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Simplify Your Website Hosting

What happens when you switch your website host? On the surface, it usually appears to be seamless. But if you’re recovering from an outage and need to update your website or need to move it to another host, there are a few things happening behind the scenes that you should know about.

Whenever anyone types in the name of a website, usually preceded by www and followed by a .com or .net, it’s actually referencing a numeric code that corresponds to a specific location on a specific server. They’re known as the DNS records. When you move your service from one host to another, your domain (, which corresponds to your website and email addresses, stays the same. The DNS records change. Other servers use those DNS records to connect people to your site or send you and everyone else in your company email.

Your DNS records are held by the company that registered your domain name. We recommend that you have that company host your site and email unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise. The more complicated the route and the more parties involved, the longer it takes for your hosting changes to be recognized over the Internet.

You can run into even more problems if you don’t have your access information. Usually you need your email address and/or username and your password. For Go Daddy, you also need your customer number.

If you don’t have that information, call the company that has your domain registration or the person who handled it for you. Make sure you are the owner of your domain. If not, make arrangements to gain it. Do it well before the domain registration expires. There are procedures to follow, but they get a lot more difficult when you’re within three or six months of the expiration date.

If the person who registered your domain is nowhere to be found, not available or uncooperative, we can help you work through the resolution procedure, including locating the registrar holding your DNS records. If you can identify that you are the owner of the company using the domain name, you generally can get access to the records and ownership. Call us at 973-433-6676 or email us to help with any DNS issues.

Most people run into problems moving their website hosting when they don’t plan ahead. Here’s what you should do:

  • If you don’t know who are the registered owners, administrative contact and technical contact for your website, run a “who is” search. In Internet terms, it’s whois. A simple way to find your site info is to type whois and your (or net…) into a Google search box. It should give you places to look. You can also go to Go Daddy.
  • If you’re with Go Daddy, for example, it will show as public information the contacts – with phone numbers and email addresses – and the DNS records. Write down that information and store it in a safe place.
  • Resolve any ownership and access issues. The major registrar companies have 24-hour customer service and procedures to verify you are the owner or should be. The process can take a few days, so don’t make this a last-minute proposition.
  • Gain access and make sure you have control.
  • Contact the company that you want to host your website. They will need the access information, so be prepared to share it. (You can always change it later if you need to.)
  • If you’re moving your hosting, don’t tell your current host. They could pull the plug, and you could be without a website and email. There is an exception, and we’ll get to that shortly.

When you make the change, here’s the short version of what will happen. The location of your new host’s domain and mail servers will be put out on the Internet. When the code for your domain is typed in, visitors will be routed to your new servers. The same will happen with your email.

There is a time lag. We are told to allow 24 hours, but we’ve seen changes take place in two minutes. Once you can verify that the new servers are being accessed, you should inform your old host that you have made the change. Your old host will have no way of knowing unless they’re checking, and it’s a courtesy to let them know your former space is now available for them to resell.

If you had your website and email with a cable or phone company, for example, you should let them know – especially for email.  Your mailboxes will continue to receive messages from people who use the same provider, and you’ll never know they’re sitting there.

If you need to make a change or are thinking about it, talk to us – 973-433-6676 – or email us. We can answer your questions and discuss your options.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.