Changing web host but not mail host

I am in the process of changing webhost.
Up to now I had emails, website and domain name with Bluehost.
I transferred my domain name with Google Domains.

I eventually want to have:

  • my domain name pointing to a new application in Cloudways
  • my emails staying with Bluehost

Being very confused about the whole thing and not wanting to do anything silly, I thought I would do the change in two steps.

  1. Open an account with Cloudflare with DNS from Bluehost.
  2. Abandon web hosting at Bluehost and link to Cloudways instead, BUT keep Bluehost as mailhost.

However, I am not sure how to do that.
For now, (step 1) my Cloudflare account automatically populated with all DNS records from Bluehost.
For step 2, which I haven’t done yet, I simply don’t know where I will enter the MX records from Bluehost to my Cloudflare account so my emails are not lost in limbo in the process.
The three MX records I currently have in my Cloudflare account are all “spam experts” records and do not look at all like the two MX records I got from Bluehost.
Where should I enter the MX records I got from Bluehost?
Thanks for your help.

Are you saying you’re not already on Cloudflare?

Ultimately, you’ll have two things going on:

  1. Email (determined by Bluehost). This includes DNS records for MX (example.com that points to mail.example.com), ‘mail’ (a :grey: DNS Only “A” record with the IP address from Bluehost), and maybe some TXT records for SPF, DKIM, and DMARC (lots of people don’t have these TXT records).
  2. Website (determined by Cloudways). This is generally just two DNS records: example.com (usually an “A” record with the IP address that Cloudways will provide for you) and ‘www’ which may be an “A” record as before, or possibly a CNAME that points to example.com

All this should happen during the onboarding process at Cloudflare before you change the name servers at your domain registrar. If #1 and #2 align properly, you will have a smooth transition. Good thing about Email is that you can goof it up for 24 hours and you won’t lose any mail, as it will just sit in a holding pattern if there’s a mistake in your DNS records. But as long as your MX and “A” for ‘mail’ are correct, just like you have now at Bluehost, it will be a seamless transition.

Thanks very much for your prompt answer. Maybe it is not necessary, but because of my limited grasp on the issue, I thought I would do it “safely”… in two steps (I only recently changed registrar). I just don’t want to change the DNS management AND the DNS records dividing mail and website at the same time.

What I have done up to now:
I started to open an account on Cloudflare (transferring DNS records from Bluehost). I haven’t confirmed to finish the process yet. Consequently, I haven’t changed my nameservers in Google Domains either. I am just scared and want to understand how it works before doing anything.

But maybe it is not the right way to go about it?
Maybe I should first update my records (separate mail and website) within Bluehost, and only then open and account with Cloudflare - when everything already points where it should?

Even if it still remain obscure to me, you clearly explained what need to be done with the records, thank you for that.

What I believe will happen:

  • When I confirm the Cloudflare account, I am assuming all Bluehost DNS records will be with Cloudflare (email + website), I can then update the nameservers in my registrar (Google Domains). Nothing should change on my emails and website, apart from the fact that Google Domains will then direct everything to Cloudflare instead of Bluehost. Am I correct?

  • When that is done, I can separate the mail and website records within Cloudflare. It means that I will just have to edit records in Cloudflare and do nothing in Google Domains.

BUT I have a whole bunch of A, CNAME, MX etc records. How do I know which one to edit? Will it be made easier to understand when I have a Cloudflare account properly confirmed?

I compared Bluehost zone editor and Cloudflare DNS management page.
If I follow your guidelines, it seems easier to edit my (website) records in Bluehost. I can see the records you are talking about in Bluehost. I can’t see them in Cloudflare at this point.

I’ll wait for your answer, but maybe I’ll reverse what I wanted to do initially.
Instead, I’ll first separate mail and website in Bluehost, change nothing in my registrar (they will keep using Bluehost Nameservers). Then open an account with Cloudflare and change nameservers in the registrar.

Well, I changed my A record in Bluehost.
The things propagated quickly and to my horror, I saw that my old Bluehost website replaced my brand new website on Cloudways. Not sure where my Cloudways application went in the process…
I changed the A record back to what it was in Bluehost, but it doesn’t seem to bring back my new website. Not sure what to do now.
A good night sleep might help :frowning: I am just so sick of the whole thing! $#%@%[email protected]!