Today I want to introduce you to a new plugin by our friends over at WPMUDev that makes migrating your WordPress websites quick and easy. There are some great migration plugins out there, and some that are better off left alone Now we add Shipper, WPMUDev’s contribution to this category.  This plugin claims to be the easiest and most effective migration plugin ever released. But does it live up to this claim? In this review, that is exactly what we are going to try to determine.

What Is Shipper?

Shipper is a brand new WordPress migration tool that is designed to make migrating WordPress websites a breeze. Whether you are moving your site between hosts or setting up a new staging environment on your current host, this plugin promises to make it easy. The plugin is easiest to use on WPMUDev’s new managed hosting (currently in beta), but can also be used to move sites to and from any other host.

What makes this plugin so easy to use? Well, firstly, unlike most migration plugins, Shipper does not use FTP/SFTP. So you do not need FTP/SFTP credentials. This is great since some hosts do not provide FTP access. 

Shipper is a premium plugin, which means you need to be a member of WPMUDev.This will set you back $49.95 a month at the time of this writing. But with everything you get from membership, it is well worth the cost. Membership will get you unlimited access to tons of great plugins as well as the WPMUDev Hub which gives you a central location to manage unlimited WordPress websites.

How Does Shipper Work?

I think the easiest way to show what Shipper can do is to show you how it works. So let’s walk through the process of migrating a site with Shipper. The first thing you will want to do after installing shipper on your source website is to click the Shipper link in the WP Admin Menu. You will be greeted by the Captain asking you if you want to import a site from another site to this one, or export to a new site. For our purposes, let’s click Export.

On the next screen, you have a couple of options. The first option is to add a destination. The destination needs to be a site you have added to your WPMUDev Hub. So if the site is not already in your Hub, click this option. Don’t worry, the site does not have to be hosted on WPMUDev, it just needs to be added to the Hub management interface.

If you have already added the destination site to the Hub, you will see a drop-down displaying all of the sites in your Hub. Simply select the site you want to move to and click the go arrow.

destination

The Shipper will now conduct a pre-flight check to see if there are likely to be any issues with the migration. In most cases, this will check out fine and you can just continue. The most common potential issues I see are MySql or PHP version differences. If you have the ability to do so, you can switch the versions on your source server and run the check again. If Shipper finds errors, you will need to resolve them before you can continue. However, you can choose to ignore “warnings” and in most cases, you will be fine.

preflight

Once you are satisfied, click “Begin migration” How long this takes will depend on the size of your site. You do not need to keep this window open and you will get an email notification once the migration is finished. Oddly, Shipper may not give a very accurate estimate of time to completion. For example, I migrated a 2,6 GB site in about 10 minutes, but shipper estimated it would take 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Once you get the completion email, review the newly migrated site very carefully. So far, I have done around 25 migrations with this plugin and every one has completed without error.

As you see, using this plugin is extremely easy and it is highly effective in my experience so far. If you do a large number of migrations, I highly recommend Shipper.It is a simple to use and reliable plugin. 

What About The Import Option?

The alternative way to migrate a site is by importing from a source site. The process here is essentially the same but done form the destination site rather than the source site. The primary use for the import feature is when importing a staging site to a live site. But to be honest, I advise using the export option at all times for simplicity sake.

Conclusion

Migrations used to be difficult and drawn out processes, especially for those with little technical skills. Fortunately, plugins like Shipper have taken the pain out of migrations and made it possible to migrate sites in fewer steps and much faster. As far as migration plugins go, Shipper is one of the best I have seen. Give it a try!

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