Most bloggers follow the common advice and use their free domain name when they choose their website host. Once you’ve realized that your domain registrar and website host need to be separate, you might have some questions about moving your domain name to a new domain registrar. How do you transfer domain registration?
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How to transfer a domain registration to a new domain registrar
Transferring domain registration can be a little intimidating. You might be worrying if transfer your domain if you will break your website!
As a review, a domain is the “computer address” for your website.
If I transfer domain registration to a new registrar, how will the new domain registrar find my website so it can direct traffic to it?
If you transfer domain registration how will your domain stay linked to your website?
If I move my domain registration to a new registrar, will my website get lost?
If I change my domain registration to a new domain registrar, will I mess up my website?
Will transferring my domain registrar break my website?
The short answer to all of those questions is no; it shouldn’t. But just in case, always backup your site, especially before you start making major changes. (You should be backing up your website regularly to either your computer or elsewhere. For WordPress, I use the plugin UpdraftPlus and backup to Dropbox.)
Update 8/2017: I have been using Dropbox for 2 years now and it works great! Right now, Dropbox offers 2 GB for free, and if you use of my links to Dropbox we both get 500 megabites of free bonus space in addition to the 2 GB! It’s a WIN-WIN. To get the free extra space, you must download Dropbox to your computer and verify your email address with Dropbox. You need to do that to be able to use Dropbox the way I’m going to show you anyway, so it’s not an extra step. They have a great tutorial to get you started. Right now I’m up to 8 GB from just a few people being nice enough to use my links in the blog posts they found helpful. If I get more space I can back up my photos as well as my website. Also, when you sign up using that link, I get your email, but I won’t use it or sell it. If you want to get my newsletter, please sign up at the top of this page. Thanks for supporting the writing of these tutorials!
The reason your website won’t get lost, is that all this directing around has something to do with nameservers, and as a part of the process your nameserver information should be transferred from your old domain registrar to your new domain registrar.
I have picked Google Domains as my new registrar. For Google Domains, this is all covered under step 2 of transferring your domain registrar to Google Domains, where it talks about detecting and importing your domain’s current settings.
So when you change your domain registrar, how does your website location stay linked to your domain name?
How does your new registrar know where your website is?
How does it find our website host, and the right computer at your website host to access the files that make your website?
This is something you want to pay attention to at your new registrar. Again, for transferring domain registration to Google Domains, this will be taken care of in Step 2: Import your domain’s web settings.
“Choose whether or not to have Google Domains detect and import your current web settings: If you select Detect and import my domain’s current settings, Google Domains will display the DNS resource records it finds for you domain immediately below your selection.”
If you’re using a different domain registrar, be sure to look for some direction similar to that.
In reality though, things can go wrong when you transfer your domain registration or your hosting provider. And they can happen even though you do everything right! I would have been more upset when this happened, but my husband’s a software engineer and this kind of thing happens all the time with computers. This is frustrating to me because I always want to find the source of a mistake and fix it! But you can’t always do that with computers. It comes down to little things hidden in the code that are harder to find than the extra ten cents when you’re balancing your checkbook. And it’s really not worth it or sometimes even possible to find the error. The best way I can deal with it is to think of computers as living, breathing machines with a mind of their own; while you can tell them to “sit,” there’s not telling if they will or not.
I know, I know! I’m supposed to tell you it’s easy and how to transfer your domain registration with no down time and all that. But the truth is, I did have downtime and it did take a few days. I will point out where things went wrong for me in hopes that it won’t happen for you! But if you do have a website with a lot of traffic and you’re actually making money with your website, then I’m going to suggest you spend some money and hire a developer to make the move for you. But, if your site is only moderately active, in the end my downtime didn’t hurt my traffic. Most of my traffic comes from search engines and Pinterest and once I got everything set up, traffic resumed to what it was before I made the switch.
How to Transfer your domain to a new domain registrar
Before you do this, just like reading a recipe all the way through, it’s a good idea to read all the directions from start to finish before you begin. Read through the directions on your new domain registrar for transferring a domain in, and read the directions for transferring away from your old domain registrar.
To transfer my domain name to a new registrar (instead of transferring my domain name to a new web host), I’m going to be transferring my domain IN to Google Domains and AWAY from Bluehost. Be sure to read ALL of those posts all the way through before you go forward!