Hosting WordPress

SiteGround’s New WordPress Migration Tool: A Walkthrough + Honest Feedback


Written by

Dave Warfel

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4 minutes

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In August 2018, SiteGround released a new automated WordPress migration tool targeted at small business owners looking to switch their hosting to SiteGround (read why I switched to SiteGround from WP Engine in 2017).

At first glance, it looks super-easy to use. And I’ve used ~10 different WordPress migration plugins & tools over the years, and not a single one has worked perfectly on the first try. Ever. So clearly, I was skeptical.

The time has finally come to give SiteGround’s WordPress migrator plugin a try.

Watch the SiteGround WordPress Migrator Video

The Site Being Transferred

The site being transferred is a super-simple, small WordPress site for a fellow designer friend of mine. Less than 10 plugins. A pretty basic use of the Divi theme. Nothing fancy at all (other than the beautiful design, of course 😉).

I think it’s important to mention she is using WPMUDev’s Defender Pro plugin for added security. Security plugins are known (sometimes) to cause issues with automatic WordPress migrations.

Old Hosting: GoDaddy Linux Hosting – Economy


Please don’t hate on her and stop reading just because I mentioned the word “GoDaddy.” Many people still have sub-par experiences with them, but their old MO (modus operandi) is a thing of the past.

SEE: The Truth about GoDaddy

But obviously she (as have I) has chosen SiteGround over GoDaddy for a reason. SSL being a big one, and somewhat related to that, price.

SiteGround offers an unlimited amount of free SSLs, including wildcards, with one-click install & forced redirection to https.

But let’s get back to the migration…

This GoDaddy hosting appears to be an older, legacy version of their hosting. It does not use cPanel; rather, it’s own custom admin panel. But aside from that, there is nothing unique about her setup.

👨🏼‍🔧 Let’s Start the WordPress Migration

Immediately upon signing up for a new SiteGround account, you’re presented with an option to transfer an existing site. If it’s a WordPress, you can choose to use the WordPress Migrator plugin.

Choosing SiteGround's WordPress migrator option

After declining any further upgrades and clicking the Complete Setup button, you’re taken to a page to create a migration token.

Create Migration Token

SiteGround WordPress Migrator generate token page
Click the “Generate” button to generate a token

Copy this token or save it somewhere on your computer. We’ll need it in the next step.

SiteGround Migrator active tokens list
Your active tokens will show up here. Copy the token to your clipboard.

🔌 Install SiteGround Migrator Plugin

  • Now let’s go login to the WordPress admin area of our existing site
  • Navigate to Plugins > Add New
  • Search for SiteGround Migrator
  • Install & Activate the plugin

SiteGround Migrator plugin card

🏃🏼 Run the SiteGround WordPress Migrator

In your left navigation bar, click on SG Migrator.

SG Migrator menu item

Here’s where the magic happens!

  • Enter your migration token
  • Enter your email address to be notified when migration is finished (or has failed)
  • Click Initiate Transfer
Initiate transfer for WordPress SiteGround migration
Enter your token. Enter your email. Click the big orange button!

🤦🏼‍♂️ Migration Failed

Bad news. It didn’t work. Just like the handful of other WordPress migration methods I’ve tried.

SiteGround WordPress Migrator failed
Manifest file. What’s that?

I thought it might have something to do with the security plugin, Defender Pro.

Disabled Security Plugin. Let’s Try Again.

Nope. Same thing. SiteGround apparently still can not download the manifest file. Bummer.

Could It Be the Type of GoDaddy Hosting?

Possibly. But like I said, it was about as basic of a WordPress install as it gets. Maybe it had something to do with GoDaddy’s server.

SiteGround, if you’re out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what this error message means:

Can not download manifest file

🙂 Silver Lining?

For all new accounts, SiteGround offers one free website transfer. All you have to do is ask 🙋🏼‍♂️.

I ended up reaching out to SiteGround support and asked them to move the site for me. This is my first time having them migrate a site for me, so I’ll be sure to update this section as soon as its complete.

Fingers crossed they nail it! 🤞🏼

Have you had any experience with SiteGround’s WordPress Migrator plugin? It only has 2 reviews so far, but both are positive. What’s been your experience? Please share you existing hosting & site setup in the comments.

Dave Warfel

LinkedIn  •  X (Twitter)Dave has been working with WordPress since 2011. He's built 100s of client sites and almost a dozen of his own. He's tested almost every plugin you can think of, hosted with at least 10 different companies, and gone down every SEO rabbit hole you can imagine. When's he's not tinkering with new software, you'll find him in the mountains of Colorado, trail running, summiting peaks, and rippin' downhills on his mountain bike. 🏔️🏃🚴🤸

6 responses to “SiteGround’s New WordPress Migration Tool: A Walkthrough + Honest Feedback”

  1. Terry Briegel Avatar
    Terry Briegel

    I have tried SiteGround Migration wp PlugIn for 3 different websites on different hosting companies, AWS and media temple – no go for all 3. I thought it might be old PHP, nope, upgraded & still did not work, time out issue??? No Answers

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      I feel your pain. It’s obviously not working as well as they had hoped, and we would all like it to.

  2. Dami Avatar

    Nope, it doesn’t work. They had my hopes up there!

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Sorry it didn’t work for you either, Dami. I did receive a message from someone on their support team over on my YouTube channel. I’ll share it here:

      “There’s a file named siteground-migrator.log in your /wp-content/ folder which can give you more clarity about what caused the error but generally, in case the system fails to download the manifest file (list of everything it has to download), this means that there’s some firewall or incorrect permissions in your /wp-content/ folder that prevent it from reaching it. Since the first release we’ve done several tweaks to go around certain firewalls that used to block us incorrectly but alas we can’t cover every other hosting provider out there :(”

  3. Tom Avatar

    Just started trying it myself. failed 2 times and got a page about setting permissions to 755

    “The first one can be easily check. Could you please check your wp-content/uploads folders and see if there is a folder with name similar to the following:
    1536643523-7e13da2cec0c113c065bcdf1c65572e5f5b27be7. It should contain three folders /plugins, /themes and /sql.”

    then it failed and they pointed me to the log. I had a large backup on the site from restoring from a hack years ago. the log showed ” [type] => 1
    [message] => Allowed memory size of 2122317824 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 817283397 bytes)
    [file] => /home/sitename/public_html/wp-content/plugins/siteground-migrator/includes/class-siteground-migrator-files-service.php.

    I first reviewed the location and hit the backup file. did a FTP to my machine. and got an email of the failure

    “A copy of http://sitename has been migrated to SiteGround, as you requested. The database and most of the WordPress files of your website were transferred to the new server. However, the files listed below could not be transferred due to restrictions of the current hosting environment:

    I then increased MAX_FILE_SIZE in htaccess.
    once the massive backup was removed and htaccess was increased the program completed the file move.

    at least I am on file transfer done and onto site migration.

    1. Dave Warfel Avatar

      Wow. Good detective work there, Tom. Best of luck getting it all finished up & moved over.

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