How to Move A Small WordPress Site Via the Import/Export Tool

By Daniel Scocco

Over the past year I have moved a reasonable number of WordPress sites between different servers and hosting companies (around 10), and I picked up some tips and tricks along the way.

First of if you search around the web for advice on how to move a WordPress blog you’ll probably get a recommendation to backup all the site files and databases, transfer the site files, and then restore the database on the other server.

While this works, I think it’s unnecessarily complicated, especially if you are transferring a small site (i.e., with 300 posts or fewer, and no special sections like a forum). Not to mention that playing around with databases is always tricky, and if you are not tech-savvy you might screw things up.

A better and simpler solution in my opinion is to use the Import/Export feature on WordPress. Here’s the step by step guide:

  1. Login via FTP to your old (i.e., the one you are moving from) WP install and download the whole /wp-conten/t directory.
  2. Login to your old WordPress dashboard and use “Export” function (located under “Tools”). Choose the “All Content” option, to export both posts and pages.
  3. Put a fresh WP install on your new server/hosting plan.
  4. Delete the /wp-content/ folder on your new server, and upload the one you had downloaded from your old server.
  5. If you had changed the “Permalink Structure” on your old server, do that as well on the new one.
  6. Now login to the WordPress dashboard on your new server and use the “Import” function (again under “Tools”) to import all your posts and pages.
  7. Check that everything is working fine by opening the homepage of your new WP install (you can do this using the IP address of your hosting account). If everything is working fine update the nameservers of your domain name to point to your new server).

This method is easier in my opinion, and it has one big advantage: you start with a clean install, meaning that any hacks or compromises you might have had on your old WP install will be gone.

Next week I’ll post about moving larger WordPress sites. Those might not work with this method because your export XML file will be too large, and you might not be able to upload it via the WordPress import feature.



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12 Responses to “How to Move A Small WordPress Site Via the Import/Export Tool”

  • Dave in Belize

    Thanks for the tip. Do you know if this will still work if I change servers AND domains? It is a very small wordpress site ie: custom theme with custom front page and only 6 other pages.
    According to the Codex it seems neccessary to hunt down all absolute domain path references and change them……..? (a friggin nightmare)

  • Frisco Colorado

    I’ve also used the import/export feature to upgrade some painfully out of date WordPress installations. These were pre WP 2.5 installs that almost definitely would have thrown endless PHP errors if I tried to do a standard upgrade.

  • Bryan

    I’ve just recently discovered a free plugin called Duplicator that I used to clone my WordPress blog onto my laptop. It copies everything: the database, template files, posts, images, etc. It’s available in the WordPress.org plugin directory (though it’s unavailable today because of the internet blackout).

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    @ jorge jacobo

    So according to you which is the best way to move your site from one server to another.

    Can you please share your experience with us at here.

  • Fren Dee Bee

    I’m glad to see this manual of transfering a WordPress site on DailyBlogTips. I’m planning to transfer my other blog from a very slow web host to a new one. Haven’t tried this import/export feature yet, I’ll try this one, I hope I won’t screw any files.

  • Edgar

    I sell alot of sites on Flippa and I use the above method as well and it make things so much easier.

    you can just email the import file to the buyer and the images folder you uploaded and thats it…

    I dont like to transfer my database info because, the database contains your login and your current password which the seller can hack your other sites..

    that has happen to me… thats why I like this method better.

    edgar

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Sean M Kelly, what exactly corrupted the blog? Because the steps I recommend you to take don’t touch anything of your current blog, so there’s no way to mess anything up.

    One point the could not work is when using the “import” function on the new server. The size of your XML file containing the posts could be larger than what your hosting company allows for upload. In this you need to contact them asking them to increase the limit a bit.

  • Sean M Kelly

    Hi

    Good tips! Thanks. My wp blog seems to have got corrupted somehow and I can’t login to my dashboard. The website still displays ok but just cant login. Any ideas on what I can do to sort it?

    This is the message that comes up:
    Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 122880 bytes) in /data/9/0/30/66/519066/user/529735/htdocs/blogjul07/wp-admin/includes/media.php on line 1560

    Thanks
    Sean

  • Jason

    Thank you for posting this, I’ve been searching for an article that explains how to move my wordpress site- and I’ve finally found one!

  • Dean Saliba

    I will be keeping an eye out for the post about moving large blogs as I have a couple that I will be moving sometime this year and I’ll find it very helpful. 🙂

  • Casper

    I have allso moved a wordpress this way. Only thing you have to remember is, that images dont allways gets exported.

    For my site i ended up having a dummy domain online and then moving the whole thing to the correct domain with images from the dummy. But ok i had like 600 posts, and 1000 images.

  • jorge jacobo

    I had doubts if this was a reliable way, I did the exact thing once, then I thought, is this the right way?

    My site had like 70 posts and had no traffic. The only thing i didn’t do was the permalink structure.

    Somehow I managed to transfer my site. I learned a lot while doing it!

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