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Migrate Your WordPress From Bluehost To Digital Ocean

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Bluehost is a great service that is incredibly cheap, but depending on the amount of traffic that you receive, a Bluehost server may not be able to accommodate in performance. For example my WordPress blog, the one you’re on now, receives too much traffic, which is why I had to host it on a VPS service. In particular I’m hosting this WordPress blog on Digital Ocean. Now, not everyone needs more than Bluehost so don’t think it is a bad service from the start.

Here we’re going to look at migrating a WordPress blog from Bluehost to a Digital Ocean virtual private server (VPS).

Before going forward I’m going to assume you’ve followed my previous guide regarding installing WordPress on a Digital Ocean VPS. You won’t need the latest version of WordPress, but if you’ve already downloaded it, no worries. From the previous tutorial we really only care to know that a database was configured and the WordPress CLI tool installed.

We’re going to start from our Bluehost cPanel. From the cPanel, scroll until you find the section that reads File Management and click the Site Backup Pro option.

Bluehost cPanel File Management - WordPress Migration

The next screen should present you with several different backup options. We only care about Website Files and MySQL because that’s what we’re going to transfer to Digital Ocean. Go ahead and download a .tar file of both.

Bluehost Site Backup Pro - WordPress Migration

You’re done with the Bluehost stuff at this point. The rest will happen within our Digital Ocean Droplet.

Using Filezilla or the SFTP client of your choice, upload both backup files to the Digital Ocean Droplet. Depending on the size of your WordPress blog, this could take some time. When it is done, sign into your Droplet via SSH like so:

ssh root@

Of course replace with the actual IP or hostname and root with whatever user you’re using.

The first thing for us to do is extract the MySQL backup archive. Enter the following, swapping out the tar file name with whatever your file is called:

tar -xvf backup_filename.tar

Now we need to import the MySQL database file. I’m assuming you have a MySQL database named wordpress and a username also named wordpress for that particular database. If not, alter the following command where appropriate:

mysql -u wordpress -p wordpress < backup_filename.sql

It will ask for the password for that particular user. Enter it when it asks.

Congratulations, your Bluehost WordPress database was migrated!

We may not be done with the database though. If you’re not migrating your domain name or are changing domain names you’re going to need to update the database to reflect. If you’re migrating the domain name from Bluehost as well, then don’t worry, your database is good to go. If not, you need to use the WordPress CLI to replace a particular string in various MySQL tables. The commands you want to run are as follows:

wp search-replace http://www.old-domain.com http://new-domain.com wp_hxvw_options
wp search-replace http://www.old-domain.com http://new-domain.com wp_hxvw_posts

It is important you use the WordPress CLI and not try to change them yourself with SQL. The data is serialized and the CLI knows how to work with that data. Also note that your tables might be slightly different and may not include the hxvw part. If the above commands can’t find the tables, go ahead and determine them from the following:

mysql -u wordpress -p
use wordpress;
show tables;

Now we can officially call MySQL complete.

The final step here is to place the WordPress files correctly. Untar the WordPress backup by running the following:

tar -xvf wordpress_backup_filename.tar

Move the public_html directory to /var/www and rename it to html replacing the old html directory if it exists. Inside your WordPress backup, find the wp-config.php file as we need to change the database information to reflect our new credentials. Find the following and replace as appropriate:

define('DB_NAME', 'wordpress');
define('DB_USER', 'wordpress');
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'password');

Congratulations, your Bluehost WordPress filesystem data was migrated!

You can verify that it worked by navigating to your new (or old) domain name.


Bluehost, a great shared hosting service, will peak at some point in time if you get a ton of traffic. You may find yourself needing to migrate to a virtual private server (VPS) to accommodate site growth with performance. I for one am using Digital Ocean, but the simple steps I demonstrated should work fine for migrating to any other service.

I am using affiliate links in this article. If you plan to use Bluehost or Digital Ocean, please sign up via one of my links so we both get credit towards our hosting account.

Nic Raboy

Nic Raboy

Nic Raboy is an advocate of modern web and mobile development technologies. He has experience in C#, JavaScript, Golang and a variety of frameworks such as Angular, NativeScript, and Unity. Nic writes about his development experiences related to making web and mobile development easier to understand.