What is DNS?
In short, it’s the system used to point your domain name to a server. Domain Name System (DNS) is a database system that translates a domain name into an IP address. In the early days of the Internet, all websites were accessible by typing in the IP address for that particular site. DNS handles translating a domain name into its corresponding IP; this way, we don’t have to memorize IP addresses. It’s some pretty cool stuff!
Where do I set up my DNS?
Worth mentioning first is that WP Engine does not have nameservers, and therefore cannot host the DNS records for your domain name. You’ll need to configure your DNS records wherever your nameservers are pointed to. Nameservers are set at the ‘registrar’ level, and this is typically where the DNS records are held. Your ‘registrar’ is the company that you purchased your domain name from. Many registrars will host DNS for domains that you purchase from them, so when you first register a domain name, it will usually be set to use the registrar’s default nameservers. If you are not sure where your domain’s DNS is hosted, visit your registrar’s help area or contact their support to check where your nameservers are, and how to configure DNS with them.
Please note that there are host providers that own the nameservers, such as BlueHost, and because of this you will need to setup your nameservers elsewhere. Your current host can help you determine how to move your nameservers.
Configuring Your DNS
It’s important that you do not configure DNS for your domain to point to WP Engine until you are truly ready for your site to be live on our servers. You can always use the ‘account_name.wpengine.com’ to test your site during the migration/development process; or, you can test a DNS change by using a Host File Edit to make your local computer see your domain as if it were already pointed to WP Engine.
Once you’ve configured your DNS you may use the Launch Phase within the Migration Checklist to verify that your DNS has been pointed to us; which you may find in your User Portal.
If your site is not ready to go Live yet from our servers (remember, you can test your site here before modifying its DNS by using the ‘account_name.wpengine.com’ URL), do not follow the instructions below just yet! Instead, contact our support team by creating a ticket or help with troubleshooting.
Once you’re ready, there are two options to go Live with your site under your own domain name; you can either create an A record that points your domain name to the IP address associated with your server, OR you can create a CNAME that points your site to the account name for your site. Again, your DNS host (where your nameservers point to) will be able to assist with the actual creation of the A or CNAME records, but you may need help finding the IP address (for the A record) or the hostname (CNAME record). Never fear, we have articles to assist you in finding this information:
If you are hosting your DNS with the following companies, we conveniently link to them for you:
REMEMBER: The ‘www’ portion of a domain is technically a subdomain, so be sure to also create a DNS record for www.your_domain.com. Again, your DNS host can help with this one.
Setting up a Subdomain
If your site is going to be on a subdomain, you should set up a CNAME Record which points the subdomain to your WP Engine hostname. So, for example, you might point the “shop” or “blog” subdomain back to “account_name.wpengine.com”. This method, rather than using the IP address, is recommended because it allows us to change your IP address without having to coordinate with you to change your DNS.
REMEMBER: DNS changes can take 24 to 72 hours to propagate around the entire Internet. This is due to the DNS system and not anything related to WP Engine.
After pointing your DNS, there are a couple more steps to ensure that you are live on your domain name. Please follow the instructions on this article to complete the process: Going Live
Side Note: There is a very rare bug where you may have some email deliverability issues if you point your root domain via a CNAME to your site. While we prefer pointing your domain using a CNAME, the resolution to this issue is simply to point your domain with an A Record instead.