The last step to go live with your website on the WP Engine platform is to update your DNS. This process takes place with your DNS host. In this article we will explain how to configure your DNS records to point to the WP Engine platform properly.
Before changing your DNS records, be sure you have taken the rest of the Going Live steps!
What is DNS?
The Domain Name System, or DNS, is like the phone book of the internet. When a user makes a request for a domain (like mycoolwebsite.com), their web browser looks up the IP address (like 123.456.78.90) to identify where to route the request for the domain.
When it’s time to “go live” with your website on WP Engine, you will need to update the DNS record to point to WP Engine. This will allow your website to load from your custom domain, instead of from your “environment.wpengine.com” domain.
How to Configure Your DNS Records
Before you set or update your DNS records, first you will need to know what value to use when configuring them. You will find this information in your WP Engine User Portal. Once logged in, navigate to the Overview page for your environment. On this page you will see entries for CNAME and IP address. These are the values you will use when configuring your DNS records.
Once you retrieve the CNAME and IP address fields, login to your DNS host. This is most often the Registrar where you purchased your domain, but not always. If you are not sure who your DNS host is, just run a search for your domain on https://whois.com/whois/.
We have made guides for several common DNS hosts to make this process easier:
- Google Domains
- Register.com (RCOM)
- Amazon Route53
If your DNS host is not in the list above, continue on to the next steps.
Determining which record to set
Before configuring your DNS records, it’s time to make a choice:
Option A (preferred): point your nameservers to Cloudflare. This will make it so you never need to update DNS again! Learn more about Cloudflare in our guide.
Option B (still okay!): point your A record to WP Engine. This will work just fine, but you will need to update your DNS records if your website is ever migrated to a new server. This method keeps your Domain and DNS management at your DNS host rather than at Cloudflare.
Option A: Point Nameservers to Cloudflare
Cloudflare is a service that helps manage your DNS. It has the added benefit of configuring CDN, SSL, and even DDoS protection on some plans. Be aware: Updating the Nameservers for your domain will affect all records associated with it, including email addresses. Be sure to work with your email host to update the records for your email as well.
Before continuing, at this point you should open a new tab and navigate to www.cloudflare.com. Here you can sign up for a free account to get started. Enter your domain name when prompted.
Then, Cloudflare will automatically look up your DNS records. Select Next and choose the plan you want (we will use the free option in this example).
From here, Cloudflare will import the settings from your DNS host for you automatically. In this screen, remove the existing A record for your domain. Then, add a CNAME record using the CNAME in the Overview page of your User Portal.
If your “www” record here is an alias of your domain, you can leave it as-is. If it points to an IP address as well, you will need to perform the above steps for this record as well.
Now you will be prompted to change your nameservers. This step will be performed at your DNS host (we are using GoDaddy in this example). Cloudflare will show you two nameservers to change–leave this tab open so you can easily copy them!
In the dashboard for your DNS host, you should be able to edit your nameservers–often this option is available from the same section where DNS records can be edited.
Change the nameservers to the ones shown in the Cloudflare pane. After doing this, click “Continue” in the Cloudflare pane. The nameserver settings may take some time to change over. After this point, the Cloudflare settings will kick in, automatically pointing your DNS to WP Engine with the CNAME record we configured earlier! To learn more about Cloudflare’s other services like CDN and SSL, head to Cloudflare Best Practices.
Option B: Point your A Record to WP Engine
If you prefer to not use Cloudflare for DNS, not to worry! You can still configure your DNS settings right through your DNS host’s dashboard. Navigate in your DNS provider’s dashboard to a page where you can manage DNS records. Below is an example of the “DNS” page in GoDaddy:
If your DNS host shows an entry for “@” in the list, this is the record for your root domain (your domain with nothing in front of it, like “domain.com”). Click to edit this record, and change the “Value” to the IP address showing on the Overview page in your WP Engine User Portal.
Your DNS host may also offer the option to edit the “TTL” for your domain here. TTL is the time for the change to take effect. 600 seconds (10 minutes) is usually the fastest option available.
Now check the “www” record in the list–this is the entry for the “www” version of your domain (like “www.domain.com”). If it points to “@” then no further changes are needed. If it points to a CNAME or IP address other than the ones shown on your Overview page in the WP Engine User Portal, make sure to edit them to the proper entry.
After this step, all that’s left to do is wait for propagation! In the meantime, be sure you have also followed the rest of the steps in our Going Live guide.