|Afraid of switching servers|
Not happy with current provider
My website is 10 years old and always hosted with the same company but now they are just giving me a hard time by not providing good service. I am tempted to switch to a new server from a more reputable company but I am afraid of the disruption in transferring files or with DNS propagation. Has anyone done this? Is this a big risk? I make my living from the website and a disruption will hurt me a lot. Plz help.
Sign up for a new host that can provide you with a unique IP address (at least temporarily). Alternately, register a new domain -- or use one of your already registered unused domain names. Either will work, and the point is to be able to access the new host's server without using your existing domain name.*
Upload a copy to the new server, and test it until your sick of testing using the unique IP address or the new domain name. Once satisfied that the new host is 100% compatible with your site, switch the DNS to point to the new server's IP address using the original domain name. Do not cancel the old hosting for st least four days, and you should see no problems at all. You can also downgrade to a non-unique IP address as soon as your are *really* sure the site works properly on the new host.
The hardest part here is choosing a new host that has the same (or equivalent) scripting and database support as the old. The reset is easy, as long as you do the steps in the correct order.
I'm also assuming that you have complete control of your domain's DNS, independent of your hosting. If not, then that would be the first step -- You'' need to renew your domain name independent of any hosting company by dealing with a registrar for your TLD directly. Then use the registrar's DNS servers -- and not those of any hosting company, to resolve your site's IP address.
One more DNS note here, in the days before you plan to make the switch, go in and set the Time-To-Live (TTL) of your DNS down to a few hours. It may currently be set to days or weeks. This setting indicates to other DNS servers how long they should keep this DNS record before checking with the authoritative DNS server to see if it's been updated. This can affect how long it takes to 'switch your DNS' over, and so should be set to a short time before the transition, and then set back to a few hours or a day after the transition.
If your site has dynamic user-generated content, then just prior to switching the DNS to go in and disable user posts, and add a message that the site is undergoing maintenance and that posting is disabled-- nothing too complicated. This avoids the problem of having user posts get 'lost' during the transition. After disabling posting, you will need to re-copy the current database from the old to the new server, so that it will be up-to-date when the new server comes on-line.
ISPs with current DNS server software will update to point to your new server within four hours. ISPs with old and ancient DNS servers may take up to four days.
I switched servers just two weeks ago. I started with setting the TTL to 300 seconds about 2 days before the transition.
When I changed the IP address to the new server, almost all human visitors picked up the new location in terms of minutes. Only some search engine bots, most noticeably Baidu and Yandex had cached the old IP address and hammered the old server for several hours. With this transition I haven't seen significant caching by ISPs anymore, which is a big improvement compared to transitions I did some years ago where human traffic to the old IP address died only after several hours to days.
The first site I managed when I started working with sites 10 years ago wanted us to move their high traffic site. I was terrified of all the things that could go wrong. So I made a list of everything that could go wrong and of everything I would do to ensure that failure mode would not happen. It probably made the process much more complicated than it needed to be but we managed to move the site without any problems. I can recommend that as a method.
i was in your situaton too, skweb, but it's not nearly as painful as you think it will be. you just have one busy day when you're transferring all the files, setting up the databases, doing the nameservers etc, and then its all over.