Previewing your site with a dreamhosters.com subdomain before changing DNS

Overview

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

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 dreamhosters.com subdomain.

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

Option #1 (works with any website)

Uploading your site directly to the dreamhosters.com subdomain.

Please note that if your site is using absolute links (such as a WordPress site), you must manually update all URLs in the site's files and database to the new temporary domain name. If you do not, the links in the site will point to the existing site URL that's not yet hosted at DreamHost.

Option #2 (only works with simple sites that do not use an SSL certificate)

Upload your site to DreamHost, then use the dreamhosters.com subdomain to 'Mirror' your actual site.

Please note that this option cannot be used if your site is using an SSL certificate. This is because the mirror option in the DreamHost panel will not function with another site's SSL certificate.

Option#1 — Uploading your site directly to the dreamhosters.com subdomain

The best option is to upload your site to a dreamhosters.com subdomain. This is a free domain you can add to your account to act as a temporary site. The following articles explain how to create a dreamhosters.com subdomain, then upload your website files and database.

What if my site is running WordPress?

If your site is running WordPress, or it's a site that contains absolute links (full URLs to your site), you must manually update those links in order for the site to function on the dreamhosters.com subdomain.

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

To fix this, you must update all URLs in your database that point to your live website (example.com), to example.dreamhosters.com. The following article explains how to update the URLs in your database to point to the new dreamhosters.com subdomain:

Once you've updated all of the site's URLs, you should see it resolving at example.dreamhosters.com.

Migrating back to the live URL

When you're ready for the site to go live, you need to once again, update the URLs for your site. Just reverse the steps above to switch all URLs from the dreamhosters.com subdomain (example.dreamhosters.com) to your live site URL. Only after the URLs have been updated should you point your DNS.

Option #2 — Viewing your site via a dreamhosters.com 'Mirror'

This option can only be used if the following are true:

  • Your site is NOT using an SSL certificate
  • Your site does NOT contain absolute links (full URLs to your site)

For quick web viewing, add a subdomain of dreamhosters.com on your Manage Domains page. You can then use this to Mirror your actual website. View the following article for instructions:

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 (example.com) using the mirror at example.dreamhosters.com.

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:

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.