Building New Site before Changing the Nameservers?

by TinkBD
12 replies
  • WEB DESIGN
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OK guys, I need some outside of the box thinking here... (fingers crossed, tightly)

I have a client with a fully functioning ecommerce site (selling physical product) on a hosting acct. The site was built by someone else (I think related to the current host)

It uses funky proprietary software and she has little control over the content. She just adds pics and product descriptions.

We decided to move her to HostGator and set her up with WP.

I thought we would be able to rebuild the new WP site on HG and THEN, after it was built, just change the name serves and have a site!

I can access the cpanel using the IP and I can access the HG site to FTP (again using the IP) but I just discovered that I can't access the WP installations using a browser because of those darn nameserver settings. Talked to nice guy at HG and they could offer no solutions.

My next appt with client is Wed and I would REALLY like to have a solution of some sort... LOL

What are my options here?

Is installing XAMPP and WP on my computer an option? Would I be able to build the entire new site and then export it up to HG? Could I use something like WPCyteclone to clone it from my computer up to HG?

Or is there another option?

Thanks,

Tink
#building #changing #nameservers #site
  • Profile picture of the author theIMgeek
    This gets a little but geeky, but this is what I would do...

    Set up the new HG site using a subdomain, like new.mydomain.com. You would be able to view and edit the Wordpress site as normal, and then just change the domain to www.mydomain.com before making the official move.

    However, to split a sub-domain off to a seperate host you would need to modify the DNS records of the main domain. (most likely located with the old host)

    It may be easier to use a temporary "junk" domain with your HostGator account. Just park it on top of the main domain.

    In order to change the domain used by Wordpress (without re-installing) you have to modify a couple records in the database. There are at least two things in the wp_options table that need changing. ('siteurl' and 'home')

    Some plugins may need some configuration changes as well.

    Hopefully that helps. Let me know if you need further clarification.

    -Ryan
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    • Profile picture of the author TinkBD
      Hi Ryan - Thanks for the suggestions. I understood what you were saying, but not in detail! LOL

      However, I think I have another work around option (which is actually very similar to your welcome solution!)...

      I'll build the site elsewhere and then clone it all, change the nameservers to HG, and upload it to the HG site...

      I think that WPCyteclone will handle it, after looking at a couple of sites where I have used it. I'll test further, of course. If I don't have a Dev license for WPCyteclone by then, I'll have the client buy a copy. ;-)

      UPDATE - I just ran a test and for some reason, it looks like WPCyteclone what I need it to do. it could be my error, but I think I'll try one of the alternatives offered by you guys here!

      Thank you for your help... and I may be back with more questions.

      All in all, I at least feel like I have several options... and in a worst case scenario, I did a product count and I think I could get the new site running in a minimum of down time if I imported the products from a CSV file.

      OK... I am feeling MUCH better about this! Whew!

      Thanks for the help!

      Tink
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  • Profile picture of the author StrikeNet
    You should be able to use 192.168.1.1/~username to access the site. (replace 192.168.1.1 with the IP and username with the hostgator username for the account)
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    • Profile picture of the author TinkBD
      Originally Posted by StrikeNet View Post

      You should be able to use 192.168.1.1/~username to access the site. (replace 192.168.1.1 with the IP and username with the hostgator username for the account)
      Hi SN -

      I tried this. I can see the outside of the site (and thank you for that *smile*) but when I tried to add the wp-admin to get into the backend, it catapulted me to the current, soon to be old, site...

      Thank you for the info. If nothing else, I am learning... a LOT! LOL

      All y'all rock! ;-)

      Tink
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      • Profile picture of the author theIMgeek
        Originally Posted by TinkBD View Post

        I tried this. I can see the outside of the site (and thank you for that *smile*) but when I tried to add the wp-admin to get into the backend, it catapulted me to the current, soon to be old, site...
        That would be caused by setting up wordpress and entering the actual domain name as the site URL. Wordpress is redirecting to where it thinks it is supposed to be.

        If you were to install Wordpress and enter 192.168.1.1/~username/ as the home URL, then you should be able to work on the new site.

        As I mentioned earlier, these settings would have to be changed before transferring the domain.

        -Ryan
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        • Profile picture of the author SteveJohnson
          Originally Posted by theIMgeek View Post

          That would be caused by setting up wordpress and entering the actual domain name as the site URL. Wordpress is redirecting to where it thinks it is supposed to be.

          If you were to install Wordpress and enter 192.168.1.1/~username/ as the home URL, then you should be able to work on the new site.

          As I mentioned earlier, these settings would have to be changed before transferring the domain.

          -Ryan
          Not only would the settings have to be changed, she'd have to change every instance of the domain name in the database.

          The problem with THAT is that the domain can be stored in a couple of places within a serialized array. Doing a simple find/replace in the db would result in unrecoverable errors.
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      • Profile picture of the author SteveJohnson
        Originally Posted by TinkBD View Post

        Hi SN -

        I tried this. I can see the outside of the site (and thank you for that *smile*) but when I tried to add the wp-admin to get into the backend, it catapulted me to the current, soon to be old, site...

        Thank you for the info. If nothing else, I am learning... a LOT! LOL

        All y'all rock! ;-)

        Tink
        That's probably caused from mismatching of the domain name between the HOSTS file and the WordPress installation. WordPress forces 'www' or non-www depending on how you have it set up in the General Settings page. WP does several redirects in the login process, and it builds the URLs from that setting.
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  • Profile picture of the author SteveJohnson
    Originally Posted by TinkBD View Post

    OK guys, I need some outside of the box thinking here... (fingers crossed, tightly)

    ...

    I thought we would be able to rebuild the new WP site on HG and THEN, after it was built, just change the name serves and have a site!
    You can.

    I can access the cpanel using the IP and I can access the HG site to FTP (again using the IP) but I just discovered that I can't access the WP installations using a browser because of those darn nameserver settings. Talked to nice guy at HG and they could offer no solutions.
    You can get around the nameserver issue when you're developing a site. The nice guy at HG is a server geek, not a web geek

    What are my options here?
    A relatively easy option, actually.

    Is installing XAMPP and WP on my computer an option? Would I be able to build the entire new site and then export it up to HG? Could I use something like WPCyteclone to clone it from my computer up to HG?
    I suppose it could be an option, if you want to spend the next few days pulling your hair out.

    Or is there another option?
    Sure there is. At least there is if you're on a Windows-based PC (there probably is a way to do this with a Mac too, but I'm not a Mac person).

    You open your HOSTS file - usually in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\ - with Notepad.

    Open the cPanel for the client's hosting account, look down in the left sidebar and find IP Address in the Account Information section. Highlight and copy to your clipboard.

    Back in Notepad, go to the end of the HOSTS file, paste the IP address. Hit the spacebar a couple of times, then type your client's domain name. You can choose to use or not use 'www.' in front.

    Code:
    127.0.0.1  (www.)domain-name.com
    Save the HOSTS file.

    In your browser, enter the domain name (exactly as you have in the HOSTS file, with or without www). Hit enter.

    Pop! The site as you have it set up on HG will magically appear. You can develop to your heart's content without having to move anything when you're done.

    If you want your client to be able to see it too, have them do the same thing.

    One tiny hassle with this, especially from the owner's point of view - as long as that entry is in you or the owner's HOSTS file, you won't be able to see the actual live, old site.

    To revert back, open the HOSTS file again, remove the line you entered.

    Click on Start, then Run. In the box, type 'cmd' or 'command'. This will open a Windows command prompt box. At the prompt, type
    Code:
    ipconfig /flushdns
    and hit Enter. You'll get the message that the DNS resolver cache was successfully flushed. Type 'exit' at the prompt, hit Enter. The box will close. You're now back to normal DNS lookup.

    Thanks,

    Tink
    You're welcome
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  • Profile picture of the author SteveJohnson
    The reason the above ^^^^ works:

    When you request a web page in your browser, it has to look up the IP address of the site. It first looks in the local DNS cache. If the address isn't there, it asks your ISP. If the ISP doesn't have it, it searches further, maybe even ending up at one of the main DNS machines scattered across the interwebs.

    When you put an IP address in your HOSTS file, you're short-circuiting the lookup process by giving Windows the IP address of the HG server. The first thing Windows does when doing a DNS search is to look in that file. If there's an entry there, that's where it asks for the site. HG says, "OK, here you go."
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    • Profile picture of the author TinkBD
      Originally Posted by SteveJohnson View Post

      The reason the above ^^^^ works:

      When you request a web page in your browser, it has to look up the IP address of the site. It first looks in the local DNS cache. If the address isn't there, it asks your ISP. If the ISP doesn't have it, it searches further, maybe even ending up at one of the main DNS machines scattered across the interwebs.

      When you put an IP address in your HOSTS file, you're short-circuiting the lookup process by giving Windows the IP address of the HG server. The first thing Windows does when doing a DNS search is to look in that file. If there's an entry there, that's where it asks for the site. HG says, "OK, here you go."
      LOL Thanks for this info, Steve! I'll give it a try tomorrow and see if I can get it to work. I might be back with more questions, just to warn you! ;-)

      My back up plan now is to build the site elsewhere and then move it after changing the nameservers... I have heretofore avoided having to move a WP site, but maybe it is time I learned how to do it!

      Thank you for taking the time to help me. I am going to print a hard copy so I can have it in hand...

      Tink
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      • Profile picture of the author SteveJohnson
        Originally Posted by TinkBD View Post

        LOL Thanks for this info, Steve! I'll give it a try tomorrow and see if I can get it to work. I might be back with more questions, just to warn you! ;-)

        My back up plan now is to build the site elsewhere and then move it after changing the nameservers... I have heretofore avoided having to move a WP site, but maybe it is time I learned how to do it!

        Thank you for taking the time to help me. I am going to print a hard copy so I can have it in hand...

        Tink
        Moving a WP site is a major PITA. You have make sure all the images are moved, change all of the domain references in the database, etc.

        Make sure you own a wig to cover up the bald patches you'll have

        What I outlined looks complicated, but it really isn't. It's how I do all of my client sites - and when time is money, it's a lot easier to walk a client through changing a hosts file than it is to bodily move a site to another server.
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        • Profile picture of the author TinkBD
          Originally Posted by SteveJohnson View Post

          Moving a WP site is a major PITA. You have make sure all the images are moved, change all of the domain references in the database, etc.

          Make sure you own a wig to cover up the bald patches you'll have
          Not good! I just got a perm and I want to keep it for a while! LOLOL


          What I outlined looks complicated, but it really isn't. It's how I do all of my client sites - and when time is money, it's a lot easier to walk a client through changing a hosts file than it is to bodily move a site to another server.
          OK... This is on tomorrow's To Do list, when I have time to look it over, calmly! ;-)

          Thank you!

          Tink
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