How to Migrate WordPress Multisite? – Complete Guide(2020)

Aug 9, 2020

How to Migrate WordPress Multisite? – Complete Guide(2020)

Aug 9, 2020

Do you want to migrate your multisite to a new hosting service? Are you plagued by questions like do I need to put my live sites on maintenance mode? Will migration cause downtime on the live site? Can the migration fail? How will it take to migrate my site?

These are good questions to ask. They’ll help you prepare for any pitfalls. But what if we gave you a fool-proof process that you can follow without worrying about any risk. 

Having migrated hundreds of websites over the last few years, we have experienced numerous issues and have learned to overcome them. 

We’ll tell you the exact steps you need to take to migrate your WordPress multisite without any hiccups. 

TL;DR

To migrate WordPress multisite, you need a Migration plugin like BlogVault. Simply signup and install the plugin on your website. Navigate to the migration section and initiate migration. Here’s a step-by-step guide that walks you through the process – how to migrate with BlogVault.

How to perform WordPress Multisite Migration?

If you’ve ever moved house, you’ll know the complexities involved.

Signing two-inch high mortgage documents, packing your earthly possessions into millions of boxes, hosting a garage sale for the leftovers, and changing your address on a million things!

This is how it feels to manually migrate a multisite. Luckily, there are easier ways to migrate. 

You can migrate using a plugin or you can migrate with the help of your hosting provider

We strongly recommend using the plugin method. But we understand that some of you may want to try out the other methods, so in this article, we’ll cover all three methods to give you the option to pick and choose. 

Method 1: Migrate WordPress Multisite With a Plugin

If you search for multisite migration plugins, Google shows you articles with lists of migration plugins. These plugins may or may not successfully migrate your website. After all, most migrations are known to fail. 

Frustrated with the available tools, we developed our very own migration plugin. So far, it has successfully migrated over 1 million websites. Here’s how you can migrate your multisite with BlogVault – 

To migrate your multisite to a new server, you need to buy a new hosting account. Please proceed only after you have a new hosting account ready. 

Step 1: Sign up with BlogVault.

Step 2: Add your website to the BlogVault dashboard.

Step 3: Then install and activate the plugin on your website. BlogVault will start taking a complete backup of your multisite. 

Step 4: When the backup is ready, on the BlogVault dashboard, you need to click on Sites from the top menu.

Sites added to your BlogVault Account

Step 5: Then select your website. 

Select the site that you would like to migrate

Step 6: On the next page, you should be able to see a section called Backups. From there click on Migrate

Click on Migrate

Step 7: Now, you’ll be asked to insert the FTP credentials of your new server. You can take the help of your new hosting providers to find FTP creds or you can find it on your own by following these videos on FTP credentials. We’ve also written an article that covers finding your FTP credentials in depth.

Enter your FTP details

Step 8: Next select the folder where your current website is located. Generally, WordPress multisite is located in the public_html folder. But sometimes sites are relocated to a different folder for security reasons. 

If you are moving to a client site, it’s a good idea to check with your client before moving to the next step. 

Select the folder where WordPress is located, then scroll down and click on Continue.

Select the folder where you have your WordPress Multisite installed

Step 9: On the next page, there are quite a few options. We are going to navigate them one by one. 

  • The first option you’ll get is the Backup Version and Destination URL. 
  • Backup Version: So far, BlogVault has taken only one backup so don’t worry about backup versions. But if you’ve been using BlogVault for a while, then you can choose which backup you want to migrate. We recommend leaving it at its default settings as it selects the latest backup copy.
  • Destination URL: If you want to change your domain name, this is where you need to insert the new URL. If you are not changing the domain name then you need to enter your old domain name.

Add Destination URL

  • Next, is the database section. You don’t have to really do anything here. 
  • If you are curious about what is being shown here, we’ll tell you. Remember in the first step, you gave BlogVault access to your new server. It helped BlogVault to fetch the database information. BlogVault is just showing your database information. 

Establish Database connection

  • Scroll down and you’ll find the option to select what to migrate. A WordPress website is made of both files and databases. If you want to migrate your entire website then keep both options selected. But if you want to migrate just the files, then deselect the database and vice versa.

Select parts that you would like to migrate

  • Further down, you have the advance option. Here, you can change your Name Server and Server IP. 

Add destination server details

  • The last option on the page is where you enter your HTTP Authentication. If you have HTTP authentication enabled on your new server, then you need to enter your HTTP credentials to allow BlogVault to access your server. 

blogvault http authentication

All done? Now just click on continue and the migration process will begin. 

It’ll take BogVault a few minutes to migrate your multisite to the new server. 

Congratulations. You have successfully migrated your WordPress multisite. 

But before you sit back and relax, you need to take a few post-migration measures. Click here to jump to the post-migration section. 

Method 2: Migrate WordPress Multisite With Your Host

Most hosting providers offer migration services. Some offer it as a paid add-on, others offer it for free. That said, multisite migrations are beyond the scope of support for some hosting providers. 

Services like Hostgator, Hostinger, Siteground, and Dreamhost provide multisite migration. If you have bought a hosting account with any other hosting provider, you need to check with them. 

Enquire whether you need to carry out the migration services or they can do it for you. Letting them handle the process will reduce the chances of a mistake. If your hosting provider will migrate the site for you, then enquire if you are required to take any action. For instance, they may ask you to point your DNS server to the new hosting service. 

Before migration, you need to take a complete backup of your website as a precaution. Things can go wrong during migration. If something happens to your multisite, you can quickly restore it back to normal.

And once the migration is complete, there are a few post-migration measures that you need to take. Click here to jump to the post-migration section.

Method 3: Migrating WordPress Multisite Manually

To manually migrate your multisite you need to be savvy with WordPress files and databases. If you’ve never handled files and databases, we strongly suggest not attempting this method. The methods detailed above are non-technical and are much safer.

Manual migration is time-consuming and prone to error. The smallest mistakes can break your website and you’d have to start from square one. Even if you have enough experience working with WordPress files and databases, we recommend taking a complete backup of your website. In case things go wrong, you can restore your site back to normal.


There are quite a few steps involved in manual migration. At one point things may feel confusing so here’s the flow of the process – 

Download WordPress files → download the database → create a new database → create a new database user → connect the new database with the new user → point the WordPress config file to the new database → upload the old database → upload the old WordPress files → change old URL to new one (option). 


Step 1: Download WordPress Files 

You can download your WordPress file through the cPanel. If your hosting provider does not have a cPanel, you can use an FTP client. We’ll show both ways. 

  • cPanel Method
  • Log into the hosting account of your OLD SITE and open your cPanel
  • Next, click on File Manager.
  • Then find the folder named public_html. It contains all your WordPress files. Do a quick ctrl + F to find the folder. And then select it. 
  • On the top of the page, you’ll find an option called Download. Click on it and WordPress files will be downloaded on your computer. 

Please Note: The public_html folder is where WordPress files are located by default. But owing to security reasons some website owners may move the files to a different folder. If you are moving a client site, then check with the client about the location of the WordPress files.

  • FTP Method
  • Download and install an FTP client like Filezilla on your computer. 
  • Open Filezilla. On the top of the window, you’ll find options for Host, Username, and Password. These are your FTP credentials. If you don’t know what your FTP credentials are, ask your OLD hosting providers or you can find it on your own by following these videos or articles. Insert the credentials and click on Quickconnect

filezilla quickconnect

  • Once the connection with your server is established, you’ll notice that the top right panel of the window starts populating with WordPress folders.
  • In that panel, you’ll find a folder named public_html. Right-click on the folder and click on the option Download. Your WordPress files will download to your computer. 

download public_html filezilla

Step 2: Download the Database 

  • Open your hosting account and go to the cPanel
  • From the cPanel, select phpMyAdmin.
  • On the next page, you should see your database on the left panel.

phpmyadmin

  • Select the database and navigate to Export. On the next page, select Quick – display only the minimal options. And click on Go. The database will download to your computer.

database export

Step 3: Create a New database & User 

The database that you just downloaded, you will need to upload it on your NEW hosting server. To do that, you will first need to create a new database.

  • Log into your hosting account and navigate to your cPanel
  • Select the option MySQL Database.
  • In the next page, you’ll find a section called to add a new database. Create a new database. Make a note of the database name, you’ll need it later. 
  • Next, scroll down. 

create new database

  • On the same page, create a new user. Note down the username and password. You’ll require it in the next step.

add new database user

  • Further down, you’ll find an option to connect the user to the new database.

add user to database

Step 4: Point the WordPress Config File to the New Database 

A WordPress website is made up of files and a database. They are connected with each other. When that connection is severed, your website becomes blank. 

Right now, your files are connected with your old database. In this step, we are going to connect it with the new database that we just created. 

  • You downloaded your WordPress files in a zipped folder on your local computer, right? Extract the files. 
  • Then find the config.php file and open it by double-clicking on it. 
  • The file contains the name of your old database, old username, and password. Replace it with the new database name, username, and password. Just replace the name. The single inverted commas will remain. 
  • Save the changes and close the file.

edit config file

Step 5: Upload the Old Database

  • Go to your hosting NEW hosting account and open phpMyAdmin.
  • Next, on the top of the page, there is an option Import. Click on it and upload the old database that you downloaded to your computer in step 2.

Step 6: Upload the Old WordPress Files

In step 1, we showed you how to download WordPress files from the cPanel and FTP client. Here, we’ll show you how to upload the files using both the cPanel and FTP client.

  • cPanel Method
  • On your NEW hosting account, access the cPanel and open the File Manager. The file manager must be empty. If you have installed WordPress or your hosting provider has installed it, you must delete it. 
  • On the File Manager page, there is an option for Upload on the top. Select that and upload the public_html folder or WordPress folder you have downloaded in step 1. 

file manager upload

  • FTP Method
  • Open Filezilla on your local computer. This time you’ll connect it with your NEW hosting account
  • Ask your hosting service for your FTP credentials, i.e. hostname, username, and password. Then click on Quickconnect. The upper right panel (Remote site) will be blank once the connection has been established. If you have installed WordPress or your hosting provider has, the folders will start showing up. You need to delete by right-clicking and selecting Delete.

filezilla quickconnect

  • On the left panel, you’ll see your local computer. On the right panel, you’ll see your website. You need to upload the WordPress files (you previously downloaded) from your local computer to your website. We downloaded the folder called public_html in the previous step, so we selected in on the left panel. And then we right-clicked on it and selected Upload.

upload wordpress files filezilla

And that’s it. You have now migrated your WordPress multisite to a new server.

Step 7: Change Website URL (Optional)

Along with migrating to a new server, if you are also moving to a new domain name, then you need to ensure that the old URL is moved to the new one. You need to take the following steps to achieve that –

  • On your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Tools and select Better Search and Replace.
  • You will find two options: ‘Search for’ and ‘Replace with.’ In ‘Search for’ insert the OLD URL and in ‘Replace with’ insert the new URL. 
  • Scroll down and select Run Search/Research.

better search replace

That’s it. Your old URL will be replaced with the new one. 

That is the final step you need to take to manually migrate your multisite site.

Post-Migration Measures

Following the migration, there are a few post-migration measures that you must take. Those are:

  • Next, check all the pages of your website. If your website contains hundreds of pages, then we suggest checking the most important pages like the homepage, pricing, and service pages, contact page, most important articles, etc. 
  • You also need to check if all the plugins that enable various functions on your website are working properly. Check layout, theme, widgets, custom menus. Make sure nothing is broken.
  • Examine your affiliate links and ads

If everything is working perfectly, then congratulations on a successful migration. If you notice anything wrong, ask your hosting provider for help.  

Some issues that you’ll encounter are common and you’ll find a fix by Google searching about it. You can also post your issues on the WordPress support forum or on WordPress groups on Facebook. Some of the most helpful groups are WP Shout and WPCrafter where people volunteer to help out WordPress community members. 

Different Types of Multisite Migrations

We once had a client who was running a multisite that catered to parenting. He launched a new subsite dedicated entirely to combating sleep deprivation for new parents. Within a few months of launching, the website began pulling more traffic and revenue than the other subsites combined. 

The website did so well that the owner decided to convert it to a standalone site. So he migrated the subsite out of the network. This is one type of multisite migration. 

Another type of multisite migration is when a standalone site is pulled into the network. Clients resort to this when they want to bring all their services under one roof. 

The third type of migration is when you are moving your entire network to a new hosting provider. 

In some cases, clients have wanted to migrate their site to a different domain

In this article, we have covered how to migrate your multisite from one server to another. All other types of migration are beyond the scope of this article. But there are good tools that’ll help you carry out those types of migration. Here are some that we recommend: 

What Next?

We hope that the migration has helped you achieve your goals. Some of you were looking at moving to a cheaper hosting provider or moving to a more secure service. In most cases, people migrate WordPress sites to a new hosting provider for better performance. It helps websites rank on search engines and draws more visitors which translates to better revenue. 

All this is great. But if the multisite is your source of income then you need to do more than just migrating to a better hosting provider. You need to ensure that your website is being backed up on a daily basis. When things go wrong you can simply restore your site back to normal. 

Take Daily Automated Multisite Backups

migrate wordpress multisite
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