Order of operations-> switching to dreamhost

Thanks for the answers to my ‘dreamhosters experience’ post.

This question is quite different, so I thought I’d start another post.

My question is: what is the order of operations to seamlessly move from one host to another vis-a-vis making sure there’s a site up at all times, email and search engine find-ability.

I’m going to be building a new site from scratch on dreamhost with joomla (our current plain ol’ html site on doteasy is beyond lame). I’ve been learning about joomla locally (with mamp) and can probably build the site in a day, as I’ve got all the content organized and ready to go.

So. My question(s):

  1. I understand that it takes time for the new dns to propogate through the intertubes. Will I be able to start building my new joomla site right away, or will I possibly be directed to the old dns during the 48 hour switching period?
    (e.g. I ftp joomla_1 to my dreamhost server, and go to www.mydomain.com/install but I’m directed to my old site.
    I guess if I get sent to the old domain, the answer is ‘wait for it to propogate’, and since joomla is webbased, this is a real possibility.

  2. what happens to email during a switch like this? I’d like to keep the same email addresses (there are 3 very active accounts), and the launch of the new site is going to correspond with a big publicity push, so I can’t afford to miss or lose any email. At somepoint I have to tell my mail program to get mail from the dreamhost servers instead of the doteasy servers, but when?

  3. what happens to my google ranking? currently we’re #1 when you search our band name, and it would be great to keep that going during the push :wink:

anyone have experience (I’m sure there are a few people who’ve gone through exactly this type of switch) and advice?

I can provide more info if needed.


PS I guess one possible answer is ‘wait until a less critical time to switch’ but our hosting plan at doteasy is up for renewal right in the middle of all this…so it’s kind of a good time to make the move

  1. setup everything on dreamhost (hosting & upload of data and joomla & emails)

  2. change dns

that’s it.

Your google ranking will not change if url doesn’t change.

And it will usually takes just a few hours (most of times only minutes !).
DNS change (for .com) is fast today.

You can do this on night if you wish.

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Took me a while to track down my original post.

[quote]Actually, there are many ways you can do this, each with its own tradeoffs.

First, let’s assume that your site is “static” or at least only modified by you. In that case, you can actually add your domain as a dreamhost domain immediately, set it up, and test it by using a local hosts file on the client machine you’re going to use for testing (your home machine, say). Sure, the DreamHost name servers will think that your domain is hosted at DreamHost while your old provider’s DNS server will say otherwise, but this doesn’t matter at this point because the registrar will say that your old provider is the official name server for the domain. After you get everything set up, you change the name servers for your domain. As the change propagates, part of the world will point to the old site and part will point to the new site, but no one will know the difference because you’ve done a great job and both are identical!

Now if your site is transactional and has users who submit posts to a board, comments to your blog, etc, you have to disable updates while you copy your databases and user-contributed image directory and other stuff over. Then you can enable updates on your new site after the copy is complete.

Alternatively, you could put up a maintenance notice on your old site while transition everything over, then change the name server when the new site is ready to go.

There’s lots of ways to skin this cat like the ones suggested by previous posters and I’m sure that others can come up with even better solutions.[/quote]
The thing to remember is that you’re depending on a custom hosts file on your local machine pointing to the IP address that DreamHost has assigned your domain or subdomain. This enables your local browser to find your website. Note that if you’re using a web proxy in a corporate environment, you may not be able to do this depending on how the proxying is set up (whether DNS resolution is set up to occur locally or on the proxy server).

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Wanted to address your other two points:

Like with your website, you can set it up so that DreamHost thinks it is your email server. Then when the nameserver switches over, mail will be delivered to your new server instead of your old server.

Since Google searches point to specific web pages rather than just domains, you do have to be careful here. What you want to do is make sure that the specific web pages that you really care about that are returning high page rankings from Google continue to be served up on your new server. For instance, if a search for your band results in Google directing you to www.tablasband.com/index.html, you should make sure that that page is served up in Joomla! otherwise people will get errors and eventually Google will stop returning that page from its searches.

The second effect is more subtle. Among the various reasons that particular pages are highly ranked by the Google search engine is that they are linked to by other highly ranked pages. As of the last tutorial I had about how Google’s ranking algorithm worked, this includes your own website’s pages. So not only do you want to continue serving the pages that are being returned by searches, but you should try to continue to serve up the pages that have high page ranks to preserve your high page ranks of the pages that do get returned by searches.

To solve your first problem, you can redirect any incoming page requests to the new pages. This will also mean that you’re playing nicely with other people who may have linked to your pages. I don’t know if this will help with your second problem. If you’re really paranoid about this you should probably consult a specialist book or expert on the subject. :slight_smile:

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There are some articles in witi too. http://wiki.dreamhost.com/index.php/DNS_-_Viewing_site_before_DNS_change

It is same as what moua suggested. Set up everything in DH then update your dns settings. By doing so, you won’t lose any visitor during propagating.

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