General Question

benseven's avatar

What's the best way to minimise e-mail downtime during a domain move to a new server?

Asked by benseven (3179points) February 9th, 2010

OK, here’s the situation:

The aim of the game is to get “domain.com” from “Hosting provider A” to “Hosting provider B” while minimising the amount of e-mail downtime.

When the domain lands at Hosting Provider B, it will have its MX record pointed to Google Apps, and will be up and running fairly quickly.

My question is, would it be a good idea to add the domain to Google Apps before the move, or to leave the current setup (normal SMTP mailserver) intact? Will there ever be a point where the domain leaves the old host and is in limbo before it lands at the new one? How can I minimise the chance of lost mail for my client?

Thanks in advance!

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6 Answers

jackm's avatar

Do you have everything else set up with google apps? If you have everything but the MX records set up then pointing them over there now would be the fasted way to do the switchover. It should only take 30 minutes for the server to update.

njnyjobs's avatar

you will have a window of limbo, anywhere from 15-minutes to 24 hours depending on the new server set-up and ability of the Domain Name Registry to update the www db

benseven's avatar

@jackm – No, though obviously it’s not too difficult a process to go through – however there will still be a point, as @njnyjobs says, where the control of the records will cease being in the hands of Hosting Provider A but will not yet have arrived at Hosting Provider B in order to be set up again there… I can minimise some of the time on the gApps end by verifying the domain ownership before the move, but I’m not 100% sure if disturbing the existing mail system is worthwhile given whichever solution I use will stop working halfway through the switchover…

Thanks for your replies!

njnyjobs's avatar

The best way to minize undeliverable mail is to schedule the move at a time when mail traffic is less likely to be present, like on a Friday or Saturday late night, granting that the following day is traditionally a non-working day.

benseven's avatar

Also a good call, thanks!

gsiener's avatar

I did something similar a year ago. I set everything up with Google by temporarily switching their servers to be primary for our domain’s MX records (late on a Sat night to minimize loss). Then, Google’s end was satisfied with everything which allowed for a much faster switch once we pulled the trigger.

Specifically to answer your question, you can add the domain to Google pre-move but it won’t be recognized by Google as an official domain until its mail servers are the primary entry on your MX records.

Also—make sure you have a catchall address set up for Google to grab any emails that weren’t set up correctly in the migration (aliases, etc.)

Good luck!

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