Support » Plugin: WordPress MU Domain Mapping » [Plugin: WordPress MU Domain Mapping] A Record vs. CNAME (please explain like I'm 5)

  • It’s still unclear to me whether I should tell my users to point their domains using an A Record or a CNAME (or both)…

    If they point their domain using an A Record, they’re pointing to the IP address of my server. So this means that if I ever change web hosts, my users will need to change their A Records to point to the new IP address of my new web host. Is that correct?

    If they point their domain using a CNAME, they’re pointing to my website domain, which means if I ever change hosts, my users won’t need to change anything. Is that correct?

    Bottom line, should I always tell my users to point their domains to my server using a CNAME and not an A Record, because this is a safer choice in case I ever move hosts?

    What am I missing here?

    Please explain in as simple terms possible 🙂

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Plugin Author Ron Rennick


    Both Is that correct? are correct.

    Which method you use is up to you.

    Thanks Ron, good to know.

    How about the time it takes to go live?

    Do changes to both A Records and CNAMEs display immediately (to the person making the change)? Does one take longer than the other to see the change?

    Plugin Author Ron Rennick


    DNS changes take the same time to propagate with either method.

    so in this field:
    Server CNAME domain:

    i just enter ?

    and then at my domain host i create a cname to

    then my server IP can change and the domains dont have to change the arecord?


    Plugin Author Ron Rennick


    Yes, all correct.

    I need a little clarification too.

    When setting a CNAME, it always asks for a host or subdomain. I don’t see a way to point a domain name itself using CNAME, unless I’m missing something.

    I know you can point www using CNAME, which would probably work pretty well, but I assume if someone leaves off the www they’ll get something else, probably a parked domain page from the registrar.

    Some things I’ve read seem to indicate that it’s possible to point the main domain with CNAME but I haven’t found how to yet.

    I see that there are some downsides to doing so, though, since pointing the CNAME tends to take MX records and other settings with it, which wouldn’t be ideal for this setup. I’m sure some people are using e-mail accounts with their domain registrars so if they were to point the CNAME of their domain to their blog their e-mail would stop working.

    I guess one option is to point the CNAME of www to their site and then set up domain forwarding for the domain name itself and point it to www. I’m not crazy about that solution though.

    The only reason I’m considering CNAME over A record is for the reasons sited above, your IP Address can change. If it does, it can be a huge pain because all your users have to change their A record again. It sounds simple enough, but for the technically challenged it’s not, and in a scenario where users are paying for the service, they’re not going to be happy.

    A while back I had to move my network site to a new server because my host was no longer supporting the software version on that server, probably the operating system, I forget now. But it wasn’t a case of changing hosts, just switching from one machine to another. Besides that possibility, I might need to someday upgrade to a server with more resources or something. If there was a way to stay locked in to a certain IP address it be ok, but it seems like something that can change too easily.

    Do you have any ideas for a solution? I liked the possibility of using CNAME since it points to the domain instead of the IP Address, but it seems like it has some challenges too.

    Plugin Author Ron Rennick


    When setting a CNAME, it always asks for a host or subdomain

    It depends on your domain name server whether you can use CNAMEs with top level domains or not. Some registrars do not allow TLDs to have CNAMEs while others do.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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