How To Migrate Your WordPress Site

Have you just created a website or are you in the process of creating one? Then there is a possibility that at some point you may need to either move the content from this site to another or shift the entire site from one location (domain or hosting server) to another.

In this article, I will guide you through simple ways of how to move your WordPress site content to another, and provide a list of helpful plugins and approaches you can use to migrate your entire site with a safe and easy move.

A small deviation, this article is intended for more beginners than for WordPress experts, which means that here I will look at simple methods rather than go through the jungle of phpMyAdmin (MySQL). Let's begin with the core question!

Why Move Content?

This could be because you have built a site locally on your computer and you want to migrate it to the web, or it could be because you have an existing self-hosted website and you want to pull some or all of its content into your new site or you have another existing site that you want to move content from or move content to. It can also be because you are annoyed by the slow hosting provider and want to move your entire site to another hosting server. For each individual situation, there can be different reasons why and how to move your website.

However, the scenarios lead to these options:

  • WordPress Export/Import tool - this option lets you move the content of your website but is limited to posts, pages, authors, tags, and categories. To move the whole site (theme, plugins, and settings) to another location, you will have to choose the next option below.
  • Entire WordPress site migration - the approach that duplicates the entire site in a new location copying all or part of your site's database, including plugins, theme, and site settings.

Although the migration of a website is not as complicated as it might sound, errors may occur during this process. To prevent that, make sure you've taken all the necessary security measures to secure your website's safe migration.

Backup Your Website

Before you start - I’d highly recommend you make a backup of your entire site. It is a crucial action for your website to be safe in case of a virus, major error, or any other third-party unwelcomed interaction.

You can back up your site using WordPress backup plugins such as All-in-One WP Migration, Updraft Plus, Duplicator, BackUpBuddy, and many others available on the Internet. Use Google search to find the best suited to your needs.

If you are not sure where to start, read this in-depth post on how to backup and never lose your WordPress that teaches you the basics and must-do actions in order to keep your site well protected from any data loss.

Once that's done, you are safe to go further into the process of moving one site to another. Let the further information move you towards the process of moving your site to another location with an easy and transparent flow!

Move Content From One WordPress Site To Another

One of the easiest ways to move your web content to another site is with a default WordPress Export/Import tool that’s designed to move posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus, and custom posts. This approach is useful when you want to export all of your site's content at once. Emphasis on the content.

The downside of this approach is that WordPress doesn’t export/import your site plugins, themes, and settings. To move those you need to do a full database export through MySQL or install a migration WordPress plugin.

So, once again, the further step-by-step tutorial is for exporting and importing only content from one to another site. To move an entire site, you will need to do a migration which is explained later in this article.

Now, let's export and import your site content! From Site A to Site B.

Step 1: Export From Site A

To do so, you will have to log in to your WordPress admin panel of Site A, locate the Tools option on the left side menu, and choose Export.

As this is for exporting an entire content, simply keep the All Content option selected and click Download Export File.

An automatic download will start and create an XML file straight on your desktop. You will need it later, so keep it reachable. Now it's time to import content from Site A to Site B.

Step 2: Import To Site B

To do so, login into your WordPress admin panel of Site B (the one you want to import the content in), locate the Tools and this time choose Import.

You will see multiple installers you can use to import your site. WordPress is not limited, you can also move your site from a completely different blogging platform, such as Blogger (+ Blogroll), TypePad, and Tumblr. However, this guide is about WordPress, so let's continue with the next step.

Step 3: Install The Importer

From all the systems choose WordPress and hit the Install Now button. The WP Installer plugin will be automatically downloaded and activated for you to use straight from the Tool's section.

WordPress Installer

You are ready to import!
Again, go to Import under the Tools and click on Run Installer that will take you to the Import WordPress section.

Import WordPress Content

In the Import WordPress window below, Choose File and upload the previously saved XML file.

Upload File And Import Wordpress

Step 4: Assign The Content

In the next step, you will have to assign content to existing users on the new site. This ensures all the content is attributed to an author account that exists on the new site.

Another important option is to Download and import file attachments - make sure to tick this in order to move your site images or files to the new site. If not ticked, your media files will not be imported and you will have to either repeat the previous steps or move the files manually.

Once selected the needed content, click on the Submit button, and congrats - you have exported and imported your WordPress site content!

Assign WordPress Author

Pros And Cons Of Using WordPress Export/Import Tool

Like mentioned before, there is a downside to this approach and it's that WordPress doesn’t export plugins, themes, and settings of your site. WordPress Export/Import is just a simple content migration tool for sites without a lot of media files, plugins, and other important settings set for your site.

It is an easy and quick way to move content, but if you want to do a full site migration, such as moving your website you have developed on the local server to another web server for public access - then this approach is not the way to move your site.

Especially a complex site with lots of settings and plugins. For that, you need a full site migration and to do that you will need to do a full database export through MySQL or use automatization WordPress plugins.

How To Migrate Your Entire WordPress Site

There are multiple reasons why you would need to move your site from one place to another. Each reason has its own destination:

  • Local to the web - moving a WordPress site from a local or development environment to a live site is a common practice for web developers. Hosted on a local server, this way you make sure that the website is not public in its creation mode and is developed behind a scene. Once the site is done and your client is happy with the outcome, it's time to move the website live.
  • Web to local - another common approach when developing a running website. For example, it could be that your website is outdated and it needs a whole new design. You wouldn't want to fiddle with the site while it's online accessible for active users, instead, you move the site to the local server and give it a new design behind the stage. When ready, migrate to live!
  • Web to web - moving an existing WordPress site to a different URL. Suddenly changed your company's name and need to change your site domain? Site migration allows you to move your entire website from one domain to a totally new one.
  • One host to another host - moving an existing WordPress site from one host to another host. A scenario that involves annoying cases such as when your hosting is running too slow, and you want to move to the faster and better performing one.

Whichever reason is yours, there are two ways of how you can migrate your website to another site:

  1. Manual Migration - involves digging into the local WordPress database and using phpMyAdmin.
  2. WordPress Migration Plugins - this way you can make the migration from local server to live, from one web to another, or from the web back to a local server at a much easier pace. All you need to do is to download a suitable plugin, activate it on your site, and follow the steps it requires in order to move your site to another location.

Migrating a site manually (with the phpMyAdmin method) can be messy and you risk making chaos. The exception is if you really know what you are doing, then you shouldn’t have any problems at all. However, this guide is more for beginners than expert developers and that's why I will save the knotty approaches and stick to the simplicity - the easier the better!

WordPress Migration Plugins

There are plenty of WordPress plugin options that make your site migration a no-brainer. The list below includes free and premium migration plugins, and are one of the top used plugins among WordPress developers as well as beginners:


With over 10 million downloads and a rating of 4.9 stars, Duplicator gives WordPress users the ability to migrate, copy, move, or clone a site from one location to another. This plugin performs a full WordPress migration without struggling with export/import SQL scripts.

You are available to move a live site to the localhost for development, transfer a WordPress site from one host to another and multiple other functions provided by the Duplicator plugin.


A backup tool that lets you move a WordPress site to a new host or domain is very popular among WordPress developers who build custom sites locally and then move the entire site over to a live domain. BackupBuddy allows you to make a complete backup of your WordPress site, download a .zip file of the site and then move the WordPress site to a different host or domain using the ImportBuddy script.

BackupBuddy handles migrating the entire site, including all themes, plugins, content, styles, and widgets. The ImportBuddy tool makes the migration very easy, not quite one click, but fast and straightforward.

WP Clone by WP Academy

WP Clone allows you to move or copy your WordPress site to another domain or hosting server. Suitable for developers as you can also shift the whole site to/from a local server as well as backup your site and create site copies for testing purposes.

WP Migrate DB Pro

WP Migrate DB Pro plugin lets you copy your site database from one WordPress install to another with an easy one-click from your WordPress dashboard. This plugin is great when you are developing a running site on a local server but you need the latest data from the live database.

All-in-One WP Migration

This plugin exports all of your WordPress website attributes, including the database, media files, plugins, and themes. You can migrate your site to another domain, host, or even move to a subdirectory in an easy manner, with no technical skills required.


Updraft Plus is a WordPress backup plugin that also offers a great migration and cloning tool - 'UpdraftPlus Migrator' - a tool that comes with a Premium version. UpdraftPlus Migrator will clone your WordPress site and move it to a new domain in a direct and simple manner.

Export/Import A Part Of Your Site

I left this topic at the very end for a good reason. As we found out, the WordPress Export/Import tool is great for a content move, where for full site migration there are numerous WordPress plugins that can handle the shifting in an easy and quick manner. However, moving a part of your site can be time-consuming. But maybe not! Let's see...

WordPress built-in Export/Import tool is great only when moving all content at once (choosing only posts or pages, images, and files won't be moved).

So the only option is to move all your site content and then delete the unnecessary data. But why would you choose such a time-consuming method when there is a much easier way to do that?

There is a way how you can export and import a part of your site, a specific content, a block of your page, or design templates of yours.

Fast Layout Migration With Visual Composer

Agencies and WordPress developers will be all excited to know the new option for faster layout migration between the development and production sites using Visual Composer WordPress Website Builder.

If until now you had to move content manually, then now with Visual Composer Website Builder everything can be moved across the different sites using a Template Export/Import Add-on.

For example, if you have created a header or a footer you’d like to use across different sites, you'd just make it in one site and using the export/import method (the same as for any other methods described above) move the templates across the other sites. It's simple and productive!

Regarding the Visual Composer plugin, if you are migrating from one site to another using a WordPress migration plugin, then be sure to restore the Visual Composer default plugin state to re-download all installed bundles and auto-configure path after migration. To do that, simply access your WordPress admin, navigate to Visual Composer Dashboard Settings, and click on Initiate Reset.

The Final Line

As you can see, moving from one WordPress site to another is easy. The important part is to understand the right method to approach and follow the instructions. I started this article by pointing at two site moving practices: content moving with WordPress default Export/Import tool and a second one - entire website migration with the help of one of the various plugins.

However, in a process, I showed you a third process of how you can move a part of your site content, using a well-known website builder.

Pick your method and move your first (or hundredth) WordPress website! 🙂

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