When this term is used in relation to domain name issues, it refers to the process where changes to domain names are transmitted throughout the Internet. The propagation period can last up to 72 hours from the time that you change your nameserver information; although in most cases it’s much shorter.
The period of time is something that domain registrars and Web hosts have little control over – it depends on how quickly various ISPs throughout the world update their own DNS caches.
For example, it’s possible that after you move your site from one host to another, that a friend down the street using another ISP will be viewing your site on your new host, wheras you may still be seeing it on your old hosting service. E-mail may also continue to be sent to your old provider during the propagation period.
It’s something important to keep in mind when migrating to another host – you should always keep your old hosting account open for at least a few days after switching services if possible.
[Michael Bloch, Team ThinkHost]
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