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changing hosts



7:26 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I just changed my host from cox to westhost. I transferred my files from cox and domain from registerfly. When I check my site, it won't come in on my local isp but comes in fine on some other browsers. I only changed my host about an hour ago.
Is this normal? or is something wrong?


7:44 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

It takes up to 72 hours for a domain name to resolve to it's numerical address.

1. Put up a temporary index.html page at the new host

2. Get the other parts of the site uploaded without being linked to from that page.

3. Put in a robots.txt file excluding robots from the new site until the site is moved.

4. When it's all working properly at the new host:

4a. Put a "moved" notice on your ISP site pointing to the index page at your new host. Avoid getting caught with duplicate content at both.

4b. Get the index page up at the new site

4c. Remove the robots.text exclusion

4d. Contact those who link to you to change their links to the new URL. Search engines will find you through the links.

4e. If you have an ODP listing for the old URL, submit a change when it's all working properly.

If you slip out of search engines temporarily, don't panic. You'll get back in. Don't even ask how long that will take, the only one that's predictable is Google, and that can take 60 days.


7:58 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Since it does take a while for the change to filter through the Internet routers, you should be sure that email is set up at the new location AND still working at the old.



8:06 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Marcia, you don't have to do all that if the Url stays the same do you?


9:40 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

okay and thanks marcia. But, I assumed that once you were up with one browser, then you were up with all. Wrong I guess? Does it just take longer for some?
I went to google (thru aol) and searched my site. Went on it and works fine from there (it goes to my new url) . Does this mean that I shouldn't slip out of google search?
Thanks in advance


10:13 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

glengara, I believe the domain name is now going to be commercially hosted and the site's been at an ISP subdomain up until now with the domain name redirected to it. Those don't generally have a 301 available so it's got to be Javascript redirect (won't work), meta refresh or a link to the new URL.


10:40 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

DNS information - the data used to translate www.yourdomain.tld to the numerical addresses the software uses to connect - gets cached for varying ammounts of time depending on your server configuration. This configurable timeout defines how long non-authoritative DNS servers keep sending the IP you were on last time they checked before checking again, and hence the maximum ammount of time it will take for everyone to start getting the new information. I feel like I'm probably sounding confusing here, so here's an example: (These are unroutable IPs, by the way)

Suppose I have a website at www.mysite.tld, on a server with IP address Either I, my ISP, my hosting provider, or my registrar, depending on the service agreements I have, maintains the "authoritative" DNS servers for this domain. Suppose I have three people who want to visit the site. One of them is me, another is my father at home several states away, and the third is an old college friend in yet another state.

For the sake of this example, we'll pretend that my computer is configured to use the same DNS server that is authoritative for mysite.tld. (call it ns.mysite.tld - though this is certainly not required. The name could be anything.) I type [mysite.tld...] into my browser. The browser then consults the DNS server. The DNS server in this case is authoritative, so it doesn't have to ask any further to determine that www.mysite.tld means, and it tells the browser so. The browser then asks for the web page. If I then click on a link to another page on the same site, the process is repeated.

Now that I know things work, I call up my father and ask him to take a look. He types the same thing into his browser, but he has his system configured to use his ISP's DNS server (call it ns.dadsisp.tld). His browser asks ns.dadsisp.tld what the IP address for www.mysite.tld is. Since ns.dadsisp.tld is *not* authoritative for mysite.tld, it asks one of the 'root' name servers for the answer. The 'root' nameserver doesn't know either, but it knows who is authoritative for .tld, and referrs ns.dadsisp.tld to that server (often, especially for .com, the 'root' servers are also the top-level doman authoritative servers, but not necessarily.), which then referrs ns.dadsisp.tld to ns.mysite.tld, which reports that www.mysite.tld means It also includes a timeout value for how long this inoformation should be cached (say 4 days), and ns.dadsisp.com remembers what the answer was. Now, when Dad clicks on a link to another page on my site, his browser asks ns.dadsisp.tld the same question again. Since the it hasn't been four days since the last time someone asked ns.dadsisp.tld that same question, it just answers without checking.

The next day I decide that I want to move the site from to a different server, I make the change in the authoritative records on ns.mysite.tld, and replace the site on with a page that says "we've moved to a new IP". This time I'm a little nervous about the change, so instead of just calling Dad to make sure it works, I call Dad and my friend in another state.

When I look, my browser again asks ns.mysite.tld for the IP address, and since ns.mysite.tld is authoritative, it knows the new IP, and sends me to the site on its new server at

When my friend looks, her browser asks ns.friendsisp.tld for the IP address. Ns.friendsisp.tld has never been asked for this before, so it goes through the same steps that ns.dadsisp.tld did yesterday. Since those steps culminate in asking ns.mysite.tld, she gets the new answer,

When Dad looks, though, his browser asks ns.dadsisp.tld again. Ns.dadsisp.tld knows that someone asked it that question just yesterday, and that the timeout was four days. Since it has checked more recently than the timeout value, it skips the other steps and tells Dad's browser that www.mysite.tld means Dad gets the "we've moved to a new IP" page. Oops. Dad will keep getting that page for the next 3 days, too, until ns.dadsisp.tld expires the answer from its cache and goes through the whole set of inquiries and referrals again.

This caching is generally a good thing. Even with caching in place, the root name servers handle a phenomenal number of requests per second. Without it DNS just plain wouldn't be practical. However, it does make changing DNS information slow, which is particularly fristrating when you are setting up DNS for the first few times and aren't absolutely certain you'll get it right. When I have the control, which so far has been most of the time, I set the timeouts short while I'm initially configuring a domain, and then longer once I think I've got a stable configuration. The only way to be sure you have a smooth transition, though, is to leave an indentical copy of the site on the old server (at the old IP) until longer than the longest timeout affected by the change.


10:44 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Holly, this is how it works with domain names:

The domain name is "you" for as long as it's registered to you. It has to live at an address, which is an IP number, just like you live someplace, either individually in a one-family home with a unique IP number or shared like in an apartment building - virtual, name-based hosting where it's divided up among different tenants.

The DNS is like the post office, having an address to send the mail - only in this case it's the domain name being sent to an IP number (nameserver) instead of a letter being sent to a building. When you make the nameserver designation with the registrar, the message gets sent across the internet with the "address" - the IP number you gave as your web address.

It's not a direct line, like sending mail door to door in a mail truck. It's like follow-the-dots with way-stations along the way (hubs, routers - techie type stuff) that have to record the location of the address the domain name goes to.

When that's all done and it fully "resolves", the server where your site is hosted is the address of that domain name. When someone types in the domain name, there's a connection established with the "apartment" or web space you rent, browsers then can connect the name with the address, and your site will come up. Until then, when it's typed in, it will give a 404 error - not found, or dnserror. That can happen for up to 72 hours.

A redirected domain name doesn't work this way, it doesn't really "live" at your web address, which is where the problems come in with the same site showing up at two different places - because it is.


10:57 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Nice analogy marcia. Probably a bit clearer than my example.


11:08 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

dingman, you and I were typing at the same time. :)

When you've been typing in Holly's domain name it wasn't the domain name that showed in the brower address bar, it's been the www.her-isp.com/~username/ that shows in the browser. The ISP URL was listed with Google, with back- links, but the domain name wasn't getting listed.

And thanks, BTW. You gave some information I've been wondering about, so everyone's got what they need now. :)


11:14 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks Dingman and Marcia. I think I'm clear on what's going on now. I finally get it! I realize that you took a lot of time to explain this to me, and I really appreciate it. Sometimes I hate to post questions, because I don't understand enought about what's going on for someone to send me a one liner to explain.
Thanks again.


11:35 pm on Sep 28, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I realize that you took a lot of time to explain this to me, and I really appreciate it.

No problem. I figure I ask questions that take other people time to respond to, and I've gotten a lot out of such things in the short time I've been here, so it's only fair to be willing to do the same for others when they are after knowledge I already have. Otherwise I'd feel like a freeloader. (Besides, it makes my day when someone tells me something I posted was actually useful.)


7:36 pm on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

westhost.com takes 48 hours, not including weekends. You will receive an email from them confirming activation of your account. I have two accounts with them.


7:54 pm on Sep 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I didn't actually have any down time between changing hosts. I am confused. When I go to my site, and look in the address bar, it appears that it is directed thru my new host (westhost) Is it actually, or have they set up mirror sites?

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