Accessing site remotely without using domain name


I’ve got a site that I’m transferring from another host. I want to test that it works on DreamHost servers before updating the nameserver and making it live but I can’t access it via DNS until I change the nameserver.

My site is currently on Is there another way of seeing my site remotely without using my domain name? I tried accessing it via but that didn’t seem to work… (the folder containing my web pages is /home/myusername/mysite/)


this Wiki article should explain everything.

–Matttail - personal website


Hi, thanks for pointing me to that article. It looks pretty useful but I’m having a couple of problems. On the instructions:








During sign-up, as the domain is currently live and hosted elsewhere, I signed up with so if I mirror to this would seem to be mirroring to the wrong site? (my ‘real’ domain is It seemed to me if I signed up with then it would clash with the name of my live site and would not be viewable unless I made the DNS changes (which I don’t want to until the site is tested in its new environment). Maybe I’m not understanding something as this is pretty new to me…


Assuming DNS still points to your old hosting provider, you can create the new site at DreamHost, “copy” everything over, and use a local entry in the hosts file of you home PC pointing to the IP address that you see in the “DNS” screen for that site on the DreamHost control panel.

The idea is that by doing the above, you’ve completely set up the site at DreamHost except for the DNS entries. Everyone in the outside world will have pointing to your old server. You will be testing at your new DreamHost server because your local hosts file overrides the real DNS entry for just your machine.

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The above wiki article accomplishes the same result as editing the hosts file, it’s just generally easier for people to do.

So you have hosted at your old host. Next you set up here at dreamhost. Add it through the panel. This won’t have any effect on what website people get until you update the DNS entires with your registrar. Now you set up a mirror of with

The way this works is Dreamhost servers access the local DNS servers first - so when you go to you get forwarded to BUT, because the server that forwards you checks with the local DNS first you’re sent to the DH server hosting

So it sounds strange, but it works - I’ve done it my self a number of times. Also, you could have signed up with “” - it wouldn’t have effected or clashed, but it also doesn’t really make a difference.

Hope this all makes sense, I know there’s a lot of information to take in when you’re first getting started with a new host.

–Matttail - personal website


Does mirroring work properly with dynamic websites?

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well, it should - but you’d have to explain exactly what you mean by dynamic.

If you’re talking about a wordpress install for example, then yes it will work. And it works for the same reason that this mirroring works. You set up the blog, and database - and when the php files reference it again checks the local (to DH) DNS and gets the local database server.

If you know how to edit your hosts file, then by all means go for it - it may well be much easier for many. But I think that for the majority of people this presents a good chance to get familiar with the panel and wiki, and will seem less scary than editing a file in a directory windows won’t even let you see the contents of by default.

–Matttail - personal website


Thanks guys, I’ve finally had a lightbulb moment. Thanks for explaining it so clearly.

I’ve created a new domain which points nowhere at the moment and then a mirrored domain

I then copied all my site contents to on DreamHost and then access the site via the url until I change the nameservers.

Thanks very much for the help…



Ah, I see. I was fooled by the fact that DreamHost mirroring isn’t a physical mirror but is a server alias. I understand how the scheme works now!

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