Migrations and Updates

OIT Web Services will from time-to-time make updates to our existing hardware and/or migrate accounts between servers. When necessary, these transitions will be accompanied by appropriate SysNews and Change Management documentation, as well as email notifications to the contacts for affected accounts.

If you have questions or concerns related to a planned upgrade or migration, please contact Web Services directly: oit_web_services@help.ncsu.edu.

More information…

Testing Process

If you would like to test your site(s) on a different version of PHP or using other hardware ahead of a planned migration, Web Services staff can help facilitate this with the use of a VCL environment.

  1. We transfer a copy of your cPanel account with all content to a different server.
  2. At this point, you can test for any issues in the new environment.
    To test your domain(s) please visit vcl.ncsu.edu and connect to the environment named OIT Web Services – Testing cPanel Account Migration. This will load a connection which you can then use to view your sites. If you run into problems start with the VCL Documentation.
  3. Please note that your production environment will not reflect changes made in this test environment during the testing period. Any desired changes identified while working in the test environment will need to be performed in your separate production environment.

Changing PHP Versions

The cPanel environments provide multiple versions of PHP available at any one time. You can see the list of supported versions, as well as the timetable for the end-of-life of current versions, on the PHP website. You should plan ahead to update your sites to newer versions of PHP, and should anticipate that PHP versions will no longer be available in our cPanel environments ahead of security-support EOL deadlines.

To change the version of PHP for one or more of the domains hosted in your cPanel account please go to your cPanel Dashboard then look in Software > MultiPHP Manager. Here you can select the domain you want to update, then the version of PHP you want to use for that domain.

For those using WordPress, please be aware of any outdated plugins and themes: these are the most likely culprit in case of errors. For more information see Troubleshooting Tips below.

Action Items for Account Owners

When planning for an update or migration we ask that you discuss the following items with your content managers and developers:

  • Do you have any applications that are dependent on the actual IP address of the server your cPanel account is currently hosted from? (See the “Server IP Address Will Change” section below)
  • Are there any concerns with upgrading my version of PHP? (See “Changing PHP Versions” section)
  • When is an appropriate time to transfer the account? (See “Scheduling Time for Account Transfer” section below)

Any issues during testing that aren’t easily diagnosed? Check out some of our Troubleshooting Tips.

What’s involved with a cPanel account migration?

Server IP Address Will Change

The actual IP address of the hosted server will be different. The change of the IP address may be significant to account owners who are using IP address-based firewall rules to allow access from a specific cPanel server.

Account owners are responsible for communicating their need for IP address information if their account has been identified as one that will be transferred.

How will an account migration impact me?

The process of transferring an account requires a short period of time for the account data to be migrated to the new server and for the DNS records to be updated to the new server’s hostname. You will need to work with Web Hosting Staff to identify a 3-hour-window during which you cannot edit your site. Assuming you’ve done testing and are prepared for the transition, there should be little to no impact to your site(s) during the move, and you should not see significant downtime.

If there are issues after the migration we strongly encourage you to login and try to correct the problem in the new environment. You may want to review the section on Troubleshooting Tips for help in these cases.

In the case of major issues you may email oit_web_services@help.ncsu.edu to request that we revert your site to the old environment. Please note that it will take at least 30 minutes to revert to the old server due to the schedule of DNS updates on campus.

Troubleshooting Tips

Log Analysis

PHP error logs can be found in each account’s /home/<accountname>/logs/ directory. Each domain using php-fpm has its own log file. The naming convention for the file is <domain>.php.error.log.

Apache error logs for each account can be found in the cPanel account’s webUI under Home > Metrics > Errors. The Errors feature only shows the last 300 Apache errors that have /home/accountname> in the log entry.
Additional documentation from cPanel on their errors is available on their website.

Apache access logs for each domain are kept in the /home/<accountname>/access-logs/ directory. These can also be accessed via the cPanel webUI under Home > Metrics > Raw Access. Additional documentation from cPanel on their logs is available on their website.

PHP Versions

The most likely culprit for a site that is not working during testing is changes in the version of PHP. During testing you may downgrade your version of PHP to see if that corrects the issues (see Changing PHP Versions section above). Coming from older versions of PHP you may have issues during testing that can be resolved by downgrading, however we encourage you to troubleshoot these issues now and complete the migration to the latest version of PHP, if possible.


If you have a WordPress site you may find that it stops working or some parts no longer function normally. This is likely a problem with a theme or plugin not functioning properly. Start by making sure you have the most up-to-date version of all themes and plugins, and that your WordPress install is at its most recent version. You can see WordPress’s PHP and other hosting requirements on their Downloads page.

There are several tools to assist you with testing your WordPress site for PHP version issues. The PHP Compatibility Checker Plugin may help identify some errors or older code. You can also use the built-in WordPress debugging tool to help identify broken pages; instructions are available at Debugging in WordPress.