Website Propagation Explained

Website Propagation Explained
Footbridge Media
Footbridge Media May 30, 2017

You're excited about your new website going live, and today is supposed to be the day it launches. You wait around...but nothing happens. You still see your old site. What gives? At this point you may call or email us asking what the problem may be. Depending on whether or not you've provided us with all the information we need to put your website up on our servers, the answer is probably due to propagation.

So, who do you call to get propagation resolved? Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. Propagation is a process that is out of our hands.

If you're confused, don't worry. Most people outside of the website development industry are when it comes to propagation. So we thought we'd take some time to explain it in a way that hopefully makes more sense as to what's going on with your new website, and why you may not be able to see it immediately.

Why Isn't My Site Up Yet? Website Propagation Hasn't Completed

When we say your website has been uploaded to our servers, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be live and visible to everyone on the internet just yet. It all depends on how long it takes for propagation to complete.

Propagation in terms of website development is the process of spreading your website's new information throughout the internet. This change is generally known as a DNS change. That can either mean we're changing your website's Nameservers or A-record. Regardless, it has to do with where your website's files are being hosted.

Did you know hosting is included in your package with Footbridge Media? Letting us host your website makes it easier for our team to ensure your website's files are properly backed up, and makes maintaining your website easier. Plus, you won't have to pay an additional hosting fee with another company, like GoDaddy, or have to worry about renewing your hosting plan to make sure your site stays live. (Be sure you DO pay for any domain name renewals that come up, though! This is usually an annual fee, but check with your domain registrar and consider signing up for autopay if available, so you never lose your domain name.)

Think of website propagation as a game of telephone – your website calls one point on the internet and tells it, "Hey! I'm live! Look at my new design." That point relays the new information to another point. And another. And so on until the whole internet has heard about your new website. Unfortunately, details sometimes get lost in translation, just like in the telephone party game. So your new website might be visible in some areas around the globe, but your old website or a "parked"/error page might show up in others.

(Tip: it's a good rule of thumb when ANY changes are made to your website to clear your browser's history and cache. Your site could be fully propagated and live, but you will still see your old site or even a jumbled version of it if your computer is holding on to that old data.)

Your Website Has Moved & Needs to Tell The World

Another way to think about website propagation is this way: when you move, you generally fill out a forwarding address form with the post office. However, this transition isn't immediate. It can take weeks for all of your mail to find its way to your new home.

It's a similar situation with your website. During website propagation – or your website "move" – your website's "post office" (domain registrar) has to tell the internet you've changed hosting (where your website lives).

When we change the hosting location, we tell your domain registrar where your website's new home will be. Luckily, this process doesn't take nearly as long as regular snail mail to resolve. Please note, however, that it can sometimes take up to 24-48 hours. This is especially true if your website was hosted via Cloudflare or had/has SSL installed. During this time, your website might go down, but don't worry. It will resolve itself. This is what we call propagation.

How fast it resolves is unfortunately out of our hands. But we hope this helps you understand why your website may not be up as quickly as you'd hoped on the day it is supposed to launch.

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