Migrate your site to Flywheel manually

Updated on June 4th, 2024

Manually migrating your site is usually the most time-consuming and complicated method. But, sometimes using a plugin isn’t an option, or you may simply have the files for your site (like a Flywheel generated backup).


If your site is live on another host or is running on a local dev environment, we recommend trying this method:

Migrate your site to Flywheel using the WP Engine Site Migration Plugin

Also, if your site exceeds 50MB then we recommend following this guide:

Import a database via WP-CLI


If you already have your site’s files and database handy, perhaps from a Flywheel generated backup, you can skip ahead.

Back up your site’s files

  1. Log into your current host’s cPanel and open the File Manager, or access your site’s file system via FTP.
  2. Download the wp-content folder (and any other root-level files or folders you wish to move over to Flywheel) to your local machine.


If you have issues accessing the file system or locating your wp-content folder, we suggest reaching out to your current host for assistance.

Export your site’s database

  1. Log into your current host’s cPanel and access your database using phpMyAdmin.
  2. Export your database in SQL format, making sure to include all tables.


If you have issues exporting your site’s database, we suggest you contact your current host for assistance.

Upload your site files to Flywheel via SFTP

  1. If you haven’t already, create a new site on Flywheel.
  2. 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, check out this help article: Access your site via SFTP.)
  3. Open up the wp-content folder of the destination site, and begin copying the files over from your local computer’s wp-content folder to your Flywheel site.


When uploading these files to Flywheel, you can either overwrite the existing themes, plugins, and uploads folders, or you can merge them with the files already present. Just be sure that all the files from the backup’s wp-content folder are uploaded to the wp-content folder of the destination site.


Core Files: As a managed wordpress host, Flywheel takes care of the WordPress core for you. This means you don’t need to upload any core files (in fact, those folders are locked down and inaccessible via SFTP).

Upload the database SQL file via the Database Manager

  1. Log in to your Flywheel dashboard and find your site.
  2. Navigate to the Advanced tab and locate the Database card. Click the Manage Database button.
  3. Select the Import tab.
  4. Click Choose File and locate the backup’s database file (the file with the .sql extension)
  5. Click Import File.


The Flywheel database manager has 50MB limit for importing. If your site’s files exceed 50MB we suggest following this help doc.

If necessary, update the database prefix

Your site’s prefix can be configured from the Advanced tab of the site’s Flywheel dashboard on the Database card. This value should match the database’s actual prefix.

  1. To confirm your database’s actual prefix, click Manage Database.
  2. Enter the term “users” in the search bar. This will bring up the users table, which is a trustworthy indicator of the database’s prefix.
  3. 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. In this example, the database prefix is “wp_”.
  4. If the prefix value on your site’s Database card differs, you can update it.
  5. Click the 3 dot menu icon next to the prefix and click Change.
    Change the database prefix in the Advanced tab of the site's Flywheel Dashboard
  6. Enter the database’s actual prefix and click Change Prefix.

If necessary, update domains and links to the Flywheel temporary URL

Depending on how the original site was built and how it stores its data in the database, this step may not be necessary. 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 by using a plugin like Better Search Replace, or by using SQL commands from the Advanced tab of the site’s Flywheel Dashboard. You can also reach out to Flywheel Support for a search-and-replace.

Need help?

If you have any questions our Happiness Engineers are here to help!

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