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transferring domains to a new registrar

August 5, 2010 1:01 p.m.

Transferring a domain from one registrar to another is something that can happen for multiple reasons. Maybe you found another registrar that is cheaper, you're changing hosting companies and they would like to use their registrar, the management interface is easier to use or less confusing, or maybe another registrar has features and products that you need.

For years I've used Tucows/OpenSRS professionaly for domain registration. The reseller interface is great and it has all the features that I need without jumping through hoops or wondering if I'm purchasing something that I really don't intend to use.

On a personal level, I've been using GoDaddy. Although, I really do not like the interface that GoDaddy provides. People who don't know what they're doing could end up buying all sorts of things they don't need. Since I am confident in understanding what I'm purchasing, I don't worry about this too much. But for the average person, the interface can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes hard to decifer what you're actually paying for or opting into.

Ok, back to the transfer process. If everyone does their job correctly, a domain transfer can happen in 7 days or less. Although, if you don't know what you're doing, there are several variables that could provide a bad experience.

The standard process of transfer works a bit like this. First, I as the recipient of domain control issues a trasfer request from my registrar for the domain. At this point, an email is sent to the Administrative Contact of the domain to accept the transfer to the new registrar. If the email address for the domain Administrative Contact is not valid, then the transfer will fail after several days because it was never approved. If the Administrative Contact for the domain ignores the transfer request it will also fail after several days.

If the Adminstrative Contact accepts that transfer (they will probably need to have the authorization-code, which can be obtained from their current registrar), then the transfer request goes to the losing registrar. If the losing registrar ignores or denies the transfer then it will fail. If they do accept, depending the on the registrars involved, I may still take several days for everything to complete.

The one thing that most people forget or don't understand about transferring domains is authoritative DNS servers. Every domain has authoritatve DNS servers, which is somewhat like the post office. They are servers that tell everyone on the internet where your web site and your email needs be be delivered. If those are not valid or not configured correctly, then your website and your email may never been seen.

During the transfer process you may have the ability to leave the DNS servers as they are or change to new servers. Changing to new servers can work if your new registrar or web site host provides those options. Most of the time this will be the case. Although, if the new provider is not aware of your DNS needs, this could be a problem. So, making sure that DNS has been considered and taken into account should come before the transfer request begins.

If all goes well, the transfer process should be easy and painless.

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