Picture this: You’ve built an attractive, functional website on a server owned by a company that you once considered a reliable web host. Then, weeks, months, or years later, the service goes bad on you. It might be a question of hacks, slow load times, inconsistent uptimes, expensive prices, or unreliable customer support. Regardless, you’ll want to hightail it out of there for greener pastures. To do that, you need to transfer your website’s domain name to a new web host.
If you already have a domain name, you’ve probably already dealt with a registrar, a company that handles URL acquisitions. A registrar can be a standalone URL seller like NameCheap or a web hosting service that also offers domain names, such as GoDaddy. If your domain name is tied to a web hosting service, the desire to move it may come from one of the reasons mentioned above, or it might be due to rival hosts’ superior uptimes, load times, or feature sets.
Don’t, however, think that people who have NameCheap domains never transfer their URLs. For example, if you strike a deal to sell your website, you may need to transfer the domain to the new owner’s preferred URL host. Or you might be moving to a new hosting service that offers a sweet deal on the annual cost of domain registration for new sign-ups.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article and don’t know what I’m talking about, my piece How to Register a Domain Name for Your Website has all the juicy details regarding signing up for a URL. It can also be a handy refresher if you registered your domain name so long ago that the details are hazy—or if someone else did it for you.
The domain transfer process isn’t difficult, but it may not be obvious. There are only a few steps to undertake to initiate the action, fortunately. Note, however, that transferring a domain name requires two companies to approve the transfer, which slows matters a bit. You can expect your domain transfer request to go through in a few hours’ or a few days’ time, depending on the companies involved. Don’t fret if the domain doesn’t get moved within a few minutes of you placing the request, though the process can sometimes be completed quite quickly.
This article only tackles the act of transferring a domain name. Moving any website files that you’ve uploaded to a web host’s servers—that is, moving your actual site to a new web host—is a different matter altogether, one that will be the subject for another article. In addition, understand that these tips are written in the most general manner possible, because the referenced sections and icons will vary by registrar. The process is similar enough from provider to provider that you should be able to puzzle it out with the help of the guide below.
Let’s get started.