Using HostGator for your web hosting, and 1and1 for your domain name is not too difficult to set up.
Configure HostGator so it knows about the domain name
First of all you have to make sure that your HostGator hosting account knows about the domain name. If you have already added the domain to your account by either setting it up as the primary domain or as an addon domain then you need do nothing further at the HostGator end.
If you haven’t done this then log into your HostGator cPanel. Then in the Domains section click on Addon domains.
Enter your domain name and all the other details you need and click on Add Domain.
Configure HostGator so it knows about any email addresses
Whilst you are in the HostGator cPanel configure any email addresses for the domain name. Once you point the 1and1 domain to HostGator, 1and1 will no longer be responsible for collecting email to this address. HostGator will now have control of the email, so setting up any email boxes in advance to save you from losing any emails.
Configure 1and1 to point the domain to HostGator
Login to your 1&1 Control Panel. Click on Domains.
Select the domain name you want to point to HostGator and click Edit DNS Settings from the DNS pull down menu.
You’ll get a warning saying the following.
Full functionality cannot be guaranteed if you choose DNS settings other than the original 1&1 settings, such as e-mail and web space. Domains can be (re)set to 1&1 default settings by clicking Reset
This means that if you change the name servers to point to HostGator then 1and1 will no longer be hosting your website, or your email. You will have to configure both your website and email via HostGator from now on.
Select the option for ‘My name server’.
Then enter the HostGator name server names (there should be two of them) into the boxes. You can find the name server names on cPanel.
Then confirm the settings on the 1&1 Control Panel. You’ll get a message saying it will take some time for the settings to take effect. This could be 24 hours, or even more depending on what DNS server you are using. After changing the settings keep checking the new domain so you spot when the changes are live you for. But beware – just because you can see the new site doesn’t mean everyone can. Leave the old site in place for at least 48 hours so you can be sure that all DNS records have updated.
Advanced topic – minimising downtime
If there is already a live website at your original 1and1 hosting then you might have to think about copying the files over to HostGator before updating the domain to minimise any website downtime. This is fairly easy to do if your website just contains static HTML files.
If however you are moving a dynamic website there is a lot more to think about.
Whilst the DNS settings are propagating some people will see the website from the 1and1 hosting, and others from the HostGator hosting. What if someone posts a comment on the 1and1 hosted site, and someone else posts on the HostGator site? It could be a nightmare to merge all the comments back together. You may therefore want to consider setting the old (1and1 hosted) site to read-only by disabling all new comments on it.
A further difficulty is that moving a dynamic site requires more than just moving the files. You will have to create new databases, import the database tables and maybe customise .htaccess files or other config files if the configurations need to be different between the two hosts (which is often the case).
One way to work around this is to set up the new version of the site in full at the new hosting provider using a secret dummy domain name. You can register a domain just for this purpose if you don’t have a spare one that isn’t in use. Just make sure not to tell anyone about it, and even better protect access to it to just your IP address using a .htaccess file.
There are a lot more complexities involved in moving a live dynamic site from one host to another. If you want more information about moving a WordPress blog between hosts have a look at http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress.