If you are not database-savvy, you should definitely not be running SQL queries. It’s like trying to launch a rocket space ship (leave that to the pros). The consequences of a mishap, related to your own doing, are not worth it.
Ok, I’m going into explanation mode for the benefit of the newbie community so they can get a bit of perspective on migrations, so bear with the wordiness.
Every site is different. I get a lot of folks that tell me:
- I just have a WP site – why is it different than anyone else?
- It’s just a simple site – why is it that instructions A or B don’t work?
- I just want to move the site – how hard can that be?
The problem with those statements is that even though we ALL run WordPress, none of us do so in EXACTLY the same way. In fact, no two sites are the same – here’s why:
- All content (posts / pages) reside in a WP database (most beginngers / users don’t know that’s really where it is stored). But to their credit, they don’t really need to think about it UNTIL a data disaster occurs or they want to migrate their site. So basic point here is that all your data resides in a database.
- Each user has different plugins he/she prefers. The data those plugins create, as well as the data tables, are all created in that main WP database. For example, I recently logged into a user’s site with 107 plugins. Talk about scary!
- Over time, your database becomes less optimized as you store more data, activate / install / deactivate / delete plugins, etc. This is why users should backup and optimize databases regularly.
- The content (posts/pages) may be corrupt but user might not know it yet. This is why users should only use quality content entered directly into WP.
- etc. etc. etc. the list can go on and on…
So when all those factors add up, you have a very different site than the next person. Which is why no 2 sites are really the same ever.
This is also WHY most hosts will NOT touch your database and most developers will not offer such a service. Because it truly is a case-by-case service and must be handled very carefully. Hosting providers want to avoid users claiming their site doesn’t work, or X or Y plugin doesn’t work, etc. You can just imagine the possibilities, especially when the technical jargon behind what’s happening isn’t fully understood. So now we know why this is not a juicy service to provide.
Ok, so where does that leave the user?
- To be extremely careful with their awesome site!
- Understand that moving files and folders does NOT mean your database is moved too
- Plan the move step-by-step. If possible, do a test first.
- Hire someone who knows what they’re doing! It should not cost much.
If you are looking for a good source that explains how to move your WordPress site, start with the WordPress Codex. I found most other sources on the net out-dated, inaccurate, untrustworthy, or just wrong.