My site has gone through final testing, and we’re ready to have the site go “live”. What are my next steps?
When you are ready to switch your domain to Xplorex, don’t worry! The typical web site move is straightforward, and with some clear direction it can be a fairly painless procedure. We’ve tried to cover any pitfalls you may encounter along the way, but we suggest you real each section below carefully. Follow these step-by-step instructions!
To begin the process, there are a number of things you need to do right away. Please do not skip this step; it will cause problems later!
We've created a handy checklist for all the below steps - click here to download the MS Word document!
- Ensure you have access to your domain via your registrar. This is very important! Without the appropriate login and password with your registrar, you will not be able to make any changes whatsoever. The process of getting access to your domain if you’ve forgotten the password or are unable to access the login information (registered with defunct email address; person who registered is no longer with the company, no login information at all) is VERY DIFFICULT and requires notarized documentation! You do NOT want to have to go through all this, so always keep your domain registrar account information current and close by!
- Check to see who has control of domain modifications (specifically, name server changes) at your domain registrar. You will need to make modifications to your name servers near the end of this process. If you do NOT have the authority to make these changes, you must determine what steps you must take in order to get this authority. One of the most frustrating parts of moving a site is having everything running on the new host but not being able to get the domain name edited accordingly!
- Make sure you have an updated local copy of your files. If you do not have a local backup, get it now. If you are unable to get access to your website, email email@example.com and we will do what we can to assist.
- Note and review any interactive systems, third party software or implementations (such as forms or merchant accounts) that your site currently uses. Programs that are moved will typically some modifications to work with the Xplorex server directory structure. If there are any programs you cannot move, be sure to notify Xplorex so we can come up with an acceptable alternative.
- Note the IP address and alternative URL supplied by your current hosting company. You should be able to use this if for any reason you need to access the old account after you have moved your domain.
- If you have multiple email users on your account, check each of them to see if they are accessing the mail server at your hosting company. Note the mail server they are currently using and gather the user names and passwords. Xplorex does not have visible passwords, so when you set up your new email accounts you will want to have this information.
- If you have your own SSL certificate (you access your site using HTTPS), get your certificate and key from the server. You may have to ask your current host for these files.
- Determine the proper account cancellation procedures at the current host. Do not start the process yet! You need the information on hand to complete the last step of the transfer process.
- If your email address on your hosting account is the same as your hosted domain name, consider changing it to an alternate e-mail address.
- If your old hosting company needs to contact you in the future and has not removed your domain from their name servers, you might not receive the email. We are aware of cases where customer's accounts never got canceled properly and the former hosting company submitted the accounts to collection agencies. This could have been avoided if the account had an alternate billing email address.
Testing Your Site at Xplorex
For most site switches, there won't be any problems. Going through the process methodically, however, can help assure that nothing is missed. Typically this step is done at the same time as the upload step, but we break it out separately here.
- Using the temporary URL provided by Xplorex (http://yourdomain.xplorex.com), go through every link on your site. Be sure that the URL shown in your browser still shows the temporary URL. If the URL displays your actual domain name, you are accessing your old site rather than the new one. This can typically happen if web page links in your html include the fully qualified domain name.
- Provide Xplorex with the full list of all e-mail addresses you wish to have @your domain.
- Update your email client so that the mail servers are the following:
- POP3: mail.xplorex.com
- SMTP: mail.xplorex.com
- See the email FAQ for detailed instructions on how to set up your Xplorex email.
- If you spot a problem that you can not easily handle, contact the Xplorex support team.
Once you are satisfied that everything is working properly, you can move on to the next step.
Switching the Name Server Entries at the Domain Registrar
- The location that is accessed when using your domain on the internet is controlled by the name servers that are designated at your domain name registrar. Xplorex has its own name servers, which are:
- Primary: ns.xplorex.com
- Secondary: ns2.xplorex.com
- When you are ready to have the public start accessing your site at the Xplorex server, you will need to set your domain at the registrar to use the new name servers.
- Modifying the name servers at the registrar almost always needs to be initiated by the domain owner – that means YOU.
- Determine an appropriate time to make the name server modification. Since it can take up to 72 hours before the name server modifications are complete, it is a good idea to select a day that your site has the least traffic. For most people, this would be the weekend – so you would want to make the modification late on a Friday afternoon.
- Update the domain record at the registrar with Xplorex name servers. Your registrar will have instructions on how to do this.
If you replicate your site, consider making a minor modification on your home page. This will let you know when the name server modification has propagated to Xplorex. Note that you may see the domain at the new host, but others may still be seeing it at the old host for a brief period of time.
- If you are concerned about mail being sent to the old account, you may want to request that the old hosting company update your MX record in their name server to point to the new IP address.
- The period of time that it takes to propagate the new name server information across the internet is usually around 3 days. Most people will see the site at the new location within 24 hours. This can be a confusing time, as some people will see the site at the old location while others are at the new one. Normally this is not a big problem for site owners, but it is something you should be aware of.
Canceling Service at your Former Web Hosting Provider.
- Many web site owners that switch from one hosting company to another are under the false impression that when they switch their name servers, their old hosting account is automatically cancelled. This is definitely not the case! Each hosting company has specific procedures for canceling accounts and if not followed, you may find that you will continue to be billed for services that you are not actually using.
- You should wait one or two weeks after you are actively using Xplorex before canceling your old hosting account. This allows for a backup solution in case of any unacceptable bugs or glitches that can not be corrected. It is also not unusual for webmasters to find there is something needed from the old site that didn't get copied across.
- After an appropriate period of time (see above) use the procedures that you've noted in the preparation phase to cancel your old hosting account. Keep all correspondence as proof of cancellation.
- Do not skip this! Follow up with your old hosting company to be sure that your account actually got canceled. You do not want to have to deal with a collection agency 12 months later because your old host didn’t cancel your account. Keep copies of your cancellation confirmation!
If you need further assistance, please contact Xplorex Support at 604-687-2935 or 1-866-975-6739.