Moving name servers

Having never changed name servers before I want to be sure that I’ve got the right procedure before doing anything. Here’s what I think needs to be done for a site that exists elsewhere but is in staging here at DreamHost:

[]Collect DNS listing from current name server
]Record ‘non-editable’ DNS entries here at DH
[]Remove ‘fully hosted’ from primary domain here at DH
]Modify DH DNS listing to match current name server, including MX records
[*]Change name servers to DH at domain registrar

Ideally, then, when we’re ready to go live with the site all I need to do is change the listings for the site itself from the old entries to those previously non-editable entries. Am I close?

Additions, deletions, comments welcome.

If the entire domain is going to be hosted at dreamhost, it’s much better to simply change the names of the nameservers for the domain to,,

Doing that allows dreamhost to manage all the messy individual entries automatically. I say messy because you mentioned the MX record as well. The extra entries required for SPF and DKIM do in fact get messy. Additionally if your nameservers are pointing elsewhere and dreamhost makes certain hardware changes during maintenance, an IP might change (it’s rare, but it happens), if nameservers are set to dreamhost then that change would be handled automatically, however if you are manually managing records elsewhere as you are proposing then your stuff breaks until you figure out what happened and go make your manual edits.

Also with the method you propose, don’t remove “full-hosting”. If you do your stuff won’t be served.

My apologies for not being sufficiently clear about my intentions. The end result should be that all name server entries EXCEPT MX records point to hosts at DreamHost, domain registration will be at DH. Because the MX records will not point to DH is why I think “fully hosted” needs to be removed from the primary domain. I thought it would be best to do this in several steps rather than all at once. Plus, I’d like to get the MX records changed independently and before the primary domain goes live.


“fully hosted” has nothing to do with mail or MX records. Removing full hosting means the web servers will no longer be serving the domain.

Your not very clear still. You are confusing terms. Nameserver entries for the domain state whose nameservers will have authority. If “nameservers are pointed to dreamhost” it means that dreamhost’s DNS servers hold the authoritative answers for the domain.

DNS records (A, AAAA, TXT, MX, PTR, etc) are not nameserver entries, they are DNS records.

Who is the registrar now?
What nameservers are set now?

I admit it: my ignorance is showing! Maybe even alarming. I just want to make sure I don’t break anything with it. Details follow.

The current site is hosted at The domain registrar is Name servers are, UUFNN has a nonprofit account at DH with its site staged at

DH has domain registration & DNS records and hosts Email will be gmail.

Before the site goes live at DH we will change MX records at to gmail.

Probably would have helped if I said all that to begin with.

The good news: I haven’t broken anything yet.

1 - Add the MX record and text records at dreamhost for your email hosting at google. (At the point you will be making these entries they do nothing because nameservers for are still pointed to,

2 - when your are ready to make the switch log into the domain registrar ( and change the nameservers to, and This change propagates over the next few hours as cached DNS records worldwide expire, new answers to DNS requests are now made by dreamhost.

3 - a renaming task is to Transfer the domain registar from to dreamhost, that has nothing to do with the operational aspects of the domain. It just needs to be done anytime after 1 and 2, and before the domain registration expires.

It is remarkable how ignorance can make straightforward things confusing and complex. Thank you very much for the clarification and simplification.