(Yikes, what a terrible pun. I apologize. Actually, no I don’t. I’m proud of it and I’d do it again.)
Moving your domain from one registrar to another is a relatively simple process that goes something like this:
- Initiate a transfer with the new registrar.
- Get an authorization code from the old registrar.
- Submit the code to the new one.
- Wait a couple of days.
There’s more to it than that, but not much. You may have to unlock the domain before it can be moved. You may run into roadblocks if you owe the old registrar money, or if the domain is close to expiration.
For example: I recently migrated all my domains from BlueHost to Namecheap.
- First, I created an account with NameCheap.
- I told NameCheap I wanted to transfer my domain.
- I logged in to my BlueHost account, unlocked the domain – making it available for transfer – and grabbed the authorization code.
- I entered that code at NameCheap and paid a nominal transfer fee
- The transfer took effect in about three business days.
There must be more to it than that, right?
Don’t Forget the Name Server
Don’t be in a rush to cancel your old account once the domains have been moved. There’s one more crucial step. You have to deal with the name servers first, or the connection between your domain and whatever it’s pointing at will be broken.
The name server is the server that controls the settings associated with your domain name. It’s where you tell the rest of the Internet what to do when someone tries to access your domain, whether that’s web traffic, email or anything else.
Most of the time, simply transferring your domain to a new registrar doesn’t change your name server settings. And that’s a good, because it also means you can move your domain from, say, BlueHost to NameCheap without knocking your web site offline or interrupting your email service. It’s also bad, because it can leave your old, soon-to-be-forgotten account with a critically-important role.
That might have been hard to follow, so here’s a more specific example.
I moved my domain registration from BlueHost to NameCheap. NameCheap imports my nameserver settings as part of that transfer. So now I’ve got a domain registered with NameCheap pointing at BlueHost’s nameserver, and BlueHost’s name server is pointing at my actual web host and email provider.
And that’s just fine… unless you cancel the BlueHost account. If that account goes away, so does the name server. And then your domain is pointing at nothing.
That’s exactly what happened to one of my clients recently. She’d moved her domain but hadn’t updated the server settings. Then she let the original account expire… and when it did, her site went down, and she had no idea why.
I’d like to spare you, gentle reader, that sort of heartache. So… a few words of caution.
- Remember: simply moving a domain usually doesn’t have any impact on the server settings.
- Never cancel an account or allow one to expire before checking to see if it controls anything important.
- And finally – if you’re moving domains with the intention of closing out an account, make sure you swap the nameservers too.
Too complicated? Understandable. If you’d like some help getting all your accounts sorted, give us a call.
Why did I illustrate this article with a rose? C’mon. Take another look at that awful pun in the headline. I have to flex my English major muscles every now and again. Photo by @cindyg via Pexels.