Recently, the excellent cult film blog Goregirl’s Dungeon asked me to help configure the site’s DNS. Before getting into the why-fors of the situation, just want to first recommend that if you’re into the sickening and the strange, then Goregirl’s Dungeon is an absolute must-read site.
Anyway, the reason the issue came up is that Goregirl originally was hosting her site as a free WordPress blog at WordPress.com, which meant that her URL read as “http://goregirlsdungeon.wordpress.com.”
Lots of people, though, such as Goregirl, get tired of the “.wordpress.com” extension and want to move to a clean, or “dedicated,” URL, such as in this case “http://goregirlsdungeon.com/.”
This sounds like an easy proposition: Just acquire the correct URL and WordPress will make sure visitors to the old “.wordpress.com” extension get forwarded to the new, clean “.com” extension. However, digging into the details of how that forwarding process happens, unleashes the mystery of how the Internet actually works, which can sound like a confusing and confounding mess. The truth of the matter, though, is that it all just sounds way more complicated than it is in reality.
Moving URLs in this manner will most likely involve making sure a website’s DNS settings are correct. While it’s not usually necessary for a website owner to know their site’s DNS settings, if you do own a website, know this: Your website has a DNS setting.
But what, pray tell, is DNS? Well, it’s an acroynym for Domain Name Services and it has been described around the Internet as the Internet’s “phone book.” However, there will probably come a day when people won’t know what a phone book is — thanks to the Internet! — so let’s think about DNS in a different way.
A website is really just a bunch of files sitting on a web server somewhere that are called upon by a web browser that then arranges and configures those files into website “pages.” So, what’s a web server? I’m not quite sure how accurate it is to say the following, but I always think of a web server as like a big computer hard drive that does nothing but host and deliver website files.
So that a web browser knows which web server is hosting the files it needs to display a web site, that web server needs to have a name. That, basically, is what DNS is for: To know and recognize the name of the web server on which your web site’s files are sitting, aka Domain Name Services.
For the most part, knowing your site’s DNS isn’t terribly important to know or care about. But, sometimes, especially in cases where a website owner is changing their URL from one company to the next, then it becomes extremely important. In these cases, if the DNS is off, then web browsers are going to look at a web server with a different name to find a site’s files — and not find them!
In Goregirl’s Dungeon’s case, the site wanted to keep their files still hosted with WordPress.com — which has their own DNS — but purchased the dedicated URL “http://goregirlsdungeon.com/” from another website registration company — which has their own DNS. My job then was to make sure the other company knew the name of the WordPress web servers, i.e. WordPress.com’s DNS, on which the files to create Goregirl’s Dungeon was sitting.
Luckily, WordPress knows this happens a lot, so they give out their web server DNS names out publicly. Those DNS names, if you’re curious are: NS1.WORDPRESS.COM, NS2.WORDPRESS.COM and NS3.WORDPRESS.COM. (Most DNS names, no matter the hosting company, look very similar to this.)
Also fairly is easy is the actual changing of DNS information with a website registration company. What’s not always so easy is looking for where that company has placed a website’s DNS settings. But, once the DNS area is found, it’s usually just a matter of swapping whatever data the registration company has defaulted to, to the new DNS info. And, again, in WordPress’s case, that info is: NS1.WORDPRESS.COM, NS2.WORDPRESS.COM and NS3.WORDPRESS.COM.
So, if you’re having DNS problems of your own, hopefully you’ve found this article helpful. But, if like Goregirl’s Dungeon, you’d like some help straightening your DNS issues out, I’m available and unbelievably affordable.