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I have a current server with a variety of websites on it. My name servers are the same has my business domain. This server uses cpanel.

I am going to buy dedicated hosting with a bare bones ubuntu server install, and I need to slowly transfer each site on the old server to the new, with the least possible downtime. How do I assign the new server with nameservers so that when I tranfer a site from the old server to the new, that that site is up and available to the public. I am not sure of the exact process. What is the process or workflow so that there is little to no downtime?

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I'm assuming this:

  • The site and the primary name server are on the same machine
  • You want to move both the site and the primary name server to another machine
  • The secondary name server will be automatically updated when you update the primary
  • The site will not have content that changes outside your control during the transfer (i.e. no user submitted comments, or you can disable such features)

If that's accurate:

  1. Set up the new server
  2. Reduce the TTLs on the current DNS zone to say 60
  3. Move the site from the current server to the new server (including the database if it exists) and test
  4. change the DNS domain and subdomain records to point to the new server
  5. Repeat this process with any other services (e.g. email)
  6. Set up Bind on the new server
  7. Create exact duplicates of all the DNS zones on the new server, except enter the new IP address for the primary NS record, and if you're feeling bold, normal TTLs (say 3 hours/10800 seconds). I like to leave TTLs low here in case there's a problem.
  8. Change the glue (aka host) records at your domain name registrar to point to the new IPs
  9. Repeat steps 2-5 for any other domains you want to move
  10. Increase any TTLs that you have not already increased
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