I decided to move off my old hosting provider and onto a new one due to a recent degradation in performance and a very poor Ruby on Rails implementation. At the same time, my domain had come up for renewal and the registrar (ENom.cc, now owned by Demand Media) wanted a ridiculous $35 per year fee to renew. So, off to GoDaddy I went, and got the renewal for $20 a year plus a year free since I was transferring it in, so quite the reduction in cost.
I figured I would share some of the information gleaned from the experience, as it was less than well documented on the interwebs. The transfer process is an interesting one and my first tip is to make sure that if you are moving to a new hosting provider at the same time (as I was) that you update the DNS for the domain first – you’ll see why when I describe the rest of the process. Once you have that done the first step involves unlocking the domain – this is one of those things that gets mentioned a lot in guides but no one explicitly tells you what it means – for those that don’t know, that looks something like this when you do a whois lookup:
That is normally a good thing – prevents a transfer being kicked off without your knowledge by someone with nefarious intent. Changing it is a less than transparent task though and involves getting into the registrars admin tools and finding the correct option to un-tick (assuming they expose it at all). Once that is done you then have to initiate the transfer – the first stage of that is a confirmation request to the registered owner of the domain (hopefully an e-mail address you still have access to) by the registrar seeking the transfer, followed by another confirmation request to the same address by the registrar that currently holds the domain. This all takes several days, so you have to be sure you get this done long before the domain is due to expire and that any housekeeping on the domain is done in advance.
In terms of the hosting transfer, my new provider (Dreamhost) allows the use of free sub-domains (of the form name.dreamhosters.com) so that you can set up your site on their systems and test it before taking the plunge and moving everything over. They also have a Cpanel importer to help which partially worked and saved me some time – not perfect though. Their Rails hosting support is far better and my Redmine instance is up and running now without issue. So far, so good – let’s hope it continues