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Question   Viewing site before DNS change
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Viewing site before DNS change
There is a way to check what your site will look like on our servers before actually pointing your domain name servers to us.

To check your domain content before the DNS switch, you first need to upload your content to your domain folder. We'll send you setup instructions after you sign up for the hosting plan, or after you add new domains to your hosting plan. In those instructions you will find the dreamhost server name that you will need to use as host in your FTP setup - instead of your domain name. (You can start using your domain name after you flipped the DNS switch) .

Then, you need to add free dreamhosters.com subdomain at Domains--> Add Domain (https://panel.dreamhost.com/index.cgi?tree=domain.add_domain& ) and set it to mirror your domain (you will be given this choice while adding the subdomain). Within a few hours you can check the subdomain in a broswer and you'll see what your site looks like on our servers.

Last updated: Jun 20, 2005.

User Post (2005-12-19 17:52:31 by brofield)
The problem is that the external DNS that your browser checks to get the IP address for the server is returning the wrong IP address. Since you can't access the server via IP address only, you need to override the DNS to provide the new IP address locally. This can be done by editing the hosts file.

The following are steps for Windows XP assuming the domain is called "foobar.com". Other versions of Windows are similar - just find out where the hosts file is located. Other OS should have a similar method too.

1. get the IP address of your domain *at dreamhost*.

Default Server: merry.christmas

> lserver ns2.dreamhost.com
Default Server: ns2.dreamhost.com

> foobar.com
Server: ns2.dreamhost.com

Name: foobar.com

> exit

The returned IP address for your domain "foobar.com" at dreamhost is "".

Note that the nameservers at dreamhost seem to be somewhat flaky at times and timeout. If ns2 doesn't work, try again or change the lserver to ns1 or ns3.

2. open the hosts file to edit it. On Windows XP this is found by default at: c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

Open it in notepad and then add the following lines to the end of the file...
<ipaddress> <spaces> <yourdomain.com>
<ipaddress> <spaces> <www.yourdomain.com>

e.g. for the previous domain example it would be: foobar.com www.foobar.com

Save and close the file. Ensure that the file that you saved is still called "hosts" and has NO EXTENSION.

You should now be able to access the new site hosted at dreamhost using the domain name "foobar.com". Note that this will prevent you from accessing the current "foobar.com" at the current host. You will need to comment out or delete those lines from the hosts file to see it again.

You should also delete those lines once it is available via the normal DNS system, otherwise Murphy's Law ensures that something will happen which will make you wish that you did.

If your site never actually references it's own domain name (i.e. there are no links to http://foobar.com/path/, just to /path/) then you may be able to add the entries in the hosts with a different hostname so that you can access both sites simultaneously. e.g. foobar-new.com www.foobar-new.com

I'm not making any guarantees that this will actually work for you, although it does for me.
User Post (2005-09-29 12:53:57 by jdoree)
A better explanation can be found here:

User Post (2005-08-07 10:28:43 by natron46)
This wasn't terribly clear on first reading.. it helps to clarify with an example. Say you want a testing site for mysite.com -- you create a subdomain called mysite.dreamhosters.com, and set it to mirror the content at mysite.com. (The use of "dreamhosters" instead of "dreamhost" wasn't familiar to me, so it took me some time to figure this out.)