Exodus: Domain Migration

When it’s time to move on.

Don’t Worry, You Can Do This

The idea of migrating your domains from one registrar to another can be an intimidating one, especially if you have a lot of them. Having personally worked at one of the world’s largest registrars some years ago, and specifically on the DNS provisioning and domain transfer parts, I had long dreaded this. Whenever my thoughts turned to the matter, scary questions seemed to ask themselves: How long will it take? Will my sites suffer any downtime? What if something goes wrong in the process? Will my current registrar make it difficult just because they can? Will I just end up making things worse?

I recently went through the process as part of my move away from a vendor whose service wasn’t phenomenal, who had tech support but encounters with them over the years nearly always left me worse off than when I called, and whose CEO turns out to be an elephant-murdering trophy hunter. After a support person caused me to lose my business website last year by taking an action I did not authorize and which could not be reversed, I started by moving some hosting accounts. When I recently had some time to focus on complete divestiture, I finished the job. After moving everything, what a wonderful feeling it was.

Bottom Line: If there is no significant reason for staying with a service provider besides the sheer volume of services you have with them, you should feel free to move them to another vendor if you’re not happy.

What’s Involved?

Email, hosting, and domain transfer are the significant parts of a complete migration, but this article will focus specifically on the domain transfer aspect.

I chose Google Domains as the destination registrar, since I’ve had such a great experience with Google Cloud Platform, where I moved my hosting. The registrar being left behind was GoDaddy. It took me about a day to manually transfer about 25 domains. Though there are a number of steps for each transfer, it’s straightforward and quick. When the domain is transferred, the DNS zone file will go with it and all your sites should continue to function wherever they’re hosted. The only difference is who you’ll be paying for renewals.

Oh, and one more thing: At Google Domains, you get free private registration, whereas GoDaddy charges $9.99(USD) per domain for private registration. This is an important point because your administrative and tech email addresses as well as your physical address is available to anyone running whois at their command line. This is why if you register a domain without privacy, then you will immediately be inundated with emails from people wanting to build you a website.

Speaking of renewals, ICANN requires a one year renewal on any domain transfer, so it’s best to do this before your domains renew at your current registrar. Google charged me $12(USD) per domain. Also, you may have to wait 60 days if you’ve just registered or transferred your domain at your current registrar.

I’ll show you the whole process below, illustrated with actual screenshots, I encourage you to read the details of transfer in to Google (or whichever registrar you choose) first.

Slide Deck

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