrate Guru WordPress plugin:
- Go to Plugins > Add New.
- Search for 'Migrate Guru', then click to install and activate it.
Step 2 - Complete the Migrate Guru migration form
To use Migrate Guru, you need to enter these details:
- Email: Enter your email address so that Migrate Guru can send you updates at the two different stages of the migration.
- Destination Site URL: This is the URL of the site (domain) you’ve set up on your new web host.
- Destination Server IP address: This is the server IP address of the site configured on your web host account.
To find these details, follow the steps below. These instructions are for hosts that use cPanel, since this is the most popular. If your host uses something else, then the information will still be available but you may need to ask them where to find it.
- Log in to your web host account and go to the menu bar displayed at the top of the page.
- Click on Hosting and choose cPanel.
- You will find the destination server IP address in the left-hand bar of the cPanel page.Your cPanel details are the details you use to log into your web host account (or cPanel, if this is a separate login).
You only need to click this option if either the source or destination site are https:// instead of https://.
If the URL of either site begins with 'https://', they are HTTPS authenticated and have an SSL certificate. You would have received an email with the validation credentials. You can also get these credentials from the site's server logs, or you can ask your host for them.
Now that you have all the required details, enter them into Migrate Guru. If you get stuck getting any of the required information, ask your web host or use the Support and Help links on the right.
Step 3 - Migrate your site
Next, click on Migrate. You’re nearly there!
Once you click Migrate button, Migrate Guru will send you an email notification confirming that the process of migration has begun.
Migrate Guru will redirect you to a screen showing the real-time process of your website migration. You'll find a link to this page in the email notification. Use the progress bars to watch the migration progressing.
You don’t need to keep your browser window open during the migration - it's fine to close it.
Once the migration process is completed, Migrate Guru will send you another email - this time notifying you about the successful migration.
Click the Migrated Site button to view your new site. You'll also find a link to the site in the email alert. It's as simple as that!
Ultimately, the process is similar to the other migration plugins I tested a few years ago. For example, before discovering WP Engine's migration tool, I used to struggle with the Duplicator plugin and InfiniteWP's clone tool - neither of which worked reliable. All these tools require you to enter your server into for the source and destination sites, and take care of the rest.
The difference with Migrate Guru is that a lot of work has gone into it, and it works more reliably. They have ironed out a lot of the problems faced by other tools, which is great!
Problems with the migration
If you don’t see the progress screen, or if the migration screen reloads with an error message, then you probably entered some of the information correctly.
Another possibility is that if you only just created your web site, it may take a little time before Migrate Guru can connect to it.
Repeat the process above, check each field carefully (ask your web host to check if needed), then try again. It does work, but only if you enter the correct data. This isn't a limitation of the migration tool - it's just how WordPress works.
As you can see, I migrated a WordPress site just by entering the basic info and clicking Migrate - so you can do the same. It took about 12 minutes to completely migrate a 300mb site.
Since the migration happened on their servers, there were no crashes or performance issues. It kept all the settings I had specified and notified me via email when it was done.
You can get Migrate Guru from the WordPress plugin directory. If you have any queries, you can contact the Migrate Guru team - either by submitting a support request on wordpress.org or via their help desk.
Have you tried migrating your website? Let us know what you think of Migrate Guru and other WordPress migration tools.