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I'm tasked with moving a Drupal 6 site from a shared hosting account to a new virtual server.

Once I transfer the files to the new server, can I have the new server access the same database on the old shared server? So both sites (shared account and virtual server) would access the same db until DNS finishes propagation? Then I could put the new site into maintenance mode, and move the db to the new server.

I'm hoping that this will work so the old db doesn't get changed while DNS propagates...

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You could theoretically do this, but I'd highly advise against it. Nasty things could happen when you have two sites trying to write to the same database.

Honestly, nearly every website takes things offline from time to time for maintenance. Just put the current site in maintenance mode, sync your files and database over to the new server, take the new copy out of maintenance mode, and switch DNS. Sure, there may be a bit of time where your users will see the maintenance mode page, but if you put an honest and explanatory message on that page, people won't really mind for the most part.

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