How to migrate a domain name to your server

When you need to migrate a domain name that you own to a MedStack system, or between MedStack systems, follow this process carefully in order to avoid any downtime.

Important: Please ensure that you have scheduled and confirmed a transition time with us before changing your DNS records. Changing your DNS records without informing MedStack will cause a system outage.
Note: You own your domain names. You will own and continue to control the domain name and the DNS settings throughout this process. So, most of the steps in this process will involve changes to your DNS settings. You should familiarize yourself with the DNS zone settings control panel for your provider. For example, if you purchased your domain from GoDaddy, see  Manage DNS zone files.
Note: Migrating production systems.  If your systems are currently in production, please let us know when you make the original request. This will allow us to coordinate the timing with you so that we can minimize transfer time. Migrating a production system may also involve migrating the database, and possibly other steps
Note: Multiple Domains. You can point multiple domains at a single runtime environment / web endpoint on your server. You can also have different domains pointing to different runtimes on your server, where each endpoint will need at least one domain name.

Overview of the process

  1. Well in advance, inform us of the change that you need to make to your DNS settings.
  2. (Optional) If you have paid certificate files, send them to us.
  3. Schedule a transition time with us.
  4. Make the DNS changes at the scheduled time in coordination with us.
  5. We finalize the change on your system.

Steps to migrate a domain name

These actions are taken by you and us in a specific sequence. This process might take several days.

1. Well in advance, inform us of the change

Contact MedStack Support in advance, with the domain name that you are going to assign and the system (and runtime environment) that you are assigning it to.

2. (Optional) If you have paid certificate files, send them to us

MedStack will normally use Let's Encrypt to acquire a certificate for any domain name that you point to your MedStack server. Some customers prefer or need to use a paid certificate. If you have a paid certificate for your domain, send it to us now using a secure method and we will install it. Please be sure to send us this file using a secure method.

We need the following files:

  • The private key for your certificate. This will usually be a .key file.
  • the certificate file. This will usually have one of these extension: .cer/.crt/.cert.

There are unfortunately many formats that are used for these files, but regardless please verify that you send us both the private key and the certificate. Other file extensions you might see:

  • .pem: This indicates that the key/certificate file has been encoded using the ASCII PEM standard. The files might be named, for example, private_key.pem or cert.pem. It's also possible that both the key and the certificate are in the PEM file.
  • .p12: This is an alternative format for PEM.
  • .der: DER is a less-common binary encoding alternative to PEM.

Please don't send us:

  • Certificate signing request: usually a .csr file: You may create during your registration process, but we can't use.

A few useful links:

If you don't have a paid certificate, we will automatically create a certificate in a later stage.

3. Schedule a transition time with us

When you change your DNS records, we will need to update the system to accept the new domain name(s) and to configure the HTTPS certificate(s). This is a step that we must take manually immediately following your change to the DNS records, so you must schedule a specific day and time with us to coordinate the change. We will confirm the time with you and ensure that a MedStack engineer is available at that time.

4. Make the DNS changes at the scheduled time in coordination with us

These steps must be undertaken in coordination with us before and after the changeover.

One day prior to the scheduled time, reduce your TTL

Go to the DNS settings on your Adjust to  Time To Live (TTL) to a relatively low value like 300 seconds (5 minutes). This will allow the transfer to take place relatively quickly.

Note however, that whatever the starting value of your TTL, it will take that long before the low TTL comes into effect. For example, if you TTL starts at 86400 seconds, it can take a full day before your TTL change comes into affect.

Note: If you are using Anycast DNS (such as CloudFlare or DNSimple) then you can skip this step, as there is no TTL.

Modify your DNS records

Before doing this, wait until the TTL change has propagated from the above step.

Important: Please ensure that you have scheduled and confirmed a transition time with us before changing your DNS records. Changing your DNS records without informing MedStack will cause a system outage.

Then:

  1. Determine the IP address of your MedStack server. For example, using the command `host example.medstack.net`.
  2. When you are ready, modify your DNS to point to the new IP address. Normally you will use an A record.

Wait for the change to propagate

The change now needs to propagate to your system and the Let's Encrypt Server. There will be a delay before that happens, based on the currently active TTL value of your DNS record.

In addition there will be some time before the change propagates to all of your users. During that time they may still go to the old IP address.

5. We finalize the change on your system

Once the DNS change propagates to your server and to the Let's Encrypt servers, we will then add the new domain to the HTTPS certificate on your server. In order to complete the domain name migration, we update the domain names configuration of the system and will acquire a Let's Encrypt certificate for you (unless you have provided a paid HTTPS certificate).

After this sequence is complete, the server will now be accessible securely using your domain name and HTTPS.

Congratulations, you're done!

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