Previewing your site with a subdomain before changing DNS


If you are transferring your site to DreamHost you will eventually need to point your DNS to your DreamHost site. However, it's also possible to test your site out at DreamHost first before changing your DNS. You can do this by using a subdomain.

There are two ways you can use a subdomain to view your site at DreamHost before pointing your DNS to DreamHost.

  • Option #1 — Upload your site to DreamHost, then use the subdomain to 'Mirror' your actual site
  • Option #2 — Uploading your site directly to the subdomain

Option#1 is recommended as it's a more robust solution for most websites.

Option#2 is a quick solution for less complex sites, but this option is not compatible with CMS applications such as WordPress without extra work.

This article explains how to view your site before pointing your DNS to DreamHost by using a subdomain. For another option on how to view your site at DreamHost before pointing DNS, view the following article:

Option #1 — Viewing your site via a 'Mirror'

For temporary web viewing, you are able to add a subdomain of on your Manage Domains page. For example, if your site is named, you can set up a subdomain such as Then, set that dreamhosters URL to MIRROR your primary website.

In the example below, your site is named and the dreamhosters subdomain is named

  1. Open your Manage Domains page.
  2. Make sure your domain is set up as Fully Hosted. A hosting plan type will display if it is.
  3. Upload all website content from your old hosting company to your site at DreamHost ( View the following articles that explain how to upload your website files, database, and email.
    01 Adding Domain Subdomain.fw.png
  4. Click the Add Hosting to a Domain / Sub-Domain button found at the top of the page.
    The Manage Domains page opens where you can make various changes to your settings:
  5. Scroll down to the Mirrored section and fill in the two fields:
    • Create the mirror at: Type in the address you wish to use. In this case, you’d type in "".
    • Mirror this site: Select the name of your primary domain to be mirrored.
  6. Click the Mirror this domain button to complete the setup.

Waiting for the DNS to update

It may take up to 6 hours for this newly-created mirror to update, but once it does, you'll be able to view your domain at DreamHost ( using the mirror at

If you confirm the site looks and operates as it should, you are prepared to point your DNS to DreamHost. When you are ready to point your DNS, visit the following article pages which provide full instructions:

Do not try to visit your site at DreamHost by its IP address, as the IP address is for the server, not the website. If you visit the IP, you’ll see a Site Not Found page which you can read about here:

Option#2 — Uploading your site directly to the subdomain

If you do not want to create a mirror site, you can just upload your website directly to the subdomain. View the following articles that explain how to upload your website files, database, and email.

This is fine for sites that are not built using a Content Management System (like WordPress). This is only recommended if your site does NOT have any hard-coded URLs (absolute links).

For example, let's say your site is and you've uploaded the contents to If your site contains absolute links (that point to, when you click on links at, the links will take you to the current live site of

For this reason, uploading your site directly to a subdomain is only recommended for more simple sites that do not use absolute links.

Once uploaded, you can view the site by updating your computer's hosts file:

A note about using with a CMS

Some Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress have the domain name stored as a setting in the sites configuration file.

You can upload your site to a subdomain, but in order for the links to function (as you're testing the site), you’ll need to update the URLs in the database to the new URL.

Visit this link at WordPress for further details on how to move the site to a new URL:

Once you've tested and confirmed your site is working at the subdomain, you can migrate it to your actual site ( at DreamHost. But, you'll once again need to update the URLs in the database and change them from to Only after the URLs have been updated should you point your DNS.

Viewing your MySQL database before DNS change

If you need to access a MySQL database before DNS changes, you can do the same thing by using a "temporary" MySQL host arrangement.

Visit the following article for more information:

See also

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Article last updated PST.