Recently i was hired to migrate a WordPress site to a new server and domain. Having completed many migrations to new domains and web hosting servers, i was confident this would be a simple process.
I wasn’t aware at the time i started the backup that the site was a sub site on a multi site setup, but soon worked this out.
After having researched different methods of migrating sub sites to independant installations, i started to try them out.
Using The WordPress Export/Import Tool
I read many posts on the official WordPress.org forum which advised using the export tool to create an .XML file which you simply import into a new WordPress installation. This didn’t work even though i also tried using Notepad++ to search and replace all instances of the old url’s with the new ones.
I even left it the way it was and tried importing it but it didn’t work.
Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you so try it first.
The only downside of using this tool is that it copies your content but not your plugins, themes and uploads. Your images will still be hosted on your old server which is a reason to consider the next option as a complete solution.
Ever tried finding and moving your uploads from a multisite setup where they are all stored in one folder? Good luck!
Creating a Database Backup
I then installed several database backup plugins and created .SQL dumps and tried importing them into PhpMyAdmin. This didn’t work either and i got the white screen of death.
Maybe the reason this didn’t work was because the plugins copy the entire database which includes all the sub sites content and url’s rather than the specific sites content i needed to move.
BackupBuddy Multisite feature
The last option i tried worked beautifully. I had used the backupbuddy plugin many times before for migrations and it always did the job.
I had stopped using this plugin because i knew how to complete the transfer manually after gaining so much experience and i also wanted to avoid paying an annual license fee.
How Does BackupBuddy Multisite Work
Basically you need the plugin installed to the network site which controls all the other sub sites on the multi site network.
Once you have done this, you then upload the backup zip file together with the importbuddy.php script into your public_html root directory folder on your new server or the individual directory which you have created for the new site you’ll be migrating over.
Its then a matter of running the importbuddy.php script and entering in your new database details and domain name for your new site.
You’ll need to create a new database and enter the details when prompted in the import steps.
I’ve already written about how to migrate a WordPress site using the BackupBuddy plugin.
You need to complete the backup from the network admin Dashboard.
Its here you can also access the full features of this plugin and download the importbuddy script as well.
Don’t install WordPress on the new server in the directory for the site you want to migrate.
You can export a copy of the site from the sub site you want to migrate but you won’t be able to access the import script from the single site therefore you’ll need to login to the Network Admin Dashboard to grab the import file.
This was the only problem i had because its normally there in a single site situation.
Normally i gather all the information i need to access everything upfront which i didn’t do in this case. I then had to keep asking my client for different bits of information so i could complete the job which may have been annoying.
I also tried using different methods which didn’t work and wasted time. I did this because i wanted to save my client the expense of buying a premium plugin.
Backupbuddy is now set to handle multi site backup, migration and restoration to a new server, host and/or domain.
If you’re still stuck and need help, i offer a WordPress migration service and you can also check out my testimonials.
I have tried every backup and migration plugin from the WordPress plugin directory which are all free. The only problem with them is they are not coded to work with Multi site where sub sites on the one network use the same database, plugins and themes directories.
Therefore they cannot backup an individual site for migration.
Building sites on a multi site network for transfer to an individual setup after completion is NOT advisable unless you fully understand how to move all the sub sites content over to a single site.
I learn’t a lot from this migration and feel very confident of doing migrations in and out of Multi site after this experience.
Thanks to my wonderful, patient client, Emily!
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