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I just transferred a domain from GoDaddy to NameCheap.com. There was a period of downtime until I configured the proper settings at NameCheap. During this downtime browsers returned a 408 Request Timeout error. Next time, how do I avoid the downtime during domain transfers because the previous registrar's name servers stopped serving records? Specifically transfers to NameCheap (from GoDaddy).

Note this question differs slightly from Domain transfers - handling the downtime because NameCheap copied the GoDaddy name server information for the domain, but GoDaddy name servers stopped serving DNS records. When I switched to NameCheap's name servers, I had to manually re-enter all the records.

I could swear on a previous transfer (also from GoDaddy to Namecheap) the DNS records were all transferred automatically, with no downtime. What did I do differently last time? Was it just a matter of switching the name server ASAP? I think the issue is configuring the domain to use NameCheap's name servers before GoDaddy's name servers stop serving records.

I've thought of two possible solutions, but I'm not sure if either is feasible:

  • set the TTL for the records at GoDaddy to a very long value (might not be possible if I don't already own the domain)
  • use an intermediate, third-party name server

Any better ideas?

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In order to avoid downtime, I very carefully set up a third party nameserver (not the new or the old provider), and then transferred the name service from the old provider to it. The old provider (Easynet) deleted the data from their nameservers immediately, even though I was still paying them for nameservice (at a ridiculous rate) and had not told them to take anything off their nameserver. We had a days downtime before the records propagated and the new nameservers took over. I was very annoyed at Easynet. Don't use them for name service. You cannot ever leave. –  rjmunro Mar 17 '12 at 10:32
    
@rjmunro I just went through exactly the same thing transferring from namecheap to dnsmadeeasy. As soon as I transferred the DNS out they deleted the records, rather than waiting for the cache period to expire. Extremely high volume website, which is also my livelihood. Frustrating is an extreme understatement. –  Nathan Stretch Apr 2 at 2:53
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well, should have checked the NameCheap knowledgebase, first: How to transfer a domain into Namecheap without a huge downtime?

NameCheap offers a FreeDNS service so their name servers can start handling DNS requests before a transfer. I suppose it would keep working when transferring away from NameCheap, too.

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This still causes downtime since NameCheap's FreeDNS won't let you add your records to it until you change the domain (at the old registrar) to use FreeDNS. Dumb. –  Dan Feb 4 at 16:51
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I recently did a similar switch, but this time I was ready. This is what I did.

  • Duplicate ALL of your DNS records from your old nameserver host to your new nameserver host. Use the same TTL, unless you have a reason not to do so.
  • Wait until the new nameservers respond to your DNS queries. You can use dig @newnameserver yourdomain.com A +short to see if it responds.
  • Change your registrar nameservers to point to your new nameservers.
  • Wait a few days for the new nameservers to propagate across the world (better safe than sorry)
  • Cancel your old nameserver host

True, this made migration a multi-day affair. When I did a transfer from webhosting/namehosting to a new host, I first did steps 2-3, which took less than a day (the new nameserver host didn't always pick up changes right away). This was on a Wednesday. The following Saturday I did the actual web site transfer, then did the last step the following Monday. Only a few users had issues because I accidentally set the CNAME for www to ghs.google.com (heh).

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I'm not sure if duplicating and waiting is possible (with NameCheap): transferred domains have a special pending status until the domain is released by the other registrar. The required "Host Management" and "Advanced Options" don't seem to be available until then (can't confirm because I don't have any pending domain transfers at the moment). –  Leftium Jul 11 '11 at 23:40
    
You're better off keeping your registrar hosting separate from your nameserver hosting. –  laebshade Jul 17 '11 at 14:06
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There are several parts that need transferred and the way to avoid downtime is to transfer one part at a time in the right order.

I'm assuming that you had everything under one roof with godaddy being the register, dns providers, web host etc, all in one package. So when you transferred the domain, godaddy stopped all the servers at one time. To avoid downtime you have to control and modify the different parts severalty. For example, I would register a domain with one company, use the dns services of another and buy hosting space from a third. This is more complex to set up and might cost more but gives you more control.

The control comes in being able to change the provider of one of these parts without disrupting the service of the other parts. You could change hosts or change registrar without interrupting the dns service, just altering the dns settings.

When changing the DNS, it's recommended to set a very short TTL time so that the DNS changes propagate quickly. If you set a very long TTL, then visitors will continue to be sent to the cached, old, DNS settings until the end of the TTL time.

Moving process:

  1. Backup everything, files, database, email settings, the lot, just incase it all goes wrong.

  2. Set the TTL times on your DNS to a short value.

  3. Copy all your files, databases and settings to the new host (if you have a dynamic site, you may need to restrict some behaviour for some time or set a read only mode to prevent data being lost during the transfer.)

  4. Test the the copy worked correctly.

  5. Change the old DNS system to point to the new web server and check the site is loading. (if checks out you can re-enable the full dynamic behaviour now.)

  6. Copy the DNS settings from the old server to the new DNS server.

  7. Change the nameservers at the registrar to point to the new DNS server.

  8. Check the site works, wait a few days for everything everywhere to propagate to the new settings, and then turn off the old nameserver.

  9. If transferring registrar, do that step last before closing the old account.

You suggest using a intermediate, third party DNS service. I'd suggest that you use a third party DNS service not only as an intermediary, but as the main DNS provider.

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