We decided to get a VPS account at HostGator, where we got our own cPanel and lots more control than we actually needed for the site. However, the assurance that only our web sites would be running in our virtual space made me feel a lot better.
Overall I have been impressed with HostGator. It was my first experience using them. I have been a DreamHost customer for years and were it not for the fact that I have 30+ sites running on my DH account I would move to HostGator in a heartbeat. I did not feel confident enough about DH to recommend them to my customer.
So, after we got the new account set up on HostGator I uploaded the web site files and the WordPress database and we were in business. The only thing left was to do the DNS cutover.
In all my years of web development experience DNS cutovers have usually taken anywhere between 4 and 8 hours to propagate. Of course, when you do a cutover you want to ensure that the old web site is available for long enough to support the propagation and that was the plan with this cutover.
It turns out that using HostGator VPS you have to create your own nameservers. No problem I thought. Even NameCheap.com which is a reseller for eNom which is a reseller for Verisign let me create my own nameservers. We contacted Earthlink and their support staff didn’t even know what it meant to create a nameserver. The customer was handling the contact with Earthlink and during the course of a few days trying to get the nameservers set up Earthlink at one point recommended shutting down the existing account. For whatever reason, this actually happened and the DNS had not been cut over yet.
To make a long story short, my client’s web site was down for close to 2 whole days and Earthlink still had no way for us to create a nameserver. For every DNS change request that we had with Earthlink they told us it would take between 24 and 72 hours. It turns out that they use Network Solutions and they only put in change requests during a certain time in the afternoon. So, we would have to call Earthlink and wait for their request to get sent to NetSol. Then we’d have to wait for NetSol to handle the request.
The solution I came up with was to create my own temporary name servers and point those to the new HostGator VPS IP address. I then told Earthlink to use those nameservers. After waiting an unusually long time the web site finally came up.
Here’s how you can avoid a similar horror story in the future:
- Don’t use a company to host your website that is not really in the business of web hosting (hint: Earthlink).
- No matter what, make sure your current web host will keep the site up during the DNS changeover.
- Plan for the worst.