How to carry out a domain transfer to a new provider

If you are unhappy with your current web host, you can move your domain to another internet service provider. Many factors play a role when transferring your domain to another provider. We explain when you should switch hosting providers and what happens during a domain transfer.

Why change providers?

When purchasing or registering a domain you secure the best URL for your website before renting the required storage from a domain provider. These services generally offer a wide selection of packages for users to choose from. There are many different reasons for transferring your domain and the following examples are some of the most common:

  • the current host does not offer certain features
  • poor value for money
  • poor or unavailable support
  • insufficient security
  • slow server
  • frequent server outages

When is it advisable to buy a domain instead of registering a new address? The answer to this question can be found in our article ‘Domains: When to buy and when to register?’.

When is it worth transferring your domain?

A domain transfer can really pay off, but website owners should consider each move on a case-by-case basis. If you find yourself dissatisfied with your domain provider’s service, it’s not always necessary to make the switch. Web hosting providers normally offer many different storage or server options (such as virtual or dedicated servers). It’s therefore often sufficient to simply change to a different package from the same provider, saving you the effort of having to transfer your domain.

However, if you’re unhappy with the basic conditions of your domain provider, such as the quality of the customer service or the range of functions available, it’s worth considering a transfer. It’s also a good idea for those who have several registered domains on different providers to consider transferring the domains to the same domain provider in order to keep costs and efforts to a minimum.

Who takes care of the domain transfer?

The domain transfer is taken care of by the registry that is responsible for the administration of your top-level domain, the Network Information Center (NIC). The .com domain is operated by Verisign, for example. To get started with transferring the domain, an authentication code, or auth code, must be obtained so that authority can be transferred from the old registrar to the new one.

How exactly does a domain transfer work?

In principle, transferring a domain from one provider to another works the same way with every web hosting provider. Nevertheless, you should always be aware in advance of the details of each individual transfer, which can vary from site to site. The fundamental procedure of a domain transfer is as follows:

  • Backup data: Before approaching the new provider’s database, you should first save backups of all data that is saved on the old provider’s server. Any files you have saved on your computer or an external hard drive should all be backed up (including databases and templates). You won’t be able to access the files from your old domain provider once you’ve switched, which means you risk losing the entire structure of your website.
  • Auth code: You need an authentication code, or auth code, in order to authorise a domain transfer. This authentication code works to verify that your domain is registered under your name. The code can be obtained from your previous hosting provider or registrar and is valid for 30 days. You can also inform your current provider that you will take your domain to another host and cancel your contract.
  • Register with a new provider: Now you’ve got your new authentication code, you can register your domain with your new web host. If a domain transfer form appears on the provider’s site, you can enter the auth code. If not, you should find a detailed description of how the re-registration process works in the site’s FAQs. If you’re a new customer, you can usually apply for your auth code directly when selecting a hosting package.
  • Import the database: Once your domain has been registered and activated by the new provider, you can transfer your website’s data to the new server.

A domain transfer is usually free of charge, apart from the monthly hosting fee, which might differ from what you previously paid.

What happens to email accounts when transferring domains?

Not only will your domain change provider, so too will your email address. However, this does not apply to your inbox and previously received emails. If you keep the old host, you have the option of managing your emails just as before and registering its mail server in the domain’s MX record.

However, you can also transfer your entire email inbox onto the new server, which you should definitely do if you are cancelling your old contract. You can either do this manually, which could mean a certain degree of effort if your inbox is full, or you can use your provider’s email transfer service, which is offered by many hosts.

Don’t fear domain transfers

Transferring a domain is normally a pretty quick and simple process. Only in some exceptional cases does it take a bit longer for the transfer to be finalised. For example, it’s not always possible to transfer a domain if the web address has been recently purchased. In this case, domain locking can inhibit a domain transfer for a certain period of time. As a rule, however, a domain transfer happens quite quickly.

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