Dec. 29 is also known as “Dump GoDaddy Day.” The initiative to move domains hosted with GoDaddy to other domain registrars was spurred on by reddit user “SelfProdigy,” in the wake of GoDaddy’s public support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Even though GoDaddy has since reversed course, the company has continued to face backlash from users across the web.
Anti-SOPA reigstrars such as Name.com and NameCheap are encouraging users to spread the word about SOPA — and are even donating funds towards anti-SOPA groups such as the Electronic Freedom Foundation.
Unfortunately, the process for moving a domain name from one registrar to another is way more complicated than it should be. We wanted to help shine a light on the domain transfer process. Although this gallery focuses on GoDaddy, the advice for DNS, email and web hosting are applicable to any registrar.
The Transfer Process
Before transferring a domain name, make sure that you match the following conditions:
- The domain name is more than 60 days old — if you just registered a new domain, you’ll need to wait until 60 days have passed to transfer to a new registrar.
- The domain is unlocked. By default, registrars lock domains. This prevent nefarious parties from transferring items away on your behalf. Before transferring to a new registrar, you’ll need to unlock the domain with your current service provider.
- The domain name isn’t within 7 days of expiration. If your domain is almost up for renewal, you’ll need to renew with your existing registrar, then move.
- Your admin contact information is correct. If you pay for registration privacy services, this may mean you need to cancel those services before initiating a transfer.
Dealing with DNS
The biggest potential hassle of transferring a domain from one registrar to another is the downtime you’ll experience if you host email or your website’s nameservers (DNS servers) with your registrar.
If you are using the nameservers of a third party, transferring your domain from one registrar to another should have no impact on your site. Likewise, if you use a service like CloudFlare that handles DNS records, transferring to a new registrar shouldn’t effect your websites uptime.
NameCheap.com has a great guide to minimizing downtime when switching to a new registrar. In NameCheap’s case, because it offers free DNS hosting, it suggests you transfer your DNS addresses for your current websites from your current registrar to NameCheap before you move domains.
After the DNS changes are made, you can move your domain over without having to worry about any downtime.
If you are unable to change your nameservers in advance, be aware that you may experience a few hours of downtime once the domain is transferred from one registrar to another.
Dealing with Email
Lots of domain registrars also offer email hosting. As with changing your DNS information, this is something you need to deal with in advance.
My advice would be to avoid hosting email with a registrar or webhost. Instead, opt for something like Google Apps. The free edition of Google Apps allows users to create 10 different accounts (as well as “catch-all” accounts) for a domain name.
Google will provide you will mail servers that you can then give your new registrar. Some registrars, such as NameCheap, even offer easy-setup for Google Apps email accounts in their settings control panel.
Google Apps is great because you can use the Gmail web interface, Google Docs and other Google tools. You can also use the mail account with stand-alone IMAP friendly email clients like Outlook or Apple Mail. I’m the rare person who is NOT a fan of the Gmail web interface, I use Apple Mail myself, but 4 of my domains have hosted Google Apps accounts.
If you’re looking for a slightly more reliable (and ad-free) solution, Fastmail.fm is a well-regarded provider that offers external domain support for $40 a year.
- Glenn Fleishman at Macworld wrote an excellent guide for users looking to transfer their domains from one registrar to another that is worth a read.
- Name.com put together this video showing the transfer process and getting users setup to use Name.com as their new registrar.
- NameCheap.com put together a transfer guide for GoDaddy. NameCheap also has pages setup for other common registrars, including 1&1, Dotster and Network Solutions.
- SitePoint also put together a great tutorial for GoDaddy refugees.
- GoDaddy’s support page also has information on transferring a domain name away from GoDaddy.
- IWantMyName.com offers a free transfer service, including DNS records.