Propagation – How Long do DNS Changes Take

When changing hosting providers and moving your website and/or email to your new host, you’ll notice that it takes a while for the change to be completed across the web. Once a DNS change is made, root nameservers and cache records will need to update their cache with the new server information, allowing your website to be viewed from its new location. The updating process is called propagation and can take 4 to 24 hours.

This article will help you understand the propagation process, the elements that affect DNS changes, and what to expect after making a DNS change.

  • What are DNS Records?
  • What is DNS Propagation?
  • How Long is Propagation?
  • How Do I Check If Propagation Is Complete?
  • Can I Speed Up The Propagation Process?

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What Are DNS Records?

Domain Name System (DNS) converts human-readable domain names (e.g., example.com) into computer-readable IP addresses (e.g., 86.75.30.9) that allow your computer to find and quickly load the website you’ve entered into your browser.  Of note, servers can only read IP addresses, which serve as addresses for their respective websites. Domain names were created for human benefit, as remembering words and phrases is a lot easier than remembering a long string of numbers.

DNS routes internet traffic to the correct locations while DNS records indicate where internet traffic should be routed. For example, an address record (A record) associates a domain with a specific IP address. When changing hosting providers, you would point your website’s A record to your new host. To successfully manage your website and email accounts, you should be familiar with the common DNS record types and the traffic they direct.

What Is DNS Propagation?

DNS propagation is the time it takes for the DNS to refresh the cache on the network. To assist with internet usability and load time, DNS will store a copy of the website files and data in a cache, which allows you to pull up the site quickly after the first visit. Site load time is decreased as the server does not need to download the website directly from the source. It can simply pull the files it already has saved.  Each record has a Time to Live (TTL) value that specifies (in seconds) how long a particular cache is saved before the server updates the record. Once the TTL expires and the server updates the cache of the website, you’ll be able to see your website on the new server and your email should be functional.

How Long Is Propagation?

As mentioned, propagation can take 4 to 24 hours. Essentially, you’re waiting on the TTL to expire and the server cache to refresh. Once the server cache has refreshed, propagation is complete and your site will load on the new server.

How Do I Check If Propagation Is Complete?

You can see where your domain is pointing with our domain routing tool, or you can check your SOA record. You can also ping and trace route your domain locally from your Windows/Mac command prompt to verify the IP address. If the ping and traceroute test shows your new host, then the DNS propagation process is complete.

Can I Speed Up The Propagation Process?

The short answer is no. InMotion Hosting sets the default TTL to 14400 (4 hours); however, the network that you are using to access the internet may update at a slower rate.

You can try clearing your DNS cache or ‘Flush the DNS’. However, clearing your DNS cache does not always work and you may still need to wait for propagation to finish. Also, though not recommended, you can try speeding up the propagation time by setting your TTL to a lower number. This will refresh the DNS at a quicker rate.


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