What is domain name propagation?

Like any industry, the domain name and web hosting sector has its own jargon. Terms include “DNS propagation” or “domain name propagation”. So what is it and how do you deal with it?

The term is usually used in relation to when you update your domain name’s nameservers, i.e. the address of the hosting service to which it points.

If you’re changing hosts or signing up for a hosting account for the first time and you update your domain’s nameserver details, it may take some time for the details change to propagate around the internet. This time frame is sometimes referred to as the “DNS propagation window”.

DNS stands for Domain Name System. It’s basically the address book of the Internet; working quietly behind the scenes to translate human-readable domain names to numeric Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and vice versa.

After moving your website to your new web host, there will be a period when a visitor may see the website on the new server or the old depending on where it is viewed from – and it may even bounce back and forth between the two.

Unfortunately, how long this goes on is out of the hands of the domain registrant, domain name registration service and web host, as it depends on when ISPs (Internet Service Providers) update their DNS caches; what will be at different times. In some parts of the world it takes just a few minutes, in others much longer – up to 24 to 36 hours.

Because of this, it is very important when you switch hosting providers to keep the account and website live on your previous host for at least a couple of days. If it’s a forum or blog, go to where user input is stored in a local database. It may be advisable to disable posting during this period to ensure no new content is posted to the old database.

It’s also a good idea to warn your users and customers in advance – after all, things can go wrong and an uninformed customer can be cranky.

Also, check your email accounts on the old server for a few days. or better yet, set up email to be forwarded from those accounts to another address you have access to that isn’t associated with your domain name.

So how can you tell when DNS propagation is complete? There are many free tools available online to determine this – try doing a Google search for the term “dns propagation checker” and you will have dozens to choose from.

These tools simply check the Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with a hostname from various servers around the world. If all IPs are the same for 24 hours and it is the IP of your new account or hosting provider; Then you know for sure things are settled and you can safely close your old hosting account.

Source by Michael Bloch

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