How to Prepare Your WordPress Site for a New Host

Moving to a new house makes you take stock of what you have and how you want your life to be. You start looking at all your accumulated stuff with a critical eye. “Do I really want to put this in a box, physically move it, and unpack it?” “Does this fit with what I want my new home to be?” You may find yourself paring down to a surprising degree.

Moving your WordPress site to a new host is a similar opportunity. Sure, you could just make a copy and have the same site with different hardware. But it’s far better to make the move an excuse to do some long-overdue cleaning.

Here are a few steps to take before you make the move.

Moving boxes

1. Clear Out Dead Pages

Every house has an accumulation of knick-knacks gathering dust in the attic. Some of them may even still be in boxes from the last move. Your site likely has a few pages that are still on the server, but no longer have live links to them. Even if you’re emotionally attached to them, it’s time to give them up.

2. Remove Unwanted Files

Take your purge further by getting rid of images and other media that aren’t part of your active site, too. For example, if you changed to a responsive design, you might have copies of images in multiple resolutions. Take a look for identical files, too, with a plugin like Media Deduper.

3. Fix Broken Links

Moving is also a chance to fix the little nuisances you’ve been putting up with, like the uneven table leg or the squeaky chair. The online equivalent is making sure all of your site’s links are live and functional. Search for broken links and make sure they’re properly redirecting—aim for a new site with zero 404s. This guide to fixing broken links can help.

4. Audit Your Plugins & Themes

It’s so easy to add plugins to WordPress that you’re bound to have some you’re not using anymore. To keep your site as responsive as possible, trim that dead weight with a quickness. It makes sense to check each plugin individually, and see if it’s still in use. Also see if there are plugins that combine the functionality of two or more you’re already using. Make sure the plugins you keep are all up-to-date. And, of course, uninstall any old themes you don’t plan on reusing.

Pro tip: It might seem obvious, but more often than not we find that WordPress itself is also not up-to-date. Migrating to any managed WordPress hosting will generally require that WordPress move to the latest version.

5. Clean up Your Content

There are a few places where unwanted content can be hanging out taking up space. Start by clearing all of your pending comments. If you don’t check it regularly, you likely have thousands of spam comments filling up the queue.

Then take a look at your tags—go to Posts > Tags and sort by “number of posts.” Any tag with zero posts should go immediately, and tags with only one or two should be consolidated into other tags. Tags are important for SEO—too many can confuse search engines as to what your site is really about.

Finally, old post revisions can potentially double the size of your database. You can use a tool like Autoptimize to see just how much you can slim down.

Make a Fresh Start

Before you move to a new WordPress host, turn your old site into the new site you want it to be. Clean, purge, and optimize before you backup and pack up.

Ready to make the move? Create a free account on Pantheon for fast, secure elastic hosting.

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Topics WordPress Hosting, Agency Partners, WordPress