If you plan your transition properly, your site users won't even be able to tell you've changed providers.
It would be great if you could simply flip a switch and immediately transfer your hosting from your current provider to MEDIASERVE, but that's not how the internet works.
When you transfer your hosting by changing the nameservers for your domain name, that change propagates to the Internet's root nameservers over a period of 24 to 72 hours.
Additionaly, many networks, particularly large ISPs, have begun caching DNS data for longer than they should, to minimize bandwidth used by DNS. These networks may cache your old IP address for up to a week or longer, during which time their users will continue to be refered to your old IP address when they visit your site.
The result is that once you've changed the nameservers for your domain name, it will be at least 10 days before you can be sure that all users who request your site will be directed to your new MEDIASERVE hosted site, and not to your previous service provider.
Planning for a smooth transition
You can achieve a smooth transition with no downtime, if you take the following steps:
- Sign up for service with us, and await your web site instructions, which will be sent via e-mail once your hosting is provisioned. Do not cancel service with your previous service provider, yet.
- Once instructions are received, upload your site files. Our instructions document how you can upload your files, access your control panel, etc, before your domain name is pointing to your new site.
- If your previous provider allowed you to create e-mail accounts on your domain, recreate those accounts in your new MEDIASERVE site control panel.
Once you've updated your nameservers as instructed below, during the transition period, some email will be delivered to your old site, some to your new.
The simplest way to deal with this situation is to create two mail accounts in your mail client (Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Thunderhawk, etc). In the configuration for each account, instead of using mail server names for outgoing/incoming servers, use their IP addresses. Your previous host can give you your mail server IP address if you don't know it, and the IP address documented in your MEDIASERVE web site instructions will be the IP to use for your MEDIASERVE mail account. Using this technique, you'll be able to check your mailboxes on both servers so you're sure to not lose any valuable email communications. You may even be able to drag and drop messages from the old account to the new one.
Alternately, if your previous providers control panel allows you to set up forwarding for your email accounts, you can request that we create server aliases for all of your mailboxes, and then forward your mailboxes in your previous provider's control panel to the aliases we provide you. This will ensure that all mail from that point forward, whether it arrives at your old location or new, is routed to your new mailboxes.
- If your site uses databases, you need to ensure that you don't end up with a situation where visitors who are directed to your old location update your old database, while visitors to your new site update your new database. You need to configure your old site to post data to your new database.
To make that happen, you'll have to request that we grant access to your old server to connect to your database(s) on your new server. The process is different for each type of database, and we'll handle getting that access set up, so ask us to assist with this step.
Once access is granted, migrate your database data to your new database(s). MySQL data can be imported using the phpMyAdmin tool available from your MEDIASERVE control panel. On Windows, Microsoft Access databases can be simply uploaded to the new site, and we can assist with the migration of MSSQL databases.
For each web application on your old site which uses a database, reconfigure it to access your new database instead. This will typically mean you need to update the database host name, database name, username and password, or on Windows change your DSN properties.
If your site is extremely busy, perform this step during off-peak hours, and consider disabling the application while moving data and reconfiguring applications, so that you are absolutely sure nothing gets posted to your old database instead of your new database.
Once this step has been successfully performed, it won't matter whether your users are directed to your old site or new during the transition, as all data will be posted to the new database.
- Test your new site using the preview URL documented in your MEDIASERVE web site instructions. If your site is complex, and you have problems testing via the preview URL due to non-relative links on your site, we can set up a subdomain of mediaserve.net to point to your site to work around that, just ask.
- Update your domain's nameservers as instructed in your MEDIASERVE web site instructions.
- No earlier than 10 days later, cancel your service with your previous provider, remove the old mail account in your mail client, and update the new mail account with the mail server name contained in your MEDIASERVE web site instructions.
By following these steps, you can make your transfer seamless. Your users won't have any idea your site has moved.