Preview WebsiteOver the last few weeks I’ve moved a number of websites to new website hosts. While that sounds like a major undertaking, it’s a pretty straightforward task.

One of the few parts of this process that can be tricky is viewing the site on the new website host before the Domain Name Servers (DNS) changes. The DNS maps websites to their location on the Internet. So how can you see a site on the new host if the DNS is pointing to the old location?

One way to preview a website before making a DNS change is by updating the hosts file on your computer. (Because this involves making a change to a key file on your computer, don’t attempt it unless you feel comfortable with the procedure.) The hosts file is like your computer’s version of the DNS. It maps domain names to IP addresses. If you change your hosts file to link the domain name to the new server’s IP address, you can see the site on the new website host. SiteGround has some great instructions on how to update the hosts file.

Sometimes just updating your hosts file isn’t enough. You may also need to clear your computer’s DNS cache.

You might also need to clear your browser’s DNS cache. Here are some handy links:

If you need help moving your site to a new host, contact us.

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