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Steps when changing DNS/MX records

Posted on 2009-04-19
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Hi All,

I asked this question before, which was answered well, but I had some additional questions, so thought to ask a new questions.

My domain is kam.com, MX = mail.kam.com

There is a sister company (completely seperate) - sister.com, MX = mail.sister.com.

Sister has a website, www.sister.com, and an A record for this;

sister = 66.9.56.2

The current TTL for Sister's resouce records is 24 hours.

Ours and our sister company's IT will be integrated, so that their mail will go via our mail servers. We will also take ownership of their domain completely, however the website should remain as is. There should be minimal downtime for mail whilst the MX records propogate round the world.

a) For the domain ownership, would I be correct in thinking that each domain on the Internet has a registrant who registers the domain on behalf of the Internet Naming org (not sure of the name?!).  How would we actually take ownership of the domain?

b) Does taking ownership of the domain relate to making our public DNS servers the authorative servers for the sister.com domain, or is it a completely seperate task? Out of interest, is it possible for our servers to be authorative for the domain, but the domain to be still owned by a seperate org/held by seperate ISP?

b) For the mail routing change, their MX needs to be changed to mail.kam.com, but to minimise the time taken for the change to be made, should be amend the TTL of the resource records a couple of days before the change? That way all the DNS servers around the world would update their caches quicker?

c) Should we take ownership of the domain *before* the MX change, after the MX change, or does it not matter?

d) In order to keep the A record for www.sister.com as it is, is there anything special we need to do?

Many thanks in advance! It's the first time I'm doing this, so just want to make sure I get it correct!

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Question by:kam_uk
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Expert Comment

by:Chris Dent
ID: 24182445

a) Transfer of ownership has to be agreed and initiated by the current owner (typically the Administrative contact listed in the WhoIs record).

b) Separate task, although normally carried out at the same time. The domain can be shifted between registrars by updating the Tag on the domain.

Anything is possible :) It depends whether or not you have access to set the NS records for the domain. You can see the current values in the WhoIs for the domain.

b (2)) There are a few ways to work this.

Reducing the TTL is a good option, but you must be aware that not all ISPs honour low TTLs. For instance, no matter what you put mail operators like AOL will still take a few days to notice the change.

Another way to approach it is to add a new, lower priority (higher numeric), MX record with the new delivery location. That one tends to work best when nothing listens on the new name until the change-over, and when the old server will be turned off (and therefore become unavailable).

c) Does not matter as long as you have enough control of the domain to make the change.

d) Varies from ISP to ISP, it's really something you'll have to raise with those you transfer it to and from.

Chris

PS there's a good enough WhoIs engine here: http://www.geektools.com/whois.php
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Assisted Solution

by:savone
savone earned 800 total points
ID: 24190141
a) For the domain ownership, would I be correct in thinking that each domain on the Internet has a registrant who registers the domain on behalf of the Internet Naming org (not sure of the name?!).  How would we actually take ownership of the domain?

The domain registrar (the company you purchased it from) registers the domain on behalf of the registrant (person who buys the domain).  The registrant will have to sign over ownership to you, the registrar will have to change the name on the account/domain.

b) Does taking ownership of the domain relate to making our public DNS servers the authorative servers for the sister.com domain, or is it a completely seperate task? Out of interest, is it possible for our servers to be authorative for the domain, but the domain to be still owned by a seperate org/held by seperate ISP?

If you make your DNS servers the SOA (start of authority) for the domain little else matters as far as technical functionality goes.  If your name servers are the authorative servers for that domain you can point A records, MX records, or whatever you want to do with the domain.  But keep in mind until it is legally registered in your name the original owner can change the name servers.

b) For the mail routing change, their MX needs to be changed to mail.kam.com, but to minimise the time taken for the change to be made, should be amend the TTL of the resource records a couple of days before the change? That way all the DNS servers around the world would update their caches quicker?

You can not update someone elses DNS servers quicker.  If they cached a record with a TTL of 24 hours, they will not look for an update for 24 hours.  This is a sticky situation.  My suggestion would be to bring both servers online, add the new MX records for the new server.  Then wait for the TTL to expire, move all the mail to the new boxes on the new server, and shut down the old server.  Easiest, but not the fanciest or most efficient.

c) Should we take ownership of the domain *before* the MX change, after the MX change, or does it not matter?

I personally would not want to run a server until I owned the domain.  If you change everything over BEFORE you own it, there is a possibility of sabotage, even if it is acidental.  The person who owns it could change the name servers and screw you up big time.  

d) In order to keep the A record for www.sister.com as it is, is there anything special we need to do?

Do not change the A record from what it is now, and in the new DNS server make an A record the same as you have in the currect DNS settings.  This will make a seemless transition.
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Author Comment

by:kam_uk
ID: 24244195
Thanks all...

Just a couple of questions...

i) When referring to taking ownership of the sister.com domain, what is the correct term - ownership of the sister.com zone, ownership of the sister.com domain name space, ownership of the sister.com domain name etc?

ii) If I make my DNS servers authoratative for sister.com, is that the same as setting the sister.com NS servers to my DNS servers, i.e. do they mean effectively the same thing?

Thanks!
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Accepted Solution

by:
Chris Dent earned 1200 total points
ID: 24244615

i)

Ownership of the sister.com domain (name). Where ownership is formalised with a Registrar (such as Verisign who are responsible for .com and .net). Ownership can generally be seen in the WhoIs for the domain (if that is public).

In most cases registrations are handled by a third party who will deal with the registrar on your behalf and any administration in between. Examples of these are 123-reg.co.uk or register.com and many many ISPs.

ii)

Pretty much.

Authority has two aspects:

1. The Zone File

Without a zone file you cannot really be authoritative. You must be able to provide answers to be an authority on the domain.

If you were to set your servers up with the Registrar before creating the zone file you would have a "lame delegation".

2. The Name Servers and the Registrar

You will have to update the name servers with the registrar. That allow everyone to find your (authoritative) servers.

Those are just NS Records, but at the servers in charge of "com" if we stick with the sister.com example.

Putting those two together you have:

 - Root Servers (that's the servers listed in Root Hints) know the way to ".com"
 - .com knows the way to your name servers for sister.com (because you updated them with the registrar)
 - Your servers provide the answer (because you added the zone)

Chris
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