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The Unofficial "How to transfer my Dreamhost site to a new WebID in order to get an awesome deal" Howto 1.0

Apparently Dreamhost wised up to this and this guide doesn't work anymore. It remains here for historic reasons only. For details on what Dreamhost did to render this nonworking you can find that here.

Since this has been asked about 5 million times here is how you go about switching your website over to a new Dreamhost account while still keeping the same domain name and website. If you're some guy from Dreamhost who doesn't like this and somehow thinks I'm somehow scamming them just ask and I'll gladly take this down despite that fact that your employees have stated doing all this is okay.

Step 1: How to keep your old domain name
The problem with a domain name registered with Dreamhost is that they start charging you a $10/year fee to keep the domain if you cancel the hosting plan associated with it. You have two options here: keeping paying (and remembering to pay) the $10/year fee to Dreamhost for your domain or transfer your domain registration elsewhere. I suggested doing the latter and going with Namecheap for this (use promo code "APRILBUZZ" and transfers are only $7.99). Just a few notes about transferring a domain name to Namecheap: 1) Your domain can't be expiring within the next 7 or so days 2) Transferring it adds 1 year to the registration length 3) You can't transfer the domain again for another 60 days 4) If it's a .org domain you need to get the "authorization code" to transfer it from Dreamhost's control panel.

Step 2: Signup for a new account
You must create a new WebID in order to use coupon codes so when prompted during the signup process fill in all the "I am a new customer" stuff. Then when prompted enter in the coupon code "super777" which will take $97 off the price (or whatever the max discount for your plan is). If you selected the Level 1: Crazy Domain Insane plan at a 1 year billing interval that brings your total to $22.40 If you have a problem with paying via credit card go back into the control panel on your old account and delete your on file credit card. Please note that you CANNOT enter in the domain name you want to keep (above) while signing up for this new account. I suggest registering some dummy domain or you can create a free whatever.dreamhosters.com domain and then transfer your domain from Namecheap to Dreamhost in 60 days for a free year. As far as I know you can't transfer a domain registration from one WebID to another.

Step 3: Transfer your site's contents
Basically you FTP into your site on the old server, download all the files in it, then FTP into the new server and upload them all. If you have tons of :filez: up there already you can easily tar and then gzip them up and copy it all to the new server over Dreamhost's network without having to download and then upload them to your home computer (more on this method later). Just as a note your FTP username(s) are usually the same as your WebIDs but they don't have to be. Login to the control panel if you've forgotten your FTP username. If you're running CGI/PHP scripts or other funky stuff like that things get messy so plan accordingly. If for some reason you absolutely need to keep your FTP username the same when you switch so you don't have to edit 5 billion config files you can delete your old FTP username then after about 12 hours you should be able to add it to the new WebID. Unfortunately that would cause 12 hours of downtime to plan accordingly!

Step 3.2 (optional): Copying your site the fast way
First of all only do this if you know how to use PuTTY or don't mind digging up an FAQ on how to use it (it's not too hard). Also keep in mind you may have to change your FTP users to shell users via the web panel. The process is simple: first SSH into your old server via PuTTY (the full hostname would be servername.dreamhost.com, where servername is what server Dreamhost stuck you on, and it's listed in your WebID if you don't know). Now you want to create a tar file of your site contents which you do by entering in the command "tar cf mysite.tar example.com" next we'll want to compress this to save disk space which we can do by typing in "gzip -9 mysite.tar" The -9 makes gzip do the best (but slowest) compression. If your website is mostly videos which are already pretty compressed feel free to lower the number or skip this step completely. Anyways after running gzip your file will be renamed to mysite.tar.gz. Now we want to copy this file over to the new server so heres how we do it: enter in the command "sftp ftp_username_on_new_server@new_server_name.dreamhost.com" Just enter in yes at the warning prompt then enter in your password. Now type in "put mysite.tar.gz" (or "put mysite.tar if you didn't run gzip to compress it) and watch in amazement as your files get copied over at insane speeds. Now type in "exit" twice to exit out of sftp and PuTTY. Now open up a PuTTY session into the new server. Now enter in the command "tar zxf mysite.tar.gz" (or tar xf mysite.tar if you didn't compress it) and magically your files will unpack into the proper directories. Now enter in "rm mysite.tar.gz" to delete that temp file and viola you're good to go!

Step 4: Doing the old switcharoo
First of all make absolutely sure all you have all your files copied off the old server and onto the new server in the correct path. Also make a note of any e-mail addresses and aliases since you have to manually add those back in. Also check your e-mail if you use the Dreamhost provided e-mail. Then simply login to the web panel on your old WebID, goto the Domains>Manage Domains page then click that little X next to your domain and poof you're now off the old server. Now you need to wait about 2 hours for the server to fully remove you. During this time your site will be inaccessible and your e-mail will probably get bounced or deleted! I didn't say this process wouldn't be without its consequences! After about 2 hours you can login to your new WebID and add in your domain (goto Domains>Manage Domains then hit Add New Domain/Sub-domain at the bottom). Now add back in your e-mail aliases and viola everything should start working within 2 hours, often sooner.

Step 5: Cancel your old WebID
Now that you don't need it anymore cancel your old WebID. Locate the close account form under Billing>Manage Account and close it! If you didn't take my advice earlier to transfer the domain to Namecheap they'll probably charge you a $10 cancellation fee. Also now would be a good time to login to the new WebID and remove your credit card from their file so they don't auto renew you when your year is up (its under the Billing>Make Payment tab).
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