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Migrating hosted domains and email accounts between 2 dedicated servers

Posted on 2006-11-13
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
I hope this is the most appropriate section to ask this;
I am looking for the best method to manage the following situations :
I am hosting domains on an old, obsolete and slow dedicated machine at provider1, and have to migrate those domains with their email accounts to a brand new powerful server at provider2. Both machines run Plesk Linux and the most recent one has a good migration tool that makes transfering data a rather quick and easy process. All my domains are managed by a third-party, very reliable and quick DNS service.
My question however, is how can I make that change as smooth and quick as possible for email users, knowing that ideally those persons should not be aware of the change, only they'll realize current email issues will be gone.
All email servers are in the form "theirname.com" so when the main domain for webhosting is transfered, so is their incoming mail server.
I do have a way to very quickly update the DNS records from the old machine to the new one, once data is transfered, however I am sure some providers will take at least 24 hours to update their own records, so emails directed to the uses during that time would still go to the old machine ?
What would the best method be so that no one can immediately have their email client read from the new machine, while email would still arrive at the old location's pop accounts, that would therefore not be read from anymore ?
Would changing the domains TTL before that migration help ?

Thanks for your attention on what I believe must be quite a common issue among people providing hosting services and having to upgrade hardware ?
Best regards.
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Question by:Denisvt
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Kerem ERSOY earned 125 total points
ID: 17938718
Hi,

- I suggest you to ask your DNS provider to set your minimum TTL value to zero as a firt thing. Normally once a DNS server resolves a domain it will not ask the same domain to the authorized DNS server for a period of MINTTLT seconds. So if your DNS provider sets it to 0 then the servers will not cache it. Do this a least 48 hours before the migration.

- Then do the migration operatin in Provider2's premises and shutdown the SMTP Service. Configure your old server to relay all mail to the new server now active at the provider3.

- Once the New Server is up at Provider 3, and old server at Provider 2 is relaying mail to th new server. Get you DNS modified to the new settings. Since the TTL value is 0 the DNS servers resolving the address won't cache it.

- When you start to get mails directly from the clients getting your address from the new settings. Shutdown the Old Server at provider2.

- Ask your DNS provider to reset your min TTL in your DNSzone file to a reasonable amount such as 86400 seconds or their default.

- Format the Good Old server, setup XP and Play Tetris with it :) (this step is optional)

I hope this helps.

Cheers,
K.
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by:Denisvt
ID: 17998797
Good TTL suggestion it seems, I'm not too sure how to directly relay mail from one machine or shut down SMTP, and I guess you meant provider 1 and 2 ?
Anyway thanks for the reply and suggestions. The old server was not reliable anymore but not enough to punish it with XP ;-)

Thanks.

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LVL 30

Expert Comment

by:Kerem ERSOY
ID: 18085019
Hi,

Yeah : ) I dunno where Provider 2 and 3 came from : ) It is really Provider 1 and 2 :) Anyway the formula is Provider (n-1) :). Yeah it is always a good idea to convert old servers to even powerful with Linux rather than XP (where you need to animate a dog for searching files :) )

Cheers,
K.
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