I finally made good on last year’s New Year’s resolution and transferred domain names away from GoDaddy (registered via Google) to Hover. Hover is a humane registrar, the evolution of Tucows, and they have a good service. Getting out of the clutches of GoDaddy is not easy but Hover has put a lot of effort into helping you. Their docs are thorough and the webapp is good. Even so, I was starting to wish I’d used their free valet service. The steps are roughly:

  1. Prepare the domain for transfer at GoDaddy. Disable privacy, unlock the name, and get the authorization code emailed.
  2. Approve the transfer via an email from Hover.
  3. Tell Hover to start the transfer.
  4. Set up your new DNS records at Hover.
  5. Accept the transfer at GoDaddy. The moment you accept, GoDaddy will remove your whois and DNS records and your site is offline.
  6. Wait for Hover to receive your domain and publish it with new whois data. This takes a few minutes.
  7. Edit your whois record at Hover to point to their DNS servers.

Step 7 has a race condition; Hover has to have received your domain name before you’re allowed to edit the name server authority in the whois data. And various things cache whois and root DNS information for minutes to hours. My site was offline for about 10 minutes while this sorted itself out. The right thing would be to edit the name server authority for your domain first, before initiating the transfer. Hover seemed happy to provide DNS service before the transfer was complete, I just couldn’t update the whois info.

Another glitch was that some of my names weren’t registered directly by me, but instead via Google Sites or AppEngine. That extra step causes a big mess; here’s a detailed description of the solution. In brief, you have to go to Google Admin Control Panel. That has a link for Domain Settings / Advanced DNS settings that gives you login credentials at GoDaddy that Google made and never told you about. There’s a “Sign in to DNS console” link right there that leads you to GoDaddy management, you can unlock the name and get the authorization code there. But that site has been broken for a year and you can’t disable domain privacy with it. Instead log in to this other GoDaddy site; you have to recover the username (a different random number), but the password Google gave you will work. The “cancel private registration” button works there. It’s almost like GoDaddy doesn’t want this transfer to be easy.

  2013-05-06 17:13 Z