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Need help moving a web site for a client, which I will call ClientABC. The web site is ClientABC.com, which is hosted at Rackspace, with their email hosted at eHost. We are transferring the site from Rackspace to WinHost and are keeping the email hosted at eHost. I would like the transfer to happen with little to no down time for the web site and email (email is most important).

Current Config:

  • Client owns domain and registrar is Network Solutions
  • Domain name is managed by VendorX at Rackspace
  • Web site is hosted on Rackspace servers
  • Email is hosted at eHost

Post-Move Config:

  • Web site is hosted at WinHost
  • Keep Email at eHost

Here is my plan for the transfer:

  • Copy the site files to WinHost and test to assure site is fully functional
  • Set up the MX record in the WinHost account to point to eHost servers
  • Change the DNS in Network Solutions from Rackspace to Winhost

Questions:

  1. Will this work?
  2. What am I missing?
  3. Should I expect down time or any issues with email?
  4. I understand that there will be a period of time that traffic to the site is handled at both Rackspace and Winhost and that email traffic will be routed through both hosts as well. Will this cause issues?
  5. How will I know when the change is fully propagated and that Rackspace is out of the equation and WinHost is handling everything (so I can kill the Rackspace account)

Thanks in advance!

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Interesting question, have you tried asking Racketspace, WinHost and eHost about this? –  Baumr Nov 28 '12 at 17:14
1  
The steps are fine and will work. Just remember you may need to update IP addresses and database username/passwords on the new host. After you change your DNS records, start checking the domain using a private browsing sessions and run ipconfig /flushdns on your windows machine. Private browsing usually works best to check on DNS propagation. –  Anagio Nov 29 '12 at 7:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted
  1. Yes, this will work.

  2. If you have a database to transfer you are missing some steps. (Like backup transfer, restore and lock the old one so no more updates happen from the old site)

  3. Since your e-mail will be handled by the same site you should see no downtime. However, if you have any SPF records you might want to make sure they are set right on both DNS servers.

  4. Technically, requests for the site/email servers after the DNS transfer will be handled by one or the other hosting service until the DNS records fully propagate. Allow up to a week for the DNS records to fully propagate. The only issue would be that new database updates on the old server will be lost.

  5. I do not think you can ever know when the new DNS records fully propagate across the Internet. However, I think you can functionally count on a week or less. Once you set the new DNS records at Network Solutions many DNS servers will be updated within 24 hours.

See if you can log into your old servers via IP address to check activity logs. Once the activity on the old server falls below an acceptable to you level you can complete the process.

I suggest using a tool like the DNSReport and Mail Server Test Center at DNSstuff.com before and after you change the DNS entries. These tools can help point out any issues or incorrect configuration.

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Thanks. The transfer of the site (including database migration) has been taken care of. The DNS changes are the bumpy part for me. I thought my plan of action was correct but best to get more eyes on it prior to pulling the trigger. I'll plan on keeping the Rackspace account for a few weeks after the switch prior to killing it. –  Leon Nov 29 '12 at 14:46
    
Glad it all worked for you @Leon! –  Kevan Sheridan Nov 29 '12 at 16:54
    
OK, did the DNS switch last night and I'm experiencing some odd behavior. I change the DNS setting at 11pm and then starting pinging the domain every 15 minutes from my PC and my MAC. At 3AM I received a response from the new IP address on my PC but not on my MAC. Whatever, I went to bed. At 9AM this morning, I pinged the site again and both the MAC AND the PC are showing the old IP address. I'm not overly concerned but it is weird to me that I saw the change temporarily on one machine and not the other and then they both reverted. –  Leon Dec 8 '12 at 15:02
    
@Leon It can take 24 hours for enough DNS servers to report the new IP address. Each time you make the attempt a different DNS server might be queried. Send me a private message with your domain and I will see what my results are. Also, try the DNSStuff link in the original answer. Run the domain test tool. –  Kevan Sheridan Dec 9 '12 at 2:58
    
@Kevin: Thanks. Everything seems to be fine now. What I found strange was that two computers on my home LAN were differing. The PC was showing the site on the new servers and the Mac the old ones. Once I restarted the Mac though, it started showing the new servers (confirmed via pinging the site as well). It seems as though the DNS info is somehow being stored on the Mac itself. Anyway, all seems good. Thanks again for your help! –  Leon Dec 9 '12 at 17:45
  1. Yes, your steps is right
  2. I believe only your database is miseed
  3. For email, it seems there will be no issue. But for your domain, I would recommend you to keep it with with Network Solution, you just need to point your domain to Winhost name server. The estimated downtime is about 12-24 hours.
  4. No idea.
  5. When you ping your domain and it shows Winhost IP address. The DNS records will update too.
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