Saturday, March 31, 2007

Updating domain names is a trip...

It's easy to forget just how vast and complex the Internet is... easy, that is, until you put your new domain name in place and request that the Domain Name System (DNS) and all it's routers and servers recognize that new name.

We're all used to the Internet being 'instantaneous'... right? Quick response and all that depending, of course, on the speed of your pipe. Well, to update all the millions of routers and servers that are the Domain Name System takes "24 to 48 hours" (that's called 'propagation delay' in DNS-speak) according to the folks who administer the system. What they really mean is that within 24 to 48 hours, things will settle down and your domain can be reliably accessed. Until then, your experience may vary... and I do mean vary.

Briefly, here's what I experienced:

8:33am -- Started obtaining the domain name I wanted. This was done thru, my main ISP (they do good work, IMO).

12:10pm -- Started setting up DNS pointers (domain name is registered thru 1and1, but will be served by This requires changing the 1and1 setup so that the domain is serviced by railsplayground's name servers).

1:04pm -- Got the name server information from railsplayground

2:02pm -- changed the server names on 1and1

At this point, my new domain is officially being served by railsplayground... but when I type in the address in my browser, all I get is the default for my domains... essentially an 'under construction' display.

4:00pm -- Typed in my domain and actually got my webapp!

4:53pm -- Unable to ftp to my new site using the domain name

5:00pm -- New domain works just fine

6:00pm -- Unable to access the new domain

And son on into the evening...

I'm speculating that the 'found' or 'not found' scenario occurred because at different times, the route to my new domain changed, and I might get to a router/server that still hadn't been updated... fascinating.

So be prepared to learn a lot of new stuff, make some mistakes, and wait...

...and when your new domain is actually up and running, it's quite a rush!

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