This can seem like a daunting task, and for a big complex
website it can be. That said, the number of distinct tasks that need to
be done is fairly small:
- Get a new hosting account setup.
- Upload the existing website to the new hosting account.
- Check that the website works correctly on the new account.
- Configure e-mail on the new account.
- Update the DNS servers to point to the new hosting service.
- Wait a couple days.
- Close the old hosting account.
That really is all there is to the process. Unfortunately some of the
steps can be problematic. A significant percentage of domain registrations
have out-of-date admin contacts, and that can make it difficult update
the DNS servers.
Get a new hosting account setup.
This is easy.... e-mail us, or use the online form. The hardest part
is probably deciding which account type you want.
Upload the existing website to the new hosting account.
This is generally just a matter of FTPing to the old site and getting
all the files, then FTPing to the new site and putting the files on
the new site. If you are using Front-page, the process is similar.
If the existing site is simply static HTML, we can use a robot to try to copy
the files across for you.
Check that the website works correctly on the new account.
We always provide a "temporary name" for accessing the new account.
You should be able to use this to look at the files on the new server.
(Unfortunately, this doesn't always work well. The pages may
have absolute links including the normal domain name, so that
the links lead back to the old server, and images are loaded from
there. This step can be skipped, but it does mean risking a broken
site during the transition. )
Configure e-mail on the new account.
Normally you will want to try to copy the configuration from the old
server. This will mean getting a list of forwards and POP accounts
(ideally with their passwords) and then using the
http://yourdomain/sec-bin/vmail page to configure the new mail system
to match the old one.
Alternatively you might just want to start from scratch. You can setup
a "wildcard" forward which means that no mail will get rejected as
"user unknown". This can be a usefull starting point. The problem with the
wildcard is that spammers sometimes make up hundreds or thousands
of addresses at a domain, and obviously getting a thousand copies
of the same spam isn't pleasant.
Update the DNS servers to point to the new hosting service.
If the web content and e-mail are setup, it should be time to start
using the new service. This is normally done by changing the DNS
servers on the domain registration to point to the DNS servers for the
new hosting service. (For baremetal, these are ns.baremetal.com and
ns2.baremetal.com.) DNS server changes take a while to take effect and
not everyone will see the change at the same time. Our normal answer
to how long will this take is 2 to 3 days... which is a ballpark and
purposely high estimate.
Wait a couple days.
Because the DNS server cut-over does not occur instantly, you want to
keep both the old and new accounts active for a little while.
This implies that if mail is being stored on the old server, you will
need to retrieve mail from the old server for a couple of days. This
can be an issue if you use the domain name to retrieve mail. (Since
you're moving the domain name to the new server.) The best solution
is probably to reconfigure e-mail on the old server to forward to
another domain name.
Close the old hosting account.
This can be an important step, especially if the old site is hosted
with a big access provider.
You want to get the domain name removed
from the old service providers DNS servers.
(Otherwise none of their clients will see the new site, because the
provider will have [now] incorrect information in their DNS servers.)