How do I view a site on your servers when the DNS points elsewhere?

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When you create a new hosting account with us, you can immediately access your website using a temporary hostname like this:

http://example.com.customers.tigertech.net/

This is the recommended way to test and review your website content on our servers, even before the nameservers have been updated.

However, customers occasionally need to test the site on our servers using the real “www.example.com” hostname, as if the nameservers had already been updated. For example, this is the only way to test an SSL certificate. It’s also needed if your site uses scripts that check the hostname and only work when accessed as http://example.com/, and not when accessed as http://example.com.customers.tigertech.net/.

It’s possible to access the site on our servers if you use a browser extension or modify your own computer's “hosts” file. Doing so will force your computer to connect to our servers for that hostname, even though the rest of the world will still connect to the correct public server.

Don’t forget to undo this after testing.

If you do what’s described on the rest of this page, be sure to undo it after you finish testing. Otherwise, your computer won’t be able to connect when your site’s IP address changes in the future.

Finding the right IP address

You first need to know the current IP address of your site on our servers.

You can use tools like “nslookup” to look up the current IP address of your site with us, such as “www.example.com.customers.tigertech.net”. You'll end up knowing something like “For now, example.com and www.example.com are on IP address 192.0.2.17 with Tiger Technologies”.

Once you know the IP address, you can force your browser to use that IP address when testing your site.

Using A Chrome Extension

If you use the Google Chrome browser, the Chrome Virtual Hosts extension can help. You’d use these settings:

VHost Domain: www.example.com or example.com (pick the one you use to access your site)
VHost IP: The IP address of your site on our servers
Enable: checked

It would look like this:

Chrome Virtual Hosts Extension

Editing the hosts file

If the browser extension doesn’t work, or if you need to modify multiple hostnames at once (because your site uses URLs at both www.example.com and example.com, for example), you can edit your computer’s hosts file. This makes all software on your computer connect to our servers for certain hostnames.

Keep these warnings in mind, though:

  • You should only edit the “hosts” file if you understand how it works and what you are doing. Entering incorrect values can cause unexpected results.
  • The file must be named “hosts” with no file extension (in particular, it must not be named “hosts.txt”).
  • You must remove your changes when you’ve finished testing. This is particularly important because the IP address of your site may change on our servers without any advance notice. If your computer continues to use the old IP address manually listed in the “hosts” file, you will not be able to reach your own website, even though everyone else can.

To make this change, you’ll need to add a line like this to your “hosts” file:

192.0.2.17 example.com www.example.com

The sections below explain how to do this:

Windows 10

  1. Click the Windows Start menu.
  2. Type Notepad but do not press enter.
  3. Right-click the “Notepad” application it found and choose Run as administrator.
  4. Open the following file (you can copy-and-paste this text into the “File name” space of the open box): %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
  5. Add the new line to the bottom of the “hosts” file.
  6. Save the file and close Notepad.

Windows 8

  1. Go to the Windows Start screen.
  2. Type Notepad but do not press enter.
  3. Right-click the “Notepad” application it found and choose Run as administrator.
  4. Open the following file (you can copy-and-paste this text into the “File Name” space of the open box): %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
  5. Add the new line to the bottom of the “hosts” file.
  6. Save the file and close Notepad.

Windows 7 or Windows Vista

  1. Click the Windows Start button.
  2. Type Notepad but do not press enter.
  3. Right-click the “Notepad” application it found and choose Run as administrator.
  4. Open the following file (you can copy-and-paste this text into the “File name” space of the open box): %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
  5. Add the new line to the bottom of the “hosts” file.
  6. Save the file and close Notepad.

Windows XP or earlier

  1. Click the Windows Start button.
  2. Choose Run.
  3. Type the following into the "Open" field of the window that pops up, then press Enter:
    notepad %systemroot%\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
  4. Add the new line to the bottom of the “hosts” file.
  5. Save the file and close Notepad.

Mac OS X

  1. Close any Web browser.
  2. Open the Terminal by choosing Applications — Utilities — Terminal.
  3. Enter this command to begin editing the hosts file (enter a password if prompted):
    sudo nano /etc/hosts
  4. Edit the “hosts” file, adding the new line to the bottom of the file.
  5. Save the file by pressing Control-o and confirm the file name.
  6. Press Control-x to exit the editor.
  7. Close the Terminal window.

Linux

Simply edit /etc/hosts with your favorite text editor as root. You do not need to do anything to flush the DNS cache, although you may need to restart all running instances of your Web browser (particularly Chrome).