Are you planning to switch your WordPress hosting provider? Maybe you aren’t satisfied with their service, maybe your site is facing performance issues, or maybe you just found a better deal elsewhere. Whatever the reason may be, you shouldn’t limit yourself to a single hosting provider. WordPress is an industry-standard, and there are plenty of good hosting providers to choose from.
WordPress migrations plugins can download and transfer all of your site files, from tables to media files and from themes to your entire database of users. If you feel as though your current hosting provider isn’t cutting it anymore, then you can use a migration plugin to move your existing WordPress sites to a new provider – with minimal downtime or hiccups.
In this article, we’re taking a close look at what we consider to be the 8 best WordPress migration plugins for 2022. Let’s get started!
Do You Need A Migration Plugin?
Migrations can be tricky, and manually transferring sites might not be the best way to do it. Larger sites could take a long time to transfer and will require you to test all changes before you can go live again. This whole process will almost certainly result in a longer downtime – and may even result in data loss if done incorrectly.
Using a migration plugin is always advisable; these plugins are fast and provide features that you might not be able to replicate easily when migrating manually.
While compiling our list of the best WordPress migration plugins, we have excluded those plugins that aren’t updated regularly and tested other plugins against the following criteria:
- Ease of use: A good plugin should be able to migrate sites from a wide variety of hosting solutions – such as localhost or managed providers such as GoDaddy – without requiring extensive knowledge about servers and networking. It should also migrate databases, assets, users, plugins, themes, comments, webpages, etc.
- Security and compatibility: A good plugin should be compatible with a large number of WordPress versions, and it should not compromise on security or expose the site to attacks at any point of time. It should provide an option to encrypt data in transit and at rest.
- Multisite: The best migration plugins should support WordPress Multisites Networks, and allow users to selectively migrate individual sites if needed.
- No Downtime: The best migration plugins should minimize service downtime and interruptions.
The Best WordPress Migration Plugins
The plugin is completely free. InstaWP accounts for creating staging environments are also free, although paid plans are available which provide additional features.
The InstaWP Connect plugin is an open source solution created and maintained by InstaWP, provides a novel and easy approach to migration, and is certainly quite different from the other (more traditional) migration plugins included here.
With the InstaWP Connection plugin installed you can, in just two very short steps, create an entire copy of your WordPress site in a staging environment. This is one of the main purposes of the plugin – quickly and easily creating staging environments for testing changes to your WordPress website.
But here’s the thing – the other purpose of the plugin is quickly and easily migrating from a staging environment to a live site – and this doesn’t have to be the same server as the original site came from.
So by quickly transferring a copy of your live site on one server to an InstaWP staging environment, you can then just as quickly push that staging environment site to a live site on a different server with a different hosting provider.
The process is quick and easy, and by having a staging environment in the middle you have the opportunity to make changes without risking your existing live site. Once you’re happy, you can push it to its new location. You’ll then need to update your domain’s nameservers and remove the original copy of your site.
If your website is less than 500 MB then the free account will be perfectly sufficient. For sites larger than this, you may want to upgrade to a paid plan. The Personal plan costs $9 per month and supports sites up to 5 GB in size, and the Professional plan, which costs $24 per month, provides support for sites up to 10 GB.
This solution isn’t a one-click-and-leave-it kind of process – you will need to activate the transfer from live to staging and then again from staging to live, but this manual involvement does give you both the security to be able to make changes to your site safely, and ensure that there is absolutely no downtime or interruption to your existing site at any point.
Also, although the plugin is completely free, anyone with a website that is larger than 500 MB will need to upgrade, although at $9 the next plan is certainly not expensive (especially compared to some of the popular migration tools available).
As a relatively new solution, it doesn’t have the quantity of reviews some of the others have, but that certainly doesn’t detract from the fact that InstaWP itself has been around for years and is very widely used and trusted, and this plugin simply uses the exact same staging environment technology, which should provide complete peace of mind.
Plans start at $49/year for one site and go as high as $199/year for unlimited sites.
WP Migrate is a powerful plugin for advanced users who want more control over how they want to migrate their site. It supports creating migration profiles that can store complex configurations that can be used on each import or export.
WP Migrate comes with built-in find-and-replace functionality, reusable migration profiles, and a database backup feature that can be used to migrate multiple sites between different environments quickly and reliably. It supports crafting complex string replacement regex patterns to transform and replace serialized strings, objects, and arrays – as well as JSON encoded data.
WP Migrate provides a CLI tool, which advanced users can use to automate certain tasks, and build their own solutions to satisfy their niche problems. It can even be used to build a CI/CD pipeline. Complex migration processes such as extracting a subsite from a multisite network, can be done using the Multisite Tools Addon.
While most other migration tools use FTP servers to transfer data, WP Migrate uses a push/pull architecture to send and receive changes on your WordPress website. This terminology was inspired by Git, a source control system very popular among developers. This can be confusing for people who aren’t software developers and have never used Git.
During our testing, we did run into some issues. The plugin uses a `set_time_limit()` function to ensure that the migration doesn’t timeout. However, some WordPress hosting providers don’t allow the enabling of this function and set the time limit to 30 seconds. This will vary from host to host. It is possible that your web host will block this functionality, which might cause some issues in migrating sites that take longer than 30 seconds to process.
It is not a one-click solution, and it can be overwhelming for novice users. This plugin is only recommended if you know your way around WordPress and need more control over how the migration is done.
The Updraft Migrator add-on starts at $30. It is included for free in all UpdraftPlus Premium subscriptions which start at $70/year for 2 sites.
Updraft Migrator is an excellent choice for migrating WordPress websites. It can migrate all the plugins, themes, uploaded files, and any other files available on your WordPress server. It comes in 16 languages and can also store backed-up files to cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, AWS S3, Rackspace, etc.
Most other tools limit the number of websites you can migrate, however, Updraft Migrator can migrate or clone an unlimited number of websites even after its license is expired, as long as it is installed. It can perform server-to-server migrations, and all the traffic is encrypted using encryption keys.
Updraft Migrator is a premium product with useful features, but it is not available for free. It is advertised as an add-on to a plugin that is included for free in paid subscriptions but can also be purchased separately. This is rather an odd design choice and might confuse some people.
Duplicator Pro starts at $51/year for 3 sites, and costs $539 for a lifetime license. A free version with limited functionality is also available.
Duplicator is one of the best WordPress migration plugins out there. It has a migration wizard that can automatically back up files and databases and perform server-to-server imports. It supports encrypting server backup archives and storing them directly in the cloud using storage services such as Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.
Duplicator provides advanced features such as Developer Hooks, which can be used to run custom PHP scripts on the server when Duplicator triggers certain events. It is also possible to migrate to an existing database that might be in use by other sites. You can completely migrate a multisite network from one host to another or migrate a subsite to a standalone site – and vice versa.
Duplicator Pro has a slight learning curve – you might have some difficulties using this software if you do not have any experience with FTP, cPanel, etc. Some of the basic features are available in the free plugin, but you have to upgrade for more functionality. Many essential features, such as cloud storage, email notifications, and server-to-server import, are only available with the premium plan.
Pricing starts at $99/year for 1 site and goes up to $299/year for 10 sites.
BackupBuddy has the ability to perform scheduled, automated, off-site backups of your complete WordPress sites. These backups can be restored on a new host with new file paths and/or new URLs to perform the migration. All URLs can be updated automatically when migrating the site to a new domain.
The Import tool can update all file paths in posts, settings, and configuration files. Moreover, the database mass text replacement feature can be used to update any other strings of text across the database. BackupBuddy supports serialized data, and it is possible to exclude certain files or database tables from backups.
BackupBuddy is primarily designed to be an automated backup solution, and it lacks some advanced features provided by other tools discussed in this article. For example, BackupBuddy Multisite is an experimental feature; it is not recommended for live sites and is not officially supported. We would recommend you use BackupBuddy for migration only if you already have a paid license.
It is a free tool, but requires payment to unlock each additional feature.
All-in-One WP Migration is open source, and uses the GNU General Public License V3. You can browse the source code, and make any changes you want to build your custom plugin. It is available in 50+ languages, and supports exporting custom uploads, plugins, and theme folders right out of the box.
Additional plugins can be added to export data directly from your old server to the new server. You can export to Google Cloud server, AWS S3, One Drive, etc., and it also supports exporting and importing entire WordPress multisite networks – or just a part of them. Unlike other plugins, it doesn’t have a site limit and can be used to migrate multiple sites.
Although it is an open source tool, it operates on a “freemium” model. Some essential features are provided free of charge, but all the other features are hidden behind an individual paywall. You need to pay for each feature separately to use it – which can get quite expensive very quickly.
For instance, if you want the ability to store backups on AWS S3, and transfer files using FTP on a Multisite network, then you need to subscribe to 3 extensions amounting to $517/year. Although you can use this to export an unlimited number of sites, it is still a substantial amount of money for a limited number of features.
Even if you have only one site running on WordPress Multisite Network, the free version will not work with it. Moreover, the free version only supports importing files up to 256 MB. Although it is possible to edit the source code and compile your own extension to circumvent this limitation, most people will not know how to do that.
The plans start at $89/year for one site and go as high as $1999/year for 10 sites.
BlogVault is a WordPress backup plugin that can save snapshots of your website. These snapshots can then be migrated to a new hosting provider. It provides features such as selectively migrating parts of your websites to a new host or domain without any downtime. It can also automatically rewrite the database and config files during the migration process. This can be used for removing references to any outdated content.
It supports migrating sites as large as 100 GB in size and can also perform migrations on Multisite WordPress installs. During migration, you can choose whether to use FTP, SFTP, or FTPS protocol. It is also possible to either retain existing file permissions during the migration or overwrite them.
It is primarily a backup tool that can also be used to migrate sites. If you already have a backup solution in place and don’t plan to use it as a primary backup service, then you will be underutilizing its capabilities.
It is free.
Migrate Guru is a free WordPress migration plugin that uses BlogVault servers under the hood. It can automatically rewrite URLs, bypass import-export scripts, and handle serialized data during migration without any hiccups.
The migration wizard is easy to use, and it integrates well with the most popular WordPress hosting providers. If your new host is not integrated, you can migrate via cPanel and FTP. It partially supports multisite network migration, which is pretty rare to find in a free tool.
During migration, the data is first copied from your old server to Migrate Guru’s server, then it is copied to your new servers. Copying the same files two times in a row seems unnecessary, and websites, therefore, take twice as long to migrate.
Migrate Guru claims that migration is done this way because it reduces the load on your server. However, if the server is capable of copying files to Migrate Guru’s servers, then it should be equally capable of migrating those same files to any other server.
Although they claim that copied data is erased after the migration is complete, no independent checks have been performed to verify these claims. It is not clear how long they take to erase the data and how it is used in the meantime. If your site contains private or confidential user data, then you should perform your due diligence before using it.
Migrate Guru also doesn’t support the migration of sub-sites in a multi-site network to a different domain or the migration of a site to a multi-site network.
Premium plan costs $69.00/year for one site, or a free version with limited features is also available.
Like many other plugins in this list, BackWPup is primarily a backup plugin that can also be used to perform migrations. It supports multi-site backups and is also compatible with IIS (Internet Information Services) on Windows. It can be integrated with the EasyCron service to run scheduled jobs. However, that requires an additional subscription.
BackWPup is primarily a backup tool. Although it is advertised as a migration plugin as well, it doesn’t provide many of the advanced features offered by its competitors. For example, it requires you to manually back up files and restore them on a remote site, whereas most other plugins provide a simple migration wizard. Furthermore, other plugins also provide options to selectively export database tables, but BackWPup doesn’t support this.
You can shift your WordPress sites from one host to another easily, with minimal downtime. Many WordPress migration plugins are available that can be used to migrate WordPress with little effort and doesn’t require the user to understand how migration works.
WP Migrate and Updraft Migrator are good choices for technical users who want more control over how migration is performed. All-in-One WP Migration and Migrate Guru are free migration tools with a limited number of features but are suitable for simpler sites that don’t require advanced features provided by other tools.
What is WordPress Migration?
WordPress migration is the process of migrating a WordPress site from one server to another. Migration allows the administrator to retain existing plugins, themes, databases, and domain name on the new server.
What is a WordPress Migration Plugin?
A WordPress Migration plugin is software that can be used to automatically move WordPress sites from one host to another. These plugins are ideal for cloning very large sites that might take a long time to configure manually.
What is a Multisite Network?
A Multisite Network is a feature of WordPress that allows you to use the same database and WordPress installation for hosting multiple sites. This is done to save resources and reduce server costs. It also allows you to effectively manage all sites from a single account.