How do I keep email active during domain transfer?

Posted on 2012-09-11
Last Modified: 2012-09-19
I am transferring a domain/website/email from one host to another.  I was told that during the transfer there is a possibility that email will be down because of MX records changing.  

Is there any way to prevent email downtime?
What will happen if someone emails me during this downtime?

Can someone please explain this to me in simple terms and let me know what the 'Pros' do in this situation?  

I suspect this is a common problem people have when migrating away from certain web hosting companies. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Question by:jtr800
    LVL 37

    Accepted Solution


    You should change the TTL of your DNS records to a low value before they are changed. This will minimize problems due to caching. Most sending servers will queue email and continue trying to resend for a certain time period, so even if your mail gateways cannot be contacted for a short period of time, there may be a delay in delivery but the non-delivery rate should be minimal.

    The ideal solution would be to have the new hosting company setup their systems to accept mail for your domain but redirect that mail to your current hosting provider. That way, the MX records can be changed in advance and all you have to do is stop the redirecting when you want to cut over. This would eliminate any outages but you would have to ask the new hosting company if they are willing to do this.

    LVL 22

    Assisted Solution

    by:Matt V
    If you can get the new mail servers available and accepting mail before you start, you can update your MX records to have the new servers as higher priority servers.

    IN MX 10 new.mailserver
    IN MX 20 current.mailserver

    Then do as jjmck says and set your DNS TTLs lower so when the domain is moved, you can update the DNS so it only has the new mail servers.

    Make sure you check with the new hosting company to make sure their mail server will behave as a secondary mail server if this is setup.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    by:Hypercat (Deb)
    Just to add what was posted by JJ:

    First, my scenario assumes that you are hosting your own email server and that your ISP is hosting your public DNS zone.  If that's not the case, then my comments don't apply.

    The best solution overall long-term is to have your domain registration and public DNS zone hosted by a 3rd party that is NOT tied to your ISP. This could be Network Solutions, GoDaddy, or any of a number of other domain and DNS hosting providers. That way, these records are under your control instead of under the control of your ISP. Doing this prevents the situation where your public DNS zone (which contains your public MX records) moves when you change ISPs.  

    Once that's under your control, you can set a lower TTL for your MX record(s) when you're about to change ISPs, as suggested by JJ.  Then you make the change at your hosting provider to the email host's IP address when you move over to the new ISP, and you're all set.  There may be a delay in the transmission of some email, because of course the change has to be disseminated out to all the other public DNS source servers, but this is the most efficient and least disruptive way to do it.
    LVL 17

    Expert Comment

    Yes its sure that Website & Email will be down when you transfer the domain.

    As you said  Domain / website / Email Hosting transfer to another hosting.

    Now its depends on your New Hosting ( Shared / Cloud or Dedicated ).

    If you are putting the new name Server Address ( ns1 & ns2 ) then around it will take 2-4 hours DNS update , For Over the Internet it will take around 24 Hours. And there name servers having the proper MX Recordsand your m ail A record ( )

    So On your New Hosting server , Be prepared the Email server details like MX records and create the Email Boxes as your existing users. And change the DNS record on Saturday night , before that put the email all users that download all emails.

    And do not stop the Old Hosting Server service until your New Hosting server is ready with your Site & Email Live.

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