How can I test or preview my website before switching DNS?

To test or preview your website before switching DNS you can make simple canges to your Host file by following the instructions below.



1.  Locate the HOSTS file on your computer. Typically it is in one of the following locations:

Windows NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista/7/8/10 - C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Windows 95/98/Me - C:\windows\hosts

2.  Open this file with a text editor such as Notepad or Wordpad (For Windows 7 and later, you will need to run Notepad as an administrator to gain access to the file. Right click the application and click "Run as Administrator")

3.  Once the file is opened, consider performing a "Save As" so you have an original copy of the file that you can restore later.  You will see two columns of information, the first containing IP addresses and the second containing host names. By default, a windows hosts file should be similar to the following: localhost

You can add additional lines to this file that will point requests for a particular domain to your new server's IP address. You will find your IP address in your new account e-mail. This needs to be replaced below where X.X.X.X is shown. localhost

4.  Save your changes and then restart any currently open browsers

5.  Once restarted you can then simply navigate to this will then load from your new account.


1.  Either by start typing Terminal on the Spotlight, or by going into Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal.

2.  Open the hosts by typing on the Terminal that you have just opened:

$ sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

Type your user password when prompted.

3. The hosts file contains some comments (lines starting with the # symbol), as well as some default hostname mappings (e.g. – localhost).

Simply append your new mappings underneath the default ones. Or edit one of the default values if you know what you are doing!
You can navigate the file using the arrow keys.

4.  When done editing the hosts file, press control-o to save the file.

Press enter on the filename prompt, and control-x to exit the editor.

5. On Leopard, you can issue a simple Terminal command to flush the DNS cache, and have your host file changes to take immediate effect:

  $ dscacheutil -flushcache

Making it easier

For the lazy among us there are some handy apps to help do all this more easily.

  • For Mac users there is an application call Gas Mask.
  • For Windows users there is HostsMan.

Obviously, these are third party websites, so use them entirely at your own risk!

  • 0 Users Found This Useful
Was this answer helpful?