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Once your site is up and running, you'll probably want to give it a domain name that's easier to remember than blah-blah-blah-drupalgardens.com. You can do that, but it takes three steps. The first is to register to the domain you want with a registrar. Now I won't go into the details of this at all in this video, but if you want to learn more about that, see the Web Design Fundamentals course on lynda.com. Now after you register that domain, you are going to have to wait, because it takes a while--typically about 24 hours--for that domain name to propagate throughout the Internet so everybody knows where it is.
The second step is to change a certain record in your DNS records--called the CNAME record--with your registrar, and then again, you are going to have to wait. I'll show you how to do this, but for more details on that on that see the video "Using a personal domain name" in the course "iWeb '09 Essential Training," also on lynda.com. I have brought up a control window of my own web host here, and I have already set up a subdomain, explorecalifornia.tomgeller.com. Then in the CNAME area, type in explorecalifornia.druaplgardens.com, or whatever the domain name is that you have in your Drupal Gardens site.
Then once you have done that, continue the process however your web host directs you to do it. Now I am doing this on my own web host, which is webfaction.com. It'll be very different depending on your web host. So if you have any problem with this step, talk to your web host provider. So, that's the second step. The third step is to go back to Drupal Gardens and tell it to expect all of the traffic from this domain, so we go back to our site and click My sites. Once you see the domain that you want to have as the target, click Manage Domains.
There is a fair amount of information here at the top of the page. Most importantly, they have their own documentation. I'll just open that in a new tab, so you can see. This is a somewhat complex process, and there is a lot that can go wrong, so if you have any problems, just go ahead and take a look at their documentation. It's pretty good, and in fact, there are two ways of doing this. The way I am doing it with the CNAME is the one that they prefer that you use; it's more stable and secure. The other way affects the ANAME, which is the address name of your DNS record.
It's not as reliable, but some people prefer to use that. Anyway, their documentation will tell you both methods. Once you are on this page, type in the domain that it's going to be coming from--again, in my case, that does explorecalifornia.tomgeller.com--and click Add Domain. Incidentally, there is a charge for this, so take a look at the documentation on Drupal Gardens to find out exactly how much it is. Once it's done, you see down here the two different ways that you can reach this site. You can check to see if those domains are working by simply clicking on them, and indeed it works already.
That's actually fairly unusual. You typically have to wait at least a few hours before the connection will go through. I do want to mention, you can still reach the site through the old domain name, explorecalifornia.drupalgardens.com. Now as I went through this, I said one word several times: wait. When you first register a domain, it can take up to two days for notice of that registration to propagate to all of the important servers on the Internet, and then again, when you change the CNAME record, there is an another wait. It's usually not as long as the first one, but still, plan for this to take some time; don't expect to just be able to jump right in and have your site live immediately.
Ultimately, a lot of this process is going to involve the domain registration company you choose. The process is different at each one of them, so I am afraid you are going to have to turn to them for technical support. But once again, the page on Drupal Gardens I showed you earlier, which is drupalsgardens.com/documentation/ custom-domains is a great place to get information that will help you to get out of trouble before you hear back from your registrar's help desk.
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