Hosting transfer with no downtime? - My plan:

Hi all, below is my first post, my plan for moving a client’s hosting and registration from two separate companies to DreamHost. Sorry in advance for its length, and if there are already answers out there - I’ve done some research over the past month and this is the plan I’ve come up with. Use it for yourself if you want, and let me know what you think, ESPECIALLY if you see something that is wrong. It’s very important that there is no noticeable downtime, otherwise it may become known that I’m not quite the expert I claim to be (shh!)…

I’ll post a corrected list of my steps if anyone corrects me! (please!)

My biggest top priority is uninterrupted email - most of the requests for my client’s business are done via email.

  • Am I changing MX records with the old registrar?
  • Does just pointing to DH’s nameservers at the old registrar tell the interwebs to listen to DreamHost from now on, or is this only if the registration is transferred to dreamhost?
  • I understand that as DNS propagates some machines will send mail to the old addresses and some to the new, which is why I’m keeping the old with the newly-added accounts, but what happens when my client’s machines start resolving as the DreamHost’s mail before ALL of the internet is no longer sending email to the OldHost’s mail servers? Will this email only be accessibly through webmail or with forwarding to a gmail (or w/e) account?

Thanks in advance to anyone and everyone, and sorry the post is so long. Hope to get some help, or at least help someone out there!







  • Who is your domain registrar?
  • Who is your web host?
  • Do you have a complete list of e-mail addresses you have (
  • What program are you using to access your e-mail? Do you know which protocol you are using to access your e-mail? Could you send me a screenshot or list of all settings for your e-mail addresses?
  • Is there webmail access from your current web host?
  • “Mirror” (create) e-mail users from list provided above (step 1) in DreamHost panel
  • Configure any forwarding as exists in DreamHost panel
  • Configure new e-mail accounts on Client’s staff e-mail clients, using same account name with suffix “NEW”, e.g., and using DreamHost’s mail servers (e.g. to collect mail at new address as DNS propagates
  • Maintain old e-mail addresses and accounts on client’s e-mail clients to collect mail at old address as DNS propagates
  • Change MX records to point to DreamHost(???)
  • Wait at least a week (for safety’s sake) before verifying (how?) that new DNS settings have propagated throughout the web
  • Double check!
  • Cancel old e-mail hosting (after website successfully migrated, of course)
  • Move all old accounts’ mail to new accounts’ mail in e-mail clients
  • Delete old e-mail accounts in clients and remove “NEW” (e.g.) suffix from new accounts