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I have a live site with an existing web host; the domain is reg'd with an independent third party. I would like to sign up with a different host, but this host requires me to provide a domain for the new site. I'd like to use the existing domain, but I don't want any changes to DNS or downtime on the existing site, while I build the replacement at the new host. Why is the new host requiring a domain? They offer a temporary URL / IP-based access for new sign-ups, so I don't understand why, strictly speaking, a domain name is needed for sign-up.

( This -- If I use a web hosting service with a custom domain name then later want to move to a different host, will I be able to use that same domain name? -- was the closest thing I could find, but doesn't really answer my question ).

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    Transferring a domain to a new host does not mean downtime. This is one time you will have to dive into the deep end of the pool. Copy your site to the new host and check that it works okay then update your DNS records. With overlap in having both sites up and running, there is no downtime. – closetnoc Jun 21 '17 at 16:04
  • Okay, that concurs with what I imagined should happen in such a situation. Thanks for the comment. – bernz Jun 29 '17 at 17:20
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They do so because they can't create a hosting account without the domain name. All providers use the control panel to manage hosting so they can't create hosting account without domain.

But it doesn't mean that your domain should be pointing to the new hosting provider. You can just keep your domain as it is while working on your new website on new hosting account. Specifying the domain name while purchasing new hosting account does not break your existing website unless you change the DNS.

As far as I know, all providers provide a temporary URL, but after your account is provisioned. There is no reason for not to offer temp URL. You can confirm with them before you buy.

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    This is a useful first answer. You could improve it by addressing whether or not it would break his existing site if he were to specify the domain name at the time he created an account at a new host. – Stephen Ostermiller Jun 21 '17 at 20:13
  • Indeed, they provide a temporary URL and even access-via-IP-address, I just wanted to make sure they wouldn't be likely to try to modify anything DNS-wise ( don't think they could anyway, as my registrar is the only one authorized to make such changes on my behalf ). Thanks for the clarifications and answer. – bernz Jun 29 '17 at 17:19

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