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How to transfer web hosts (mini rant)

How to transfer web hosts (mini rant)

Shortly after the demise of Smarter Housing I had a run in with my web hosts, who wanted £220 before they would release smarterhousing.co.uk. As the company had ceased trading there was no way I could justify paying this fee and, even if I could have, there was the matter of principle: it costs nothing to release a domain name! I could have accepted some kind of admin fee but this would need to reflect the work involved – entering a URL, username, password, clicking on a couple of links and entering less than 10 characters of text.

How to take control of your .co.uk domain name

I’d pretty much forgotten about the fiasco with my previous web hosts until one of my SEO clients mentioned they were in a similar situation. A couple of weeks ago they mentioned they were paying £60 per month for some very basic hosting: the same kind of hosting that I can offer for £10 per month in conjunction with 34SP. Obviously, they liked the sound of saving £600 per year and asked me to take control of the domain. Sadly, their hosting company also control their domain and wanted a bounty of £180 in order to release it.

If you’re in a similar situation or just want to move a domain from one registrar to another, this is an easy process.

Step 1: Update the IPS tag to that of your chosen registrar

When you move a mobile phone from one network to another, you require a PAC code. Domain names are similar, except you need to alter something called the IPS tag.

All of my domain names are registered with LCN.com and the corresponding IPS tag is “LCN”. To find out the tag for your chosen registrar, give them a call. Next, you’ll need to notify them of the incoming domain name. LCN do this by way of a domain transfer form, which is easy enough to find via the customer admin panel.

Once you’ve told your new registrar that they can expect any given domain, ask your current registrar to update the IPS tag. More often than not, they will do this for you free of charge. If they get the huff – which I note is quite common with companies who charge excessive amounts for monthly hosting – you will need to get in touch with Nominet on 01865 332233. Give them the e-mail address which was used when registering your domain and they will send you a link to reset your account details. The process will cost £12 but you can then manually update your IPS tag to that of your chosen registrar.

Step 2: Edit NS (Name Server) records 

Once you have completed step 1, you will notice your .co.uk domain appear in the control panel of your new registrar. Sometimes the process can take 5 days but LCN have always done this in less than 48 hours.

For the moment, your domain name will be held with your new registrar but your hosting will still be controlled by your current provider. To migrate your hosting, you will need to go into your domain names then advanced DNS settings to update the NS records.

Before you do this, make sure you have a copy of your website files. Log into your existing FTP and locate the folder that contains index.html / index.php. This is often in a directory called HTTPdocs (note – *NOT* the same as HTTPSdocs). Download everything to your computer.

Your web hosts will be able to provide your name server records. They will look something like this “NSx.yournewhostsdomain.com/.co.uk” and you will usually have two to update. All you need to do is overwrite the existing values with those of your new hosts and wait for the information to propagate across the internet. Sometimes this can take as little as 1 hour but don’t panic if that isn’t the case: it can take up to 24 hours.

Step 3: Upload your files to your new hosting company

Remember those files you downloaded from your previous host? Throw those up into your new FTP and hey presto, you have successfully migrated your website from one hosting company to another.

Some clarification

The above example assumes that your current hosting company also controls your domain name. This is often the case when you ask a third party to build and host your website. In the event you control your own domain the process of migrating hosts is even easier. Sign into your domain admin panel and update the Name Server records to those of your new hosting company.

Please note that the above is specific to .co.uk domains. If you’re having trouble migrating a .com the process is slightly different but I’m happy to help.

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