What to do after the change of the cPanel account's primary domain

Changing the primary domain name of a hosting account has certain consequences. These depend mostly on the type of hosting account you have. This article covers what you’ll need to keep in mind after requesting this change within our Shared Hosting servers.

You may also find this guide useful if you are using EasyWP: How to change domain for a WordPress site created with EasyWP.

As an example, we will reference screenshots of a cPanel account with the following setup:

  • cPanel username: cpuser
  • Primary (main) domain: domain1.tld with the document root /home/cpuser/public_html
  • Addon domain: domain2.tld with the document root /home/cpuser/domain2.tld, will be used as the new primary domain
  • Addon domain: domain3.tld with the document root /home/cpuser/domain3.tld
  • Alias domain: domain4.tld with the document root /home/cpuser/public_html (default for Alias/Parked domains)
  • FTP accounts: ftp1@domain1.tld, ftp2@domain2.tld, ftp4@domain4.tld
  • Email accounts: mailbox1@domain1.tld, mailbox2@domain2.tld, mailbox4@domain4.tld
  • Mailing lists: mailinglist1@domain1.tld, mailinglist2@domain2.tld, mailinglist4@domain4.tld

In this case, the primary domain of the cPanel account “cpuser” is changed from domain1.tld to domain2.tld. The post-change changes are as follows, including troubleshooting guidance:

Content of domain-related directories
URL references
FTP accounts
Email accounts
Contact lists
Mailing lists
SSL certificates
Backup creation/restoration via Softaculous
Private nameservers (for Reseller Hosting packages)
WHMCS license (for Reseller Hosting packages)
cPanel account’s password


Content of domain-related directories


The cPanel primary domain name is its document root (the server-side directory which stores the domain’s files). It is always set to /public_html.

This means that changing the primary domain of the cPanel account “cpuser” from domain1.tld to domain2.tld will involve the mandatory change of the document root for domain2.tld, from /home/cpuser/domain2.tld to /home/cpuser/public_html. These files cannot be moved or copied.

The document root of other domains will remain unchanged. Here is a summary:


Document root before the change
Document root after the change
domain1.tld
(old primary domain)
/home/cpuser/public_html
(domain is removed from the cPanel account)
domain2.tld
(new primary domain)
/home/cpuser/domain2.tld
/home/cpuser/public_html
domain3.tld
(another addon domain)
/home/cpuser/domain3.tld
/home/cpuser/domain3.tld
domain4.tld
(another alias domain)
/home/cpuser/public_html
/home/cpuser/public_html

Up-to-date information about the existing configuration of document roots can be checked using the cPanel >> Domains menu :


Troubleshooting: new primary domain name directs to the parking page instead of the website.

Ensure the domain name has not been pointed to the hosting server. View the video for guidance: How to connect a domain name to your Shared Hosting. Also check out the illustrated guide.

Alternatively, you can point the domain to its hosting server by setting up a Type A DNS record for the domain, using the server IP as its value.


Troubleshooting: new primary domain name displays the content of the previous domain.

Files within the document root /home/cpuser/domain2.tld are not moved to /home/cpuser/public_html automatically during the primary domain change. Website-specific files need to be moved or copied manually. View these guides to complete the process: cPanel >> File Manager menu or FTP access to the hosting server.


Troubleshooting: Website Builder does not display expected content.

If your website is built with Namecheap’s free Website Builder, you’ll need to create the website's backup first then restore it manually after the main domain change is complete.


Troubleshooting: previous primary domain name does not display any content or shows an error message.

Your old primary domain (domain1.tld) will get disconnected from your hosting account during the change. If you want to retain domain1.tld within the same cPanel account, you’ll need to reinstate it as an Addon Domain (ensure the new document root is correctly setup) or Alias/Parked Domain (it will be pointed to the document root /home/cpuser/public_html automatically).

URL references


Changing the primary domain of a hosting account affects server-side configuration only. In case the website is set up to use domain1.tld as its URL within the internal settings, configuration files, database, etc., these references will not be changed to domain2.tld automatically.


Troubleshooting: new primary domain name redirects to the previous domain.

The redirect might have been retained within the configuration file /home/cpuser/public_html/.htaccess. The cPanel >> File Manager menu and its View/Edit feature will help you trace the redundant redirect setup and remove/disable it.


Troubleshooting: WordPress-based website redirects to the previous domain.

Your WordPress site’s URL needs changing to match the primary domain change. Make the update using the WordPress Admin Dashboard or via direct database access.

Troubleshooting: non-WordPress Content Management System (CMS) or custom website framework keeps redirecting to the previous primary domain.

Each CMS has its own location for configuration files. The following list of popular CMS platforms provides their locations. Ensure the configuration files match the database connection setup. If the CMS or framework of your website is not listed below, contact your site platform provider or refer to the  software specifications.

Content Management System (CMS)
Default location of the configuration file
AbanteCart
/system/config.php
Concrete5
/application/config/database.php
CubeCart
/includes/global.inc.php
Dolphin
/inc/header.inc.php
Drupal
/sites/default/settings.php
Joomla
/configuration.php
Magento 1.x
/app/etc/local.xml
Magento 2.x
/app/etc/env.php
myBB
/inc/config.php
OpenCart
/admin/config.php and /config.php
phpBB
/config.php
PrestaShop
/config/settings.inc.php
SMF
/Settings.php
WHMCS
/configuration.php

FTP accounts


Although the new domain first needs to be removed from the hosting server before setting it as the primary domain, FTP accounts of domain2.tld are retained during the process. FTP accounts of domain1.tld will be reassigned to domain2.tld usernames, but their paths cannot be changed.

FTP accounts of other hosted domains will not be affected during the process. Here is a summary:


FTP account before the change
FTP account after the change
domain1.tld
(old primary domain)
Username: ftp1@domain1.tld
Path: /home/cpuser/domain1.tld
Username: ftp1@domain2.tld
Path: /home/cpuser/domain1.tld
domain2.tld
(new primary domain)
Username: ftp2@domain2.tld
Path: /home/cpuser/domain2.tld
Username: ftp2@domain2.tld
Path: /home/cpuser/domain2.tld
domain4.tld
(another alias/addon domain)
Username: ftp4@domain4.tld
Path: /home/cpuser/domain4.tld
Username: ftp4@domain4.tld
Path: /home/cpuser/domain4.tld

Troubleshooting: previous FTP accounts do not work at all or provide access to the incorrect server directory.

The current setup of existing FTP accounts can be confirmed using the cPanel >> FTP Accounts menu. From this menu you can also revise the configuration of existing accounts or create new ones.

You may find the Log In (FTP username) values change after the primary domain of the cPanel account has been changed.


Email accounts


Mailboxes of domain1.tld will be removed from the list in the cPanel >> Email Accounts menu. But their content will remain in the server directory /home/cpuser/mail/domain1.tld/mailbox1.

If domain2.tld was present in the cPanel account before the primary domain name changed, its mailboxes will be retained and functional after the change is applied. Here is a summary:


Mailbox before the change
Mailbox after the change
domain1.tld
(old primary domain)
mailbox1@domain1.tld
(mailbox is removed during the change;
its content is retained within the directory /home/cpuser/mail/domain1.tld/mailbox1 )
domain2.tld
(new primary domain)
mailbox2@domain2.tld
mailbox2@domain2.tld
(mailbox is re-created automatically)
domain4.tld
(another alias/addon domain)
mailbox4@domain4.tld
mailbox4@domain4.tld
(mailbox is not affected)

Troubleshooting: email accounts are missing after the primary domain name changed.

An up-to-date list of existing mailboxes can be viewed using the cPanel >> Email Accountsmenu. If any mailboxes are missing, the same menu can be used to recreate them.

Troubleshooting: email accounts exist after the primary domain change, but no emails are seen in the Webmail interface.

The content of previous mailboxes can be restored from the full cPanel backup. View the email-specific section of the backup restoration article to help you with the process.

Contact lists


Contacts from the address book of the @domain1.tld email accounts cannot be reassigned to the new domain @domain2.tld during the change of the cPanel account’s primary domain name.


Troubleshooting: contact lists are missing after the cPanel account’s primary domain name has been changed.

Export the required contact lists prior to changing the primary domain of the hosting account, then import them back afterward if needed.

Mailing lists


During the primary domain change, any mailing lists based on the old primary domain are re-assigned to the new primary domain. If the new primary domain was added to the cPanel account previously and had mailing lists created for it, those will be retained after the change. Here is a summary:


Mailing list before the change
Mailing list after the change
domain1.tld
(old primary domain)
mailinglist1@domain1.tld
mailinglist1@domain2.tld
domain2.tld
(new primary domain)
mailinglist2@domain2.tld
mailinglist2@domain2.tld
(mailing list is re-created automatically)
domain4.tld
(another alias/addon domain)
mailinglist4@domain4.tld
mailinglist4@domain4.tld
(mailing list is not affected)

Troubleshooting: mailing lists based on the previous domain name malfunction after the primary domain name was changed.

Previously created and managed mailing lists can be reinstated using the cPanel >> Mailing Lists menu. View How to create and manage mailing lists in cPanel for help with completing this process.

SSL certificates


If you have an SSL certificate installed for your current primary domain (domain1.tld), it cannot be transferred automatically to the new domain name (domain2.tld). But if the SSL certificate was ordered with us, it can be re-issued for the new domain name directly through the Namecheap Dashboard. Contact our SSL team if you need any further help.

In some cases, the SSL certificate can be reissued and reinstalled in just a couple of clicks using the cPanel >> Namecheap SSL menu.


Troubleshooting: the URL of the new primary domain name shows up as not secure.

Check the current status of the certificate using the SSL Checker Tool. If it displays issues, they can be resolved by installing or reissuing the certificate for the new domain name using the cPanel >> Namecheap SSL menu.

Backup creation/restoration via Softaculous


In some cases, creating or restoring backups using the cPanel >> Softaculous Apps Installer menu may not work as expected for the domain/subdomains involved, during the primary domain name change.


Troubleshooting: backups generated using the Softaculous tool don’t contain the expected data after the primary domain of the hosting account was changed.

This happens because the Softaculous backup tool continues creating backups using the previous configuration of the domain’s document root. So the domain names document roots in the Softaculous configuration files will need updating.

The easiest solution is to remove the installation from the Softaculous and re-import it afterward:


Troubleshooting: unable to restore a previously created backup using the Softaculous tool.

The previously generated backups may be listed with the warning “Installation which was installed on the http://domain2.tld URL has been removed. You can restore it using the Backup”.

We recommend avoiding the automatic restoration of these backups as they may overwrite important information. It’s best to do a manual download of the backup file for restoration. View How to Restore a Backup on a New Server for help with the process.


Private nameservers (for Reseller Hosting packages)


Private nameservers for your current primary domain name (for instance, ns1.domain1.tld and ns2.domain1.tld) cannot be transferred to the new one. You’ll need to register new private nameservers (for instance, ns1.domain2.tld and ns2.domain2.tld) and repoint the resold domains accordingly.

Troubleshooting: domain names are pointed to custom nameservers ns1.domain1.tld and ns2.domain1.tld, but stopped working after the primary domain of the hosting account was changed.

If the previous primary domain domain1.tld is removed from the hosting account during the change, previously registered private nameservers lose their DNS records. All domain names that use ns1.domain1.tld and ns2.domain1.tld as their custom DNS will no longer be pointed to the hosting server where their DNS zone files exist.

The easiest solution is to create a new set of private nameservers for the new primary domain. Such as: ns1.domain2.tld and ns2.domain2.tld, registering corresponding glue records and setting up the required subdomains using the cPanel/WHM menus.

NOTE: domain names pointed to ns1.domain1.tld and ns2.domain1.tld will need to be re-pointed to ns1.domain2.tld and ns2.domain2.tld after these changes.


WHMCS license (for Reseller Hosting packages)


If you have the licensed WHMCS software installed for the existing primary domain name, changing this domain name will require updating the license for it to match the new setup.


Troubleshooting: WHMCS software shows the warning “Your license key is invalid” after the primary domain change.

If the WHMCS license was ordered with us, our Hosting team can reissue the license for you via Live Chat or within through tracked email Support.


cPanel account’s password


During the primary domain name change, the password of the cPanel account is changed and sent to your Namecheap primary email address.


Troubleshooting: can’t access the cPanel interface after the primary domain change.

In some cases, the email with your current cPanel login credentials may get filed into your Spam folder instead of Inbox. You can also get this information by logging into your Hosting account from the Namecheap Dashboard.

Troubleshooting: the URL domain1.tld/cpanel doesn’t work after the primary domain change.

The cPanel account should remain accessible from your Namecheap Dashboard, cPanel Shortcuts, or by using the URLs based on the server hostname.

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