migrate wordpress to websavers

This guide applies specifically to WordPress and web hosting companies using Installatron, like us. That said, most of the steps herein can be used to import websites using other content management systems like Drupal, Modx, and Joomla.

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), here’s how to do a manual website transfer. 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. It’s pretty great!

Note: if the source host is BlueHost, their security systems block the Installatron migration utility from functioning. To ensure this process works, before proceeding with these steps you must contact BlueHost and ask them to disable ModSecurity for your site. Once disabled, the migration should proceed smoothly.


Things you will need to proceed:

  • A Domain in Plesk: The domain must be added to Plesk if it doesn’t already exist there. If the destination is your primary domain hosted with us, it will already be there, but if you’re setting up an add-on domain, then you’ll need to login to Plesk and choose “Add Domain” to get it ready for hosting.
  • Empty Domain Folder: It’s best to clear out the web root folder at the destination (your Websavers account). 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. If this isn’t done, when you go to migrate your website, it will tell you that it can’t migrate the site because there’s one already there.
  • FTP Credentials:  You will require FTP (or SSH/SFTP) credentials to access your former hosting company, including 1) the hostname (often ftp.yourdomain.com) or IP address of the source web server, 2) the username and password, and 3) The ‘path’ or web root to your WordPress files at the old host. When you go to create a new FTP account at the source host, you’ll find all of this info there. If you have trouble finding the path, you’ll find tips on how to set it properly under the Troubleshooting section at the bottom of this article.
  • Security Systems: You should disable any security plugins in WordPress (like WordFence or Sucuri). Do the same for any admin folder changing plugins. These kinds of plugins can interfere with the migration process. 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. See our guide on securing WordPress for the things you *should* do. If your security plugin created a file called .user.ini in the web root, then this will very likely interfere with the migration and you should rename it to user.ini (remove the leading dot character) prior to migration.
  • Existing Backups: Larger files (typically > 500MB) will create problems for our migration utility. Please delete any backups found within backup plugins like BackupBuddy, All In One Migration, etc. unless their combined size is less than 50MB. If you need the backups, download them to your computer before removing them.

If you are familiar with FTP, it’s recommended to log in to your source host with your favourite FTP application to test that the connection works (ie: that the username and password are accurate) and to make it 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.
    1. The 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.
    2. 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 choose to use SFTP or SSH, be sure to check out the troubleshooting section below on this topic
    3. Be sure to supply the correct FTP connectivity details from your former host. If you’re not sure what to enter for the path, information on how to find the path can be found in our troubleshooting section below.
    4. Choose the domain to which you’ll be importing WordPress.
    5. You’ll likely want to keep the “Directory” field empty unless you are planning on having your website visible at yoururl.com/directory and not just yoururl.com
  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 FTP migrations.


I get a Compression Failed error

This occurs when there are large files on the source server and the source server’s max execution time is low (like 30 seconds or less) or when there isn’t enough space on the source server to create the necessary backup files to transfer the site.

It is recommended to proceed through these solutions in order, one at a time, then attempt the transfer after each, as any one of the solutions could resolve the problem for you. They are listed in order of most likely solution to least likely solution to resolve the problem:

Solution 1: Remove Large Backups. So far nearly every occasion where this error has occurred has been because of a backup utility being used within WordPress (a plugin like Backup Buddy) which has saved large backup files within the WordPress file structure. This is yet another reason why we don’t recommend using plugins to backup your site locally to the server. To resolve this, it is recommended to download a copy of those backups to your computer (if you need them), then remove them from the server either by manually removing them via FTP or by using the WordPress admin panel.

Once the large files have been removed from the server, you can complete the steps above once again to successfully complete your transfer.

Solution 2: Free Up Space. This error will also occur if your source host is out of disk space. You must have sufficient disk space on your source hosting account to create a copy / backup of your site files. If you do not, you will need to ask your host to increase the storage temporarily or remove some files before proceeding. Alternatively you can migrate your site manually.

Solution 4: Change PHP Settings. increase the PHP max execution time on the old host. If the source host is using Plesk, navigate to the PHP Settings button for the domain and change the values to the list below. If the source host is using cPanel, go to the “PHP Selector” button (hopefully your host allows this), then either choose the link on the far right to configure the PHP Settings, OR you may instead be presented with the option to create a custom PHP INI — do this. Once changed to the values shown below, don’t forget to use the button at the bottom of the page to save your changes.

  • max_execution_time = 600
  • memory_limit = 256M,
  • post_max_size – 64M

If you don’t have an option within the control panel, you could try adding the three lines above to a .user.ini file in the root OR a php5.ini file (either existing, or create a new one via FTP or file manager). See GoDaddy’s PHP config here.

If the host is using php as an apache module (likely not), you can add the above directives in the following format to .htaccess:

php_admin_value max_execution_time 600
php_admin_value memory_limit 256M
php_admin_value post_max_size 64M

Path error, directory error, or unable to find WordPress error


This occurs when the path is not set correctly. When searching for the path, you’ll know you’ve found it when the files and folders within begin with “wp-“. For example, you should see a wp-config.php file and folders wp-admin and wp-includes — this will be the WordPress folder.

  • If you are creating a new FTP account at the source host, you can make things easier by configuring the FTP user’s home path to be the folder where your WordPress install is located. If your source host has a file manager tool, use it to navigate your way to the WordPress installation. Then, when creating the FTP account, set the home folder to the folder where WordPress is installed.
    When you go to import / migrate WordPress in Plesk at the destination, leave the path field empty (or delete its contents, if any exist) during the migration because the FTP user will default to the correct path immediately upon login.
  • If you have an FTP application on your computer, it’s recommended to try logging in with that prior to starting the migration. If, immediately after logging in, you’re greeted with the files to the WordPress install you wish to migrate, then you can set the path folder to be empty during migration. 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 your path. For example if you have to open public_html followed by mydomain.com, then your path is: public_html/mydomain.com whereas if you only have to open up the folder mydomain.com, then your path is simply: mydomain.com


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

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

This likely means that the source server only supports PASV/Passive mode connections and our firewall is blocking the necessary outbound ports to allow that to happen. To fix this, we’ll need to temporarily whitelist the IP address of the source server:

  • If you’re using Plesk Firewall (like on a VPS), you can do this from within Plesk under Tools & Settings > Firewall.
  • If you’re hosted on a shared server, open a ticket and provide us with the IP or hostname you’re connecting to so that we can whitelist it in csf (our firewall). Be absolutely sure that you can connect with that username and password using an FTP app on your computer before opening a ticket about this.

About 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.

Leave a Comment