Domain Transfer Process
Once upon a time, several years ago, I registered my first domain with Dreamhost. I can’t remember why, although I probably read something good about them. At the time, I didn’t know that webhosting, and web hosts are some of the most prolific, and profitable, affiliate programs on the internet. In other words, they pay pretty good to those who recommend them and send customers their way.
This makes picking a good domain host very tricky. You never know if the person is making a legitimate recommendation, or if they are just trying to cash in on your sign up with a high paying affiliate program.
The other problem is that unless you manage a lot of websites across a lot of different webhosts, there really isn’t a very good way for you to know who the best web host is. I mean, just because they are a good host for me, doesn’t mean they would be good for you, if our projects are different. And, for all I know what I consider “good” actually is mediocre. It’s not like I’ve used 20 web hosts over the years.
That being said, a solid rule of thumb is that a $9 a month webhost is not suitable for any website that is actually getting traffic, and that’s where my problem with Dreamhost began.
You see, like most early stage web developers / online writers, my initial websites didn’t get much traffic. If you are getting a 100 page views per month, or even day, your own PC can handle that. But, once you start actually getting website visitors, your web host has to stand up and do it’s job. The $9 accounts aren’t really setup for that, and so they crash. And, Dreamhost blamed me… repeatedly, for using too much memory.
The funny thing was the website was a basic WordPress install with three or four of the most popular WordPress plug-ins installed. In other words, a standard, basic, WordPress blog with a little bit of traffic was too big for shared hosting. They offered a higher priced VPS thing, but that crashed just as often.
Of course, I was mad. I signed up for a new web host right away. I spent hours setting up and re-configuring my websites on the new host. I went to pull the plug on Dreamhost but hit a snag. I had registered my main business domain name with them for a multi-year period. As near as I could figure, transferring away from Dreamhost would cost me those extra years of registration. So, I kept the account, with one blog there, waiting for the day the registration was expiring and I could transfer it away.
Incidentally, this is why you should register your domain names somewhere else, not where you do your hosting.
Domain Name Transfers
Transferring a domain is a fairly complicated process, thanks in part to scumbags who try and steal domain names, the most infamous being the guy who completed a few online forms and transferred (stole) the sex.com domain name back in the day. As always, after a big-money screw up (never before), some security went into place.
Now to transfer a domain name there are multiple steps along the way to make sure (as sure as reasonably possible, anyway) that your domain name is not being stolen.
First, figure out what your domain admin email account is, and that you still have access to it. If not, go into the management of your domain BEFORE you start transferring anything and change it to something you do have access to. Otherwise, you’ll will have to wait DAYS for all of these checks to expire before you can try again. (I think the email step said it would expire after 4 days, so just get it right up front.)
Next, you have to long into your current domain name registrar. There will be a place to manage your domain names. There you need to “unlock” the name so it can be transferred.
Then, at your new domain registrar, you have to initiate a transfer TO them. They will check to see if the domain name you want to change is unlocked. You have to pay at this step, usually.
One of the big issues with this process is that none of these steps are necessarily instantaneous, or even quick. Even worse, there isn’t really any feedback to let you know if you did it right and it is just in process, or if it didn’t work. If you unlocked your domain name 10 minutes ago, it might still come back as locked. All you can do is wait, and hope that you did it right.
Once you have paid for your new registrar and started the transfer process, you’ll need to get a code from your original registrar called an AUTH code to authorize the transfer. Then, you go to your NEW registrar and enter the AUTH code, and then they send another transfer message. This can take several minutes or even hours.
Once you have that, then they send an email to your domain contact email. This is why you checked it first. Once you get that email, then you have to click a link in the email to verify that you do want to transfer your domain.
Then, you wait.
Eventually, your domain will be transferred to your new domain name registrar.
This can be nerve wracking, but you can always try again later. Unless, of course, you were like me and you kept putting it off since you got that notice your domain name was going to expire weeks ago, and now, TODAY is the day your domain name expires and you are trying to transfer it. (I think there is a grace period, but why take the chance?)
Fortunately, it just came through.
Now, I have to transfer that last blog off of Dreamhost and I can start saving $20 per month.
Where am I transferring to?
I’ve had a lot of luck with Stablehost. You can try them out by clicking here. You can save 40% by using my Stablehost coupon code too it’s SuperLlama. Is this an affiliate thing? Yes. Do I make a little money if you click through and use my code? Yes. For whatever it’s worth, I am really using them, and they have kept my websites up without any issues for over a year now. However, I am NOT using their cheapest service. I’m paying for the “Enterprise” service and it’s working. When you make a couple thousand dollars each month from your sites, I think that’s worth it.
If you want other recommendations for good WordPress hosts, you might try the ones that are specific and optimized to WordPress. I can’t really go that route because some parts of some of my sites aren’t WordPress and I need to be able to access the “normal” kind of webhosting too.