domain mapping, A-record v CNAME, GoDaddy

Long story short: i can't get domain mapping to work. After following the install guides, I have taken to randomly screwing around with A-records and CNAMES for my main multisite, call it, and one of the several sites i would like to map to it, say, I set up a directory called cb in the site, and have the A-record pointing to the static ip for Kept getting 403 and no access to root errors. So i tried also setting a CNAME. Same errors. I can't get to it using the url, nor thru the WP menus from Is there a clear, step-by-step document anywhere stating what to do, in what order, to map other domains to a WP multi-site? Most of the documents reference super admin, which seems not to exist on my install. And, most of the work really would seem to be at my service provider, which is GoDaddy, although i can't figure out at all where WP decides what directory to go to when the "external" (mapped) domain is requested. And the examples tend to be carelessly referenced, intermixing sub-domain and mapped domain examples.

  • Gabe

    Hello. I'm not too clear on this so just want to clarify a few things. Are you using subdirectory installs or subdomain installs? Let's assume the primary domain for your multisite is

    If you're using subdomains, your default subsite URL would be

    If you're using a subdirectory your default subsite URL would be

    Now, are your multisite subsites working without domain mapping? Meaning after you setup your subsites, are the sites functional? If not, you should ensure they work before you mess with domain mapping. If you're having trouble creating new sites, make sure wildcard domains are enabled if you're using subdomains. Whether you're using subdomains or subfolders can be defined in your wp-config.php file.

    I asked the above because you stated:

    I set up a directory called cb in the site, and have the A-record pointing to the static ip for

    By "setting up a directory" did you mean setting up a subsite using subdirectories? Or did you really mean just a directory?

    Most of the documents reference super admin, which seems not to exist on my install.

    By definition, in order to have a multisite, you need a superadmin. A superadmin user is created automatically on a subsite. You can see this role in your user profile settings.

    Lastly, are you sure you're giving your DNS records time to propagate? These days propagation often happens within minutes though it can still take days sometimes. I'd recommend using a CNAME rather than an A Record. With an A Record a dedicated IP address is recommended, which you won't typically have on shared hosts like GoDaddy. It's not a good idea to set both.

    I apologize if this is confusing, but ensure your multisite is setup correctly and functioning as it should, then we can move on to troubleshooting the Domain Mapping plugin. Hope this helps.

  • aecnu

    Greetings michael_bodine,

    Welcome to WPMU Dev!

    The first thing to have done here was to check if the domain is indeed on a dedicated IP as the instructions clearly indicate must be.

    People falsely believe or confuse a dedicated IP with a static IP.

    99.99999% of web sites have a static IP, but very few have a dedicated IP which is being shared among several sites if not hundreds.

    I have indeed did a trace to see what we are dealing with and the site appears to be hosted on Go Daddy which is best if I do not comment on and my reverse IP lookup indicates there are at least six other domains on the IP in question.

    I would give the list like I normally do but the originating member of this ticket has chosen not to disclose the domain name and the listing indeed includes it.

    So it is my opinion at this very moment, that the issue is due to not being on a dedicated IP to the main MultiSite installation that is indeed required to make this work as anticipated.

    Please advise if this is in fact the case or my reverse IP trace is incorrect?

    Cheers, Joe

  • michael_bodine

    Hey, Joe - I didn't post the domain name just because it was too much typing. Lots of folks seem unhappy with GoDaddy, tho' i've been well served by them for a long time. Finally decided to gather up my several web sites and try to convert to WP and multisite to save some bucks.

    Anyhow, i've been struggling with this for nearly a week, and started out with just my original domain name, Tried wpmu, domain mapping system, and now the wpmudev version, and along the way added the several A-records you found, or four of them, anyhow. I only found two domains... you've got a better tool than i do, i guess. Anyhow, i purchased an SSL certificate in insure to get a static IP - not sure whether it's dedicated or not, so i will check into that.

    Also, to answer Gabe:
    I did a subdomain install, as from the documentation i had gathered that this was the best way to map more than one domain to a single WP site. My understanding was that each of the domains needs to be set up as a subdomain, which starts life off as a directory on the WP root. Once you've mapped the domain, the original subdomain "" can be reached as "" as an example. Again, i thought A-records were the recommended route, but sounds like CNAME is a better way to go. Also, i never *did* get the subdomains, like, working at all, most likely because of my several reinstalls and attempts to use the several plugins and my attempts to get each working along the way.

    Note that i *do* have a network admin on the main site, but nothing labelled as "super admin". It appears that the network admin gives me the ability to everything i'm supposed to, such as installing and enabling themes and plugins as well as enabling the various subdomains i'm trying to get going, so i would think the network admin *is* the super admin. If not, i must have screwed up the installation completely, and i'd best go back, erase everything, and start with a clean install... again.

    However, based on your feedback, looks like i need to do away with all the A-records and CNAMEs and simply see if i can reach the subdomains based solely on the WP capabilities, and only after that start adding CNAME records to establish the new domains.

    Gettin' closer maybe?

    Thanks much for your interest and help!

  • michael_bodine

    Well, still waiting for propagation, i think. But i got rid of all the A-records and CNAME references on GoDaddy, and have suddenly reached one of my subdomains' admin pages, although i am getting a bad result if i try to reach the subdomain content, ie. going to the admin page on is successful, while trying to go to comes up with an OpenDNS status page that tells me there is no such site.

    Is a cname required before that subdomain works?

    More experimentation in store.

  • aecnu

    Greetings michael_bodine,

    Thank you for your additional input.

    I can truly give several reason why Go Daddy is not a good host, but these are certainly NOT related to resolving this particular issue.

    In your message to Gabe you disclosed some of your issues.

    CNAMES can work when you are mapping the cname to a sub domain, but it is certainly not correct and I believe the URL indeed then resolves to the sub domain - so why domain mapping at all? i.e. mappeddomain cnamed to --> so I type in and in my browser after the site comes up appears as the URL but using the "A" record method we should indeed see as the browser URL.

    You are correct in thinking that WordPress resolves the domain and no other DNS records are created or necessary except the "A" record at the registry, not on the host.

    As a matter of fact on the host no DNS records are created, only at the Domain Name Registry is an "A" record created sending the domain to the IP of the WordPress installation.

    I did trace you IP again today and you should be alright because as it mention in the Domain Mapping instructions when you enter the IP you see your multisite which indeed we do and it is in good shape working as expected.

    Now to just work out the "A" record thing and you should be all set.

    Please advise.

    Cheers, Joe

  • michael_bodine

    Argh. It doesn't seem like this should be so difficult.

    - I have created, for example,, in the network admin "Add new sites" menu item. I've also made several other subdomains via that method.
    - I have an A-record in DNS table that points to my rammbytes,info, the master site, at
    - From the network admin menus, i can go to the Dashboard for the irritablepelican subdomain in WP, and it would seem that i can make some changes there.
    - I am confused here, however, as i am unable to use themes that have been network activated. I thought if the themes were network activated, they could then be used by any of the subdomains. (A bit off point right now - sorry, but i'm trying to find ANYTHING to make this work as i think it's supposed to...)
    - If i try to visit, i get the error:
    <<Internal Server Error
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
    Please contact the server administrator and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.>>
    - I have another URL,, which i will also be pointing to the same IP. I don't understand how wordpress knows to connect to the computerbeach subdomain, nor, for that matter, how it knows to connect to the subdomain The definition of the subdomain seems arbitrary since there is not an explicit connection between the URI in DNS and the subdomain in WordPress. I have the domain table with:
    Domain Custom Domain Last Updated Registered Users Never 2012/11/01 michael

    irritablepelican 2012/11/07 2012/11/01 michael

    -- somehow, i managed to get in the "Custom Domain" field, but i sure as heck cannot figure out how to do it again. I believe i have a brain short at this point...

    - with the A-record for pointint at the WPMU site, at
    - with the subdomain, defined
    that else needs to be done (or what documentation do i need to read?!?) to figure out how to get the URL to show up?

    Sorry - i usually can figure stuff like this out, but without learning php scripting first, then reading every file, i am finding it difficult to locate the right information, and there are so many variables, putting together a string of experiments that involve propagation delays is so daunting and time consuming i'm just hoping to get some authoritative direction.

    Thanks for those who are contributing!

  • aecnu

    Greetings michael_bodine,

    Thank you for the considerable thought and input you have given here.

    It is true that WordPress itself resolves the DNS without any additional DNS configurations needed, just the "A" record and in some cases parking the domain to the IP works miracles too, at least in a cPanel environment.

    To explain how WordPress does this would mean to actually dig into the core code, but rest assured it indeed directs the domains correctly when it receives the doman name call correctly.

    At the risk of ruffling some feathers I am going to go ahead and put it out there straight and to the point as I so often do which sometimes gets me in trouble with my Boss ... lol

    The two worst hosts in my honest opinion, though I have never tried every host, are Go Daddy and Blue Host, though many people certainly do not realize it or believe their symptoms are something they are doing.

    Go Daddy - not because of domain mapping but because of their external non localhost database configurations which definitely has it disadvantages being the round trip time lost with the web server needing to communicate with the remote database server. The round trip of the data in both directions is a definite performance issue. The hosting control panel also leaves a lot to be desired.

    Blue Host - their throttling of the bandwidth supplied to sites may indeed be worse then Go Daddy's situation and it is absolutely intentional. I have noticed members having to institute caching plugins and schemes to get some decent performance out of them. Even their reseller program offers a whopping (sarcasm) 15Mpbs, well why are they not giving the 100Mbps like we do? Because they want to load down the server with as many hosting clients as possible and this is there way to limit server resources and at the same time the clients site suffers as well compared to those that do not make this a practice.

    As expected when someone wonders why about something, the answer is usually simply and accurately "follow the money".

    With all that said and due to my intimate knowledge and understanding of servers, hosting, Domain Registrars, and WordPress - I have created what I believe to be the ultimate WordPress hosting platform in which the VPS Lite is the premier package to have which the included dedicated IP which needed for Domain Mapping makes it rock. No throttling, just straight up WordPress WPMU hosting performance from my proprietary server configurations.

    and is this easier using someone other than GoDaddy? If for nothing else, simplifying the multisite install would be worthy of consideration

    We will do it for you - no charge to include setting up Domain Mapping.

    But I will try to help you in any event regardless as demonstrated above regardless of who the host is.

    Please advise.

    Cheers, Joe

  • michael_bodine

    So, i disabled all the A-records except for the main WP multi host,, uninstalled WordPress, deleted all the databases, deleted all my files and directories and did a clean install. I turned off plug-ins, loaded multi-site, set up the files (wp-config.php and .htaccess), turned on multisite, loaded and enabled the wpmudev dashboard, loaded the domain mapping plug-in, configured the network settings, added the sunrise.php, all with multiple logout/login along the way. Finally, defined a new network in WP called From within the admin menus at that point, trying to "Visit" or go to the Dashboard for the site, the, gives me the same error i had before cleaning everything out:
    "Internal Server Error
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
    Please contact the server administrator and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
    More information about this error may be available in the server error log."

    While i would ultimately like to be able to visit "", i clearly won't be able to go there without the subdomain working. I must be missing a step of some sort after creating the network site. Do i have to go define pages? (I would have thought that would be done by the default site setups.) Can anyone point out what i'm missing, please? It's probably staring me in the face, but i'm not seeing it...


    (PS AECNU, thanks for the hosting database travelogue for GoDaddy. Illuminating! Checked out your service, and it looks pretty sweet. For now, i've paid my moneys, and would really like to figure this out!)

  • aecnu

    Greetings michael_bodine,

    I am all for trying to figure this out but there is obviously a configuration problem.

    What do your php error logs say?

    Reverse IP Lookup Results—6 domains hosted on IP address
    Web Site
    AND 3 other domains…

    The domain does not meet the criteria for a dedicated IP as indicated in the Domain Mapping plugins instructions.

    For using A Record setups, you also need to ensure you have a dedicated IP. This IP would fall onto your multisite setup. i.e. when you enter the IP you see your multisite. does meet the criteria for when typing in the IP, indeed the installation comes up.

    Do you have sub site creation turned off?

    When I visited your site I am able to create a new user but it does not allow me to create a new subsite.

    Please advise.

    Cheers, Joe

  • Kimberly


    Just checking in :slight_smile:

    I'm guessing that because we haven't heard back from you that you've got your issue worked out via live chat or email, or that we have reached the end of our convo here. If you are still having problems or need any other answers on this particular topic please feel free to come back to this thread at anytime. Just be sure to mark it Not Resolved so we don't miss it!

    This ticket is only being Resolved due to lack of activity. It is by no means an action to avoid, brush off or minimize your issue. We are ready and here if you want to re-open at any time and I apologize in advance for any lack of communication if this ticket is being closed in error.

    Thanks for being part of the WPMU DEV Community!


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