Thursday, August 28, 2008

The DreamHost migration: moving the first domain

[Update: if you enter my promo code on signing up with DreamHost, you get $50 off your 1st year fee. The code is: KATEVA.]

I'm continuing the process of moving my Tucows/Lunarpages domains and files to DreamHost. In a prior post I described how to obtain a transfer authorization code.

Now I can describe the details of how I moved the first domain and files. Naturally I discovered a bug in DreamHost's process -- I hope they can fix things up. I'll describe the sequence I think one is supposed to follow, I actually did things a bit out of order (see below).

With my next domain transfer I'll get to validate this sequence. I'll call the domain I moved "".

Key Principles
  1. You can setup "" with companion Google Apps at DreamHost before you make any DNS changes.
  2. Changing DNS settings for "" at the old registrar will direct traffic to the files you've put on DreamHost. I use OpenDNSfor our home network; it picked up the DNS settings changes within minutes.
  3. The registrar transfer is a separate, slower process.
There are 3 phases to the file and domain migration:

Phase I
a. setup domain hosting at DreamHost. The interative form creates a directory for file ftp and creates the Google App services, it provides a link to configure them. [2]
b. setup companion Google Apps and email (same as one would with any Google App setup)
c. collect all email redirections or email accounts from old domain, recreate them in new domain. (note email stores will be lost, I don't know of a way around that)
d. collect all subdomains and remap those
Phase II

From the domain control panel ( in this case [1])
a. set domain DNS settings to use DreamHost
b. Get domain transfer authorization code (Lunarpages quickly sent me a password - had an old lunarpages pw for
c. Change all contacts, admin, technical, etc to email address you control - preferably unrelated to your domains. (This is where I found the Dreamhost bug -- their web page says they'll send confirmation email to admin contact, they sent it to technical contact -- which was Lunarpages, not me!)
Phase III
a. Go to DreamHost and request domain transfer, entering the network authorization code from Phase II.
What I actually did
I did things somewhat backwards. I requested the domain tranfer first. That gave me a link that took me to the create a hosting setup, then I finally changed the DNS codes. It worked, the sequence phasing is not too strict. The problem was the DreamHost bug as noted above.
[1] I ran into another LunarPages glitch. They use Tucows for domain registration, hence In theory the Tucows pw should be my LunarPages pw. It wasn't -- it was an old pw. I guess there's no propagation of changes! As usual LunarPages tech support was able to fix the problem, but this is typical of their challenges. They're very disorganized and prone to glitches.

[2] When I first started loading files from my primary LunarPages domain, I copied them into my temporary "dreamhosters" directory. I thought when I switched my domains the primary would point to this folder. Wrong -- that was how things worked at Lunarpages. At DreamHost every domain gets its own folder; that folder is created from the "Add domain" step described in Phase I. If you want to see how a domain looks before you bring it "live" by switching the DNS settings over to DreamHost, you "mirror" it into the dreamhosters directory and access it using a dreamhosters URL. It took me some effort to grok this. Of course now I had all my files in the wrong directory, but I used the DreamHost net2ftp web ftp tool to move them.

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