If you are outgrowing your web host and need a new one but you also want to move your phpBB forum intact, I can help. Note that phpBB provides a help topic on how to do this, so you may want to try this yourself, particularly if you have decent IT skills. In any event it is not a trivial process. Particularly if your board is heavily modded you may want to have it done professionally. I have done this for many clients and have moved my own boards several times.

Some hosts will move you for free or a small charge, so you might want to see what they charge, if anything.

Unfortunately I cannot price the work until I understand what is involved in your particular situation. See my pricing summary to get an idea of the costs involved.

Hosts not recommended

In general, avoid any host that is owned by Endurance International Group. You can see a full list of the companies they own on the Wikipedia page, but some of the better-known brands include: Bluehost, Hostgator, HostMonster, iPage and Site5. For more, see this post.

Recommended hosts

Right now my recommended hosts include Siteground for most hosting and Rackspace for dedicated and virtual server hosting.

This site is hosted on Siteground. I have a number of reasons why I prefer Siteground:

  • Their infrastructure is completely solid state, end to end. This means the latency in getting data off your website is minimal.
  • In their cPanel you can set up https very easily using free Let’s Encrypt security certificates. They automatically handle the renewal of these certificates when they expire every 90 days.
  • Their support is quick and excellent. I rarely wait more than a minute for technical support.
  • They are not owned by Endurance International Group, or any conglomerate.
  • They will move your site files and database for you at no extra charge, unless you choose the lowest cost plan.

That said, please read my tips below. Siteground is not the best choice for everyone.

Tips for selecting a host

One possible reason not to use Siteground is if you have a large database. Their largest shared hosting plan, GoGeek, limits the size of your databases to no more than 1 gigabyte. Your database size is shown when you go into phpBB’s administration control panel. Check the size of your database and make sure there is a Siteground plan that can accommodate your database size plus your anticipated growth. But also add in the size of any other databases you need to run your sites on your web host. For example, if you have other domains, they often use databases, so the size of those databases must be counted. And if you have other applications on your domain, like WordPress, you need to count the size of its database too in your total. You can compare their shared hosting plans here. Make sure to hover over the database links to see the database size allowed for the plan you are interested in.

You can execute the following SQL in phpMyAdmin to get an overview of the size of all your databases. It may take a while for the query to return results. If you have lots of databases, you might have to scroll through pages to see all of them.

SELECT table_schema "DB Name",
ROUND(SUM(data_length + index_length) / 1024 / 1024, 1) "DB Size in MB" 
FROM information_schema.tables 
GROUP BY table_schema;

You might just want a “bottom line” number. This query will show you how much space all your databases are using, in megabytes:

SELECT ROUND(SUM(data_length + index_length) / 1024 / 1024, 1) "Total size of all databases in MB" 
FROM information_schema.tables

Before rehosting with anyone, read their offerings, limitations and terms of service closely. If your forum sends out lots of emails, check to see if there are quotas on outgoing emails. Get opinions from others too.

I believe my recommendations are well informed, but even a quality host like Siteground is not ideal for all situations. If interested in a particular host, it is useful to call their sales team and go over your requirements. There are usually metrics reports in cPanel or Plesk that provide statistics that may qualify you for a higher class of hosting, based on space used, bandwidth consumed and resources used. 

Want to choose Siteground? Please use my affiliate link.

If you choose to host or rehost with Siteground, please use my affiliate link. This way I earn a small commission. You will not pay extra.

If you need help moving your website to Siteground, or any new host, I can certainly help. You might want to send me a service inquiry.

If your board is highly trafficked (500+ messages per day, with lots of reading) you should consider leasing your own server (dedicated hosting) or at least going with a virtual private server solution. As you may expect this can be quite expensive but at least your users are not competing with other domains for access to the same web server. Unless you have the necessary technical skills, you should factor in the cost of a system administrator to keep the system up to date as part of your overall costs. Most web hosts provide dedicated hosting. One example is Rackspace.

Rehosting procedures

These are generally the steps I follow to rehost.

  1. Verify that I have the accesses I need on the current and new web hosts
  2. I back up files and databases on the old host and disable the forum (unless you want to do a test run first)
  3. I copy over your current phpBB software (with mods or extensions) intact and install on new host. This way if you have mods, unusual styles, etc. I don’t lose any functionality.
  4. I create a new database on the new host for the forum
  5. I export your database and move it over to see if I can get it working at all on the new host in a “test” mode. Sometimes the export available in the phpBB control panel will suffice. For larger databases I usually have to go into MySQL itself and dump your database to a file, which is why I sometimes need SSH access.
  6. I configure the new host config.php and related files to work with the new database
  7. I verify that it looks and behave the same. I will have you verify that all the posts, topics, forums and users are there and the styles are correct.
  8. When you are satisfied:
    1. If we were doing a test run, I’ll run through the process again, this time for real, disabling the board so no posts are lost
    2. Change the nameservers to point to your new host. I can do this for you or you can do it yourself. To do it for you, I need access to your domain registrar.

Once the domain switches everything should appear the same to your users. Generally it takes at least a few hours to propagate a change to the domain. It is better to assume a full day for the switchover for all your forum users.

As you can see this process is time consuming and somewhat cumbersome. The whole thing can easily take a couple days.

How to get started

I suggest sending me a service inquiry.

Last updated August 5, 2019

If you administer a phpBB board, you should find my book Mastering phpBB Administration invaluable. Learn lots of tips, tricks and secrets I learned from serving over 400 clients. Paper and Kindle versions available.