How can I test or preview my website before switching DNS?


  1. Locate the HOSTS file on your computer. Typically it is in one of the following locations:
    • Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7 – C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
    • Windows 95/98/Me – C:\windows\hosts
  2. Open this file with a text editor such as Notepad or Wordpad.
    • Right-click on Notepad and select the option to Run as Administrator – otherwise you may not be able to open this file.Then, open the file. Consider performing a “Save As” so you have an original copy of the file that you can restore later. You will see two columns of information, the first containing IP addresses and the second containing host names. By default, a windows hosts file should be similar to the following:
      (In Windows 7 Press and hold Ctrl+Shift while opening the Notepad/Wordpad).

    • Filename: hosts localhost

      You can add additional lines to this file that will point requests for a particular domain to your new server’s IP address.


      Filename: hosts localhost

  3. Save your changes (be sure to save as a host file, not as a text file).
    Windows wants to save it as text (.txt) so you need to

    1. Change save as type to all files and then
    2. Click on host  (the original file).
  4. Restart any currently open browsers.
  5. You may also want to flush your DNS cache. In Windows XP, go to Start, and then Run, then type “cmd” and hit enter.
    Type the following:ipconfig /flushdns
  6. In your web browser you should see your site as it appears on your testing server when typing but still be able to see the site on its current web server by visiting

How to Edit Your Hosts File on an Apple Macintosh Using Mac OSX

Let us assume for this example your testing server has an IP address and you wish to visit that server when you type “” into a web browser BUT still wish to still see the site as the rest of World Wide Web does when you enter “” into your browser instead.

  1. Open Terminal, which is in Applications, then the Utilities folder. To do this go to the Finder (Desktop) and from the main main bar at the top of the screen choose “Go” and then “Utilities”. Find the Terminal application icon and double click.
  2. You may want to first make a backup copy of your existing hosts file:
    sudo cp /private/etc/hosts /private/etc/hosts-orig

    Enter your user password at the prompt.Then type the following command to edit your hosts file:

    sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

    Enter your user password at the prompt if asked.

  3. You will see a file with contents similar to the following:

    Filename: hosts


    # Host Database


    # localhost is used to configure the loopback interface

    # when the system is booting. Do not change this entry.

    ## localhost broadcasthost

    ::1 localhost

    fe80::1%lo0 localhost

    Using the arrow keys on your keyboard, navigate around this file an add your domain and IP address to the bottom of the file. For example:

    Filename: hosts

    ### Host Database## localhost is used to configure the loopback interface# when the system is booting. Do not change this entry.## localhost broadcasthost

    ::1 localhost

    fe80::1%lo0 localhost

  4. When done editing the hosts file, press the keyboard combination Control+O to save the file.
    Then press the Enter on the filename prompt to confirm the Save operation. Finally press the keyboard combination Control-X to exit the editor.You may also need to grant yourself sudo priveleges, if you got a permission error in Step 2. In your “Help” menu, search for “root” and select the instructions for “Enabling the root user.” Follow those instructions.
  5. Restart any currently open browsers. You may also want to flush your DNS cache.
    Type the following command into your Terminal window:dscacheutil -flushcache
  6. In your web browser you should see your site as it appears on your testing server when typing but still be able to see the site on its current web server by visiting

Hotlink protection: How-To prevent people from stealing your files


Create an .htaccess file in your public_html directory with the following code:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www.)?*$ [NC]
RewriteRule .(gif|jpg)$ – [F]

Where is your domain.


Why do I need an owned IP for my own SSL certificate?

The reason you must have your own dedicated IP address when you want to use your own SSL certificate (when you don’t want the server wide shared certificate) is because of the way SSL and Apache (httpd) works.

For name based web-hosting (when many domains are on one IP) the web browser will pass the name of the domain being requested inside the httpd headers along with the request.  This way, Apache knows which domain you are trying to access even though there are many domains on that one IP address.

When you do the same thing through an SSL connection, the connection has to be made *before* the request can be sent.  In this connection, the certificate is passed.  The only information that Apache knows before the request is made is which IP the connection is being made to.  It has to be able to know which certificate to send before the request is made, thus you can’t use multiple certificates on the same IP (if you do, Apache will use the first certificate listed which DA will always set to the server shared certificate for shared IPs).

If you want to use your own certificate, it must be the first certificate listed.  This wouldn’t work for a shared IP, because there would multiple domain wanting this status, and the first certificate would the one shown.  For this reason the shared certificate is always used on a shared IP.  For your certificate, DA will acknowledge the IP as being ‘owned’ and will remove the server shared certificate as the first cert to be loaded, thus your certificate will be loaded instead.

How to forward a website to another url

There are several ways to accomplish this task, but the simplest to understand is to use php.

To do this, you need to create the page that will do the forwarding.  This can be any page, as long as it ends in “.php”.  If you are trying to redirect a domain, you’d create “index.php” inside the public_html directory.

Once you decide which page you will use, then create the file and enter the following text:


Where is the location that you want the page to forward to.  You can use local values, ie: /page.html, or full urls as in the above example (http://..etc.)

Another way to accomplish this is to use an .htaccess file in the public_html directory.  Sample contents:

Redirect 301 /

Redirect to

If you want to force clients to use, you can redirect them from to the www version with an .htaccess file.

In your public_html folder, create a file called .htaccess and add the code:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain\.com
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [R=permanent]

where you’d need to replace domain\.com and with your actual domain name.  Note the \ character must be present to escapce the . character.

Other versions of the same thing do a negation check to see if the domain is not, but that doesn’t work if you have subdomains.. hence the need for the explicit check for the value we don’t want.

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