How to transfer or migrate your WordPress website (also MODX, Drupal, Joomla)

migrate wordpress to websavers

This guide is written for WordPress and web hosting companies using Installatron (like us), however the steps below can be used to import, transfer, or migrate any website using nearly any content management system (CMS) or web app like Drupal, MODX, and Joomla. When you see “WordPress” in this guide, you should be able to simply swap that out for the web app you’re migrating.

If you’re migrating a non-app based website or can’t get these instructions to work (possibly due to remote host issues like low disk space), steps describing how to do a manual website transfer can be found in our general migration guide. You can also use that article to learn how to migrate your email; this guide covers only a web-app based website.

Our 1-click web apps utility – powered by Installatron – is really smart! It will automatically package up the database and files, copy them to your account with us, create the new database and even make necessary changes to the database configuration if you’re changing domains in the process. This is why we recommend using it to handle the migration of your web app powered website.

It’s best to disable any security plugins (like WordFence or Sucuri) prior to migration. Do the same for any admin folder changing plugins. Feel free to re-enable them after the migration is completed, but note that our shared servers all come with lower-level bruteforce login blocking for WordPress, so you  may not require that level of security from a plugin.

Host-Specific Issues

If the website you’re migrating is coming from one of the hosts listed below, click on its name to learn how to avoid common issues.




Domain Set up

Is this your first/primary domain?: Please ensure there are no existing apps installed. If you chose to pre-install WordPress during your order, or had already installed WordPress or another app, be sure to remove it now by finding the app in 1-click web apps (within Plesk) and clicking the X button beside it.

Is this a secondary/add-on domain or subdomain?: If you’re setting up an additional domain (called add-on domain) or a sub-domain, then you’ll need to login to Plesk and choose “Add Domain” or “Add Subdomain” to have Plesk set up its hosting and create its web root folder. Please ensure there are no existing apps installed there.

FTP Credentials

You will require FTP (or SSH/SFTP) credentials to access your former hosting company, including:

  1. Server hostname or IP: often or you can use IP address or hostname of the source web server. If the source host uses cPanel this is ususally shown at the top of the dashboard.
  2. The username and password
  3. The ‘path’ or web root to the WordPress files at the old host.

Create a new FTP account: If you can, it’s much simpler to create a new FTP account at the source host, than it is to try to use an existing account. When you create the FTP account, you’ll be provided the option to select the FTP User/Account Home Path. Be sure to set this path to the web root folder: the folder where WordPress is installed for this website.

To determine the web root folder location: if your source host has a file manager tool, open it, then navigate your way to where WordPress is installed, making note of the folders you opened to get there. When you see files and folders that begin with “wp-“, like the wp-config.php file and folders wp-admin and wp-includes, this will be the folder where WordPress is installed.

The folders you opened to reach those WordPress files will be your web root path and will look something like this: /folder1/folder2/folder3. Therefore, when creating the FTP account, set the home folder to this path. Here are some common examples:

  • MediaTemple: /home/domain/{your_domain}/html
  • MODX Cloud: only provides SSH access, use path: www or if that fails try /www The server hostname, username, and password can all be found under the “SSH/SFTP Connection Information” in your MODX Cloud panel.
  • Hosts that use Plesk Panel: /httpdocs for primary domains or for addon domains: /{your_domain}
  • Hosts that use cPanel: /public_html for primary domains or /public_html/{your_domain} for addon domains.

If you have an FTP app on your computer, you can verify you have the right details by logging in to the source host to test that the connection works. This also makes it a bit easier to figure out what your ‘path’ value should be. More details on finding the correct path to enter can be found in the troubleshooting section below.

Let’s get started!

  1. Log in to Plesk 
  2. Choose 1-click web apps. If you are not hosting with us, you must find your own way to the Installatron (1-click web apps) utility.
  3. If you already have at least one application installed, you’ll need to choose the “Application Browser” tab in the upper right corner. If not, then you should already be there!
  4. Scroll down until you see WordPress (or use the search box in the upper right corner) and click on it.
  5. If you see a button on the right that says “Import Existing Install”, click it. If not, you’ll see a button that says “Install this application” with a downward pointing arrow on its right side — click the down arrow, then choose “Import Existing Install”.
  6. Under the “From different account” part of the page, click the Continue button.
  7. Provide the necessary details to begin the transfer. Anything not described here should be left at its default value.
    • Source URL: is simply the URL to the website you’ll be transferring. Visit the site in your browser, then copy/paste the URL from the address bar into this box.
    • Protocol: we recommend choosing the “FTP with TLS/SSL” option as it’s the simplest to use, it is secure, and it is the type of connection that is most commonly accepted by hosting providers. If it does not work, then you will need to use regular insecure FTP. If you instead opt to use SFTP or SSH, be sure to check out the troubleshooting section below on this topic
    • FTP Server or IP: either try ftp.{domain} or use the server host name or IP as found in the source host’s control panel.
    • Username + Password: Be sure to supply the correct FTP connectivity details from your source hosting provider.
    • Path: enter the path you found using the instructions above.
    • Choose the domain to which you’ll be importing WordPress.
    • You’ll likely want to keep the “Directory” field empty unless you are planning on having your website visible at a subdirectory liek this: (and not just
  8. Click Import

Installatron will now complete the import of your external WordPress installation into your account on your new web hosting provider.

Congrats, you’re done! If you encountered any errors or problems, see the troubleshooting section below to learn how to fix the most common issues with migrations.

Want more to do? See our guide on securing WordPress for the best next steps to keep WordPress secure on Websavers hosting.


Path error, directory error, or unable to find WordPress error (and how to find your web root path)

This is the issue if Installatron says “A test of the selected domain has failed (HTTP error 404).” And then at the bottom of the error it says something like “Technical Error: [1] Written file: /web_root_path/deleteme.random.php‘ not accessible at `http://{domain}/deleteme.random.php’.

If it doesn’t say HTTP error 404, the path might not be the issue. Different error codes like 403 or 416 typically mean the source host’s firewall is blocking the migration.


Double check that you configured the FTP user/account home folder to match the web root path for the website. If you have, then the solution should be to simply leave the path field blank (remove its contents) when entering the import details in 1-click web apps.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, try logging in with an FTP app on your computer. If, immediately after logging in, you see the files for the WordPress install you wish to migrate (make sure it’s also the *right* WordPress install if you have multiple), then you can set the path folder to be empty in 1-click web apps.

If you have to open up a folder (or two) to find your WordPress files, make note of the folders you have to navigate to get there, and that will be the path to enter in 1-click web apps. For example if you have to open public_html followed by, then your path is: public_html/ whereas if you only have to open up the folder, then your path is simply:


SSH and SFTP transfer methods can be a bit tricky to get right. There’s commonly two reasons why you might have trouble with SSH transfer mode:

  1. The firewall may be blocking port 22 outbound, in which case you’ll need to get this port opened to proceed. This is why we recommend using FTP with TLS mode.
  2. Installatron requires an absolute path to the web root for the transfer to be successful. As an example, if your remote path currently seems to be public_html and it’s not working, try using an FTP app to find the absolute path from root, which should look something like this: /home/{your_ftp_username}/public_html. If your former web host is using Plesk, and the web root is httpdocs. the absolute path is probably /var/www/vhosts/{your_domain}/httpdocs

Compression Failed Error

Authentication or connection errors after confirming the user/pass works using an FTP app on my computer

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Jordan Schelew

Jordan has been working with computers, security, and network systems since the 90s and is a managing partner at Websavers Inc. As a founder of the company, he's been in the web tech space for over 15 years.

About Websavers

Websavers provides web services like Canadian WordPress Hosting and VPS Hosting to customers all over the globe, from hometown Halifax, CA to Auckland, NZ.

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