How do I transfer a domain to Namecheap with minimal downtime?
Domain transfer process by itself does not cause any downtime. Downtime can arise only after the transfer completion and only in one particular case - if the domain is using the default nameservers of your Registrar.
To outline the matter in more details:
The nameservers of the domain will not be changed automatically after the transfer, the domain will stay pointed to the same nameservers as it was pointed before the process. So, if the nameservers of your domain continue to function after the domain is transferred away from the old Registrar, you are all set; there will be no downtime in this case. Here are the types of nameserves that will continue to function after the domain transfer:
- Hosting nameservers
These are the nameservers of your hosting company (if you have hosting with a different company than your Registrar).
Also, these can be the nameservers of your Registrar’s hosting service.
For example, if your domain is using Namecheap hosting and is pointed to Namecheap hosting nameservers (dns1.namecheaphosting.com and dns2.namecheaphosting.com), there will not be any downtime during your domain’s transfer.
- Private nameservers
By private nameservers, we refer to self-hosted nameservers, the nameservers that are hosted by you on your hosting server. For example, if you have a domain ‘example.com’ and have nameservers ns1.example.com and ns2.example.com, there will not be any downtime during transfer for any and all your domains that are pointed to these private nameservers.
- CDN nameservers / nameservers with third-party providers
There are some companies that provide nameservers as a separate service. For example, our PremiumDNS is such a service. If you have your domain registered with one company and use nameservers of some other company, then there will not be any downtime during transfer.
In all three of the above cases, there will not be any downtime for domain-based services and you will not need to reconfigure any settings after the transfer.
Note: It’s advised that you have your domain pointed to the nameservers of your hosting provider, if they have those.
Still, there may be downtime if the domain is pointed to the default nameservers of your current Registrar.
Default nameservers are kind of an added service to your domain; your Registrar provides you with a possibility to use these default nameservers as long as your domain is registered with them. And once your domain leaves their system, the possibility to use the old Registrar’s default nameservers will be revoked for the domain.
So, if your domain is using the default nameservers, they will stop working after the transfer and thus the website will become unreachable.
If you are unsure whether your nameservers are default ones or hosting ones, we strongly advise that you contact your current Registrar and check with them if the nameservers will continue to function for your domain after the transfer. If they continue to function, then there’s no need to worry about the downtime, it will not arise, and you will not need to reconfigure any settings after the transfer.
In case your domain is using default nameservers, but the downtime is not critical for you, you may complete the transfer and re-set up the DNS setting afterwards.
But if your domain is using default nameservers and it is critical for you to have the least possible downtime, please follow the instructions below.
How to reduce this downtime?
Before transferring your domain to Namecheap, you need to set up FreeDNS nameservers for it. Here's how to do it:
- Sign into your Namecheap account (The Sign In option is available in the top hat of the page).
1. Add your domain to our FreeDNS service at the FreeDNS page.
- Mouse over Domains at the top of the page and click on FreeDNS:
- Add your domain (yourdomain.tld) to our FreeDNS service (please make sure to add it without www):
- Click on the shopping cart icon next to your domain and then click on Set up DNS:
- Once you've done so, the following message will be displayed:
2. Authorize your domain to use our FreeDNS service and then insert host records (DNS settings like A records, MX records, etc.) for it:
- Select Domain List from the left sidebar:
- Select All Products in the drop down list in the top-right corner of the page and then click on the caret for your domain and select the Authorize FreeDNS option:
- In the modal window choose a valid email address and click on the Save changes button :
The system will send a verification email through which you will be able to activate FreeDNS for your domain.
Due to security reasons, an authorization email cannot be sent to any other
email addresses than the ones shown as your authorization email choice
options. Please note that an authorization link is valid only for 48 hours.
NOTE 2: If you are having issues with email verification, feel free to contact Support Team to have your domain(s) authorized manually.
- Select Domain List from the left sidebar and click on the Manage button next to your domain to manage your host records:
- Click on Advanced DNS on the top of the page. On this page, you need to reconfigure all the necessary host records that are present for your domain on the side of the old Registrar:
Here is an article with more details on how host record can be configured in your account.
3. After the host records are configured, you need to point your domain to our FreeDNS nameservers (at least 2 of them) or add the FreeDNS nameservers along with the current nameservers on the side of your registrar (if it is allowed). Our FreeDNS nameservers are:
For information on how to set up custom nameservers at your current registrar, please check their FAQ documentation or contact their support.
The FreeDNS service will be activated once we make sure everything is properly set up.
If you've added FreeDNS nameservers along with the current nameservers on your registrar's side, please allow about 24-48 hours for DNS settings to take
effect globally and then remove nameservers of your registrar, leaving your domain pointed to only
FreeDNS nameservers. Once you've done so, feel free to initiate a transfer of your
domain to Namecheap using a normal transfer process.
NOTE 3: If you decide to switch nameservers to FreeDNS at this stage, end users will
experience a downtime as the nameservers of the old registrar might stop responding
immediately after you switch them to FreeDNS.
NOTE 4: If you keep both sets of nameservers (custom and FreeDNS ones), they will not be automatically changed to our default nameservers, hence host records will not be copied, and your site will be down until the domain is manually switched to our BasicDNS, host records are re-entered and DNS propagation is completed. Usually, DNS propagation takes 24-48 hours and in some rare cases, it may take up to 72 hours.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Support Team.