wordpress migration

How to Move Your WordPress Site: Import and Migration Tools

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on

Have you ever wondered “How do I move a WordPress site from one web host to another?”

Maybe you’re not on WordPress, and you’d like to be. So you’re wondering “How do I convert my website to WordPress?”

In other words, how do you move your stuff from your existing website builder or environment over to WordPress?

Migrating data can be a stressful process, whether you’re technically proficient or not.

Luckily, there are tools available to streamline the process and make sure that no steps remain undone.

In this article, we’ll cover the different types of migration, as well as the tools and processes you might consider to simplify the process.

Migrating to WordPress

WordPress growth appears to be slowing (as demonstrated by Google searchers looking for WordPress hosting), but there are still a lot of users interested in the product.

wordpress popularity

WordPress is still a popular product amongst bloggers and website builders alike. Our sister site, Digital.com, finds that:

  • WordPress powers 26.4% of the web.
  • People create over 41.7 million new blog posts per month using WordPress.
  • People register more than 1.1 million domains for use with WordPress sites every six months.

Aspects of your migration may take up to 48 hours to process.

If you want to join in on the WordPress fun, there are several ways to go about this. We’re assuming that, because you’re reading this article, you have content that you want to move into WordPress and that you’re not starting from scratch.

We’ll cover how you can:

  • Migrate a WordPress site from one web host to another
  • Move a website built with a website builder to WordPress. (More specifically, we’ll look at how you can move Wix and Squarespace sites to WordPress.)

We’ll cover several migration options available to you, including manual migration and using migration/import tools to streamline the process.

wordpress homepage

Migrating WordPress Sites From One Web Host to Another

Web hosts that specialize in WordPress may offer migration services.

There might be many reasons why you want to migrate a WordPress site from one web host to another:

  • Perhaps you haven’t been satisfied with your interactions with the company’s support team.
  • Perhaps the uptime offered isn’t sufficient — maybe the company was unable to keep your site online when you decided to discount your branded t-shirts during Cyber Week.
  • Perhaps the host you’re moving to offers better SEO features and assistance with optimization free of charge.

Plan Ahead

Migrating your site from one host to another will take some time. The specific amount of time this will take will vary based on several factors:

  • Are you migrating files manually, or are you using something to automate the process?
  • How many files are you moving over? How big is each individual file?
  • Do you have a WordPress environment set up? This consideration isn’t, strictly speaking, related to the migration, but if you do not already have a waiting WordPress environment, you’ll need to take the time to set one up.

Average migration times can range from several minutes to several hours, and updates to DNS records (more on that in a bit) can take up to 48 hours to propagate. Plan accordingly!

Manual WordPress Migration

One way you can move your WordPress site from one host to another is to manually migrate your files from one host to another. Generally speaking, the manual migration process looks something like this:

  1. Backup your blog’s files. You’ll want to copy all of the files located in your blog’s directory, including any hidden files (these are the ones with the period leading the file name, e.g., .htaccess).
  2. Export your database. If your host offers you a cPanel, you can open phpMyAdmin and export the appropriate databases.
  3. Set up your WordPress database on your new server.
  4. Edit your wp-config.php file (but be sure to save a copy of the original in case your changes go wrong). You can find this file within the files that you backed up in step #1. The wp-config.php file controls the communication between your WordPress core and the database, so you’ll need to update the database name and the database username and password.
  5. Import the data that you just exported into your new database.
  6. Use FTP to upload your website’s files to your new web hosting environment.
  7. Fix any domain name issues. If you’ve chosen to use a domain name, make sure that any hyperlinks that you use on your site get updated. You’ll also need to reconfigure your domain’s DNS settings so that it will point to your new host’s server IP address.

Using a WordPress Migration Plugin

Manually migrating a WordPress site isn’t too difficult, but you can certainly streamline the process using a plugin.

Here are two options that you can consider.

Duplicator

Once you’ve installed and activated the Duplicator plugin the way you would any other WordPress plugin, the app will automatically create packages you can then use to migrate your WordPress site.

With Duplicator, your migration process will look something like this:

  1. Install and activate Duplicator.
  2. Start up Duplicator, and have it create a new package.
  3. Import the data that you just exported into your new database.
  4. Use FTP to upload your website’s files to your new web hosting environment.
  5. Fix any domain name issues.

As you can see, the biggest help with using Duplicator is that it backs up your existing WordPress files (including the hidden files!) and database completely.

Duplicator also offers additional functionality that can help you back up your WordPress site at a later date, as well as custom package creation (e.g., perhaps you want to move just your database).

Video: Watch the step by step on how to migrate your WordPress site with Duplicator in this 2-minute video.

All-in-One WP Migration

All-in-One WP Migration offers very similar functionality to Duplicator.

However, there is one feature that we wanted to point out, and that’s the option of applying an unlimited number of find-and-replace operations so that you can do things like update links that you’ve embedded into your content.

wp migration
Install the All-in-One plugin easily from your WordPress dashboard

Outsourcing WordPress Migration

If you’re not keen on migrating your WordPress site yourself, you can outsource the process. Many web host providers offer free migration services so you might be able to get this service without having to pay expensive consulting fees to have it done.

Some web hosts that offer free WordPress migration services include:

Most hosting companies offer some type of migration services (and we want to go out on a limb and say that any company offering specialty WordPress services will).

wp engine homepage

If you don’t see free migration services listed as a perk, you might consider asking just to be sure — many hosts will gladly help with this process.

Migrating from Wix to WordPress

Wix is one of the more popular website builders around, but as your site grows complex, you might want to move it from the Wix platform to WordPress.

Wix is a capable platform, but as you need additional features, you might find yourself needing to upgrade to more and more expensive options. WordPress, as an open source product, is always free.

The downside (aside from having to migrate your website), is that moving from Wix to WordPress is not the easiest thing to do.

Wix is a closed platform, so there’s no direct way of moving content to your new WordPress site.

Nevertheless, there are several ways you can go about moving your Wix content to WordPress without recreating posts individually.

Manual Migration

To manually migrate your Wix site to WordPress, you’ll need to:

  1. Set up your new WordPress site. You’ll need to purchase hosting services, set up your domain name, and have the WordPress core installed on to your hosting environment. You can also set up any themes or plugins you want to use, but you can also wait to do this until after you’ve imported your content from Wix.
  2. Import your Wix RSS feed to your WordPress site. This will bring in all of your blog posts so you don’t have to recreate them individually.
  3. Move your images from Wix to WordPress (these are not included in the RSS feed that you imported previously). You can use a tool like Import External Images, or you can manually save and upload the images to WordPress.
  4. Recreate your Wix pages. There’s no way to do this automatically so each Wix page will need to be manually recreated in WordPress.

As you can imagine, the amount of the time this process takes varies based on how much content you currently have on Wix.

If all you’re doing is moving blog posts over, the process should move along pretty quickly.

If, however, you are recreating a large number of pages, you’ll have much more work to do.

Automated Migration

There are several tools available that you can use to automate (some parts) of the move from Wix to WordPress.

One such example is the CMS2CMS: Automated Wix to WordPress plugin.

The product’s developers claim that the average migration time is 15 minutes.

CMS2CMS will help you migrate all of your pages, posts, and images. However, because Wix and WordPress aren’t identical systems, CMS2CMS provides you with a data mapping tool to make sure that the stuff you import goes where you want it to go.

Note that the cost of the service depends on the size of your migration.

These are the steps you’ll need to take to migrate using CMS2CMS.

  1. Set up your CMS2CMS account.
  2. Download the connector plugin provided by CMS2CMS.
  3. Install and activate the CMS2CMS connector plugin for use with your WordPress core.
  4. Launch the plugin, and log in.
  5. Choose the Wix data you want to migrate, and indicate where you want the data to go in your WordPress site.
  6. Preview your migration. If satisfied, proceed with the migration.

At this point, CMS2CMS will take care of everything related to migrating your data over.

Video: This three-minute video shows you how to migrate your site from Wix to WordPress using the CMS2CMS plugin.

Outsourcing Migration

Unfortunately, we’re not aware of any companies that explicitly advertise Wix-to-WordPress migration services.

However, this move is not uncommon, so you should be able to speak with web hosts you’re interested in to see if they offer migration services that you can purchase.

If this is something in which you’re interested, you’ll want to reach out to the web host well in advance of when you want the site migrated.

While the migration process might not take too long, you’ll need to plan for meetings where you can go over the logistics with your web host and you might need to wait for staff availability to open up.

Migrating from Squarespace to WordPress

Squarespace is a popular platform known for its beautiful designs and easy-to-use editor. As such, Squarespace is especially popular with those getting their first website up and running.

squarespace site

Why Migrate From Squarespace?

However, as your website grows and you need increasingly complex features, you might find yourself bumping into limitations due to Squarespace’s more limited feature set.

For example, Squarespace offers blogging functionality, but its content management tools are simplistic when compared to the tools WordPress has.

Switching to WordPress would, therefore, provide you with a free option that will not restrict your growth in any way.

If the WordPress core doesn’t come with a feature you need, you’ll probably be able to find a plugin or theme that can add it to your site.

How to Migrate from Squarespace to WordPress

When migrating from Squarespace to WordPress, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Some content can be easily moved over, especially that which is included in the .xml import you create
  • Other content might need to be recreated since there’s no direct way of moving it
  • Some features might require some creativity to recreate. For example, Squarespace might implement something with proprietary JavaScript and CSS. If you want the same functionality on WordPress, you’ll need to either code it yourself or find a theme/plugin that adds the feature to your site.
  • Squarespace recommends that you keep your site active during the migration process for best results.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Set up your new WordPress site. Because WordPress is self-hosted, you’ll need to purchase a hosting package, purchase and set up a domain name (assuming you aren’t reusing a domain that you’re using with your Squarespace site), and have the WordPress core installed on to your hosting environment.
  2. Export your Squarespace using the Import / Export tool provided by Squarespace. You can export regular, gallery, and product page, individual blog pages (and all of the posts on that page), text and image blocks, the text in Embed, Twitter, and Instagram blocks (though with limited formatting), and comments.
  3. Import your Squarespace-generated file into your WordPress environment. If there are any concerns you need to address, WordPress will prompt you to do so.
  4. Move your images from Squarespace to WordPress. Like many other migration tools, the Squarespace exporter doesn’t include images in the original export file. However, you can use the Auto Images plugin to transfer photos.
  5. Adjust the URL structure of everything on your site from the Squarespace format to the WordPress format. This also improves your site’s SEO.
  6. Finally, recreate any pages that didn’t get moved over in the import file. The specifics of how to do this, as well as how long it takes to do this, will vary based on the content you already have on your site.

All in all, moving from Squarespace to WordPress isn’t the easiest process around, especially when it comes to transferring files for which there isn’t a direct path.

Conclusion

There are a lot of reasons why you might opt for Wix or Squarespace when getting started with a website or blog: they are easy to use, come with everything you need, and offer drag-and-drop interfaces that allow you to craft beautiful sites with ease.

However, both products (and website builders in general) are fairly limited in terms of the features and functionality you get. And, if you decide you want more, you might have to pay for a more expensive plan.

One way to get more for less is to migrate your site from a website builder to WordPress. This process isn’t necessarily easy, but once you’re done, you’ll be building your website on a platform that is highly extensible — there are a lot of reasons why WordPress is a great option, but in the end, we don’t think you’ll ever outgrow your WordPress site.

Contributing editor: Bronwynne Powell

Katie is a C# developer-turned-technical writer. She’s also an avid reader, swimmer, doer of the NYT Crossword Puzzles in ink, and sweater knitter. She has a love/hate relationship with JavaScript and thinks that package managers are the best things since sliced bread.
shares