Manually Point DNS to WP Engine

The most important step to “go live” on a WP Engine site is to update DNS. This will direct traffic from the domain host to a WP Engine website. This process starts at the DNS provider, which is most often where the domain was bought.

The preferred method when pointing DNS to WP Engine is CNAME flattening, as it is the most scalable solution. However CNAME, A, ANAME, and ALIAS records are all supported when pointing DNS. While domain masking is not supported directly on WP Engine, this configuration may still be set up from your DNS host.

The following video shows how to point a domain to WP Engine using CNAME flattening.

NOTE

This video details steps using CNAME flattening. Many DNS hosts do not support this configuration. Confirm with your DNS host before proceeding.

Before Pointing DNS

Before pointing DNS to WP Engine be sure to review the following steps to ensure the process is completed as smoothly as possible.

Required Steps:

  1. Add the domain to the User Portal. Learn how to add a domain here.
  2. Update the Site URL in WordPress. Learn how to update ​the domain in WordPress here.

Optional Steps:

  1. If the domain is live, reduce downtime by optionally pre-verifying domain ownership. Learn more about pre-verification here.
  2. All DNS changes will cause some amount of downtime while changes propagate. If the domain is live, minimize traffic disruption by selecting a time during low traffic in which to make DNS changes.
  3. If you’ve purchased Global Edge Security (GES), enable the network before pointing DNS. Learn how to update a domain’s network to GES.

DNS Record Values

The CNAME and IP address values are displayed in the DNS Details section during the initial Add Domain process. To access the Add Domain workflow again and view DNS details for a domain that has not yet been pointed:

  1. Log in to the WP Engine User Portal
  2. Select the environment name
  3. Click Domains in the secondary menu
  4. Expand the domain name’s Status dropdown
  5. Click Go to point DNS page
  1. Two options to point DNS will display:
    • Option 1: Automatically – If available, log in to the domain provider to point DNS automatically. Learn more about Domain Connect here.
    • Option 2: Manually – If Domain Connect is not available, or not needed, point DNS to WP Engine manually. Learn how to manually point DNS to WP Engine by continuing with the guide below.

To view DNS details after a domain has been added to the User Portal, expand the three dot menu icon to the right, then select View DNS Details.

NOTE

Take note of which network name is displayed at the top of the DNS Details window. Learn how to switch the domain to Global Edge Security here or how to update to the advanced network here.

If you need additional assistance configuring DNS records, we recommend contacting your DNS provider directly and supplying your WP Engine DNS record values. As DNS is managed third-party to WP Engine, our techs cannot access a DNS provider’s dashboard on your behalf.


Point Apex Domain

The apex domain is the topmost and bare level of a domain. Also called the “root” or “non-www” domain, the apex domain does not include any additional prefixes (called “subdomains”), like “www”. For example, wpengine.com is an apex domain, and www.wpengine.com is not an apex domain. Additionally, when creating DNS records, some hosts may interchangeably indicate the apex domain with the @ symbol or the bare domain name (EX: yourdomain.com).

In this guide are the two methods WP Engine recommends using to point the apex domain to our platform: CNAME flattening and A Records.

If you are only pointing a subdomain (EX: blog.domain.com), skip to the Point Subdomain section below.

NOTE

CNAME flattening is required for websites hosted on AWS.

CNAME Flattening

CNAME flattening is when the apex domain is pointed using a CNAME record. Pointing to a CNAME record allows DNS to fluidly update should the site be migrated to another WP Engine server later.

DNS providers may vary in their ability to support CNAME flattening. It’s important to check with your DNS provider before configuring a CNAME record for the apex domain. Most often, WP Engine recommends pointing nameservers from the domain registrar to Cloudflare where CNAME flattening can be configured easily. (Cloudflare’s free account type works great!) The following steps are shown in Cloudflare.

  1. Log in to your DNS provider’s dashboard and locate the area to manage DNS records.
  2. Delete existing A record for the apex domain:
    • This record will be named yourdomain.com or @ and will be pointed to an IP address. For example:
  1. Add CNAME record for the apex domain:
    • Type: CNAME
    • Name: @ or yourdomain.com
    • Target/Content/Points to: Enter your WP Engine CNAME
    • Save
    • Correctly pointed CNAME apex record will look like the following (the exact record content may vary from this image):
  1. Next, point to the “www” record. (Skip to next section)

NOTE

If your site is currently live, the WP Engine DNS records can be configured in Cloudflare before updating nameservers, to help minimize downtime. Be sure to copy any additional records that may be necessary for functions such as email.


A Records

A records are also supported on WP Engine to point the apex domain, however static IP addresses are subject to change for security purposes. This means DNS may need to be updated again later. WP Engine will notify you if your site’s IP address changes, as well as provide a brief period of traffic forwarding from the old IPs to help minimize downtime. It’s important to update your IP as soon as possible if changed to ensure proper site performance. 

The A record method points the apex domain using two different A records to two different IP addresses. Pointing the apex domain to two separate IP addresses ensures the domain can take full advantage of the cloud load balancing that our high-performance networks provide.

NOTE

If required, a single IP for the legacy network can be provided temporarily by contacting Support. However, this is not recommended as the legacy network will reach end-of-life in the future.

  1. Log in to your DNS provider’s dashboard and locate the area to manage DNS records.
  2. Configure the first A record:
    • If there is an existing A record for the apex domain (indicated by @ or yourdomain.com):
    • If there is no A record for the apex domain (indicated @ or yourdomain.com):
      • Type: A
      • Name: @ or yourdomain.com
      • Target/Content/Points to: Enter the first WP Engine IP address
      • Save
    • For example (exact record value may vary):
  1. Add the second A record:
    • Type: A
    • Name: @ or yourdomain.com
    • Target/Content/Points to: Enter the second WP Engine IP address
    • Save
  2. Two correctly configured apex domain A records will look like the following (exact record content may vary):
  1. Next, point to the “www” record. (Skip to this section)

Point “www” Record

The “www” record is considered a subdomain, and should therefore be pointed to WP Engine with a CNAME record.

  1. Log in to the DNS provider’s dashboard and locate the area to view and manage DNS records.
  2. Point the “www” record:
    • If the “www” record exists and it points to @ or yourdomain.com, then no further changes are needed.
  • If the “www” record exists and it points to anything other than @ or yourdomain.com:
    • Delete the record and add a new “www” record in the next option.
  • If the “www” record does not exist, add a new record:
    • Type: CNAME
    • Name: www
    • Value/Content/Points to: @ or yourdomain.com
    • Save
  • A correctly pointed “www” record will look like the following (the exact record value may vary):

Learn what to do after pointing DNS.


Point Subdomain

Subdomains, such as blog.domain.com or shop.domain.com, should be pointed to WP Engine with a CNAME record.

In this example, the subdomain being pointed is blog.domain.com. However, be sure to enter the subdomain you intend to point where “blog” is shown.

  1. Log in to the DNS provider’s dashboard and locate the area to view and manage DNS records.
  1. Point the subdomain record:
  • If a record already exists named “blog” (or your subdomain):
  • To add a subdomain record:
    • Type: CNAME
    • Name: Enter your subdomain (EX: “store”, “shop”, etc.)
    • Target/Content/Points to: Enter your WP Engine CNAME
    • Save
  1. A correctly pointed subdomain will look like the following (the exact value may vary):

Learn what to do after pointing DNS.


After Pointing DNS

After updating DNS it will begin to propagate the change throughout the internet and begin sending traffic to your WP Engine website. Propagation can be tracked on a site such as WhatsMyDNS.net. Once propagation has completed, the site is officially “live” on WP Engine and any visitor to the domain will direct to your WP Engine website.

To refresh the DNS status shown in the WP Engine User Portal, expand the three dot menu next to the domain and click Refresh Status.

Once DNS has been verified as pointing to the advanced network or Global Edge Security, Cloudflare’s network SSL and CDN will enable automatically. HTTPS will be forced on all pages automatically and no additional SSL needs to be added be added.

If additional SSL is desired (like Let’s Encrypt or a third-party certificate) this can be managed on the “SSL” page instead. Learn more about SSL here.

NOTE

At this point, we recommend testing the site to confirm pages are working as intended! If you experience issues at any point during this process, please reach out to our Support team, 24x7x265.


NEXT STEP: Learn how to add an SSL and secure all pages over HTTPS

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