Using a subdomain


A subdomain is a free subdomain DreamHost offers all customers. You can add this to your account as a free domain to host your website without having to purchase a domain registration.

You can also use it to test an existing website before making any live changes to your actual domain. subdomains do not work with DreamPress plans. If you're using DreamPress and need a staging site, view the following article.

The following describes how to create and use a subdomain to host your site content.

How does a subdomain work?

Normally, you would register a domain such as and add hosting to it. Then, anyone on the Internet can visit your website. This requires you to purchase the registration first.

If you have an active hosting plan (Shared, VPS, Dedicated), you can also add a free subdomain. It looks something like:


You get to decide what goes in front of This site can then be used to host a website or test an existing website.

How do I create a subdomain?

See the following article for further instructions on how to create a subdomain:

The only difference is that when you add the domain, you must type in your subdomain. For example:


When should I host a website on a subdomain?

If you don't need a specific domain name, a subdomain is a simple solution. You can create it to host your site content; it's also a good option since it's free. However, this is only an option for small, informational websites. It should never be used for a business site since the part of the URL may not be suitable for professional websites.

When should I purchase a custom domain name?

If you want to create a site to promote a business or service, you should always purchase a unique domain name. This provides a more professional appearance and allows you to create custom email addresses and DNS entries for your site which are not possible using a subdomain.

How can I use  a subdomain to test my actual website?

Most often, a subdomain is added to test your actual website. For example, if you have a site called with public content, anyone on the Internet can view your site.

But, if you'd like to make changes to the site without disrupting its functionality, you can create a copy of the site at You can then test out any changes there first, and then add those changes to your live website when you're ready. 

How can I use a subdomain to view my site before pointing my DNS to DreamHost?

Another common use for a subdomain is to set up your site at DreamHost before migrating your content to DreamHost's server. This assumes you're currently hosting your site at another company and want to migrate your hosting services to DreamHost.

There are two ways to do this:

  • 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.

View the following article for details on how to configure this:

Can I enable SSL on my subdomain?

Do not include the 'www' in your subdomain as adding it will cause the certificate not to work.

SSL certificates are automatically added to subdomains. There is nothing you need to configure.

Other ways to use a subdomain

See also

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