How to migrate from one domainname to another
Warning: this is a complex process, and the steps noted below are a guide only. You should consult a networking professional before attempting to migrate your domainname. Failing to migrate correctly may result in the loss of email and web service, among other things, to the affected domainname.
Situation: you have a new domainname, which you'd like to start using. You also have an old domainname, which you are still using, but you'd like to stop using. You have a new website ready to go, and you're ready to advertise your new email address. You want to know how to smoothly manage the transition to the new domainname, without losing any email or web traffic. You also want to be able to send/receive email using the old domainname if you need to (your POP3 client software supports this feature). You don't mind that the website associated with your OLD domainname will disappear, in fact you want the website associated with the NEW domainname to appear instead. Your domainname registrar provides email and web forwarding.
- Obtain a hosting account for the NEW domainname.
- Publish your NEW website to the NEW hosting account.
- Using the control panel of your NEW hosting account, create at least one POP3 account.
- Add the NEW POP3 account to your POP3 client (eg. Outlook).
- Using your domainname registrar's control panel, switch the nameservers for the NEW domainname to point at the nameservers that come with the NEW hosting account (this will cause all traffic for the NEW domainname to be sent to the server associated with your NEW hosting account - mail will begin accumulating in the NEW POP3 account you created, and your NEW website will be visible in your web browser).
Note: if you add your NEW POP3 account to your POP3 client before the nameserver change has propagated (which may take up to 48 hours), you'll see an error message when your client tries to check the mailbox. This is normal. The message will disappear once the nameserver change has propagated. You can either leave the NEW account active and ignore the messages, temporarily disable the NEW account, or avoid creating the NEW account in your POP3 client until the nameserver change has propagated.
Note: if you access your NEW website before the nameserver change has propagated, you will likely see your domainname registrar's holding page.
- Using your domainname registrar's control panel, set the web forwarding for the OLD domainname to point at your NEW domainname.
- Using your domainname registrar's control panel, set the email forwarding for the OLD domainname to point at your NEW POP3 account.
- Using your domainname registrar's control panel, switch the nameservers for the OLD domainname to point at the nameservers of your domainname registrar (until this is done, web and email forwarding will not work).
Note: until the nameserver change has propagated, your OLD website will remain visible, and email will not be forwarded.
Once this second nameserver change has propagated, email and web traffic for your OLD domainname will be sent to the servers of your domainname registrar, where it will be forwarded, using their web and email forwarding service, to your NEW domainname.
To send mail from an address associated with your OLD domainame, simply change your email address in the NEW account settings of your POP3 client. You may wish to use Identities or Profiles to maintain a separate inbox/sent items, or use rules/filters to separate the old mail into a separate folder, and/or, create a separate POP3 mailbox on the NEW hosting account to receive the mail. However, documenting these processes is beyond the scope of this document.
Hint: to get people using your NEW email address, simply reply to their emails from your NEW address. This will go into their addressbooks. Ensure to set your reply-to setting to your NEW address. Eventually, hardly anyone will use your old address anymore, and you can politely ask people that do to update their addressbooks. This process may take several years to complete, however.
Note: changes to DNS records (such as your nameserver settings) can take up to 48 hours to become active. This is a limitation of DNS which cannot be worked around, and is a consequence of the distributed nature of the internet. Indeed, while your DNS changes are propagating, some DNS servers may report your old settings, while others will report your new settings. This may cause anomalous behaviour. If you experience strangeness, and you've modified your DNS records within the last 48 hours, you should wait several hours, and retry whatever you are doing. You may need to reboot your computer in order to have it recognise a DNS change.