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Alternative Method: Manually migrating a site from your local computer or another host


There is a newer and easier way to migrate your own live sites to Flywheel here, but if you’re having trouble and want to try something else, you’re in the right place!

One question we get a lot is, “Can I migrate my site to Flywheel myself?” and the answer is YES!

Many of our customers migrate their own sites. Interested in getting started by migrating your own site to Flywheel? Get started by following these simple steps:


If you’re migrating a site from Local by Flywheel, we have an awesome new tool called Connect to Flywheel that will let you push your locally developed site live on Flywheel or pull sites you currently have hosted on Flywheel down onto your local computer. If utilizing that feature, there is no need for you to continue with this guide. However, if you perfer a more manual approach, another migration method you can try is exporting your Local site by right-clicking the site name, and choosing “export.” From there, you can skip down to step 6!



Install and activate the free BackWPup plugin from the Plugins tab in your WordPress Dashboard

Alternatively, you can download the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory here.


We recommend using the BackWPUp plugin to fetch a copy of your WordPress site. The process in this document is our recommended method, but you can also copy your ‘wp-content’ folder and export a copy of your database through PHPMyAdmin if you have access to that tool.

Create a 'New Job' from the BackWPup menu on the left hand column of the WordPress dashboard.


Make sure the ‘Database backup,’ ‘File backup,’ and ‘Backup to Folder’ options are all checked. Create a name for your archive and click ‘Save changes.’



Click the 'Files' tab from above and choose the files you're exporting.


Usually, your specific site files (like themes and uploaded photos) are the most important files to copy. They’ll be located in the wp-content folder. Be sure to un-check the last box titled ‘Include Special Files’ and select ‘Save changes.’





Begin the backup by selecting the 'Run Now' button at the top of the page.




Select the 'Backups' menu from the BackWPUp dashboard tab and select the 'download' button next to the backup you just ran.




Download and unzip the archive to get the files your site just exported


You’ll be able to extract files from the archive just by double clicking on a Mac, but you’ll have to use a program like 7-Zip if you’re using Windows.


If you haven't already, create a new site on Flywheel. Log in to your Flywheel SFTP account and open the destination site folder.


(If you’re not sure how to connect to your Flywheel site via SFTP, that’s covered in this help guide.)

Open up the wp-content folder of the destination site, and begin moving the files over from your local computer’s wp-content folder to your Flywheel site.

Make sure you grab all of the files in the backup wp-content folder you just unzipped and upload them to the wp-content folder in your Flywheel site. You can either overwrite the existing themes, plugins, and uploads folders or you can merge your backup with the files already present. Just be sure that anything in the local wp-content folder gets uploaded to the wp-content folder in the destination site.



Upload your SQL database backup.


Once all the files have been uploaded, log in to your Flywheel dashboard and click into your site. Then choose the ‘Advanced’ tab and move over the database manager on the right. Click the ‘Manage’ button.



Select the 'Import' tab and upload your .sql database file. Click 'Import File.'



Ensure that your database prefix (like 'wp_') matches up, and change it if necessary.


Your database prefix can be seen in the Advanced tab of the site’s Flywheel Dashboard. Just click the ellipsis icon next to the prefix and click “change.” Enter the database prefix that matches the prefix of the tables in the SQL backup file that you just uploaded. (The database prefix is an identical string of characters at the beginning of every single table name in your database. The default is “wp_” but frequently varies. Prefixes almost always end with an underscore.)

Change the database prefix in the Advanced tab of the site's Flywheel Dashboard


(Conditional) Update all site domains and links to the Flywheel temp domain.

Depending on how the original site was built and how it stores its data in the database, this step may not be necessary. But often, the domain which was being used to build the original site being imported will still remain in the database.

You can easily run a search-and-replace, if necessary, by using a plugin like Better Search Replace, or by using SQL commands from the Advanced tab of the site’s Flywheel Dashboard, if you’re comfortable doing so. Otherwise, feel free to reach out to Flywheel Support for a search-and-replace.

You’re done! After you have your site migrated, you’ll be able to go live on Flywheel!


Depending on the setup of the site you migrated, a search/replace of the database may be necessary to update from the previous domain to the Flywheel temp domain.

If you can get logged into WordPress on your Flywheel site at this point, you can run that search/replace using a plugin, if needed. Otherwise, if you’re savvy with SQL, you can run a command to make that update from the SQL tab of the database manager. But if neither of those are options, just contact us and we’ll be happy to make that update for you.


While migrating your own site is a snap, we’ll also do it for you free of charge! Interested? Just fill out our free migration form and we’ll get right on it.

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