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Company wants to host own website but already has old site at old hosting company - Challenging question!

Posted on 2004-08-28
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Here's a challenging question, I'm offering 500 points for this answer, because this situation is crazy and I need help and the question is multiparts.  Please Please assist!

The website that is being discussed here is a very simple website - informational only so traffic volume and any other considerations related to large, heavily visited websites can probably be ignored.  This is just a small company that wants to host it's own website on their own webserver.

1.)  I began assisting a company with its technology needs after their former consultant left.

2.)  Originally they had their website (www.example.com) hosted with a typical hosting company, but the old consultant said "hey!" "you don't need to pay to have a website hosted - do it yourself". They have a T1 connection - static IPS.

3.)  So he set them up a webserver on a Windows 2000 server at their office.  - I DON'T KNOW if Apache or IIS is installed on this 2000 server.

4.)  AT THE SAME TIME, The company decided to register A NEW DOMAIN NAME (exampleusa.com) - so now they have (www.example.com) and (www.exampleusa.com).  They want both names to point to their webserver.

Here's the tricky part!

5.) They NEVER TOLD THEIR OLD HOSTING COMPANY THAT THEY DIDN'T WANT THEM TO HOST ANYMORE.  So the old domain name (www.example.com) still points to the old website being hosted at the old hosting company. And when you type in www.example.com - it goes to this older version of their website still being hosted at the old hosting company that doesn't know it's not supposed to be hosting anymore.  Although I'm sure the hosting company will find out soon enough - when they stop paying the bill.  Incidentally - I pointed their new domain name to this old site too - thinking that was where it needed to point to.  

6.)  BUT - *the crazy part*, when you are INSIDE the company's LAN and type in the OLD domain name - it browses to their new content on their webserver!  If you type in the NEW domain name - it goes to the old content on the hosting comany server.

7.)  When you are OUTSIDE THE COMPANY'S LAN  -like at home and you browse to the old domain name (www.example.com), it goes to the old, outdated content on the old hosting company.

8.)  When you are OUTSIDE the company's LAN and you type in the IP address of their server (http://64.243.132.75) that the webpage is loaded on - my IE web browser responds with "Under Construction
The site you were trying to reach does not currently have a default page. It may be in the process of being upgraded.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Please try this site again later. If you still experience the problem, try contacting the Web site administrator."

9.)  The individual responsible for updating the webpage content has been happily updating the webpage (while at the office) for months now - (at her office, within the company LAN), so when she's done updating for the day - she surfs to www.example.com and sees her NEW content and everything looks the way it should.

10.)  What I realize now is that - she's obviously never surfed to her website from OUTSIDE the company LAN, because if she was at home and went to her domain name - All she'd see is OLD content.  I don't know how long it's been, could be months or years she's been thinking that her website is being updated - and it is - but only internally - no-one outside sees any changes.

WHAT I NEED TO DO.

1.)  I need to get the old domain name (www.example.com) pointed to the INTERNAL Webserver that the company now is utilizing.  

2.)  I need to get the NEW domain name (www.exampleusa.com) pointed to the INTERNAL webserver that the company now is utilizing.

3.)  What about this default page not set - page under construction?  Their new website is complete and when you surf to it from within the company LAN it looks great!.

3.)  Eventually, the old domain name (www.example.com) will expire, and that will be fine with them - they will only want the new name (www.exampleusa.com) to point to their internal webserver/website.

4.) If I ever see this former consultant on the street - I'll throttle him!

Please, please list your response in easy to follow steps if possible -This problem has been kicking me in the behind for 3 weeks now and it's time to put it to rest! Thanks for your help!  
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Question by:wdayton
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by:kenfcamp
ID: 11921509
These are rather simplistic problems easily resolved.

A) #1-#2 : You'll need DNS setup for the domains.
When complete, update your Domain entery, changing : Old DNS servers with "NEW" DNS servers.
*while you're at it  you may as well alter the Technical information and other information that may reflect your old host.

B) #3 : This seems to be a configuration issue.

> 4.) If I ever see this former consultant on the street - I'll throttle him!

Careful, one day you may be in his place.
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by:grblades
ID: 11921551
Hi wdayton,
There are only a couple of problems that need to be fixed to get everything working so it is not that bad :)

First your problem (8) sounds as if it is due to the windows server being setup as a virtual host so that it only returns the website if it is accessed with the URL http://www.exampleusa.com. You need to change this so that the website is the 'default' website. I am not sure how to do this in windows but it should not be that difficult. Once you can get the website responding by accessing it directly via its IP address then you can do the second stage.

The reason why external users see the old website is because the DNS still points to the old servers. The only reason internal users see the new site when going to http://www.example.com is because your internal DNS has a fixed entry for the webserver persumably because it is using example.com for it active directory.
All you therefore need to do is change the DNS so that www.example.com and www.exampleusa.com both point to 64.243.132.75
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humeniuk earned 2000 total points
ID: 11921659
First of all, I don't think this is as bad as you think.


<< WHAT I NEED TO DO.
1.)  I need to get the old domain name (www.example.com) pointed to the INTERNAL Webserver that the company now is utilizing.  
2.)  I need to get the NEW domain name (www.exampleusa.com) pointed to the INTERNAL webserver that the company now is utilizing. >>

This is a function of DNS, to resolve domain names to specific IP addresses.  So, you need a DNS service to point your domain names at your public (internet) IP address.  Typcially when you use a hosting company, you use their DNS service, so you point your domain names at their name servers, ie. ns1.hostingco.com.  In this case, you can either set up your own DNS server OR you can use a third-party DNS service like www.zoneedit.com, which is free.  So, you set up your account with ZoneEdit, you point your domain names at their name servers, and their name servers resolve your domain name(s) to your IP address.


<< 3.)  What about this default page not set - page under construction?  Their new website is complete and when you surf to it from within the company LAN it looks great!. >>

The above will only get website users to your door, you have to let them in and show them around.  I doubt your web server is exposed directly to the internet, so you have to configure your firewall and router to forward incoming traffic on Port 80 (default for HTTP traffic) to your web server.  Your web server will then serve pages from the appropriate website based on the URL used.  In IIS, you have to set up host headers, which tell the server what website the user is looking for.  This is almost certainly a configuration error on your server.  For example, in IIS, if you left the default website active with no webpages in it and then created a second web site (ie. example.com) full of great content, but created no host headers to tell the web server what to do, it would automatically serve the default website, which - being empty - would produce an error.  Likewise, if you did all of that correctly, but didn't specify a default page in your website config, you would get the error you mentioned.


<< 3.)  Eventually, the old domain name (www.example.com) will expire, and that will be fine with them - they will only want the new name (www.exampleusa.com) to point to their internal webserver/website. >>

You have two number 3's . . . Anyway, this is alright, because you don't want two websites with identical content anyway.  For one, it's a waste of time and resources to keep them synchronized and also, it is a good way to annoy search engines.  What you want to do is decide which domain you want to keep long term.  Then, set up a website for the second domain, but redirect it to the primary domain.  There are a number of ways to do this, but the best would be with your .htaccess file in Apache or with your website config in IIS.  You want a 301 redirect, which means 'this page moved permanently' for a variety of reasons, but you have other things to deal with before you worry about this.


<<  4.) If I ever see this former consultant on the street - I'll throttle him! >>
No comment.


The first thing you want to do is to find out what server platform you are using.  If you are going to run your own web server, you really need someone on board who at least knows how to determine that.

Next, you have to configure your firewall & router to pass on http traffic to your server and configure your server to deliver the correct pages.  It will be easier to give you specific configuration instructions once you let us know what web server platform you are using.

Finally, get your domain name and DNS situation straightened out so that both domains resolve to your public IP address.  This is last, because you want to make sure your server is up and running properly before you point your domains to your new DNS service and, by extension, your own server.  It can take 24-48 hours for your DNS changes to propagate completely, so you'll want to keep both websites (hosted externally and hosted internally) live for that period of time so that visitors are sure to find at least one of them.


One final comment in defense of the old web hosting company:

<< They NEVER TOLD THEIR OLD HOSTING COMPANY THAT THEY DIDN'T WANT THEM TO HOST ANYMORE . . . Although I'm sure the hosting company will find out soon enough - when they stop paying the bill.  >>

Since they never cancelled the account, I think the hosting company deserves better treatment than to simply stop paying them.  I think a proper account cancellation in keeping with the terms of the original hosting agreement is the appropriate way to go.  Also, if your domain names are registered with the hosting company rather than with a domain registrar, you could have difficulty pointing them at your new name servers if your account is suspended for non-payment.  And because you want to keep this hosting account active until you have completed the configuration of your web server.  And if your domains are registered with a hosting company you aren't going to use anymore, I would suggest you transfer them to another (good) registrar, such as www.godaddy.com.
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by:humeniuk
ID: 11921668
ken & grb - sorry for the cross post, I was typing while you were posting

wdayton - these steps will resolve all of your problems, 1-10.
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by:kenfcamp
ID: 11921718
humeniuk: lol surrrre you were ;)
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by:humeniuk
ID: 11921728
:-)   I thought I was a better typist than that, but I guess I can't type and drink coffee at the same time . . . that and my brain works very slowly on Saturday (among other days)
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by:kenfcamp
ID: 11921753
rofl, I hear ya
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by:pjcrooks2000
ID: 11955291
Heh thats a funny one thats made my day :)
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Author Comment

by:wdayton
ID: 11985258
I accepted humenjuk's answer - I do appreciate your other's help.

In the end - I think it also ended up being a firewall issue too - but I couldn't figure it out and our lead tech had to go there (which he should have done a long time ago) and assisted me.  NOw the customer wants a different engineer because they're not confident in my capabilities.

Mess.
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