Pointing a domain to a new host is different from transferring a domain to a new registrar.
While these two terms confuse most site owners, it’s important that you know the difference between them so that you can successfully manage your domains.
Also learn what you need to do with your domains when you move your site to a new host, including how it may affect your site email.
Your Domain is an Alias
A domain name is an easy-to-remember way for folks to locate your site files online.
In reality, it’s an alias.
When someone types in your domain name, it runs over to your domain registrar (who you pay for your domain) or your domain manager (what entity has control over where your domain points) and gets the real address of where your site files are located at your host.
A domain name points to the address where your site files are located.
What this means is:
- You can have multiple domains point to the same address.
- You can use any domain registrar and have it point to your site files on any host.
Multiple Domains, Same Site Example
My main domain is blogaid.net and I also own the domain blogaid.com.
Both of them point to the same site.
No matter which one folks type in, they will end up on my site.
Different Domain Registrar and Host Example
Your domain registrar can be GoDaddy, meaning that you pay them to register your domain and provide you with an interface to tell it where to point.
You can pay SiteGround (aff link) for your hosting to store your site files and make them publicly available.
Your domain registrar and your site host do not have to be the same company.
In fact, it’s way better for security if they aren’t the same company. If one gets hacked, the other doesn’t.
Transferring a domain means that you change domain registrars. For example, if your current registrar is GoDaddy, you can transfer to NameCheap. In other words, you pay a different company to handle your domain name.
For example, if your current registrar is your hosting company, you can transfer it to GoDaddy as your new registrar.
In other words, you pay a different company to handle your domain name.
Domain Registrar Change Request
Every domain registrar has their own form for requesting changes to your domain, including transferring to a new registrar.
Your best bet is to contact your registrar directly and they should provide you with helpful directions or give you live guidance.
Domain Pointing Change
If you want to point the domain to a new host, you will need the DNS links to the folder where your site files will be stored. This information will be provided to you when you purchase your new hosting.
There will be a minimum of two links and they will look something like this:
- Primary DNS Host: NS1: ns1945.myhostcompany.com
- Secondary DNS Host: NS2: ns1946.myhostcompany.com
Domain Propagation Down Time
Any time you change where a domain name points or is registered, it takes time for it to propagate. While the domain is in transit, it cannot point to your site files for part of the time, meaning that viewers will not have access to your site. And you may not have access to your site email.
Pointing a domain for the first time or to a new host usually takes from 12-48 hours. (It could take as little as 2 hours or up to 72 hours, but the latter is rare.)
For new sites, you will have to wait until the domain finishes propagating before installing WordPress.
For existing sites moving to a new host, during part of the propagation time your site will be unavailable, so it’s best to do this type of move during a slow traffic period.
Transferring a domain from one registrar to another could take about four days to complete. Your site may become unavailable during some segment of that time, but there is no way to know when or for how long. Like pointing, the downtime should be less than 48 hours.
While it’s not likely that your site up time will be disrupted, it could be.
There is no way to know when or for how long.
Site Email During Propagation
Any email addresses that use your domain name extension could be unavailable during the propagation down time.
For instance, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, then you will not receive emails while your domain, mysite.com, is in transit.
However, it’s not likely that you will lose emails. They should be delivered once the domain has finished propagating.
Keep in mind that you will need to configure your site email settings on the new host. You can do that prior to commencing domain propagation so that the emails will be delivered to you immediately after the domain transition completes.
READ: Get Your Email Off Your Hosting for more reasons why I advocate that you don’t use your host email service for anything.
Use a non-site email address for your accounts.
It’s a good idea to get a Gmail or other third-party email address for all of the accounts associated directly with your site, such as your hosting and domain. That way, you’ll still be able to get emails whenever your domain is in transit.
For more information on domains, hosting, and online marketing be sure to get your copy of What Every Site Owner Should Know. It’s free with your subscription to BlogAid News. This one ebook could save you hundreds of dollars and months of frustration.