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Question   Why can't I access my domain/site after signing up?
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Why can't I access my domain/site after signing up?
I signed up with Dreamhost and was given the option to select a domain that I wanted. However, when I go to my domain from my web browser or through ftp, I get a message saying that the domain doesn't exist. What's up with that? Why can't I access my site?

Although it usually takes no more than twelve hours for us to get everything set up on our end, there are a few reasons why most sites are not immediately available after they are set up.

Domain Registration Process Hasn't Finished

When you register a domain name (such as 'realultimatepower.net'), it must be approved and set to filter through the DNS system. DNS, which stands for 'Domain Name Server', is a technology that allows Internet domains to be accessed using a domain instead of an IP address. Any time a person accesses a domain in their web browser or telnet program, their computer asks a DNS server for the location of that domain. Until all DNS servers on the Internet know about your domain, however, it won't be accessible to everyone.

Once a domain has been registered and you have received a notice confirming it, it usually takes up to two or three days before the domain information propagates throughout the 'net. As DNS changes do not happen immediately and instantly on all servers, some users may be able to view a domain while others receive a message that it does not exist. Don't worry, this is temporary, and goes away within a day or two. Unfortunately, there really isn't any way that we can speed this part of the process up, as each DNS server is set to refresh at different times.

Haven't Registered Domain Yet

Have you registered the domain yet? If not, then you definitely will not be able to access it or put up your web page.

To check whether you have registered your domain, log into the Account Control Panel. Select the Domains tab, and click on the Add Domain link.

Enter the name of your domain here:

Fully Hosted refers to traditional domain name hosting. If you would prefer to 'park' or 'mirror' a domain, be sure to make the appropriate selection in the drop-down box.

Finally, press the Continue button.

  • If you have registered the domain, we will tell you so.
  • If someone else has registered the domain, you will be notified, and given the whois information.
  • If you have registered the domain, and it is not pointing to DreamHost, you will be given instructions for transferring it.
  • If the domain has not been registered, you will be offered the opportunity to do so.


If your site is hosted as a subdomain of an existing domain (such as 'ilove.dreamhosters.com' or 'oink.whenpigsfly.com'), you will still have to wait for our DNS changes to propagate throughout the Internet. However, you won't have to wait for a confirmation from Internic, which tends to speed up the process by a day or so.


Once you are able to visit your site from a web browser and view an empty directory listing (this is how they always start, before you put files into them), your domain is active! From that point, feel free to start uploading your web files!

Viewing your site before your domain is up!

If you'd like to view your uploaded site on our servers (to check that everything is working, or whatever!) before your domain is up, you can! Simply go to the Domain > Add Domain area of our web panel and add a free dreamhosters.com sub-domain (e.g. "yourdomain.dreamhosters.com"). Choose it to be a "mirror" domain and set it up to mirror your real domain that hasn't gone live yet. When you're done, within an hour you'll be able to see your site at http://yourdomain.dreamhosters.com/ exactly as it will be when your domain is transferred!

Last updated: Dec 21, 2004.

User Post (2006-01-05 17:55:50 by hfacktor)
Is there any way to get direct http access to your account without actually using your specified domain? I'm switching the DNS server from my previous host to my new Dreamhost account, but I was hoping for a temporary link that I would be able to route people to until the changes propogate. It doesn't appear http access is enabled for any of the servername.dreamhost.com/~user sites, which is what I assumed would be the link.