There have been lots of tutorials on backing up a website and also different plugins for backing up a website but no one has been able to explain fully how to backup a wordpress.com website and migrate over to a wordpress.org self-hosted type of WordPress installation.
To anyone who does not know the differences between WordPress, I will explain in the table below:
|It is Hosted, you can start your website by just registering||You need to download the Wordpress file and install on your host (self hosted)|
|You need to register on wordpress.com||You need to get a web host from hosting companies and then install it, sometimes the webhost do have 1-click installation or install locally on your computer|
|Basic website functionality but you can upgrade your features with upgrading your plan||Wordpress is completely free but you need to pay for Webhosting|
|You cant upload plugins, and even on the upgraded plans not all plugins are allowed||Every plugins works with this both paid and free|
|No backend access, no access to database, no access to site core files unless on the paid plans||Complete access to edit code or site core files, access to databases|
|You cant upload themes, and even on the upgraded plans not all plugins are allowed so you are limited to wordpress.org themes||Every theme works with this both paid and free|
|A wordpress subdomain url is provided for you, but you can use your custom domain name (websitename.com) on the paid plans||You get your custom domain name when getting a host too.|
Now that you’ve known the difference, most tutorials have been about exporting your content from your wordpress.com site and import to your wordpress.org installation, but that method won’t take all your content over nor will it take your themes.
There are two methods to backup and move your wordpress.com site over to wordpress.org and they are listed below:
- Using a Plugin (Easy Method)
- Copying WP Folders
Both methods above quite easy to use, but it depends on the level of stress and the size of the website.
I will talk on both methods so you can have the choice of selecting any of the methods you prefer and if you have a problem with one of the methods you can switch.
Method 1: Using a Plugin (Easy Method)
This method is quite easy and can be accomplished by a non-developer.
Like we have established earlier not all plugins that work on wordpress.org works on wordpress.com, so plugins that I could have recommended for you are not going to work but during my test I came across a plugin that helped me backup a website or blog on wordpress.com to wordpress.org and the plugin is WP Vivid Backup Plugin.
This plugin as it a free version and its premium version but the free version works excellently well, and this tutorial is based on that.
You need to start from Searching for the plugin in the wordpress.com repository and then install and activate the plugin.
The plugin consists of eight tabs for lots of functionalities, and the tab we are concerned about is the Backup & Restore tab, it should display like the image below.
The Amazing thing about WPVivid Backup Plugin is that it splits your backup into many parts so it is easier to upload on a host that has a low limit to uploading files.
After backing up the website, you need to download all the split parts to your local computer.
Now, you need to install WordPress i.e., wordpress.org on the new location you want your website and also install WPVivid Backup Plugin on the new clean WordPress installation, then on the same Backup & Restore tab, you need to click on scroll down and click the Subtab called Upload, then you upload all the Backup parts and when it is complete, you can Restore the back up from the Backup tab as pointed out in the image above.
Your website files and its settings will be completely moved over for you and you will have your exact website on the new Webhost, and as I recommend, Bluehost Shared Hosting Plan is okay for everyone who needs a good web host that is cheap and has high 99% uptime.
Method 2: Copying Wp Folder
The WordPress folders of wordpress.com and wordpress.org are quite the same, but the files in it are a bit different because some of the files in wordpress.com files are dependent on WordPress.com engine and won’t work well on wordpress.org
So from my test, one folder is all you need to migrate your website wordpress.com to wordpress.org, and it is the wp-content folder. This folder contains every file you uploaded to your site, your themes and also plugins.
So you need to go to your wordpress.com admin dashboard and click on the file manager then zip up the wp-content, then you download it to your local computer.
Then you need to go to the phpMyAdmin section of your wordpress.com account and Export the SQL database of your wordpress.com site and if you are unsure of the database name due to having more than one databases listed in the PHPMyAdmin you can visit the wp-config.php file to get your database name and then export and download it to your local computer.
After downloading your wp-content folder archive, you need to install wordpress.org on your new Webhost.
Then you need to login to your new host Control Panel, or Cpanel then visits the Filemanager then delete the wp-content folder you see here and upload the wp-content folder archive you have on your local computer then unzip it in your public_html or htdocs or www folder depending on how it is written on your host. The next step is for you to upload the exported database file.
Since you would have some entries/ tables in the database table already created for the WordPress site you installed, you need to dump /delete or the table and import the SQL export into the database and the website should start working.
You can check your website homepage URL and it should be working now.
Things to note for both methods: Please endeavor to check the encoding of your database on both your wordpress.com site and wordpress.org site, and if they are different, please change it to the wordpress.com encoding so your website won’t be showing your website characters wrongly.