How To Transfer Site From Host A to Host B Using Akeebabackup

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Site Transfer Wizard

[Note] Note

This feature is only available in the for-a-fee Professional edition since version 3.3.5

[Important] Important

While the Site Transfer Wizard may be useful in transferring a site to another server, it is neither the optimal nor the only way. In fact, you could just as well back your site up, move the backup archive to the new server and use Kickstart to restore it. Yes, it's that easy. The wizard may make this process easier, but it's possible that it doesn't work under some server combinations. It's not a bug, it has to do with the way PHP works and how different FTP servers are configured between hosts.

Many times you simply want to move your site between hosts, e.g. from a local or development server back to the live server or move your site from Host A to Host B. Traditionally, this was a multi-step process: take a backup, download it to your local PC, upload it to the live server, upload Kickstart, run Kickstart and finalize the restoration. Since version 2.2 we offer a backup engine called DirectFTP which allows you to take a backup directly to a remote FTP server instead of an archive. This means that you no longer need to download/upload a backup archive or even use Kickstart. By the time the backup is finished, you are able to simply point your browser to the new host and start the restoration. The biggest drawback of this approach was that setting it up was a little difficult for novice users. Our Site Transfer Wizard feature is here to make using that feature dead simple!

The Site Transfer Wizard guides you through a series of steps which allow you to define the connection parameters to your remote server and automatically takes care of all the details necessary for moving your site to the new host. It consists of only three simple steps.

Step 1: Choose your profile

The Site Transfer Wizard requires to create a dedicated backup profile for the site transfer backup job. This step allows you to select how this is going to happen.

Use the existing profile

If you had already used the Site Transfer Wizard in the past, all of its settings are stored in its dedicated backup profile. Selecting this option will recall them and allow you to modify them or use the same settings to transfer your site again.

Copy settings from

Select an existing backup profile to copy all settings from. This allows you to "clone" special configuration options (such as the optimal settings defined by the Configuration Wizard) as well as any filter options, e.g. directories, files and database tables to exclude from the backup. If it is the first time you are running the wizard and you are not a very experienced user, it's suggested to copy the settings from the Default Backup Profile.

Create a new profile, resetting its settings to default

This will reset all the configuration and filter options of the Site Transfer Wizard backup profile to factory defaults. This should only be used by experienced users who know what they are doing or if you are willing to apply special configuration and/or filter settings manually.

Clicking on Next will take you to the next and most important step.

Step 2: Chose your transfer settings

In this step you will tell Akeeba Backup how to connect to your new host in order to transfer your site there.

Connection method

You can choose between FTP, FTP over SSL (FTPS) or –if you have the Professional version– Secure File Transfer over SSL (SFTP). If you are not sure which one to use, please ask your host. Most hosts support FTP, a few of them FTPS and very few of them SFTP. Please do not ask us which method to use. We are not your host and we can not possibly know which method your host's servers support.

Host name

The hostname of your FTP, FTPS or SFTP server. Please do not specify a protocol. For example, is a valid host name whereas IS NOT. If unsure, please ask your host. Once more, we can't possibly know how to connect to your server, it's your host that has to give you this information


This is the number of the TCP port used to connect to your server. Usually it's 21 for FTP, 22 for SFTP and 990 for FTPS. If unsure, please ask your host.


The username used to connect to your remote server. Do note that if your host requires an SSH certificate to connect to their server through SFTP, you will not be able to use SFTP with Akeeba Backup to transfer your site. Our software only supports username/password authentication to the remote server.


The password used to connect to your remote server

FTP/FTPS/SFTP directory to the remote site's root

This is the full FTP, FTPS or SFTP directory to your remote site's web root. This may not always be obvious and most likely should not be left blank. You can always connect to your remote site using FileZilla, navigate to the web root directory of your new host and take a look above the right-hand directory pane. You will see a path. Copy it and paste it in this box of the Site Transfer Wizard.

Use Passive mode

For FTP/FTPS connections only. The default behaviour is to use FTP Passive Mode for all site transfers, as it is the only guaranteed way to pass through firewalls. If your remote site requires FTP Active Mode (very rare) uncheck this box. If you are unsure if this is required, please ask your host.

URL to the remote site

Enter the full URL to the remote site, e.g. Please, do not include a trailing slash.

Clicking on Next, Akeeba Backup will try to establish an FTP/FTPS/SFTP connection to your remote host and upload a small file named akeeba_connection_test.png. If that fails, it will let you know about the error which occurred so that you can fix it. If you have entered an incorrect directory, i.e. it doesn't correspond to the location used to store the files accessible through the "URL to the remote site" address, you will also get an error telling you that you have to fix it.

[Important] Important

Not all hosts are able to initiate FTP/FTPS/SFTP connections to other servers. The most common limiting factor is a server-side firewall which disallows outbound connections. If you are perfectly sure that your FTP/FTPS/SFTP connection settings are correct and you still can not connect to your remote site, do not ask us for support. If you do, we'll tell you to read the documentation (this paragraph!). What you have to do instead is to contact your current host and ask them to open their firewall so that you can connect to your new host through FTP/FTPS/SFTP.

If you get an error about not being able to change to the requested directory, you have entered the "FTP/FTPS/SFTP directory to the remote site's root" wrong. Please refer to the section above about how to determine its correct setting.

If you get an error reading "Your FTP/FTPS/SFTP directory is not defined correctly. You will be redirected back to the previous page to correct it. If in doubt about what this means, please read our documentation." then you have entered the "FTP/FTPS/SFTP directory to the remote site's root" wrong. Please refer to the section above about how to determine its correct setting.

Do not ask for support if you have not read the above and followed all of these instructions. Such requests will be deleted without a reply.

Step 3: Transfer your site

In the final step, you are ready to transfer your site! Click on the button titled Begin the site transfer to start transferring your site to the remote host.

If you get an error message about not being able to write to a remote file or directory, please check that this file or directory doesn't already exist on your remote site. If it does, try removing it or adjust its permissions so that it is writable through FTP/FTPS/SFTP. If you are not sure how to do that, please ask your host for instructions, as the solution is entirely host-specific.

When the transfer is complete, you will be forwarded to the restoration script which was uploaded together with your site's files and database dump to the remote server. Follow all of its steps to restore your site's database and configure your site so that it can be used on the remote host.

If you end up back on your source site (the one you are transferring from), a blank page or an Internal Server Error page, please use your favourite FTP client (e.g. FileZilla) to rename or remove the .htaccess file from the remote site and reload the page. Do not contact us for support unless you do that first. For your information, it is possible that your .htaccess file contains directives which either have a hardcoded site URL in them or are simply not compatible with your new host. Renaming the file "neutralizes" it and you can access the installation script normally. If your new host is GoDaddy, do note that it may take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes after you rename .htaccess before the changes take any effect at all!

After the restoration is over, click on the "remove the installation directory" link to remove the installation directory from your new host and begin using your site. If that is not possible or throws an error, please use your favourite FTP client (e.g. FileZilla) to manually remove the installation directory and all of its contents from your new host. Please do not ask for support if trying to access your site is causing the installation script to appear again. The solution is to remove the installation directory manually.

If, after the restoration, you have any problems accessing the remote site, please refer to these troubleshooting instructions first. Unless you have followed all of them, please do not ask us for support. 99.9% of all post-restoration problems that have ever been reported to our forum are solved by following these simple instructions.

Why does Site Transfer Wizard consistently fails after a while, bot always when transferring the same file?

This is a limitation of how most FTP servers work and how PHP works.

  • Problem 1: Blocked by FTP server. In order to avoid server timeouts, the site transfer (essentially: a backup) has to be performed in multiple small steps. On each step we have to connect to the remote FTP server, log in, transfer a few files, log out. This roughly means that we have to do this log in, transfer, log out routine 3-4 times per minute over several minutes (or hours). This tends to cause most FTP servers to consider this behaviour as an attack and block logins from this IP for a while. The next time we try to connect to the FTP server we are blocked and the site transfer fails.

  • Problem 2: Large files. The definition of "large" mostly depends on the transfer speed between your original and your target servers. If a file takes too long to transfer it is possible that the FTP server closes its connection. It is also possible that, before that, PHP runs into a timeout and halts. In both cases it cases site transfer failure.

If this happens we recommend an easier, alternative method to transferring your site. Create a regular backup profile and use the "Upload to Remote FTP Server" or "Upload to Remote SFTP Server" to transfer the backup archive to the new host. As a precaution, you are advised to set the Part size for split archives in the Archiver Engine configuration pane to 20Mb or smaller. After the backup is complete the backup file(s) will be transferred to the new server. Just upload Kickstart into it and run Kickstart. This method uses far fewer FTP connection requests than the Site Transfer Wizard, it's faster (usually: five to ten times faster!) and only requires you to upload 1 file manually.

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