DNS - Viewing site before DNS change


Please do not send me to that horrible wiki article about mirroring. I have a domain that is registered with godaddy and pointing to a different host. Before I change the DNS to point from my old host to dreamhost, I want to make sure everything looks and operates as it should. So to test, if I just pop an index file in the folder for the domain I said I was going to host with dreamhost, what address do I type in the address bar to see it? If you look at the support articles, it appears it should be “mydomain.dreamhost.com”. I do not understand why a mirror is necessary - I think the explanation is unclear on the wiki. Thank you.


There isn’t such an “address” (url), if all you have done is “pop an index file in the folder for the domain”. DNS has no way to find that folder, or the index.html file. :frowning:

If a “support article” said that, it is incorrect. What “support articles” are you referring to?

Ok. I understand that some things are hard to understand. I’m not sure the wiki article even attempts to explain “why” a “mirror” is necessary (it has to do with DNS), as it is not really relevant to “how” to accomplish “viewing your site before DNS changes”. IIRC, the wiki article only addresses “how to do it”. If you are really interested in “why” that is another subject altogether than “how to accomplish it on DreamHost.”

If you are really interested in all that, I can point you to several web resources on DNS (there is even information on the DH wiki). As for actually “getting it done”, if you can explain what is “unclear” in the wiki article, I’d be happy to attempt to help you with it. :wink:

I know it is frustrating, but there are those here that can help.

[color=#CC0000]Edited to Provide Additional Information[/color]:
Now don’t get upset with me because you exhorted us,“Please do not send me to that horrible wiki article about mirroring”, because there are several articles about “mirroring” in the wiki, and I don’t know which one you are referring to. :wink:

In the Dh WIki article on Viewing your site before DNS change, in which “mirroring” is one approach discussed, there is another option that does not require a mirror be setup.

If you don’t want to bother with a “mirror”, and I often don’t, take a look at another trick to vew your site before DNS change. Do that, and you won’t even need a mirror. The “mirroring” part of that article is about “how to do it on DreamHost”, while the other method linked above is about doing it on/via your own system. :wink:



Sorry to sound so frustrated - I really do appreciate the help. I’m just tired of my current host and I heard so many good things about Dreamhost. I want everything to work out with transferring my site.

I knew of the hosts file approach, but I did not want to constantly be changing it so that I could view my current site, and my new site as it will exist on Dreamhost. I think I will just take that approach though.

I’m still confused about the mirroring. According to the wiki article at http://wiki.dreamhost.com/DNS_-_Viewing_site_before_DNS_change - it sounds as if I’m actually mapping a URL from Dreamhost to point to my current site, which would not show me how my site looks on Dreamhost, but shows me how my current site looks though a Dreamhost domain. Sorry if that sounds confusing, but that is how it came across to me initially.

Thanks again for your help.


It does sound a little confusing, though I think I understand your confusion (I could be wrong about that). :wink:

I think what is confusing you is what the “mirroring” is actually accomplishing, or you might be missing a step.

  1. First, even though you are continuing to host your domain at your old host, make sure you have your domain added to your DreamHost account as a fully hosted domain. This is what creates the directory for the domain to live in (be served from) in your user’s directory and sets up a DreamHost DNS record for that domain. Note that this DNS record is not used by the net at large as your domain is still set up to use your existing host’s DNS record (not DreamHost’s).

  2. Once you have done that, upload your content into the directory that was created for your domain (usually yourdomainname.tld, though you may have changed it).

Now, if that directory could be “seen” by DNS, what was in that directory would be served to visitors - as that directory cannot yet be seen by DNS (because DNS is still being resolved by your existing host’s nameservers, not DreamHost’s), you can’t get at it with a url using your domain name (DNS will point the user to your existing site on the other host).

  1. What the article is telling you to do is to add a “new” something.dreamhosters.com domain to your account, and set it to “mirror” your domain (the one you set up as “fully hosted” in step one - don’t worry about DNS at this point).

Since DreamHost mirroring can only be used to mirror sites on DreamHost (maybe it helps to think of a “site” as a web accessible directory on a DreamHost server in this context), when you browse to the “something.dreamhosters.com” domain (address/url) that you set up for this purpose, the content that is displayed is taken from the directory on the DreamHost server that you set up when you added your domain.

As long as your DNS record at your registrar is still pointed to your existing host, visitors entering your domain name will see the content served from that host. This enables you to keep your site “live” over there, while making sure things are setup properly on DreamHost - you just put your content in the directory for your domain, but view it via the dreamhosters.com domain.

The reason this is particularly useful is that it makes the conversion “seamless”. When you do change the DNS to point to DreamHost’s nameservers, assuming you leave your content also available on your old host while updates are taking place, every user will see your site, whether the DNS servers they are using are updated yet or not. Those that have DNS updated will see your content served from DreamHost, and those that haven’t will see the content served from the “old” host.

Once DNS has updated across the web, and all DNS servers are resolving your domain to the “DreamHost” site, you can dump the old one. Note that, unless you delete it, you will still be able to see the content also via the dreamhosters.com address.

Maybe part of the confusion is because of the way some other host/registrars use the term mirroring - some allow you to “wrap” content from another “off system” site in an invisible frame *appearing" to “mirror” another site and call that “mirroring”.

If that kind of “mirroring” was what was taking place, you would see the “old” site being served from the “old” host", but that is not what DreamHost is doing. They are actually setting you up to have the content from DH “site” A actually served from the “domain/address” (directory on DreamHost) of DH site B.

I don’t know if that attempt at simplifying the explanation of what is happening has made it better or worse, but I am hopeful it was helpful.

The DH Wiki article 'Mirror Domain" talks about some of this, and might help make it more clear what is actually happening.

You might also take a look at some of the “older” DH documentation on this, as it states it in sightly different terms than the wiki article: