Installing WordPress Without A Domain Name

January 17th, 2011

Miriam Schwab of has a neat little tip that explains how to install WordPress without using a domain name. The trick involves editing the Hosts file on a Windows machine to specify a domain name for the server address the site is hosted on. Mike Little who published a comment on the article made note that it’s not a Windows only trick but can also be performed on Linux/Unix and Mac OSX. This trick enables the previous site to stay online until the last minute where a simple DNS change will switch to the new site.




  1. Andrea_R (6 comments.) says:

    It also works *with* a domain name when you want to develop an exisiting site on a new server.

    I use it often.

  2. graq (1 comments.) says:

    Very misleading post title. Like a tabloid newspaper.

    • Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

      How is the title misleading when it accurately describes the tip involved?

      • Ryan (55 comments.) says:

        The title isn’t misleading, it can just be taken lots of different ways. I thought it was instructions on how to install using just the IP instead of a domain name (which is trivial since it works the same as it does with a domain name).

    • Regie says:

      As I read about it I’ll go check first if it is working. There are lots of reaction here that are contradicting.

    • Amulets (1 comments.) says:

      Did you read through the article or just read the title. You’re misleading dude not the Author.

  3. Zack (1 comments.) says:

    Wow, didn’t realize you could install WP without a domain name. This could be an interesting idea for web development.

  4. Miriam Schwab (2 comments.) says:

    Jeff, thanks for sharing this tip with your readers here!

    @Andrea_R that’s pretty much what I was referring to when I wrote up this post. The idea is that someone already has a site on a domain, but it would make life much easier to install the new site with the existing domain. This allows you to do that.

    @graq I don’t know why you think the title is misleading. The post is all about how to install WordPress on a server without a domain name pointing at that server.

    • Marc (1 comments.) says:

      Just give WordPress its own directory. Why not install the new WordPress site in a sub-folder? The when ready to go live just move the htaccess and index files into the root dir, and change the path in Settings to the root. Seems even simpler than modifying your hosts file repeatedly.

    • graq says:

      It is misleading because it is not true. Even the original articles mentions this in paragraph 3. You add to it yourself in you own reply, with the caveat “..pointing at that server”. The whole trick does not work without a domain name. Because editing the hosts file is simplistic Domain Name resolving.

      Having something, whether it is doing the right thing or not, is very different from not having something at all.

      Hence it is a tabloid-esque heading, designed to titillate the reader, until they come across the qualifier that changes the the meaning by highlighting a hidden ambiguity.

      I would have used the title “How to install your WordPress site before your new domain’s DNS has resolved”. Anyway. Well done for pointing out the old hosts trick. I’m sure some folks will find it very useful.

  5. dgrut (10 comments.) says:

    first to hear this, will check to wpgarage. thanks the info

  6. Rick Rottman (10 comments.) says:

    People don’t already know about this? I assumed hacking the hosts (lowercase) file was pretty basic. How else do people move to a different hosting provider without taking their WordPress blog down?

    • Miriam Schwab (2 comments.) says:

      @Rick we had this clunky, labor intensive process where we would develop on our development server, and then once everything was ready we’d FTP the files to the new server, take down the old site, and hope we can get the new site up and running as fast as possible so there’s minimal down time. Definitely not an elegant process.

  7. Ben (6 comments.) says:

    Everyone here also seems to be missing another point which I use on a regular basis.

    If you are moving the site to a new server, depending on the server setup, you can install wordpress with the IP address as the url / home address, just change those settings in the options table in wordpress to the IP address or potentially something like this: http://XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX/~username/ which will point to the files correctly, enabling you to view WP normally without having the domain name pointing in.

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