One of the main deliverables that we provide here within our company is migrating old websites into newer and modern frameworks and CMS’s. A lot of the times our clients simply opt to have a new site redesigned completely, which most of them are long overdue for.
Other times they just want their site moved to a new host, and this is where it gets tricky.
Site builders don’t necessarily render HTML as-is. Most of the time they are dependent on all sorts of different libraries and templated CSS that is stored on their servers.
This poses a number of problems, mainly the fact that you can’t simply “download” a copy of the website very easily.
Another problem is that a lot of times site builders such as Intuit does not allow FTP access.
Now, there are a number of ways to skin a cat. Certainly you can download everything by hand and clean it up yourself. More savvy users can even create a script to do this themselves.
This method is meant for novice users and users that just want it done, quick.
1. First thing to do is identify the website that you need to copy or rip. In this case we will use www.trueearthgreen.com. The site has to be moved and we have no access.
2. Download this amazing, free, open-sourced program to your PC called HTTrack. HTTrack has been around since the beginning of the century and always delivers.
3. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the program, fire it up and follow the on-screen directions. When choosing a “base path” make sure to create a new directory. This is where all of your files will be downloaded to. Name your project whatever you want, same with the category.
4. Next, enter the website that you wish to copy or rip. You can also import a text file with your URL(s) but for now we are only using 1 URL.
5. You can skip these options, there are a ton of advanced options to play with FYI.
6. You are then taken to the transfer screen which will give you a rundown of the process as it happens. In this case it took about 2 minutes. HTTrack will download all of the files, images, and code on the website and assemble it in a nice package (folder) on your local computer.
Depending on what kind of site you’ve mirrored, you may need to make some adjustments before you go uploading this to your server.
First of all, check with whoever you are copying from to make sure it is ok. You also might want to check to see if the images that you are copying are free to use. A lot of the times the images within site builders are under some sort of license, so you may want to swap those out.
Also remember that the best way to transfer a website is to do it from host to host. That is, transfer files and databases and link everything up. This is a very down and dirty method.
Next, everything might not work the way it did. For instance, if you rip a site from a CMS it is going to spit out plain HTML into a folder and it “is what it is” more or less. It might look ok, but there won’t be any back end or any other kind of functionality that it had – so keep that in mind.
Same goes with an eCommerce site. I wouldn’t even bother trying to rip an eCommerce site unless you just want a copy of the product images/descriptions. It won’t work.
Here are a list of site builders that this has been known to work with: Godaddy, Wix, Yahoo, Intuit, and more.
If you have any questions or if you have a better method I’d love to hear about it in the comments.