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DNS Migration Checklist: Tips for Success

March 25, 2021
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Tanya Valdez is a Technical Writer at Constellix. She makes the information-transfer material digestible through her own transfer of information to our customers and readers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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DNS is a service that many people take for granted. You don’t realize just how crucial it is until it goes down. Now is always the time to monitor your DNS—what is your uptime history? How is your network resiliency?

It is imperative to evaluate your DNS provider and configurations to assess if you are set up with the best security, reliability, and cost-effective arrangement for the services you need to properly provide the best service to your end users.

Whether you are in the process of migrating your DNS or you have just thought about it, you know that timing is key.

Timing is Everything with DNS Migration

While there might not be a "perfect" time to migrate DNS services for all types of domains, there are several factors that can play into determining when to complete a migration. Try analyzing your domain's previous trends to establish a manageable time to smoothly transition your DNS to a new provider.

It’s important to keep in mind that each organization is different. The ideal time for sales and e-commerce domains might be right after holiday shopping when traffic patterns are lighter. For development companies, this can be at the end of a fiscal year. Educational institutions may find it difficult to transition during standard operating times and may want to consider doing it during spring break, in between semesters, or even over the holidays.

Situational instances like company acquisitions may also lead to a change in service providers or maybe it’s even part of your DNS spring cleaning checklist. Whatever the reason and whenever the time—plan accordingly.

Plan Your DNS Move

If you were moving from one home to another, you wouldn’t do so without mapping out a strategy. The same goes when moving to another DNS provider. 

These are the key strategic points that we will cover to help ensure a seamless migration with no associated downtime: 

  • Find out what your organization’s DNS needs are.
  • Shop around before your current DNS contract renewal ends (most providers have a contract, but we believe in earning your business month after month).
  • Set up services at your new platform before canceling with your existing provider.
    Now, let’s take a look at these in more detail.

First Establish Your DNS Server Amenities 

There is no standardized solution for every domain. It’s crucial to evaluate the DNS market for the best services and features for your organization. Talk to your team to find out the must-have “amenities.” Once this is established, it’s time to start shopping. 

Choose Your DNS Provider 

Now that you have your requirements established, it’s time to choose a provider. We have compiled a shortlist of the top recommendations to help you in your search.

Contracts cause stressful vendor lock-in situations - First things first. You want to avoid being locked into a provider with a contract—at all costs. If you sign an exclusive contract with a DNS provider, you are only able to use their services. And let me tell you, those contracts are not short-term either with some trapping you for several years. This should be at the top of your things-to-look-for list when choosing your new DNS provider to avoid vendor lock-in

Products, services, and solutions—oh my! Ah yes, here we are. We know you’ve been waiting for this topic. Based on your needs, it’s important to formulate a strategy of solutions to ensure that your domain stays up and running at peak performance at all times. This is an area that we at Constellix know all too well. Here are some of our top solutions to help aid in your search.

  • Real-Time Traffic Anomaly Detection (RTTAD) uses aggregated data gathered from our real-time analytics platform. RTTAD continuously studies the X and Y coordinates of your DNS traffic to develop a pattern and notifies you if a change or anomaly is detected in your traffic pattern. These services allow you to make real-time traffic routing decisions. Or, as we like to say, “This service allows you to make proactive decisions instead of reactive ones.” Having insight into your traffic in real time can help combat malicious traffic to ensure that you, your end users, and clients do not experience any issues accessing your site.
  • Failover is powered by Sonar to keep domains up and running by automatically diverting traffic to the fastest and healthiest resources. If one source goes down, we pull it out of the DNS config and replace it with a healthy endpoint to maintain an optimal end-user experience.
  • Multi-CDN allows you to bundle two or more CDNs to optimize your content delivery speed and lends a hand in avoiding latency and outage issues.

Ease of moving - Look for the path of least resistance when preparing for this change. If you’re a pro, you can do it yourself, or you can select a provider like us who can do the heavy-lifting for you. 

Support packages - Don't underestimate the value of good support. You’ll want a team that can be of service to you. Here at Constellix, we offer various online aids in the form of video tutorials, knowledge base articles, how-to blogs, and affordable plans to suit your DNS needs.

Set Up Your DNS Before You Relocate 

When planning a move, whether it is business or residential, you wouldn't think twice about having electricity, running water, and even the internet before relocating. 

The same goes for migrating DNS. This will make the transition much smoother if you establish your new DNS service before shutting down at the previous location. This ensures a worry-free transfer and a little bit of cushion to tie up any loose ends. 

DNS Migration Checklist

  • Check your current vendor’s contract release date to make sure you are not locked in and are legally able to switch
  • Establish DNS service with the new provider before canceling the old one
  • Ensure that your records are up to date
  • Export your zone file from your current provider

          • Import the zone file to your new provider 

             • Import Options (see Constellix Migration Options section for more details):
             • Import DNS Records from a Zone File - BIND format file required
             • Import Domains with API Keys - API credentials required
             • Import DNS Records from a template - Template required (Create your own or use one of our customized templates)
             • Import Domains through AXFR transfer - Nameserver with AXFR transfer enabled required

  • Evaluate services and limits of both DNS configurations before attempting to replicate files
  • Retrieve your assigned name servers for your domain within your new Authoritative DNS provider
  • Delegate your assigned name servers from your current Authoritative DNS provider at your Registrar
  • Your registrar will cache the old name servers for 48 hours by default. We recommend waiting at least 72 hours before removing domain records from the old provider to avoid any issues.
    Note: All DNS records must stay equivalent within this 72-hour window. If an update needs to be made, it will need to be done on both platforms.
  • Let your users know when to expect maintenance as an extra security measure
  • Adjust the TTL (Time to live) of your resource records to assist in minimizing downtime and DNS propagation delays:

                • Lower the TTL to 5 seconds with your current provider before the migration takes place
                • Raise the TTL to 3600 seconds (2 hours) or to your preferred TTL within your new provider after the migration is complete

DNS Migration Checklist

Constellix DNS Migration Options 

Constellix offers multiple ways in which domains and records can be migrated. For simple configurations, you can simply import your records. For custom or complex configurations, it is recommended to manually add your records and domains. 

For walkthroughs, select the method below that best applies.

  • Import through API 
    This method is commonly used for current setups that have API functionality. It allows you to import your domain, along with its configurations—seamlessly.
  • New Domain Wizard
    This application allows you to manually add domains to your account with assistance from the wizard. 
  • Import through AXFR
    The AXFR Transfer is best for performing a direct zone transfer into the Constellix name servers from an external name server.
  • Import from Zone File
    This method assists in importing from a zone file if you have a text-based zone file in BIND format for your domain.
  • Manually add using the New Domain Wizard 
    While the Domain Wizard is not an import tool, it will certainly guide you through the steps to add domains and services. 
  • Manually Add Records
    This method offers the most customizability by allowing you to manually add records, apply advanced configurations, record modes, etc.

Good luck with your move!  Feel free to reach out to us. When changing DNS providers it is critical that NO downtime is experienced. At Constellix, we complete thousands of imports per week and we are here to help with any migration questions that you may have along the way. Want to know more about our services? Book a free demo to see what the hype is all about. Put your trust in us for your DNS management.

Here are some recommended reads with more great DNS migration tips:
9 Things to Consider Before Choosing a DNS Provider
Taking Accountability of Outages
Securing Networks to Support Virtual Learning

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