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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

      127.0.0.1 localhost


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

      Example:


      Filename: hosts

      127.0.0.1 localhost
      123.123.123.123 example.com

  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 http://example.com/ but still be able to see the site on its current web server by visiting http://www.example.com/

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 123.123.123.123 and you wish to visit that server when you type “http://example.com” into a web browser BUT still wish to still see the site as the rest of World Wide Web does when you enter “http://www.example.com” 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.

    ##

    127.0.0.1 localhost

    255.255.255.255 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.##127.0.0.1 localhost

    255.255.255.255 broadcasthost

    ::1 localhost

    fe80::1%lo0 localhost

    123.123.123.123 example.com


  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 http://example.com/ but still be able to see the site on its current web server by visiting http://www.example.com/

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