Official Cpanel Newbie Guide Published: Oct 22, 2003
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Every webmaster cringes at the thought of moving hosts. Like moving your home it can be messy and sometimes problems arise. But if you follow these simple steps, your move will be less painful.

Every webmaster cringes at the thought of moving hosts. Like moving your home it can be messy and sometimes problems arise. But if you follow these simple steps, your move will be less painful.

Backup Backup Backup
If you've been diligent with your backups, you've got a lot of insurance to fall back on yet always make the latest backup. If you haven't, before you do anything else, do a backup now. Backup anything and everything you can and don't forget your database if your site relies on it. Save at least 2 copies and store them separately. One for you to work with, and the other as an archive. Do not underestimate how easy it is to copy over these files as you make changes or simply mess it up.

If you're moving to a host who has as different control panel, make a manual backup by downloading all your files because different control panels may not be able to restore the backups made by your old host. They also have different directory structures so your file trees will be in a mess. If you need to, make a small note file with notepad with memos for you to remember the old server configurations. This will help you as you make changes on your new host server and save the confusion moving back and forth between hosts. Remember to make the correct transfer type (ASCII or Binary) as you download. If your download is not right chances are you'll have a tough time getting your site to work on the new host server.

If server logs are especially important, remember to backup those too. There is no good way of moving logs yet because different hosts may log statistics differently. So the best thing to do is to download it and use a log analyzer on your computer to make references to later on.

Gather Odds and Ends

1. A Good FTP program which you should have by now

2. Get your new host server's DNS

3. It's also helpful to have a script that tells you the server environments installed on your new host server for quick references.

4. Get the temporary URL on your new host so you can check your site before you make a DNS change.

5. If you have your host control the domain inform them not to change your DNS until you tell them to.

6. If you run scripts: Get a copy of the original installation guide and the script. Sometimes after moving the scripts they just do not work right so you might need to install the script from scratch. Get a list of all the server paths such as Perl, Sendmail and home directory on your new server. If your script needs special server modules or programs ensure they are installed and where. Even though these might be covered before you ordered the account with the host but sometimes your host has removed it or haven't installed it yet.

Inform Your Visitors
It is common and good practice to inform your visitors and customers of the server move. If you run a e-store, this helps assure your customers you have not fled with their money if there is any downtime. Also give an alternate email so you won't lose emails in the transfer. You might also want to give periodic updates prior, during (if there is downtime) and after. If your site is large, doing this is helpful because your visitors can alert you whenever there is a part of the site not working.

Moving Day
Try to schedule the move at a time where there's least traffic. Backup again just before you do the move so you'll have the latest data. Start by first copying or creating your custom error pages onto the new host server. Put a small note in there about the move. You can always remove it later. Then upload the most visible parts of the site first i.e the main pages then move on to the less critical parts of the site. If you have a large site with many divisions you might want to split them across different days and instead move the least critical first. Just ensure you always do a backup before you do any moving. Use the temporary URL to check your site, visiting as many pages as you can.

Changing DNS
Once you're satisfied, change your DNS over. This typically takes about 24-48 hours so you have time to make some minor changes if need be. You might want to also take this time to modify your old site's error pages to inform your visitors of the move and give a new URL if there are URL changes. To help you determine if the DNS has resolved, make a small change on the new pages to differentiate between the old and the new.

After you've moved and the DNS resolved, do not release the old account yet. Keep it as long as two weeks running concurrently. Go back and check the old servers for activity. Check your old email account and if you have a web based contact method on the old server check to see if any communication is left there. Once you're comfortable all email and traffic is correctly directed to the new host server, you can cancel that account.

Written By - HostVoice is a free online service which brings hosting companies and consumers together. Submit a free request and receive offers within 15 minutes from qualifying hosts.

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Comments (27)

  • Gravatar - Christian
    Christian 15:49, November 4, 2003
    I think this is fantastic - thank you very much.
  • Gravatar - Mindlash
    Mindlash 07:29, November 6, 2003
    Very nice compilation.

    What would extend this great list is a similar layout for security... how one should go about securing their server to the best of their ability. Don't be afraid to get a little technical with us. :-)
  • Gravatar - Huhgo
    Huhgo 19:23, November 6, 2003
    Yes, I like this start so far... but it could use more info.

    For instance: I would love to see something more detailed on admining the LOGS.
  • Gravatar - Felxi
    Felxi 03:37, November 19, 2003
    Love all tutorials on here, learnt quite abit, think you should submit loads more!
  • Gravatar - Tony
    Tony 14:19, November 21, 2003
    I would love to see a tutorial on log administration! to compliment this.

    Another thing you might like to add is that you can login to your users cpanel - by using there username with the root password ;)

  • Gravatar - Mean Dean
    Mean Dean 06:10, December 13, 2003
    What a great tutorial. Of course, it would be even better if there were an accompanying WHM tutorial for first time users/owners of dedicated or virtual hosts (esp. as the price continues to drop on these services).
  • Gravatar - John
    John 23:50, December 13, 2003
    Very good info. It would be worth adding how to set up your nameservers when you have multiple servers.

    -- John
  • Gravatar - Ryan
    Ryan 05:26, January 9, 2004
    For most servers, I think the command to restart cPanel is "/etc/init.d/cpanel" Worked for me :)
  • Gravatar - Steve
    Steve 22:30, March 25, 2004
    helped out a lot!
  • Gravatar - conf
    conf 21:42, June 25, 2004
    It's COOL!!!
  • Gravatar - SGHost
    SGHost 08:05, September 14, 2004
    some other stuff that you might want to stop/start/restart<br />
    ==================<br />
    /etc/init.d/cpanel stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/chkservd stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/httpd stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/mysql stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/pure-ftpd stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/exim stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/named stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/antirelayd stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/mdmonitor stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/portsentry stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/apf stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/syslog stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/crond stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/smartd stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/rhnsd stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/ipaliases stop<br />
    /etc/init.d/iptables stop<br />
  • Gravatar - Netstronaut
    Netstronaut 03:22, January 10, 2005
    Kernel Update via WHM:<br />
    <br />
  • Gravatar - Net
    Net 00:49, May 12, 2005
    I think they should update this ? Since cPanel has been updated.. and some things are not the same anymore.
  • Gravatar - Mathole
    Mathole 15:21, June 2, 2005
    I highly appreciate the good information and articles on this site. Keep up the good work!!
  • Gravatar - Chris
    Chris 01:20, October 24, 2005
    srry..I dont know how to log on to the root type those commands...<br />
    what the crap is ssh and how do I get to where I type the commands...<br />
    help pleas.e.
  • Gravatar - Dilip Bhoromeyo
    Dilip Bhoromeyo 20:22, January 1, 2006
    This tutorial provides very excellent info for Newbies. I appreciate your endeavour through this task.
  • Gravatar - joshua
    joshua 18:23, May 7, 2006
    in-fukin-gredible!! i like that :)
  • Gravatar - tata
    tata 06:58, May 11, 2006
    i love it
  • Gravatar - mike
    mike 01:12, May 22, 2006
    Thank you so much! This explanation is what WHM itself should have included. They should pay you to rewrite the online manual.<br />
    Kind regards,<br />
  • Gravatar - Bobo
    Bobo 01:58, February 8, 2007
    great help.<br />
    <br />
    I have a question:<br />
    <br />
    Can the domain name being used for the hostname be used to host a site on CPanel?<br />
    <br />
    let me clarify. Suppose mu domain name is: ""<br />
    And suppose I used as server hostname the following: ""<br />
    <br />
    Can I, in this case, still use "" to host a site?<br />
    <br />
  • Gravatar - Roberto Medrano
    Roberto Medrano 14:33, March 10, 2007
    Excelente, me gustaria saber de los alias en los dominios<br />
    <br />
    parked how to?
  • Gravatar - ajujohnkk
    ajujohnkk 21:11, June 6, 2007
    its very helpful
  • Gravatar - Alan
    Alan 00:42, September 2, 2007
    Helps alot thank you for taking the time to help others great job!
  • Gravatar - Tyler
    Tyler 07:46, October 13, 2007
    This still did not help me. I set up site and it will not let me log in. I could not find what I was looking for.
  • Gravatar - corner
    corner 06:32, April 3, 2008
    based on older version but still decent enough intro for a newb like me so i bookmarked it thanks
  • Gravatar - Andrea Trachtenberg
    Andrea Trachtenberg 06:20, September 18, 2008
    i need a cpanel hosting
  • Gravatar - 08:13, July 19, 2010
    Great! nice tutorial. very helpful. thnx goes to author.

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