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Planning a Server Move? Part II/II

Ok, now that we’ve talked about how to prepare for the move, lets go ahead and see what you should take care of during the move.

Performing the move

Before the move

If you have modified the TTL values for your DNS records correctly, the number of problems you will face because of a server move, will be greatly reduced. However there is more thing you could do before you start the move to try and avoid more problems. That is to shutdown the mail server on your old server. You should understand that shutting down the mail server does not necessarily mean mails to the accounts on your server will fail and will never be received. Instead, once the mail server trying to send the mail sees that the mail server is down, it will keep the message in its queue and will attempt to deliver it later. By then the TTL would have passed and when it tries to send the mail again, it will be delivered to the new server.

Points to remember:

  • Shutdown the mail service on the old server before the move.
  • Inform your clients you are about to start the move.

During the move

If you’ve planned your move properly, this part of the move should only involve a lot of waiting. Many, if not all, of the control panels is use today offer the option to transfer accounts between servers. This is fairly straight forward and you can referr to the documentation for your control panel to get the exact steps. If on the other hand you are transferring accounts manually, make sure you change the IP addresses of the domains after each account is moved. Do not wait for all accounts to be transferred to do that.

Points to remember:

  • Make DNS changes as soon as an account is transferred.
  • Give your clients constant updates regarding the status of the transfer.

The after party

Ok, so there may not be a party, but there are a few things that you have to do once the transfer is complete. Monitor all service logs on the new server and watch out for errors. A mistmatched PHP setting, a missing Apache module etc, if caught early, can save you a lot of support tickets later. Check a few sites at random just to make sure. If you are familiar with the clients on your server, check the sites of some of your major clients to make sure they are working. Check and make sure the DNS settings on the new server are correct. The nameservers your domains are using are probably still pointing to the old server. 24-48 hours after the move would be a good time to register your nameservers with IPs from the new server. Make sure you also modify the “A” records of your nameservers. You don’t have to worry about TTLs here, as both the old and new nameservers are replying with the same answers.

Points to remember:

  • Monitor service logs on the new server.
  • Check a few sites randomly.
  • Change the IPs of the nameservers 24-48 hours after the move.

Thats it! I hope this helps you plan your server moves so as to cause minimum inconvenience to your customers and to yourself. Who knows, you may feel like that after-party after all 😉

About the Author:

Hamish works as a Senior Software Engineer in Bobcares. He joined Bobcares in July 2004, and is an expert in Control panels and Operating systems used in the Web Hosting industry. He is highly passionate about Linux and is a great evangelist of open-source. When he is not on his xbox, he is an avid movie lover and critic.

Bobcares is a server management company that helps businesses deliver uninterrupted and secure online services. Our engineers manage close to 51,500 servers that include virtualized servers, cloud infrastructure, physical server clusters, and more.