Support » Networking WordPress » A records, CNAME and domain mapping

  • I’m trying to understand this. I see a few different things being said online, and so far nothing definitive.

    If I use an A record, and park the domain that’s being mapped in cpanel, everything works as expected.

    As I won’t be managing all the domains of all the sites, I would *MUCH, MUCH, MUCH* prefer to use CNAMEs as then I can change physical servers without worrying about having a bunch of non-technical people figure out how to change their A records.

    This I cannot seem to get to work yet.

    To be clear, I’m trying to map a TLD. lets say to (where is the root multisite install, and is the domain owned by a client that should get mapped to

    So, in this case I set CNAME records in’s registrar DNS settings to point to

    When I traceroute it correctly resolves to the IP address of

    I set up the domain mapping plugin (using WPMUdev plugin) and it seems correctly setup.

    In fact, there are only 2 things different with this site from another site on the network that does map correctly.

    1. The one that works is using my nameservers on my VPS. That domain is then parked on’s cpanel. This is fine for my own sites (where I manage the domains), not okay for client sites.

    2. The one that doesn’t simply has 2 CNAME records (www and non-www) pointing to

    I am unable to park in cpanel because the nameservers belong to a different server (cpanel error).

    So, can CNAMEs be used to map a TLD to a network? If so, how? What am I missing?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
  • not sure if it helps, but when I go to it redirects to:

    Which just displays the text: Template Error: The template file must be given

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    Lead Plugin Wrangler

    To be clear, I’m trying to map a TLD. lets say to

    Think of it the other way. You’re mapping to (that does actually matter when you ask for help later on).

    If takes you to, does

    Also, if the nameservers are on your VPS, then that’s where you have to manage the CNAME/A Name.


    For Cpanel users
    If your domain uses the nameservers on your hosting account you should follow these instructions. If the nameservers are elsewhere change the A record or CNAME as documented above.

    Hi Ipstenu,

    Thanks for the reply.

    OK – yes mapping to redirects to in the browser and goes to the same page, yes. if i disable the mapping plugin it works as expected.

    Also, for clarity – yes I have nameservers on my VPS. The domain that is working (let’s say is using my nameservers. is not. I don’t want it to. I want the client to be able to manage their own domain with their registrar(so they can manage mail etc separately). I thought it would be as simple as them setting www and non www CNAME records to But that is not working.

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    Lead Plugin Wrangler

    I want the client to be able to manage their own domain with their registrar(so they can manage mail etc separately). I thought it would be as simple as them setting www and non www CNAME records to But that is not working.

    I have this feeling like they can’t, though… The namesevrer is the other half of ‘how you map a domain.’

    1) Point to the right nameserver
    2) Tell the nameserver that it can suppose

    but they have a nameserver. It’s just their registrar’s, not mine. it ‘should’ work. their domain is correctly using a nameserver (in this case’s nameserver) at which they should be able to set CNAME records that point to, then the WP domain mapping should kick in.

    I’m going to keep playing. If this isn’t possible it’s a MAJOR problem. Doesn’t make sense that it wouldn’t work…

    That nameserver stuff shouldn’t be a problem. We also have clients with own providers.

    Is your plugin configured well? Have you set correct IP address?

    We use WordPress MU Domain Mapping and that works great. We only set our server IP and checked point 2 and 3 in settings.

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    Lead Plugin Wrangler

    I’ve always told my ‘clients’ (hi Dad!) to point to my server’s nameserver (, etc etc) because when I first made my site on shared hosting, my host said ‘Point your nameservers to etc’

    Logically the nameserver has to know == THISIP

    Every time I’ve every done it, I was told ‘If you registered your domain name with another registrar but are hosting it with us, it must use our nameservers.’

    Lennart – your clients are using CNAME records with their registrar or are using your nameservers?

    Ipstenu – everything I read is telling me I can’t do this, and indeed so far it seems like I can’t. I just don’t understand why.

    If I set CNAME records at their registrar to, the domain DOES correctly route to the IP address (tested using traceroute tool). Soo DOES know the IP address. The problem does not seem to be in the DNS routing – it’s either with the web server or with wp domain mapping as far as I can tell.

    If it can resolve to the IP, then so long as that IP is not shared (ie all host headers go to the same site) I cannot understand why it would not work unless the WP multidomain mapping isn’t working.

    I have one last thing to try.

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


    Lead Plugin Wrangler

    Yeah, this is all just left of witchcraft to me. I get the feeling it’s a cpanel trick, but damned if I can figure out why.

    CNAME should work though.

    Andrea Rennick


    Customer Care at Copyblogger Media and Studiopress

    You can send the domain to your IP using a CNAME or A record – but then when the domain request gets to your server, you also need to tell apache where to send it. That;s where the vhost entries come in, and the Server Alias lines.

    In cpanel, basically you park the dmain on top of your install.

    Thanks Andrea – when I try to park a domain that’s using CNAME with a 3rd party registrar ( in this case) cpanel errors and tells me I cannot park the domain because the domain is not registered with my nameservers.

    Any other way to to give it a server alias? Unfortunately Linux and Apache admin are well outside my areas of expertise. I think you’re spot on though – the problem is with Apache configuration. The CNAME routes to the correct IP, so I’m guessing that as soon as I figure out how to tell Apache to route the request to everything should ‘just work’.

    That’s the dream, anyways.

    Andrea Rennick


    Customer Care at Copyblogger Media and Studiopress

    I;ve parked domain from namecheap. 🙂

    Have you added that domain to your webhost? On some yo have to explicitly tell them what domains you’re using with your account.

    What host is it?

    You’ve parked a domain that’s using namecheap’s nameservers and only using CNAME to point to your server? If that’s the case, then I will raise a ticket with JaguarPC (my VPS host). I am unable to do so, CPanel errors.

    The weird thing is – now the domain appears to be resolving correctly, even without the domain being registered with WHM or CPanel. Which actually makes sense since the domain it’s CNAME’d to has a dedicated IP, so the server *shouldn’t* have to map anything.

    My concern is the rather frightening DNS reports the domain gets: is the network – it’s using my nameservers. is the client site – it’s using namecheap nameservers and has www and non-www CNAME records that point to

    I have another site on there that uses my nameservers as well, and is parked on cpanel, and everything works perfectly with it, the DNS reports are great too.

    Could you do me a huge favour and see if the leafdns reports for your CNAME’d domains look equally scary? If they do, and they’ve been working anyways, then I’m a happy camper.

    Andrea Rennick


    Customer Care at Copyblogger Media and Studiopress

    You’ve parked a domain that’s using namecheap’s nameservers and only using CNAME to point to your server?

    A records – but I also had to add the domain to my web host account.

    Hmm,I’ve moved some stuff around so I don’t have any mapped domains going to anything with cpanel on it, but you can take a look at this one:

    (I still need to rebuild my test site. then I would have one.)

    That seems to be using a CNAME (on the www), pointing to an A record (on the non-www). That’s what I want to avoid as I don’t want clients tied to an IP address – just to a domain name so that I can change servers without having to go through the rather immense hassle of having everyone change their settings, not quite fully understanding why, only knowing that it’s a PITA.

    Aside from the scary DNS report, it does seem to be working. And the domain is not parked or in any way registered with my web server, or my web server company – which really does make sense as the site the CNAME is pointing to – has a dedicated IP, so, so long as Apache works similarly to IIS (which I’m more familiar with) it should route all requests to the same spot ( – at which point the WP domain mapping should take effect. So far it seems to work, leaves the domain fully in the client’s control for MX records and allows me to change network IPs with no client updates required.

    Lots more testing needed, as if this works I’m not sure why sites like don’t use it. They recommend CNAME’s only for mapping subdomains, they manage the whole domain if you want to map the root domain, and allow you to set MX records through their system. That’s the alternate route, but a whole lot more work that I don’t need to have done if CNAMEs work.

    Basically, I’m doubting this solution only because the big guys ( aren’t using it. I’m wondering if they know something I don’t, or vice versa.

    Thanks for your help Andrea & Ipstenu – I guess all that’s left is to run with CNAME and if I run into trouble, then switch to’s model.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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