Changing DNS Providers with No Outage

Changing DNS providers tends to illicit a lot of confusion with some admins, but in reality it’s a fairly simple thing to do in most cases; especially if you aren’t migrating too many zones. The prospect becomes far more stressful if you’ve got 1000 domains to move!  A lot of DNS service providers (including DNS Wizard of course!) offer tools to import your zones from a remote location, which can greatly speed up the process.  You shouldn’t need to import any records manually when migrating your zones between DNS Providers.

Step 1 – Review TTLs on your zones and records with your current provider

The TTL (Time to Live) on your zones and records is the amount of time other name servers on the Internet cache your zone. While your zone is in the cache of a remote DNS servers, it will not query the authoritative servers again until the TTL expires. For migration it’s ideal to have a TTL of around 24 – 48 hours – also remembering that you need to wait for existing TTLs to expire before the new TTL will take affect.  Having a lower TTL prior to beginning migration will allow you to cancel services with the old provider sooner after migration.

Step 2 – Add your Domains with the new DNS Provider

After creating an account with your new provider, you can start adding your domains in their DNS Manager.

Step 3 – Import DNS Records

Most good DNS providers will have import functionality.  Generally you can import your records via two methods; AFXR zone transfer or file import.  Usually (and as is the case with DNS Wizard’s system) it’s as simple as clicking on your newly added domain, clicking “Import DNS Records” and typing in the IP address of one of the current name servers.  Our system will then suck down all the DNS records from remote server and all the records will appear a few seconds later.  The caveat to this method is that the remote name server needs to allow zone transfers.

Importing from a file is generally as simple as backing up your domains with the current provider into a BIND compatible format and then simply importing from a file with your new provider.

Step 4 – Re-delegate your Domains

The final step in the process is login to your domain registrar and update the delegated name servers for each domain you are migrating to point to the new DNS provider.  Keep in mind that after you do this, for a period of time both the old provider and the new provider may be handling queries – so you can’t terminate services with the old provider yet.  Depending on the TTL you had set prior to starting migration, you can look to cancel services after 48 hours.

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