How to Change Web
Hosts and Avoid Downtime
Let's face it - quite often many people tolerate less than great
service from their hosting provider simply because it can be a real
pain to move your site, your domain name and your email accounts
without creating major downtime for you and your site visitors.
Here's a general checklist to follow to ensure that you have the
smoothest move possible, and hopefully with no down time.
Step 1: Get all of your files local.
Using a basic FTP program or whatever development tool you may be
using, such as FrontPage, download all current files used in your
web site including graphics, html files, and anything else that
may be used in your site. Most likely you already know this - but
when you are copying down your files you want to keep the directory
structure exactly as it is on your web server. If you built the
site then most likely you already have all of this.
Step 2: Analyze your hosting needs and select a new host.
Is your site just basic html or will you need a host that provides
specific features? Depending on your site needs, select a host that
can provide what you need. MySiteSpace
offers comprehensive plans to suit the needs to most web sites.
Most hosts these days allow you to either handle the domain name
change yourself, or they can handle it for you. Just so your domain
name does not get switched faster than you can get your new files
posted, you may want to handle the domain name change yourself.
Be sure they know to still add a record the their DNS, but that
you will handling the NIC record change.
Step 3: Get everything loaded to your new server.
Before making the domain name change, go ahead and load up all of
your site files to your new host using temporary login information
mosts hosts provide prior to your domain name resolving to the new
account. Although they won't really work yet, go ahead and set up
all of the email accounts that are used on your domain as well.
Be sure to create a "catchall" address just in case you
forgot to someone - at least their email will not bounce.
Step 4: Initiate the domain name record change.
Through whatever registrar you used to register your domain, initiate
the name change. Technically speaking the only thing that really
need to be changed in your record is the name server information.
If you host has not already provided you with this information,
just email their support and ask what their Name Server information
is. It is also a good idea to update the technical contact on your
domain name record to your new host, although that is not required.
Step 5: Monitor for the domain name change.
Depending on who you used to register your domain through, you should
get one or more emails confirming the domain name change. Once the
change has been initiated it will typically take 24 - 48 hours for
the entire world to see the change. This period is called propagation
and is simply the time it takes for all the DNS servers around the
globe to "catch up" and take note of your domains new
location. Once propagation has completed its course you are free
to safely cancel service with your previous host.
A note about the Propagation period: As mentioned
before, it takes about 24 - 48 hours for the domain name change
to propagate through everyone's DNS server. This means that during
this time some people will get the new site, and some will still
get the old site. As far as web surfing, that's really no big deal
but can be tricky in regards to email. Depending on where an email
is from, it may go to your new email server or your old server.
To safeguard against losing messages, try creating 2 accounts for
your email address, and use each mail server's IP address instead
of the domain name in your POP settings. For example, if you are
using mail.yourdomain.com as your pop settings, try replacing that
with the IP address of your web site or email server. Creating an
account that checks both mail servers insures you don't miss any
messages during this 24 - 48 hour period.
Learn how to change hosts
without losing emails.
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