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It's often the case that I want to change name servers because my site is messed up.

Well, it takes a very long time for the name server to propagate.

Is there something in DNS, or registrar or anything I can do to speed that up.

Flushing my dns server using https://www.whatsmydns.net/flush-dns.html and it rarely works

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Is it a shared host or dedicated host? –  jjohnson Oct 23 '13 at 16:36
    
dedicated hosts –  Jim Thio Oct 23 '13 at 16:38
    
do you have root access to the dedicated host? –  jjohnson Oct 23 '13 at 16:46
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2 Answers

The "time to live" (TTL) on DNS records controls how long it takes for DNS changes to propagate. It is fairly common to set TTL to a low value like 30 or 60 minutes to be able to switch a web service over to a hot spare in case of downtime.

Here is an article about TTL that you may find helpful.

This does require the advanced planning of having already set a shorter TTL at the time that you need to fail over. If you need to fail over right now, you are out of luck. DNS will take as much time as your previous TTL setting.

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I believe that ISPS can set their own TTL however so even with a 1min TTL it doesn't mean that your domain will resolve every where across the world. There's 215 million or more domains in circulation and querying each each domain determined by the TTL for a lot of DNS servers would be overwhelming, there's few websites stating that TTL doesn't necessary reflect quicker prorogation, for example ISPS in the UK may honour the TTL for .co.uk domains but may have a set one for .nl because they believe its less important and resources are best served for popular domains... Not 100% but makes sense. –  bybe Oct 23 '13 at 19:08
    
It's true that not all ISPs will honour shorter TTLs, but in my experience the majority do, so lowering TTLs (if your DNS provider supports this) is still good advice for smoother migrations. –  Tim Fountain Oct 24 '13 at 10:13
    
Default TTLs are usually in the 1 day range. Anything 30 minutes or longer should be honored. Half an hour or an hour of downtime is much better than a day if you lower your TTLs to that. –  Stephen Ostermiller Oct 24 '13 at 11:07
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I recently ran into a similar issue, I couldn't update the live site until my ISP flushed their DNS cache (which was well over the 2hr TTL I had set). What worked for me was using Google's Public DNS https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/ It might not cause faster worldwide propagation, but it can allow you earlier access if your ISP is slow to update.

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