Use own domain and DNS


I already own a domain name and do my DNS hosting with Amazon’s Route 53.

How do I simply host a subdomain of that domain name with dreamhost without having to transfer my domain registration or DNS hosting over to dreamhost?


Basic steps are:

  • add the sub-domain as “fully hosted” on the ‘manage domains’ page in the panel (note you used to have to add the domain there first to be able to add a sub-domain, but I’m 99% sure that I’ve seen that isn’t true anymore).

  • Wait until the clock icon disappears next to the sub-domain name when you refresh the manage domains page. (about 10-20 minutes)

  • click the DNS link right under the sub-domain name on the ‘manage domains’ page. One the page that loads scroll down to the non-editable entries and look for the very first line in that table which will be an A-record with an IP address. Copy or write dwon that IP

  • Log in to your domains DNS and add a sub-domain A-record with that same IP address.

This of course will break if the IP should ever change (rare, but possible), and you will need to realize what happaned (the error you will see will be bad_httpd_conf) and manually update your DNS record.

If you want to know how to do without the possible breakage you can use a CNAME record, but you will also need a domain name that has dreamhost DNS control, and a dedicated IP (extra charge)… let me know if you need instructions for that.


First step, in all cases, is to add the domain and subdomain to DreamHost and add hosting to the subdomain. From there, there’s a few possible paths forward:

[] Probably the cleanest solution would be to subdelegate the domain to our nameservers (by creating NS records for the subdomain on Route 53, pointing to our three nameservers). This would route lookups for the subdomain straight to our nameservers, and would additionally allow you to create sub-subdomains which would also be routed to our nameservers.
] Another option would be to create a mirror of the subdomain on a subdomain, and create a CNAME record pointing from the subdomain to the mirror. The mirror would share the same IP address as the “real” subdomain, so it’ll work just as though you had the address set up directly. (The sole purpose of the mirror is to get a copy of the IP address up on a publicly accessible domain.)
[*] If you really want to avoid using our nameservers, you could create an A record with the IP address of the subdomain (which you can look up by clicking the “DNS” link for the subdomain). However, this address may change if we shuffle things around internally, so, unlike the other two options, this one would require some occasional maintenance.


I like your first approach best. I went ahead and setup the NS delegation but I was unable to set up hosting on my subdomain. I received the following error:
You can’t add that domain: you must add the parent domain .com to your account before adding a subdomain to it

Any idea how to work around that? Adding my root domain is not an option.

I’d also rather not use an A record since it won’t always just work.


Are you certain it isn’t an option? You don’t have to actually host your root domain with us at all; you just have to add it to your account as a placeholder before the panel will let you add a subdomain.

If there’s some unusual reason why this isn’t possible, let me know the domain (and the reasons) privately and I can set things up to not require it.


I see. Should I add it as fully hosted?


Doesn’t need to be fully hosted (although it won’t hurt anything to have it set that way). Adding it as “DNS-only” will suffice.


Awesome. I’ve got it set up now. Thanks so much for your help!