We have currently around 40 websites and 80+ domains/sub-domains in a shared 1&1 hosting package, and we just acquired a managed dedicated server with 1&1 as well.

Now it's time to start transferring everything over to the new server. Transferring just the websites and databases wouldn't be a problem, it would take time but it's pretty straight forward.

The problem comes when transferring the domains, let me explain why. Many of the websites we have are accessible via sub-domains of a parent domain. Ideally, we would like to transfer the sites one by one, in order to check for each one that everything works fine in the new server. However, since we also need to transfer the domain so it's managed in the new server, once we do that means that all the websites using that domain need to be already in the new server before transferring that domain, thus not allowing the "one by one" philosophy.

Another issue is the downtime when transferring the domain, from the moment it stops working in the hosting package and becomes active in the new server. I believe there's nothing we can do here.

So my question is if there's any way we can do the "one by one" transferring of the websites (and their corresponding sub-domains) in the circumstances described above.

One idea I had would be:
1. Let's say we have website A, which is accessible using subdomain.mydomain.com (and there are many other websites accessible via other sub-domains of mydomain.com)
2. Transfer the files of website A to the new server
3. Point a test domain in the new server to the website A's folder (the new server comes with a "test" domain)
4. Test if website A works with that "test" domain
5. In the old hosting, somehow point the real sub-domain (subdomain.mydomain.com) to the new location of website A, in a way that user always see the same URL as always 6. Repeat 2-5 for every website belonging to the same domain 7. Once all are working in the new server, do the actual transfer of the domain to the new server, and then re-create all the sub-domains and point them to their corresponding website

That way, users wouldn't notice that there's been a change (except for a small down time of the websites when doing the domain transfer).

The part I'm not sure about is point 5 of the above. Is there any way to do that? I mean do it in a way that users see the original domain all the time in their browser, even for internal pages (so not only for the "home page", which would be sub-domain.mydomain.com, but also for example for the contact page, which would be sub-domain.mydomain.com/contact.php).

Is there any way to do this? Or are we SOL and we're going to have to transfer all at the same time?

  • Have you asked 1and1 if they're able to do the migration for you? That would be the first option I would look at. But the method you described would work also. You'd just need to point the subdomain's A record at your new server, and make sure that a Virtual Host is setup in Apache for it. May 2, 2013 at 17:31
  • yeah I asked them, I'm on my own basically... when you say "point the subdomains's record to" do you mean change the destination? Because then in 1&1 I see 2 destination options: "home directory" and "forward your domain" (which I assume is the one to use). Then, I can choose between frame redirect and http redirect. I think I'll try the first one (since the latter shows the final domain, which is what I don't want to happen)...
    – Albert
    May 2, 2013 at 17:57
  • You'd go to the subdomain the 1&1 control panel, and then select Edit DNS. In the "Advanced DNS" section at the bottom of the next page you can change the IP Address (A-Record) to the IP address of your new server. Then all requests for that subdomain will be routed to the IP address of your new server. You then need to make sure Apache on the new server knows where to direct those requests by setting up a Virtual Host for the subdomain on the new server. May 2, 2013 at 18:46
  • ok thanks! the only part that I'm not so sure about is setting the virtual host for the subdomain... I'm not sure how to do that or even if I can do that (we have a managed dedicated server, so no full root access, although I think I can ask them to do any changes we need in the server)
    – Albert
    May 2, 2013 at 20:54
  • Ya, I suspect they'd do it for you. To save you a bit of hassle you could even give them a list of all of your domain names so they could setup all the VHosts for you at one time, and then you could just move them one at a time as you test them. May 2, 2013 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


How are you "transferring" the domains? If you are changing authoritative DNS servers, then you are SOL. Time to setup your own DNS servers, setup the host records for the current (old) configuration, then "transfer" (change the authoritative DNS servers) the domains to your own DNS servers. Then you can change the host records of each website individually as needed when "ready to go live" with the new settings (IP or CNAME).

  • All those domains are "external" domains (not registered with 1&1, but managed with them by pointing their DNS to the ones in 1&1 DNS). To "transfer" those, I've been told by 1&1 to cancel/remove them from the 1&1 Control Panel of the old hosting and re-include them in the new one... I'm not sure what you mean by authoritative DNS, but the solution you propose could be interesting, I'll try to get more info about it, thanks!
    – Albert
    May 2, 2013 at 16:39

If you migrate a copy of the current site to your new hosting package can you not just update the DNS A Record for a specific subdomain and point it at your new IP to try it out?

This would seem like the best option and result in no downtime. Whilst the DNS changes propagate the old and new sites will serve responses so there is no interruption.

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