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This is a continuation of a question that I already posted, but this is distinct enough to warrant a new question I believe.

I've got a client who knows very little about how their domains are managed and hosted. After some digging, I found out that the domain is registered through Tucows, but that another company (GSI) is the Registrar of record.

GSI is also the hosting company. Now, when I login to GSI's control panel, I can view DNS information and change it. One of the options is "Start of Authority Server", and its value is "dns.greensoft.com."

So, my question...if I wanted to move this completely away from GSI (they are charging outrageous hosting fees of $800 per month for a site that does 10 MB of traffic. You read that right...), then I need to do 2 things. First, move the registrar from Tucows/GSI to Godaddy, for instance...what the heck do I do? Is the "Start of Authority Server" the setting I need to change to Godaddy?

I have other domains, and the Registrar (Godaddy, Network Solutions) is where I go to set the Nameservers. The nameservers are at the hosting company that I eventually use (if I'm remembering this right) and from there I can setup MX, A, CNAME etc records.

Any help would be appreciated to let me know what I need to do to get my client away from this ridiculous hosting deal.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The Start of Authority (or SOA) is related to your DNS. If your DNS is hosted with GSI, then you will need to move that as well. The easiest way to tell is when you're looking at your NameServer details in your registrar control panel, wherever they point to, that's your DNS server.

To transfer a domain to another registrar, it's usually as simple as visiting the website for your chosen replacement registrar and finding their "transfer domain" button. It will then ask you for certain details that you should be able to get out of your GSI hosting control panel.

Once you've got the registrar moved, the next step is to get your DNS organised (if needed. If the DNS is outside GSI, then skip this step). Domain Transfer is usually disabled on most DNS servers, so the easiest way to do this for a small website is just to manually re-create the DNS zone. When you've signed up for and logged in to your new DNS provider, then you'll need to create a Zone record (which is the domain name). Then you can create your basic settings (use nslookup (windows) or dig (linux) to find the settings of the current DNS, see elsewhere on this site on how to use them).

Once you've got the DNS moved, it's time to move the website. How to do this varies greatly depending on the complexity of the site, and the options provided to your by your new, and old, host.

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What you need to do is tell Godaddy that you'd like to transfer your domain away from another registrar. The SOA record does not come into play whatsoever.

You may need to:

  • Unlock the domain on GSI's control panel
  • Get a 'transfer authorization key' from GSI's control panel
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Where the domain is located (web host), who the registrar is and where the DNS is hosted are 3 separate issues. They may or may not be with the same service provider.

If you want to move the site first then set it up at another host and test it from the IP. Set the TTL in the DNS to be 1 hour, 2-4 hours before the cutover change the TTL to 1 minute.
Change the DNS record to point to the new IP, stop/disable the sit at the old host.
Leave the TTL at 1 minute until you are satisfied it's working correctly and set it to 24 - 72 hours.

Cancel the web hosting service now, but keep the domain registration with the current registar. Initiate the domain transfer from the new registrar of your choice, the receiving registrar will have instructions on how to do this.

If possible setup the DNS at the receiving registrar prior to completing the transfer to ensure no "domain not found" errors occur if the transfer happens in the middle of the night/weekend. A separate DNS service can be used (DynDNS, EasyDNS, etc) if you want a better DNS control panel or to ensure no downtime during registrar transfer, etc. Doesn't sound like a mission critical site so probably not necessary.

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