Changing Domain Registrars

Dennis Faas's picture

Last week the last issue of the Infopackets Gazette was sent out. At the same time, a configuration change was made to the web server which hosts

What happened?

It's a long story, but I'll try to reiterate in simple mumbo-jumbo without too much techy-talk. As you may already know, has experienced a major growth spurt in the last few months and has outgrown its current web server configuration.

Therefore, it was decided that should be moved to a dedicated web server which offers unlimited bandwidth to fit the needs of its users. A purchase was made at the beginning of April for a dedicated server, and some of the web site files were moved over in preparation. However, before could migrate to its new server, the web site needed a registration renewal. It was also decided at this same time to change web (domain) registrars. In short, the entire process of updating our web server went through a process which looks something like this:

Change Registrar -> Renew Registration -> Change Web Servers

The domain registrar change was initiated with an automated process, requested through email. This was the first stage and should have taken no longer than 5 days to complete. The process works like this: Verisign (our original domain registrar) holds the information about in its database. Such information tells the registrar where the web site physically resides in the world. This information is sent to computers all over the world, so that when you type in "", it points to our web server. In our case, the web server which powers originates in San Jose, California.

Neat, huh?

When changing registrars, this information needed to be passed on. To begin this process, I had to agree to change my registrar by sending an email to Verisign stating so. With an automated process, Verisign would then email the web site owner (according to their records) confirming the change.

In theory, this transition is smooth. Unfortunately, I forgot to ensure that their records were up-to-date with my current email address... which it was not! So, Verisign sent a "validation email" to confirm changes to my old email address. Of course, I never received the email, and the process had to be restarted.

But, before it could be restarted, I had to:

Update My Email Address at Verisign -> Change Registrar -> Renew Registration -> Change Web Servers

Each process takes 5 business days to complete. Of course, weekends don't count as a business day, so the time between processes was more like 1 week. With 4 changes to be made, that would have taken 1 month. That doesn't include the time it takes to propagate all changes through the Internet -- but that's another story!

At any rate, I managed to update the records at Verisign at around the 23rd of April. My current host company (at the time) gave me 2 weeks grace to move over to another server without being billed for the month of May. Therefore, I was looking to complete the entire process in a 3 week time frame.

While waiting for my confirmation to change registrars, I received an email from Verisign stating that there was a request to update my information in their database. I agreed to the change, thinking that it was the request to change registrars.

Oh, but it wasn't!

My new hosting company sent a request to update my records at Verisign -- without notifying me. Since the email I received did not explicitly outline what the changes were for, I agreed to the changes thinking that it was to switch registrars.

So what was the change for? The request was to update an IP address for our new web server. So, at the same time the registrar was changing, the web server configuration information was also updated to point to the new server.

Problem: the new server was not ready to accept visitors; it contained outdated information (web pages) on it, and an ill-working CGI-bin. Although the Infopackets Gazette is sent to our subscribers in text, many of our readers prefer to view the newsletter online in all its HTML glory -- including graphics and a web interface. This of course, was not possible if the web server wasn't working properly!

As it stands right now, some visitors are going to the new web server, while the rest are visiting the old web server. When will this change finally propagate to the new server? As long as it takes, I guess. Usually propagation of web server configurations is about 72 hours (business days?) to make a change like this. Once the web server configuration has been updated throughout the Internet, I will reopen the Discussion Board and fix any broken links online the site.

Hang in there!

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