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Save your Tears. Migrate your Website with Duplicator.

Author: WC.Bear
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So, you’ve decided to go your separate ways. You wanted different things and it was best to just move on, but breaking up with your hosting company can still be difficult. A Julia Roberts movie and a gallon of ice cream usually help in those first days of a breakup, but are you really going to cry into a bucket of Rocky Road over switching to a new hosting company? Migrating your website doesn’t have to be painful.  The Duplicator plugin for WordPress can make the rebound a whole lot easier.  This Duplicator plugin tutorial will show you how to move your existing WordPress site and all of its content to a new hosting service in under 30 minutes.

dawson crying

Getting the Duplicator plugin

So, you’ve decided to go your separate ways. You just wanted different things and it was time to move on, but breaking up with your hosting company can still be difficult.

A Julia Roberts movie and a gallon of ice cream usually help in those first days of a breakup, but are you really going to cry into a bucket of Rocky Road over switching to a new hosting company?

Migrating your website doesn’t have to be painful.  The Duplicator plugin for WordPress can make the rebound a whole lot easier.  This Duplicator plugin tutorial will show you how to move your existing WordPress site and all of its content to a new hosting service in under 30 minutes.

Let’s get started. First, log in to your WordPress dashboard and hover over the Plugins option on the left side of your screen and select Add New.


Type Duplicator in the search box on the top-right side of your screen and search; Duplicator will be the first plugin displayed. As of this writing, it has just shy of two million downloads, nearly 800 five star reviews, and regular updates. Pay attention to these three factors when researching new plugins.

install plugin

Click install now on the Duplicator plugin > OK > Activate Plugin.


Duplicator Plugin Tutorial – Creating a Duplicator Package

Great, so now it’s active on your site. You should now have a Duplicator option on the left side of your dashboard, which you can see in the image above. If you hover over it, more options will appear. Select packages.
Now, since you just installed the Duplicator, you will not have any existing packages at this point. You can go ahead and click the Create New tab on the top of the page. You will notice some options that appear below.

screenshot make a package


The first option, Requirements, lets you know if your website meets the necessary components in order for the Duplicator plugin to function correctly. The main concern here is the size of your website. There is a 2GB limit on the size of Zip files, which is imposed by your operating system, not the duplicator plugin. For this reason, if you have a website that is greater than a 2GB zip file, you will see a red Warning rather than the green Pass displayed below.

site passes

If your website exceeds the 2GB limit, the first thing I would suggest is to have a look at your media library. I recently attempted to migrate a website with over a thousand images in their media library; obviously, that didn’t work. This is a good opportunity to clear out unused images, which may be slowing your website speed anyhow.

Alright, so now I will assume you pass all of the Duplicator requirements.
Underneath you have a file name option, which by default is: date_yourwebsitename. I prefer to keep this default for organizational purposes, but you can change it to whatever you would like.

You do not need to change anything in the Archives or Installer options. You will see the installer menu again in a few minutes, but no need to do anything with it right now. Click Next and Duplicator will begin scanning your site.

Once the scan is completed, you should see all aspects of the scan with a green checkmark and the word good, just like the image below. Go ahead and click Build.

Once you see the Package Completed screen, shown above, click on both the archive.zip file and the installer.php files. The archive.zip file may take some time because it contains all your website files. Once they are completed, I would suggest putting both of the files on your desktop for easy access.

package complete

Duplicator Plugin Tutorial – Buying Your Domain Name

Lovely, now we’re getting somewhere!  Now, it may seem obvious, but it is worth mentioning, just to be clear.  In order to migrate your website to a new hosting, you must add your domain name to the new host.  This means, of course, that you must actually own the domain name.  If you already own your domain name or know how to get a domain, feel free to move on to the next section, otherwise, keep reading to learn how.  If you need web hosting, we use A2 hosting and have been very happy with them.

There are a lot of places to buy your domain name, however, for this tutorial, I am using NameCheap.com because I have found it to be what it claims, cheap and simple.  Simply navigate to www.namecheap.com and type the domain name you want into the search bar.  The search results will tell you whether or not that domain name is available with the extension you want.  By extension, I am referring to .com, .org, .net and so forth.  The .com and .org extensions are the most popular, so if your domain name is taken with those extensions, you will have to either revise your domain name or choose a different extension.

available domains

Add your domain to your cart and select view cart.  Here you can choose how many years you would like to purchase the domain for and some additional add-on options.  The whois guard, for example, prevents others from finding out that you own this domain name.  Finish your purchase in the same way as any other online transaction.

namecheap shopping cart

Duplicator Plugin Tutorial – Creating a New Database

Wonderful, so now we have our website safely on our desktop. The next step is to access the cPanel of your new hosting provider. To do this, you can simply type your site’s URL in the address bar with /cpanel at the end. For example, www.mywebsite.com/cpanel
cpanel home
Okay, so now that we’re in our new hosting cPanel it’s time to create a new database for our site. To do this, scroll down to the section titled Databases and select MySQL Databases. Once inside, name your database in the section Create a New Database section. Feel free to name it whatever you like, however, I suggest writing down all the information you create in this section because you will need it at a later point.
name database

Now scroll down to the MySQL Users section, create a new user and password for this site, and click Create User.
make user
Last thing you need to do on this page is to connect the user that you just created to your website. Just below the Add New User section, you will find Add a User to a Database. Simply choose the user you created from the dropdown menu and then select your new database in the same way. When you click the Add button, a new screen will appear. Simply select the option “All Privileges” and click on Make Changes button.
duplicator plugin tutorial

Duplicator Plugin Tutorial – Adding Your Domain to Your Host cPanel

So, lets navigate back to the home page of you cPanel and scroll down to Domains section and choose Addon Domains. On the next page you will be prompted to enter the domain name of your site. Do not type “www” before the domain. Once you have finished typing the name, you can press the Tab key on your keyboard twice. The information in the next two boxes will autofill and then all you need to do is create your password. Just use the same one you used on the previous step.

Good, so now you have a database and your domain on the new hosting. Your website files are still on your desktop, so we need to get them on your new hosting now as well. To do that, get back to your cPanel home and scroll down to the Files section and choose File Manager.
duplicator plugin tutorial

A table of files will open in this page and you need to locate public_html, which has a little globe icon next to it. Select it and you will see a list of all the domains on your host server. When you select your domain’s file, notice that it is empty aside from the cgi-bin. This is where we want to put the files that are currently sitting on your desktop.


On the top of your cPanel, look for a folder labeled Upload, and select it. The window that opens will allow you to upload your installer.php file and the archive.zip folder on your desktop.  You do not need to change anything else on this page and you can leave it uploading while you move on to the next step.

duplicator plugin tutorial

duplicator plugin tutorial

Duplicator Plugin Tutorial – Change your Domain Name Server

We’re almost there through this Duplicator plugin tutorial!  Go ahead and open up a fresh browser tab and type in your sites web address.  You will notice that your site index will show the 3 files currently on your site: the cgi-bin, the archive.zip, and the installer.php.  However, we have not connected our new domain name to our host.  To do this, we need to know our Domain Name Server or DNS.  This information is inside an email you will have received from your hosting company when you first signed up.  You should always keep this initial email from your host as it contains important information.  Check out the image below to see a sample email that shows where to find your DNS.

duplicator plugin tutorial

Now that you have located your DNS, head back to namecheap.com, hover over your username on the top-left side of the screen and select Manage Domains.

duplicator plugin tutorial

Once on the next page, select the domain name of the website you are migrating as shown in the image below.

duplicator plugin tutorial

On the left side of the screen, look for the option Transfer DNS to Webhost and select it.  You will see the screen as below.  Enter the two Domain Name Servers exactly as they appear in the email from your hosting provider.  Notice that the number in your second DNS will be one higher than the first, as shown in the image below.

duplicator plugin tutorial

We’re nearing the finish line for the Duplicator plugin tutorial.  We have our database, our WordPress files, and a domain name that is connected to our hosting.  All you need to do is open a new tab in your web browser and enter your domain name in after the URL address bar with “/installer.php” (no quotation marks).  So, it should look like this:  www.mywebsite.com/installer.php  You should get a screen like the one below.

duplicator plugin tutorial


Select the option to “Create a new database.” The Host box should already say localhost, you don’t need to change anything there.  In the next box, labeled name, you need the information you wrote down earlier.  Simply type the name of the database that you created, the user, and finally, the password.

If you select the Test Connection option, it will test your database, username and passwords all match, so it’s a good idea to do this.  Assuming you have entered the correct information, you can go ahead and select the box on the bottom-right that says: I have read all warnings & notices and then click Run Deployment.   On the next page, the information should be auto-filled.  Just check that the URL, Path, and Title information under New Settings is accurate and then Run Update.

duplicator plugin tutorial

The next page will display your “Install Report,” which should indicate that there are zero Errors; it is typically not a problem if you have a “Warning.”  You will probably want to keep the permalink settings from your website, so click on the second item, labeled Save Permalink, which you can see below.

duplicator plugin tutorial  

This will take you to the WordPress log in screen.  Log in using your old site’s username and password because these are the permalinks we want to save.  Choose your preferred permalink settings and Save Changes. 

duplicator plugin tutorial

Now, go back to the Duplicator Installer screen and select the 4th item, File Cleanup.  You should still be logged into your WordPress site, but if not, do so again.  You will be prompted to delete the installer files from your server as they pose a security risk if left there.  Go ahead and delete these files.

You’ve completed the Duplicator plugin tutorial!  Enter your domain name into the URL bar and you will be taken to your site, which should look exactly as it had before.  Even the back-end features, like your plugins will be there. Hopefully you have done your homework and your new hosting company will be around for a long time, because rebounding from a breakup takes time and work and frankly, our waistlines can’t afford another gallon of Ben and Jerry’s.

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