Migrating a WordPress site, the easy way

Sometimes you may want, or need, to move a WordPress website. It may be to move it to a new hosting provider or from a private development server to a public one. It can be done manually by following a few steps that involve accessing the servers, copying all the files and the database across, plus a few other things like changing some things in the database or the wp-config.php file.

Sometimes one step will be missed, which means the copied WordPress install just won’t work. It can be a real pain sometimes, especially if there is a deadline.

I recently started using a plugin which makes moving a WordPress website so easy & removes all the problems I have run into in the past.

The Plugin

I must state that I have not been asked or paid to endorse this plugin — I genuinely tried a few and this one worked the best

The plugin is called All-in-One WP Migration.

The way it works is very clever. Instead of you copying files from server to server and having to change settings, you simply install a new, empty WordPress install on the server you want to move too. Then install the plugin on both WordPress instances. On the one you want to copy from, you create the export file. This file includes all the plugins, themes, media uploads and information in the database. You then import this file into the new WordPress install. Once the import is complete it just works — all the settings are handled by the plugin.

It has some really nice features and gives you some very granular control. You can do things like specify not to transfer the plugins files or theme files etc. It also creates backups which can be used to restore from.


Installation is the same as any other plugin — you can either download it from the WordPress plugin directory and add it to your WordPress install, or download it through the plugin section in your WordPress Admin. The plugin needs to be installed on both WordPress installs (the one you want to copy from and the one you want to copy too).

Once installed, in the WordPress Admin you can access the controls via the new menu item; All-in-One WP Migration.


The plugin has a few options, but in this guide will just cover the basic operation of copying data to a new WordPress install.

On the WordPress install you wish to copy from, select ‘Export’ from the All-in-One WP Migration menu. Here you will see a simple screen which gives you a few options. One of them is that the plugin can carry out find & replace actions on the data in the database. This is useful if you want to do something like change the name of the website, but for most cases this can be left alone. There is also the ‘Advanced options’ section which is collapsed. If you expand it you will see a section of check boxes where you can exclude data (such as plugins, theme, media etc.) if you do not want to copy it across. For this example we will not be excluding any data. Simply click the ‘Export To’ button and select ‘File’. This will start building the file. You will see a popup window showing the percentage so far. Once complete the popup window will show you an animated download button. Click it to download the export file to your computer.

(The plugin does give you the option to export to various other places such as Dropbox or Google Drive if you do not wish to download the file to your machine.)

Now you have the exported file on your machine, you are ready to import it into the empty WordPress install.

On the empty WordPress install select ‘Import’ from the All-in-One WP Migration menu. Just drag and drop the export file onto the area or click ‘Import From’ and ‘File’ then select the file from your computer. You will now see another popup window showing you a percentage of the import.

Just before the import completes you will see a notice message warning you that the import will override all the data in the WordPress install. This is what we want to happen so it is fine to click ‘Continue’.

After a short wait you will now see the popup saying it has been a success. As the instructions in the popup say, you need to change the permalink settings to the way they were on the WordPress install that you copied the data from. To do this close the popup window by clicking ‘Close’.

Now in the menu under ‘Settings’ select ‘Permalinks’. You may be asked to log in again – remember that this WordPress install is now a mirror of the one you copied the data from so use the same login details as you would for that install. Once logged in you will be able to set the permalink settings so they are the same.

That is all there is too it, you have successfully moved you WordPress website.

Bear in mind that based on the size of your website the export file may be quite large. This, together with your internet connection speed, will influence the time it takes to download and upload the exported file.


This plugin makes what was a tricky process much more simple. There are no longer multiple manual steps to follow — any one of which, done wrong would stop the website from running.

Keeping your WordPress installs in sync, or moving servers/hosts is now much easier.

Sebastian Green is a front-end developer at Matalan Direct. His passion is using the latest technologies to make the buying experience easy & enjoyable. More articles by Sebastian Green
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