WordPress and GoDaddy

WordPress and Preview DNS

As many of you know, I vowed to not make this blog exclusively about technical matters and in the near future I will definitely start presenting information about my artwork and watercolor painting techniques. However, before I begin integrating that information, there are some important things I have learned about WordPress when it comes to using GoDaddy as the platform’s host. Since this is information I desperately wish I would have known before I began, I definitely want to share it in order to save others from the trials and tribulations I suffered during the course of my website redesign.

One of the primary reasons I chose GoDaddy as my new website’s host, was because I already had domain names for several different websites through them and they provided a very simple way to install the WordPress platform. The GoDaddy hosting activation and initial WordPress installation went without a single issue. My problems, however, began once I made the decision to utilize GoDaddy’s Preview DNS mode.

It seemed like a great idea. The GoDaddy Preview DNS mode allows one to build a website in a temporary environment that isn’t seen by the public until it is officially published and the domain name is switched to point to the new permanent location for the site. This enables an existing eCommerce website to remain fully operational until the instant a webmaster deems their new website is complete. The instant change creates a smooth transition for customers and the web designer has plenty of time to experiment with the new design before its unveiling. Unfortunately, there are no warnings that the Preview DNS feature doesn’t work well with a WordPress installation.

Luckily, the first day I installed WordPress and began working with it in the Preview DNS mode, I only had time to explore and set up a couple pages. The reason I say this was lucky is because the next day I was completely unable to access any of the WordPress administration screens. Since I had no previous experience with WordPress or GoDaddy hosting, I was completely confused and had no idea why there was a problem or what to do about it. I did some Internet searching and the only solutions I discovered were to reinstall WordPress. I searched for reasons for the occurrence and all I really found was that GoDaddy blames WordPress and WordPress blames GoDaddy. What it really boils down to, however, is that when a person is using the GoDaddy Preview DNS mode, the WordPress site is really located in the Preview DNS domain and all WordPress references utilize the Preview DNS URLs. Because of this, attempts to access the administration screen from within the GoDaddy hosting menu fail since it is referencing the permanent domain location and not the temporary one. At the time, however, I had no clue why it wasn’t working. I resorted to reinstalling WordPress and beginning again. Foolishly, I decided to continue to use the GoDaddy Preview DNS mode. I had no idea that the Preview DNS mode was what was actually causing the problems.

After the second WordPress installation, I proceeded to rebuild all the pages I had created and sparingly experimented with the portfolio until I knew I was going to be able to actually use WordPress and the theme I had chosen to accomplish the website look and functionality that I was expecting.

I had assumed that the previous administration screen problem that I had run across was caused by some sort of GoDaddy time limits or updates so I decided to go ahead and publish the site even though I only had 4 images, the favicon, and logo in place. My thinking was that I would just work really quickly and get most of the images in place over the next couple days. Although this wasn’t the ideal Preview DNS site construction method I was looking for, I figured this was the safest way and would possibly eliminate the aforementioned administration screen log-in issue.

It didn’t take long to populate the portfolio with my images and after a couple days of being able to correctly log in to the administration screen of WordPress, I was convinced that all was well. About 2 week later, however, I discovered another issue. Specifically, the 4 first-loaded images, favicon, and logo for my site had completely disappeared. Everything else was completely functional but those images were missing. After some investigation, I discovered that the URLs which referenced those particular images were pointing to the Preview DNS site. It turns out that WordPress hard references the URLs of all images and GoDaddy only keeps the Preview DNS site around for 14 days. After the 14 days expired, the images were no longer available and WordPress couldn’t find them. I was forced to reload all the missing images and change the URLs that WordPress uses to find each of them.

The entire reason I have written this article and the lesson to be gleaned from my experience is simply to NEVER use GoDaddy’s Preview DNS mode if you are building a WordPress based site and do not know how to change the internal hyperlinks after the site goes live. Can you imagine how miserable I would have been if all 200+ images on my website suddenly disappeared after 14 days simply because I chose to use the seemingly logical Preview DNS mode to completely build my website?  I would have been forced to begin again from a fresh install or find a way to search and replace all the image references from within the WordPress database or files. It was purely luck that made me decide to publish my website after the second installation and populate it from its permanent domain. Personally, I really think that GoDaddy should eliminate the Preview DNS mode from its hosting options if a person has utilized their automated WordPress installer. It would save everyone a bunch of headaches and I am sure it would lessen the number of help forum and customer service call references which they receive due to this issue. Although this wouldn’t help the numerous users who manually upload a WordPress installation to a GoDaddy hosting account, it would definitely help many people.

I sincerely hope that all who read this post and are considering using GoDaddy to host their WordPress installation take note and DO NOT utilize the Preview DNS mode. Simply publish the site right from the beginning and there will be far fewer issues with which to deal.

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Comments (17)
  • nerdlypainter September 8, 2012

    Hi ken;
    Sorry to hear about your website frustrations. I went through something less severe but still frustrating just getting email and website DNS to work when I migrated my domain to my wordpress site (Network Solutions). If you want to trade nerd notes in a quiet moment, just drop me a note (rv@nerdlypainter.com)

    • Ken Powers September 8, 2012

      There are definitely some things I wish I would have known in advance before I started the website redesign. Luckily I hadn’t gotten too far into it before I discovered the issues. I think it is important to share this type of information to aid others who may make the same mistakes. In this particular case, I really think there should have been a warning posted. Oh well, it all worked out in the end! 🙂

  • Larry Wilcox September 8, 2012

    This is not just a GoDaddy issue. Any time you build a WordPress site with a temporary URL you need to change the URLs in the WP Database via MyPHP when you go live. You could opt to change the URLs via the WordPress dashboard in settings but you will not be able to get to the site until after propagation. You also have to replace all internal hyperlinks with the proper new path. I use a search and replace plugin for that.

    • Ken Powers September 8, 2012

      Thank you so much for the additional information Larry!

      Obviously a lot of the problem was my inexperience with WordPress and the lack of pre-installation knowledge on my part. I didn’t know until much later that the URLs would need to be changed after the site went live. Luckily for me I had only gotten a short way into the project before I decided I might avoid further problems by just publishing the site and building it from within its permanent location. I don’t think I would have a problem in the future if I chose to build a WordPress site from within a temporary domain now that I know more about the way WordPress works. I do think it is a good idea to inform other beginning users about the possible headaches a temporary domain could cause if a person didn’t have the knowledge required to replace all internal hyperlinks, etc… In my case, I didn’t even figure out there was going to be a problem until 2 weeks later when the temporary domain disappeared and my WordPress site pointed to non-existent images. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way I guess! 😉

  • Carol Crawford September 8, 2012

    Thanks for the ‘heads-up’.I find myself chasing my email address,username,etc in a loop just trying to log in to Word Press.Really annoying!

    • Ken Powers September 8, 2012

      Thanks Carol! My overall experience has been pretty positive but I definitely wanted to share some of the stumbling blocks I have run across with both WordPress and GoDaddy to help other first-time users.

  • Michael Robert Brown September 14, 2012

    This was precisely the answers I’d been searching for. Amazing blog. Incredibly inspirational! Your posts are so helpful and detailed. The links you feature are also very useful too. Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Ken Powers September 15, 2012

      Thank you for the kind words Michael. I am pleased you found the information useful. This blog will definitely have a mix of different topics as it develops. I have a lot to share about what I have learned (the hard way) about WordPress and plugins, marketing artwork through social networks, my own watercolor painting setups/equipment choices, and future plans for this site’s development. I hope to include images and useful supporting links to accompany every post if it is possible because I think supporting media and documentation really lends to increasing a blog’s credibility and helps alleviate the spread of misinformation. Most importantly, however, I really want everyone to avoid making my same mistakes! 😉

  • i phone September 16, 2012

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I definitely enjoyed the article. It proved to be Really useful to me and I??m positive to all the commenters here It??s always good when you can not only be informed, but also entertained I??m positive you had fun writing this write-up.

    • Ken Powers September 16, 2012

      Thank you very much! I am always happy to share information I have learned as part of my experiences. This was one of those cases where I really wanted to keep others from having similar issues. I imagine most people would have created their entire website, made it live, and then discovered two weeks later that nothing was working correctly. Hopefully the two or three people who read this article are spared the misery! 😉

  • Ken Powers September 16, 2012

    Thank you very much! The blog will have an eclectic selection of information as time goes on but hopefully people will find different selections from it to be helpful.

  • Rim September 16, 2012

    Not many writers impress me with their informative articles, but you have done it. This is great work and very interesting content. Thanks for posting.

    • Ken Powers September 16, 2012

      Thank you very much for the kind words of encouragement! Hopefully the information in these articles will help others avoid the mistakes I have made.

  • Nora McDougall-Collins December 23, 2012

    Thank you for this post. I will post a link on Facebook for my WordPress students. Your comments helped us not make the same mistake with a Drupal site, by the way!
    Modwest has a temporary address: temp.modwest.com/your domain name that works just fine for this type of set up. It amazes me that any web host would think that you want your site to be “live” before testing it on the actual server space. After testing, you only have a few places to change addresses. First is in settings. Sometimes, you may have plugins that have not used relative addressing; so, you may have to run a script on the database to do the address updates. But, both of those steps are fairly simple.

    • Ken Powers December 23, 2012

      Thanks for the comment. I am glad you found the article useful. This is definitely information I wish I had known before I began my WordPress design. Luckily, everything worked out eventually. I thought it would be a good idea to share what I had discovered the hard way in order to save other people some woes. 🙂

  • Felix Gorodishter February 20, 2014

    Thanks for your post with the detailed explanation of the situation.

    I would love for you and everyone else to give GoDaddy Managed WordPress a try. We’ve addressed this issue by using the temporary domain concept.

    We issue you a domain name that can be used to develop your site, and once you’re ready to bring it live, type in your real domain name and we immediately update all of your images and links to use the real domain. We believe that we’ve made that process really easy and also taken care of a few other headaches WordPress users go though. We can talk more about trying it out for free for short time so that we can get your feedback.

    • Ken Powers February 20, 2014

      Thank you Felix!

      After the awkwardness of my initial use of the GoDaddy temporary domain, I chose to simply populate my WordPress site live. I am still utilizing GoDaddy as my host and I am pleased to know you have worked out the kinks for the Temporary Domain concept. The idea is great so I hope your new customers will find it useful. As for me, for the time being I am having no issues and my site is working great so I don’t have a need to utilize or experiment with the temporary domain feature. If the need arises, I will definitely give it a try.

      Thanks again for your comment!

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