Pre-Change Checklist for Changing Your Primary Domain

(Part 1 of 3 of How to Change Your Primary Domain)

Before changing the primary domain on your account, there are some important steps to follow to safeguard your account and ensure a smooth transition.

Two common scenarios for changing a primary domain have been listed below along with a checklist of steps to follow before making the change. In the following examples, primarydomain.com is your current domain and newdomain.com is the domain name you are changing it to.

Scenario 1: primarydomain.com and newdomain.com Are Different Sites

This example is for situations where primarydomain.com and newdomain.com have different content (i.e. they are different websites).

  1. The first step is to create a Full Account Backup in cPanel (this can take a few moments depending on the size of the account).
  2. In cPanel, open the File Manager or FTP, and create a folder in the /public_html called primarydomain.com.
  3. Move all the files for the primarydomain.com website from the /public_html folder to the folder at public_html/primarydomain.com.
    Note: If you have added subdomains or addon domains to your account, make sure you leave those folders where they are. Moving subdomain and addon domain folders will cause those sites to stop working. In this step, only move the files and folders related to the primarydomain.com website.
  4. Once you have moved all the files for primarydomain.com from /public_html to the public_html/primarydomain.com folder, you will then want to move or upload newdomain.com.
    • If you previously added newdomain.com as an addon domain, you will then want to move all the files from /public_html/newdomain.com to be in the /public_html directory. Then from cPanel home, click on Addon Domains and remove newdomain.com.
    • If newdomain.com was not previously uploaded as an addon domain, upload the files for newdomain.com into the /public_html folder instead. If you have a lot of files, FTP would be the best way to do this.
  5. Change your primary domain using the instructions here.
  6. (Optional) Re-add primarydomain.com as an addon domain if you still intend to use it.

Scenario 2: newdomain.com Will Show the Content Previously Displayed on primarydomain.com

This example applies to situations where you want the content from primarydomain.com to appear on newdomain.com. You would want to follow these steps if you are changing the domain of an existing website and phasing out the use of the old domain name.

  1. The first step is to create a Full Account Backup in cPanel (this can take a few moments depending on the size of the account).
  2. Remove newdomain.com from addon domains or parked domains if it is there.
  3. Change the primary domain using the instructions here.
    Note: If you simply want primarydomain.com and newdomain.com to show the same content, changing your primary domain name is not necessary. You can create a parked domain with or without redirects and achieve the same effect.
  4. Add primarydomain.com as a parked domain if you want to continue using primarydomain.com.
  5. (Optional) Create a redirect from primarydomain.com to newdomain.com if you want newdomain.com to show up in the address bar instead of primarydomain.com. If you are phasing out use of primarydomain.com, then setting up a redirect for awhile will help people find the new domain name.

 Before changing your primary domain, be sure you know what to expect by reading: