Differences between site migrations and domain transfers

This article explains the differences between a site migration and a domain transfer. These two terms sometimes lead to confusion, because people may assume that a domain name (example.com) and website are the same thing. However, they are two separate services that can be hosted by the same company or different companies.

Site migrations

In a site migration, a hosting account's content is copied from one hosting provider to another. The migrated content usually includes:

  • Website files
  • E-mail messages
  • Databases
  • cPanel settings (for cPanel-based accounts)

A site migration does not affect the existing, functioning site. Content is merely duplicated, not removed. In order for the site at the migration destination to become the new “active” site, the domain's name servers must be updated to point to the new server hosting the migrated content.

A site migration can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or two, depending on how much content there is to migrate.

For more information about migrating an account from another web host, please see this article.

Domain transfers

In a domain transfer, the registration for a domain name (for example, example.com) is transferred from one registrar to another. None of the site's content is migrated (or even accessed).

If you complete a domain transfer to A2 Hosting, this does not mean your site's content is automatically migrated to us as well. For example, let's say you complete a domain transfer from another registrar to A2 Hosting. If you then change the name servers for the domain to point to A2 Hosting, your site content will not appear. You need to complete a site migration as well to make sure your content is duplicated on an A2 Hosting server.

A domain transfer may take up to 10 days to complete, depending on the registrar.

While a domain transfer is in progress, the name server settings cannot be changed.
For more information about how to transfer a domain, please see this article.

So what should I do?

If you want to switch hosting providers for your website, at the very least you need to complete a site migration, and then update the domain's name servers to point to the new provider.

If you want the convenience of managing everything (the website and the domain name) with one company, then you need to complete a domain transfer as well. Additionally, if you want the new site to go “live” as soon as possible, you should update the domain's name servers to point to the new provider before you initiate a domain transfer. (Remember that name server settings cannot be changed while a domain transfer is in progress.)

Did you find this article helpful? Then you'll love our support. Experience the A2 Hosting difference today and get a pre-secured, pre-optimized website. Check out our web hosting plans today.

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