A quick introduction to how domain names work!
A domain name is basically an online postal address, which contains a number of address records. These records tell the internet, for example, which specific web server should load your webpages and which mail server should handle your incoming emails.
When making changes to your domain name, these records get updated and published for all the other computers on the internet to read.
In simple terms, ISPs (Internet Service Providers, such as Virgin Media, BT Internet, etc) and often corporate IT networks store their own address book of the internet, containing these records, which helps speed things up, rather than having to double check your address details every time.
ISPs often cache your domain name’s address details for several hours at a time, or sometimes for one or two days.
So what does this mean for my domain name?
If any changes are being made to your domain name, such as if you’re moving your domain name from an external provider to Primary Image, then it can take a while for the changes to take effect.
It means some visitors may see the changes (i.e. your new website) straight away as their ISPs have already updated their records, while other visitors may not see the changes just yet (e.g. they might see your old website, or a temporary error message).
Typically, this process takes a few hours, but on rare occasions it can take up to 72 hours.
If we’re moving your domain name away from an external provider, that company may also take a while to release the domain name too. For example, we’ve noticed 1&1 take a particularly long time doing this.
Unfortunately, the time it takes for domain propagation is completely out of our control, as it’s a fundamental part of how the internet works.
As your website and email may go offline for a few hours, we normally recommend doing any changes to your domain name over a night, or across a weekend, when it’ll have the least impact on your business.