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I recently bought a .com domain name from a local registrar and I would like to transfer it to GearHost. This is the first time I've owned my own domain name, so there are still a lot of questions and confusion surrounding it all (you can probably tell by my use of certain words), but I'll try to keep it short.

Apparently, GearHost itself doesn't offer a way to buy a domain name, so it's necessary to buy the domain name from somewhere else and transfer it to GearHost. ICANN regulations also require that you didn't register/transfer it in the last 60 days. What I don't understand is: who actually owns the domain name after the transfer from that point onward? Or, in other words, who do I have to pay to be able to keep my domain name, since GearHost doesn't seem to offer the service of buying domain names?

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  • It appears that you don't need to transfer your domain name and wouldn't be able to even if you wanted do. GearHost is a hosting company, not a domain registrar. You don't need to worry about domain ownership during a transfer because you won't be doing one. You just need to figure out how to point your domain to your hosting. See my answer to "Can I use a third-party service to provide DNS for my site?" which explains the relationship between domain registrars, dns hosts, and web hosts. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 3 at 22:41
  • @StephenOstermiller That sounds much more sensible... I had a feeling I might not even need to transfer the domain name, but I wasn't sure. I like the domain registrar I used and they even offer a way to shield my identity, so I'd be glad if I could keep their services. I'll try to get the domain name pointed to my hosting service on GearHost... somehow. – Synn Ko Mar 4 at 15:22
  • "somehow" isn't even all that hard. Your biggest decision is which company to use as your DNS host. Most web hosting companies and most domain registrars offer DNS hosting as a bundled service at no extra charge. You can probably use either your registrar or your web host for DNS hosting. Then you need to set your NS records at your registrar to point to the DNS host (if you use your registrar as the DNS host, you shouldn't have to change NS records). Then you point your A and CNAME records to your web host (if you use your web host as your DNS host they should set that up for you). – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 4 at 15:48
  • @StephenOstermiller Alright, thanks for your help man, I'll give it a try when I'm back home. Using my registrar as the DNS host seems to be the path of least resistance, so I'll give that a try. – Synn Ko Mar 4 at 16:48
  • @StephenOstermiller So... good news! Worked like a charm. I changed two A records (domain.com and *.domain.com) to the IP of my hosting service and it redirects properly. However, there are two AAAA records (also domain.com and *.domain.com) with a value in the style of xxxx:xxx:x:x::xxx, which I don't get. Do I need to convert the IP address of my hosting service for these kinds of records? – Synn Ko Mar 4 at 21:46
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You don't have to transfer the domain to GearHost just point the DNS to GearHost.

So you will have two providers one for the domain (local registrar where you have bought the domain) and one for the hosting service (GearHost).

How To Configure DNS Records: https://www.gearhost.com/documentation/how-to-configure-dns

They strongly recommend you to test your site before changing the DNS records: https://www.gearhost.com/documentation/test-your-site-before-switching-dns

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  • In fact, it looks like GearHost isn't a domain registrar at all. So it probably isn't even possible to transfer the domain name to them. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 3 at 22:39
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The domain name remains yours of course, although you could resell it to someone by providing the auth code, and then the buyer takes care of the transfer.

Many webhosts act as resellers for domain registrars. This is perfectly legitimate but it is advisable to stick with reputable registrars. Many small companies are one-man shows - what happens if the owner has an accident, the business goes on autopilot mode and there is nobody to take over ?

Choose wisely.

Also, it is not recommended to use the same provider for webhosting and domain names. It's two different activities. A good webhost may not offer the best deal on domain names and vice-versa.

It is also about spreading risk. Some webhosts are quick to react to abuse and could terminate your account in case of DMCA or spam complaints (which could happen unintentionally, for example as a result of a hack), assuming they don't know you personally and therefore have limited trust.

It's not just the hosting that is at risk but also the domain names you bought with them. Another important rule: never hand over control of your domain name to a webmaster or some other party. In case of a commercial dispute (or accident), taking back control of the domain name could prove difficult.

It should be noted that even Icann-accredited registrars can be shady, a few have been terminated for various reasons including criminal convictions, and small registrars are still deaccredited from time to time, usually for non payment of fees and over compliance reasons.

Bottom line: do your homework, do research, do not do business with just anybody who happens to tick all the boxes.

In short: the domain name does not need to move and you host it wherever you want.

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What I don't understand is: who actually owns the domain name after the transfer from that point onward?

The same person than before the (registrar) transfer, theoretically.

Here is how things work on the paper:

  • a registry manages domains, and contacts
  • contacts (here and everywhere below contacts also include the registrant because at the technical level it is really just one contact among others) are tied to domains
  • any given domain name has one sponsoring registrar
  • a transfer is a change of sponsoring registrar: all other data remains the same.

Now it becomes more complicated for the following reasons:

  • contacts are "owned" in registry database by a registrar also: what most registries do in fact is clone the contacts during the transfer so that the data is the same but the new contact is also owned by the new registrar
  • of course as soon as the transfer is completed the new registrar is free to completely change the contacts and put "whatever else"
  • what many registrars do is to ask prospective customer during transfer setup and before starting it, what new contacts and nameservers possibly it want: as soon as the transfer completes, the registrar changes the data
  • as you have discovered, in gTLDs, as they are under ICANN rules, there is a specific procedure for both change of registrar and change of registrant.

so it's necessary to buy the domain name from somewhere else and transfer it

This is quite peculiar.

But as @sanditon said, maybe you are just thinking about setting the nameservers in which case you absolutely do not need to change the registrar for that you can use any registrar you want and just let the DNS provider tell you which nameservers to input through registrar panel. You also do not need to put your DNS provider as registrant of your domain. At best you can put it as technical contact for your domain, depending on the needs, the level of features of registrar UI and API and what kind of permissions there exist (what can the technical contact really do on the domain).

Said otherwise: it is very important that you always remain the registrant of your domain, no matter which companies you use to register it or run it in day to day operations (the DNS provider), and it makes sense to remain the administrative contact also.

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