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Transferring DNS Registrars Not A Problem

It's Dec. 29, and I have started to transfer personal DNS domains from GoDaddy. The company's position on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)—its reversal notwithstanding—was the nudge that pushed me over the edge. Frankly, GoDaddy has been acting poorly during the last few years, and I decided to move my domains elsewhere. So far, the transfers have gone well, with nary a hiccup.

I don't have a problem with trying to curb piracy. Enforcing copyright is good for content creators, publishers, advertisers, stores—anyone involved with the creation and distribution of creative works. If you want to charge for your work, give it away for free while disallowing modification, give it away and let others modify and redistribute it, then you, as copyright holder, should be allowed to do so. For all the benefit of giving away the things you create, there are economic incentives to charge for work, and if you are offended by that, too bad. Some of us want to get paid for our work, but a bad law is worse than no law, and neither SOPA nor the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) are good laws. I made a personal choice to not support companies that support bad laws. Leaving GoDaddy is just one recent example.

Regardless, if you want to transfer your domain now or at any point in the future (and there are many reasons why you might want to do so), there are some things you can do to ensure that the transfer will go smoothly.

  • Make sure your contact information is current and correct. Sorry, kids, but DNS is a public service, and you have to provide accurate contact information—if, for no other reasons, than if someone wants to contact you, like a lawyer or law enforcement before, during or after taking action such as a DMCA takedown or notifications required under SOPA and PIPA, they can always find you through whois. If you are worried about leaking private information, use addresses, email accounts and phone numbers not associated with your personal or professional contact information but that still allow you to be reached. Alternatively, you can use privacy services offered by your registrar to hide behind. Frankly, in the 10-plus years I have had DNS names, I haven't received any spam or solicitations. Your mileage may vary.
  • If you are using your registrar's privacy services, you will need to uncloak during the transfer process. The receiving registrar needs to get your whois data, and it can't if it is locked. Unlocking your whois data may require extra steps with your current registrar, so check first. It may delay the transfer, but you signed up for privacy, so don't blame the registrar for executing on your wishes.
  • Your authoritative DNS servers will not be affected by the transfer unless you are using your registrar's DNS servers for your domain names. In other words, if your domain name is registered through Acme Registrar and your how names like www and mail are managed through Acme Registrars service, then Acme will likely remove your domain name from its DNS servers after the transfer is complete. Set up secondary DNS servers and ensure they have propagated before you initiate the transfer.
  • Give it a few days to let the transfer complete. You will have to authorize the transfer (which is why you need a valid email) and wait for the registrars to handshake. Once it is started, you shouldn't need to do anything else unless there is a problem
  • While you are transferring your domains, make sure you establish a strong password for your registrar. Make it long and complex, write it down, and put it somewhere safe. That will keep attackers from guessing your password. Oh, and remember to lock your domains after the transfer is complete.

Update. The first of my domains are completing transfer. It took me about 2 minutes per domain, and about 5 hours for two registrars to do their thing. No blocking from GoDaddy. No phone calls pleading for my business. No drama. Maybe I am not important enough. Or maybe I am too important. I'll go with the latter. (Ha ha) Have a great New Year.