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How To Switch Web Hosts Without Losing Traffic And Profits

Aug 17, 2007
Switching web hosts should not be such a difficult thing to do smoothly and with minimal hassles. Yet the truth is that usually plenty of things do end up going wrong and the probability of a site being down for several days during a change over is very high and tends to happen rather frequently.

Still by taking a couple of simple precautions you can easily avoid all the common pitfalls that often accompany a simple change over.

The first thing that you must never forget is the fact that you have to establish a new hosting account long before closing your old web hosting one. In fact you should even go further and ensure that your old web host keeps a copy of your site for several weeks after the switch. There are some important technical reasons for this, which I will now go into.

Firstly, it takes a couple of hours, and this can stretch into a day or so, to establish a new hosting account. If you have shut down everything at your old hosts, then it means that your site will not be live or reachable by any of your visitors during those hours or days it takes you to establish the new account.

Secondly the reason for keeping a copy of your site with your old host for a couple of weeks after you have changed hosts, has to do with something called DNS. DNS stands for domain name server. It is critical for anybody in the web hosting business to understand that computers do not use domain names to trace websites. Instead IP addresses are used. To perform the conversion and find the domain name that has been requested, a number of computers are usually involved which act as domain name servers that are able to attach certain IP addresses to specific domain names that have been requested. A DNS cannot handle all conversions so what happens is that it converts local domain names on which it has information on and passes on others to the next DNS. This will continue until the information reaches a DNS capable of making the conversion.

Now when you make a switch, it will take a while for all domain name servers to update their information on you. So some domain name servers will initially refer surfers to your old host. What this means is that if everything has been shut down then the surfer will get a page not found error message. This is precisely why it is advisable to keep a copy of your site with the old host for a few weeks after the switch to a new host so as to ensure a smooth transition free of any glitches.

Actually the root cause of most trouble when webmasters and site owners are switching hosts is that most people are very upset at the time of the switch and just want to get rid of their old host as soon as they possibly can. This emotional approach when switching web hosts can be extremely damaging and should be avoided at all costs.
About the Author
Mohamad Latiff is the Author of the eCommerce Web Hosting blog where you can read more of his reviews on the best and the worst of the eCommerce Web Hosting industry.
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