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I know there has already been a question that has been posted here about migrating shared hosting accounts, but wanted to get a second opinion on my plan to move hosting providers. My business is moving our shared hosting account (hosting and email) to a new provider, and would like to have minimal downtime. Here is our current plan:

  1. Create a backup of our old site
  2. Upload our site to the new host
  3. Set up duplicate email accounts with our new host
  4. Change the name server records on our domain to point to our new host
  5. Leave our old site up long enough for DNS records to propagate completely.

I'm hoping this should result in little downtime for both website and email. Because of the volume of high-importance emails our company receives on a daily basis downtime is very expensive and not tolerated.

Thanks,
Chris

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If you do that, turn off incoming SMTP on the old machines. Otherwise, you may get a situation where an incoming email from somewhere with the old DNS entry still in-cache is delivered to the old cluster, while the recipient is working on a machine that has the new DNS entry - and thus will never see his or her email. For someone who feels that email downtime is unacceptable, this is likely to be a bad outcome. –  MadHatter Sep 30 '10 at 16:37
    
Hi MadHatter - so to clarify, when you mention "old machines" you are referring to the employee's individual machine's, or the old server? I was under the impression if the employees were watching both their old webmail and new webmail, they should see all messages - even if some are sent to one but not the other. –  Chrisc Sep 30 '10 at 16:48
    
Do you have any databases that need to be accounted for? That is a good plan, just make the DNS change after hours or go with the spam service suggestion like cheeseprocedure suggested –  Justin Higgins Apr 4 '11 at 21:02
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3 Answers

You could also move the email addresses one at a time to the new site, leaving DNS pointed at the old site. Forward each mail address on the old site to @newserver.company.com as it gets moved.

Once everyone is moved over, then move DNS to the new server. Give it another day or two for DNS to move, and you're done.

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I would do something like this:

  1. Register a new domain name
  2. Setup hosting at new provider for the new domain name
  3. Backup website and upload to new host (this assumes website is just static content)
  4. Configure e-mail for new domain name at new host, with the same users as the existing host.
  5. Test e-mail and website using the new domain name.
  6. Configure e-mail to also accept mail for the old domain, and also configure website for old domain. Most hosts allow you to have "domain pointers" etc
  7. Move DNS records
  8. Wait two weeks and cancel old hosting, this will have allowed plenty of time for DNS to transfer.

No downtime should occur as for two weeks you will be pulling e-mail from both the new and old providers.

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Consider implementing Postini or some other antispam service ahead of time.

By having a third party as your MX record, you'll be able to move seamlessly to a new mail server without having to worry about stale DNS records or reconfiguring the old server to forward material to the new one.

When you're ready to enable the new mail server, simply log into the antispam provider's Web interface, change the IP to which it delivers mail, and you're off to the races!

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