Your domain name: updating DNS settings and domain transfer

If you have your site redesigned or change your web hosting you will want your domain to point to the new site. This should be straightforward if you registered the domain yourself and look after your account. If someone else registered the domain for you, you might come across problems. This article explains what you need to know, gives a bit of background about domain names & the DNS, and how to go about solving any problems you come across.

Are you the legal registrant?

Before you start you’ll need to check if you are the legal registrant of the domain. You’ll also need to know the registrar i.e. the company who you registered the domain with, and your user name and password for your account with the registrar.

If you haven’t got this information already you’ll be able to find it by using a ‘WHOIS’ query. You can make a WHOIS query for a domain name by using the following services and entering your domain:

For domains ending in .uk use nominet’s WHOIS service.

Nominet is a not for profit organisation that looks after the registry of .uk domains. See this wikipedia article for more info on Nominet.

For other domains including those ending in .com, .net, and .info use Internic. This will generally give you a referral web address (see note). Go to the referral website and make a WHOIS query from here.

Referral Web Address: The reason you have to go to a different website is because the company you bought your .com (or other) domain from has bought a load of domains ‘wholesale’ from a registry operator Eg. Melbourne IT or Tucows, and has sold the domain on to you. These are known as resellers or retail registrars.

For more detailed info read the WHOIS article in wikipedia

The query will give you the name and address of the legal registrant (hopefully it is you, or someone you know). It will also show the company you registered with i.e. your registrar.

In order to update your domain name with your new website details you’ll need to login to your account. If you have lost your login details you can contact your registrar’s customer services and they’ll be able to help.

If your domain name is in the account of a third party (e.g. your web designer, or consultant) and you no longer want to work with them you can get the domain transfered into your own account. Scroll down for more info on DNS transfers.

If you are not the legal registrant you will need to get the domain transferred to you. Scroll down to read more about changing the registrant details.

Updating your domain records

Login to the control panel of your registrar and change the A record for web hosting and MX record for mail hosting. The A record is the IP address of the computer where your website is hosted. The MX record (or Mail exchanger record) is the IP address of the computer where your email is received. Your webdesigner or hosting company will be able to tell you the IP address for both these records.

How it works: When you type your domain name into a browser (e.g. Firefox) it will find the Name server. This is a big computer that holds the registry where your domain name is sitting. This is where your A record comes in. The name server uses the A record to redirect the browser, across the internet, to your web host, where all your web pages are waiting to be seen.

How exactly you change these records will vary from company to company. But you’ll probably need to go to your list of domain names, click on the one you want to update and look for DNS settings in the menu options. Click here and you should be presented with a selection of settings. Look for A record and MX record and fill in your new IP address. If this looks scary contact your webdesigner and ask them to do it for you!

It can take 24 hours or more for these settings to “propagate” around the internet so don’t worry if you don’t see your new website straight away.

Changing the registrant details

If you have bought your domain through a reseller (e.g. your web-designer or marketing consultant) they may be listed as the legal registrant. If, for whatever reason, they are no longer able to look after the domain for you or you lose contact with them you will need to regain control of the domain by becoming the legal registrant.

You‘ll need to ask the reseller to change the registrant details, For all .com domains this is free of charge. For .co.uk domains they will need to login to their nominet account and initiate the transfer process, which has a £10+VAT charge.

This is the number for the nominet transfer service at the time of writing: 01865 332244. You can also get more information and request a call back from the tranfer page on Nominet’s website:
http://www.nominet.org.uk/registrants/maintain/transfer/

If you’ve lost contact with the reseller you’ll need to prove that you are the legal owner of the domain so the registrar can change the registrant details for you. Contact the registrar and explain the situation. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to do.

DNS Transfer

Once you have the domain in your name you have 2 options:

  1. Keep the domain with the current registrar
  2. Move the domain to another registrar by changing the ‘TAG’

Keep the domain with the current registrar

The simplest thing to do is to keep the same registrar. This is a two step process (substitute [the registrar] for your provider e.g. Namesco, UKreg etc.):

  1. set up an account with [the registrar].
  2. send a fax on headed paper saying that you are the legal registrant and you want your domain(s) moving to your account giving the rererence number of your account. Sign it and give the position you hold in your company

They will then contact eh previous account holder and explain they will need to move the domain. The domain will then be ‘Pushed’ into your account

Move the domain to another registrar

You might have good reasons for changing providers. For example you feel the cost of domains, quality of customer service or range of services are better with another provider. Or you have other domains and you want to keep all your domains in one account.

The old provider may charge for this service and the procedure will vary slightly from provider to provider however your new provider will be glad to help you as they want your business!

123-reg gives their customers step by step instructions on how to transfer away from a variety of different providers (see the domain transfer guides under step 1)

This wikipedia article outlines the detailed stages involved in Domain name transfers.