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Migrating Hosting Accounts
Plesk to DirectAdmin

Date: 15 August 2007

Migrating Hosting Accounts: Plesk to DirectAdmin:

There's no easy way to migrate hosting accounts from Plesk powered servers to DirectAdmin servers, and many web hosters using Plesk powered servers may decide to continue hosting on Plesk powered servers those sites that are on them now, and only use DirectAdmin servers for new accounts.

We do offer Plesk to DirectAdmin migration services, including consulting and server administration; please contact us for further information and for pricing if you're interested.

Migration from Plesk powered servers to DirectAdmin is neither quick nor easy. It's a long and tedious process.

Should you decide to do it yourself, this outline of steps should help you. However, please note that we do NOT guarantee this procedure mimics the exact procedure we use, nor do we guarantee that there are no mistakes in this procedure nor that we haven't accidentally left out an important step or steps, or that the steps here are all that will be required for a specific site to work on your new DirectAdmin server. You should never shut down your old Plesk powered server until after you've assured yourself that everything works on your new DirectAdmin Server.

Note: This whitepaper does not include the transfer of email between your Plesk powered server and your DirectAdmin server. Moving email can be easy if you first convert your DirectAdmin server to use Dovecot and the Maildir email file format.

  • Before starting any migration assure yourself that you've installed all the software required by all the sites, on your new DirectAdmin Server.
  • Create a list of all account information for accounts on the Plesk powered server, including all email boxes, forwards, mailing lists, etc., for each account.

Then, for each site on the Plesk powered server:

  • Create the site on the DirectAdmin server using the DirectAdmin interface.
  • Create all virtual email users, mailboxes, forwards, lists, etc., on the new DirectAdmin server, using the DirectAdmin interface.
  • Create the catchall setting on the new DirectAdmin server, using the DirectAdmin interface.
  • Plesk powered servers use multiple types of email users in some cases where DirectAdmin uses one. For example, Plesk powered servers have both Redirect mail users and Mail Aliases, but DirectAdmin uses only Forwarders.
  • The Plesk Web User feature is not directly available under DirectAdmin; if a site on the Plesk powered server has Web Users, you'll need to either create subdirectories inside your main site, or subdomains (which will automatically create subdirectories). Then you'll need to create ftp accounts for users to be able to upload files to their own space.

Now let's move on to moving the sites from your Plesk powered server to your new DirectAdmin server. Note that if you don't have enough space on your Plesk powered server or on your new DirectAdmin server to tar up all the sites at once you may need to do the move in multiple steps.

  • First, as user admin, create a new directory on your new DirectAdmin server:
  • Second, as user root, create a new directory on your Plesk powered server:
  • Then tar up each site you're moving. If there's enough room on the Plesk powered server to tar up all the sites at once you can run these commands:
    # cd /home/admin/sites-to-move
    # tar -czvf vhosts.tar.gz /home/httpd/vhosts
    If there's not enough room on the Plesk powered server to tar up all the sites at once you can run these commands, individually, for each site (replacing with the domain name of the site you're tarring up to move:
    # cd /home/admin/sites-to-move
    # tar -czvf /home/httpd/vhosts/

  • Move the tarball (or tarballs, one at a time) from your Plesk powered server to the DirectAdmin system. From the Plesk powered server, logged in as root, run this command:
    # scp /home/admin/sites-to-move/*
On your new DirectAdmin server the following steps will install the site contents:
  • First, as root, untar your sites:
    # cd /home/admin/sites-to-move
    # tar -xzvf vhosts.tar.gz
    Or if you're moving one site at a time (this example is for site
    # cd /home/admin/sites-to-move
    # tar -xzvf

  • On your DirectAdmin server, on a site-by-site basis, install your sites.
    First navigate to the httpdocs directory of the site you're installing (exactly how you do this will differ depending on whether you moved sites individually or as one tarball). Then navigate to the directory directly above the httpdocs directory:
    # cd ..
    Then run these commands (being sure to use the username and domain name for the domain you're installing):
    # mv httpdocs /home/USERNAME/domains/DOMAINNAME/
    # mv cgi-bin /home/USERNAME/domains/DOMAINNAME/httpdocs
    # mv httpsdocs /home/USERNAME/domains/DOMAINNAME
    # cd /home/USERNAME/domains/DOMAINNAME/
    # rm -Rf public_html
    # rm -Rf private_html
    # mv httpdocs public_html
    # mv httpsdocs private_html
    # chown -R USERNAME:USERNAME public_html
    # chown -R USERNAME:USERNAME private_html
    # chmod 755 public_html
    # chmod 755 private_html
    Note that you may also need to change directory and file permissions of files inside the public_html and private_html directories, as required for the sites to work properly. In general, DirectAdmin prefers files to be chmod 644, and directories to be chmod 755, all owned by the site owner user. However this could differ in the case of php or cgi files or programs.

See notes below for important issues concerning cgi-bin files and for additional steps to take if the site is protected by a secure site certificate.

If any of the sites on your Plesk powered server have web users you'll have to move the contents of their web users directories to a subdirectory or subdomain you create in DirectAdmin; see notes above.


If any site contains any CGI programs they may or may not just work after they're moved.

If they don't work, the first thing to check would be any paths they require either in their code or their configuration files; the paths on the Plesk Server are significantly different from those on your new DirectAdmin server.

It may be necessary to reinstall CGI programs on the new server using FTP and the directions published for them.


Your Plesk powered server kept html pages and other files to be accessed only through the https protocol in a different directory, which for our example would be:
On the new server the directory will be:

When uploading files for the secure directory on the DirectAdmin server they should be placed into that directory.

You'll also need to reinstall the Secure Site Certificate on your new DirectAdmin server. You should be able to do that through the DirectAdmin User Control Panel, but be sure to read the instructions.

You'll need both the Certificate file and the Key file. If you don't have them both you may need to get a new Secure Site Certificate. Please contact us for information on purchasing site certificates for as little as us$35.


Your DirectAdmin server will keep Webalizer stats for display from the DirectAdmin User Control Panel. Old stats from your Plesk powered server will not be integrated with the DirectAdmin Webalizer stats. You can view them from either a secure (https) or insecure (http) page on the site if they're moved to a directory inside either the public_html or private_html directory (don't forget to change directory and file permissions and ownership if required). You may want to call the directory old-stats instead of stats, as you can make a setting in the DirectAdmin User Control Panel which will make the DirectAdmin Webalizer stats available in public_html in a stats directory.


You should make sure your site works properly on the new server before deleting any files.

The best way is to add a line with both the IP# and the name of the new site with the "www" prefix (for example, and, to your local (desktop) system's "hosts" file (see your system documentation for the location of the hosts file), and then running a new instance of your browser.


Once you're sure you're done you may want to archive the tarball. If you do, first create a directory at /home/sites-moved and then move the tarballs there. If you don't want to archive it you may delete it.


DirectAdmin automatically creates a DNS zone file when you create the site, so the last step is to tell your registrar to look at DNS on your DirectAdmin server.

When your new DNS settings propagate across the Internet, viewers will start viewing the sites on your new DirectAdmin server.


This white paper is Copyright©2007 Nobaloney Internet Services. You may copy it for distribution in any media as long as you copy it in it's entirety including this end section and Copyright notice. Please contact to notify us of any errors or inconsistencies.


Jeff Lasman
NoBaloney Internet Services
15 August 2007

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