Can you transfer my Web pages from another server to yours?

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When you transfer an existing Web site to our servers, the best way to handle the site content is for you to make sure that you have a copy of the Web site files on your own computer, then publish the files to our servers. This makes sure that you have your own copy of the files and that you know how publish any changes you might need to make in the future.

That said, we're occasionally asked something like this: "I hired a Web designer to create my pages, and she published them for me at the old hosting company. I never make changes to the site, and I don't know how to publish them on your servers. Can you transfer the existing files?"

The answer is that if you have a relatively simple site, we can do this for you in many cases, and we don't charge a fee for it. However, there are some limitations (including situations where it's not possible to transfer a site).

If you'd like us to try to transfer your existing Web site files, please review the information below.

Note: We have separate instructions for moving a WordPress site to our service.

Limitations of transferring files

The main thing to keep in mind is that we use special software to transfer an existing site. That software tries to follow all the normal links it finds on the pages (that's how it knows what files to download), and it can only transfer publicly visible files that anyone could see using a Web browser. The software does a good job of transferring standard HTML pages and images. However:

  • If your current Web hosting company provides graphics or other content that are only available to customers of that company, those won't be transferred.
  • The HTML code of the files may be slightly modified in some cases, particularly the format of the links (although the changes should not be visible to humans).

The following extra limitations would apply if you're unable to provide us with the FTP login information at the old company:

  • It can't transfer script pages, such as PHP scripts or Perl scripts, because the source code of the scripts isn't publicly visible. This means that if your existing site includes feedback forms, forums, etc., they probably won't work after the transfer unless you reinstall the scripts themselves.
  • It can't transfer pages that are password-protected.
  • It can't transfer pages that can't be reached by clicking one or more links starting at the main page of your site (because they're effectively invisible to our software).
  • Pages can be missed if the site relies on JavaScript for page navigation (in other words, if your site doesn't work with JavaScript disabled in a Web browser, the transfer won't work).

More generally, the flexibility of the Web means that it's impossible to know exactly how your existing site works, and it's always possible the software will miss something. Because of that, we'll give you a special preview link you can use to review the transferred files before we make them "live", and you'll then need to carefully examine the site and possibly fix any problems. If there are any problems, you'll need to fix them yourself.

Ready to have us transfer the pages?

If you'd like us to try to transfer your Web pages, just contact us and let us know that you've read this page, that you understand the limitations above, and that you want us to try to transfer the files for your site. Be sure to mention your Web site name. It may take up to one business day for us to transfer the site files.

I understand how to use Unix file transfer software. Can I just do this myself?

Yes, technically advanced users should be able to transfer existing site pages using the wget software installed on our servers.

After making an SSH connection, you would change into the html directory:

cd html

... then use wget to transfer all files from the old site.

If you have FTP access to your old Web sites files, wget can download the files via FTP. This will let you get the raw files from your Web site, meaning you'll get the source code of scripts.

The wget program needs to know the FTP user name and password to login and download your existing Web site files. You provide the user name and password to wget by putting them in a file named .wgetrc in your home directory. Be sure this file name starts with a dot and has no extension.

Enter (and customize) these two lines in the .wgetrc file:

ftp_user=YourUserName
ftp_password=YourPassword

Then, run this command:

/usr/bin/wget -r --no-host-directories --level=99 ftp://<server-name>

... where "<server-name>" is the name of the existing FTP server. In many cases, this will just be something like ftp://example.com — ask your old company if you aren't sure.

wget will read your FTP user name and password from the .wgetrc file, connect to the remote server, and download all files (and sub-directories) and put them into the current directory (your "html" directory).

If your Web site's files are located in a sub-directory of the FTP root directory, then specify the path to the Web site sub-directory at the end of the FTP URL. For example:

/usr/bin/wget -r --no-host-directories --level=99 --cut-dirs=1 ftp://example.com/public_html/

The "--cut-dirs" option tells wget to trim one level of directory name when saving files to the local directory (i.e., to remove the "public_html/" from any saved file paths).

What if I don’t have FTP access to the old site?

If you can’t access the old site using FTP, you can instead try to copy the public Web pages, although this means you won't get the source code of any scripts. One way do that is also using wget:

/usr/bin/wget -e robots=off -r -k --no-host-directories http://www.example.com/

In some cases, the httrack program, also installed on our servers, may give better results:

httrack http://www.example.com/

How do I test if the copy worked?

You can preview any site you’ve copied to our servers by visiting the special preview link http://www.example.com.customers.tigertech.net/.