We had to write a post about this.
We do our best to protect our clients and make sure their sites remain online at all times. As web designers we work with many different domain registrars. These are the companies you use to register a domain name.
Most also provide web hosting services but it’s by no means required to use them (in many cases we don’t suggest it). GoDaddy has become the largest and most recognisable name in this industry. We personally like to use Nethosted internally, but there are many other decent providers.
Some are good (Nethosted), some are bad (we won’t mention who), and some just get the job done. Then there is 1and1.
We go cold when we hear a client uses 1and1’s registrar because we know it’s going to be an uphill battle to push servers live, do migrations, set up a CDN or change even simple DNS records.
Since the start of 2016 we have come across 1&1 and before contacting them to action a transfer away from them or (most recently) to upload a bespoke CMS to their servers, we first grabbed a large glass of water and a handful of Anadin (other headache tablets are available).
On both occasions we came up against long call waiting times (2 hours and 51 minutes is the current record), thankfully the music in the studio made up for being on hold waiting for such a long time.
Once we finally got to talk to a member of 1&1 we actioned pushed the and waited. Generally registrars put up warnings letting users know that locations may cache the old records up to a day. It’s normal and fine in this case; this minority of users just wouldn’t pass through the CDN network. We waited an hour or so for the status to change, then the client contacted us. Site reported down. Users reporting it down. Not good. We checked again, pending update.
This is where things went from bad to worse. We queried the DNS, it didn’t report back an ip. No error, just blank. So we then queried 1&1’s DNS servers directly since they held the records prior. Blank. We surmise that while the updates were “pending”, 1and1 wiped the records on their own servers and left us high and dry with the site offline. So we called up support again. After a 55 minute wait on hold, we finally spoke to a member of their team that told us this was normal and could take up to 48 hours.
We told them that it is not normal at all, normal registrars do not wipe their nameservers even after delegating to an external provider… then the call was disconnected. Fantastic customer service.
We then started to coordinate with our customer to get the domain off of 1&1 as soon as possible as 1&1 were unwilling to provide support other than “just wait, it’s normal”. We tried to contact 1&1’s support via Twitter without any tangible results.
Usually domain registrars take a few hours to transfer a domain out, we found that 1&1 holds a domain for 5 days. This is the maximum time allowed under ICANN regulations.
Holding a clients domain for this excessive amount of time is not really fair, especially when they are incurring are significant amount of ‘downtime’ whilst their site transfers from 1&1.
So, if you really think going for a domain hosting company that charges next to nothing… Always remember you don’t get something for next to nothing.