Typically dot au (.au) domain names take up to 48 hours to “transfer” and all other domains can take between 5 and 7 days to “transfer”. You may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve heard something like this before, but what does it actually mean?”
Transfers are different to Nameserver and DNS record changes!
Firstly, let me explain a few terms. A Nameserver takes a name or identifier recognisable by humans (e.g. your domain name) and maps or connects that name to another identifier or address recognisable by a computer. In other words, when you type in a web address in your internet browser, the Nameservers make sure the name you’ve entered takes you to the correct DNS servers, which in turn has Records configured to point the various parts of your domain name to the correct location, i.e. where that website actually lives (it translates the name you entered into the corresponding IP address) or where the email account is hosted.
A domain record can otherwise be known as the record on a Nameserver or Domain Name System server (DNS server). So when we talk about changing a domain name’s records, we actually mean changing those Nameserver records for that specific domain name, and then waiting for them to update so that they point correctly to the new corresponding IP address.
There are 3 terms to understand here: Domain Name Transfers, Nameserver Changes and DNS Record changes.
- Transferring a domain should not affect the service as it is simply changing the Registrar managing your domain for you. In other words it doesn’t change the Nameservers automatically, but simply changes who you pay to look after your domain. And if done correctly… you should always have complete control of your domain.As mentioned above .au domains can take up to 48 hours to “transfer” and other domains, e.g. .com, .net, .org can take between 5 and 7 days to “transfer”. This is out of anyone’s control and up to the Registry once the transfer is accepted. Also please note, changes cannot occur in this state of limbo.
- Changing Nameservers is what happens “before” or “after” transferring the domain. It doesn’t happen automatically! You need to tell your domain where to point and this can be done through your “My Domains” section in our client area or the domain management section through your current provider. So it is important to decide how you wish to go about the Nameserver update BEFORE proceeding with a transfer.Technically what will happen during the Name Server change is, your visitors will either be directed to the “old” location or the “new” location. They won’t necessarily know if it is the new or old location (just by looking at the site), but that doesn’t matter, as your website will remain available to everyone. This change is immediate, but due to the way the internet works (and certain information being cached), it can take anything from zero to 48 hours to fully propagate to the new location…regardless of what type of domain it is. For example, if you used an internet connection that had not recently queried the domain, the change should show immediately for you, however if you have viewed the website, sent an email to the domain recently, or queried the domain in some way it may take as long as 48 hours to show the change.
- Changing DNS Records is what we were talking about above (the domain records), which is what points your email or website to their required location/s. This is done using A Records, CNAME Records, MX Records and other Records too. By using these records it is possible to point email to one place and your website to another. For this to happen, you need to have access to edit the DNS Records through your host, in our case you can edit your DNS through the “DNS Zone Editor” in the cPanel.
Please Note: This is not the same as a Nameserver change. The Nameservers need to point to the correct DNS Servers where the DNS Records are configured for them to work and be active and tell the domain where to go.
If you transfer the domain together with your hosting, this is fine as the Nameservers will remain the same as they were (until you decide to update them). Therefore not affecting your website and email until you have them in place at the new host and are ready to update them.
If you do either the Nameserver change or a DNS Record change it will result in the domain propagating. In other words, all the various servers and hardware all over the world will need to update to the new correct location. So if you are based in Australia it may take some time for your new name server location to propagate throughout the world. For example, if somebody in Europe types in your website address (URL) into their browser, it needs to complete many hops (at lightning fast speeds) to eventually get to your actual website. If some of the hardware along the way has not updated yet, their request will be sent to the old location of your site. If the old location is still available then it’s no problem. Some users will go to the old location and some to the new location until the 48 hours have completed.
Because there are so many domain names registered and they are changed and updated on a daily basis, certain controls are put in place so that these changes don’t put unnecessary strain on the internet. This is why it can take up to 48 hours for a domain name to update its Nameservers or DNS Records. Speak to your new web hosting company if you have any doubts about the best way of going about this.
NewSprout Hosting’s MD, Gavin Payne, has been Hosting servers, applications and websites for over 10 years, helping global companies including Telstra, Bidvest, VISA, AVIS, AT&T, Peugeot, BMW, Motorola and many others build their online presence. NewSprout is an Australian company offering website hosting, email services and domain name registrations to business and personal clients. For more information visit https://www.newsprout.com.au/web-hosting