In order for your website to fully serve its intended purpose online, it needs to available at all times. There are a number of things that could affect a website's availability including where it is hosted. Every once in a long while your hosting company might experience server issues that could consequently affect the performance of your website; however, if this becomes a regular occurrence, then it may be time to switch to another web hosting provider.
Switching hosts will require you to move your files and databases associated with your website from your former providers server to the server of a new host of choice. This is a process that needs to be undertaken carefully in order to ensure that the process is successful and that down time does not become an issue. The website migration process will involve a number of steps.
It is very important to ensure that you don't terminate your existing hosting plan as the first course of action. On top of that you should avoid telling your current hosting company that you intend to switch to another hosting service. The reason why this is important is that once you let them know of your intentions they may 'un-host' you before you can find a new host, something that will cause your website to be unavailable.
Basically what you need to do is to sign up with another hosting company while still with your old provider. With this being the case you can move your website files, databases and any other important data from the servers of your old provider to those of your new one. This process will involve making an FTP connection to the server where your website is currently hosted after which you can download the files; you can then upload them to your new account.
If your website is database driven, you will need to back up the databases on the server of your old provider. A backup of your MySQL databases can be downloaded in cPanel under the Backups section, along with your entire home directory. Once this is done you can proceed on to transfer the databases to your new host using the backups created and the restore option, also located in the Backups section of cPanel. You will now have a copy of your website files in two locations: the server you intend to leave and your new server.
After backing up all your files and transferring them to your new server, the next step will involve making the required changes to DNS (nameservers). The hosting company that you are switching to will give you all the details regarding the new DNS plus any settings that will be needed to get everything in order. Once you are given the new nameservers login to your domain name registrar account, find the current nameserver settings and update to the new nameservers.
It can take a period of up to 48 hours for the DNS propagation process to be fully completed. The good thing is that during this switch, your website will still be available to those who usually visit your website since you still have your old account operating along side the new one. For these two days the website may load from either the previous hosting provider's server or from those of the new provider. Once this period is over and DNS has fully propagated, it will load solely from your new host. At this point you can now terminate your account with the old hosting company.
Many web host will migrate your data for free as long as you are currently using cPanel. Some charge a small fee, while others may not offer the service at all. Before deciding on a new web host make sure they offer a website migration service if you are unable to migrate your websites manually, on your own.