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Moving from Free Windows Hosting to Plesk

Honestly — thanks for sticking with us and setting up your free Plesk account. We'll make sure this account is worth your time. Before we get started, there are a few things we have to get out of the way:

  • This whole process will take a few hours. There's no need to make it happen all at once. The guide's kind of long because there's a few things you have to do.
  • Your website will go down for a little while. You can minimize this time by prepping everything before hand (which we'll guide you through), but it can be up to a few hours. We're giving you control over when you do this.
  • If you aren't technical, you might need a Web developer to help you out if you're running a complicated website (e.g. an eCommerce site).
  • If you are technical, it's important to note your database host names will change. You'll need to update any code that uses them.

Differences between Your Old and New Accounts

Your new Plesk account does not support the following features (which your old one did):

  • Access databases
  • FrontPage® Server Extensions
  • Java
  • ColdFusion
  • Software engineering features outlined here.

With the stuff that might scare you out of the way, let's get started.

1. "Purchase" Your New Plesk Hosting

We say "purchase" because your new Plesk hosting account is going to be free.

To Purchase Your New Plesk Hosting

  1. Go to the Web Hosting landing page, and add a 12-month Economy plan to your cart.
  2. From the Choose an operating system menu, select Windows with Plesk control panel, and then click Continue.
  3. Proceed to the cart.
    Warning: The offer for a free domain name will not work in conjunction with the discount for a free hosting account, i.e. you will not receive a free domain name with this hosting account.
  4. Click Have a promo code?, enter the code we emailed you in the field that displays, and then click Apply.
  5. Click Proceed to Checkout, and then log in to your account.
  6. Finish the $0.00 checkout. I wanted to say $free99, but our legal department said that's not actually a number.

2. Set up Your New Account (with a Subdomain)

Just trust us on this — we're going to set up your Plesk account using a subdomain instead of your actual domain name. Something like migration.coolexample.com (but you'll obviously use your domain name instead of coolexample.com). This lets us minimize downtime and make sure your website looks and works like you expect before committing to the migration.

Warning: It's really important to use a subdomain when you set up your account. If you don't, you can't actually set up your account.

To set up your account using a subdomain, see Set up my Web & Classic Hosting account.

3. Back up Your Website

Unless you are 100% certain that you have the latest version of your website stored on your computer, you need to back up your current site and download it to your hard drive. This is what you're going to use to re-populate your new hosting account with your website.


If your hosting account has any databases, back them up first. This puts copies of your databases in a directory called _db_backups so you can download them later.

For more information, see the Backing up a MySQL or MSSQL Database section of Backing up and Restoring MySQL or MSSQL Databases.

Your Website

The easiest way to back up your website is with a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client. This lets you connect your local computer to your hosting account and move files between them. To back up your website, you'll just copy all of the files from your hosting account to your local computer.

We recommend using FileZilla. For more information, see What is FTP?.

It's a good idea to keep these backups in a unique folder on your computer called something like website backups. In that folder, create another folder with the date you created the backup, e.g. feb2013 — put all of your files in here. This way, you can easily figure out when you created each backup in case you need to use one.

For more information, see:

4. Upload Your Website (from Your Backup)

Now, let's get your site on your new Plesk account. You'll need to use an FTP client (more info) to upload the files you backed up.

If you run into any issues connecting to the new Plesk hosting account, use its IP address instead of the subdomain (more info).

Once you've connected, move all of the files from within your backup directory into the httpdocs directory. Be sure to put your website's index file (more info) in that directory, along with all of the other files in your backup. For example, don't upload a directory called "backup" into "httpdocs," you would want to upload the stuff inside the "backup" directory.


To restore your databases, you'll need to create new databases on your Plesk account (more info), and then use the following directions based on the type of database you're using:

Database TypeUse...
MySQLExport the database from your old hosting and then import it into Plesk
MS SQLMove the database using these directions

After you've situated the website and the databases, it might take some time for your website to start displaying on the Internet, but in you can preview it before then to make sure everything looks fine (more info).

Once everything looks good, we're going to cancel your existing hosting account. This will then let us change the domain name on the Plesk hosting account from the subdomain to your actual domain name.

5. Cancel Your Existing Hosting Account

Somehow this reminds me of the "there's no turning back" scene in so many films. Don't worry, though — we have that Plesk account ready for you, so it's just a brief interruption.

When you decide to cancel the account, the site will almost immediately go down. It won't be able to get back online until we remove the hosting account from our records, which can take a few hours, and you can change the domain name on the Plesk account.

Canceling your hosting account removes your website's files from our servers. Be sure that you have copies of any files you want to keep before you cancel your account.

OK? Deep breath and then check out Canceling Your Hosting Account.

Note: It can take up to 24 hours for the domain name to be available for use again after you cancel your hosting account.

Even though it's unlikely to work just yet, go to the next section so you can get familiar with changing the domain name.

6. Change Your Plesk Domain Name

It takes a few hours for the domain name to get "freed up" before you can use it on your new Plesk account.

But that shouldn't stop you from trying! You have to kind of awkwardly attempt to change the domain name until it's finally disassociated from your old account and our system lets it go through. We recommend trying once every hour or two, though if you're antsy you can try more frequently.

To start trying to change your domain name, see Change a domain in my Plesk hosting account.

After the change goes through, we'll make the appropriate updates on our side and your site should be live within a few hours. If you don't see the changes, contact customer support.

A lot of work, but we think you'll find it was worth the effort.