Maria D. Campbell

Why Your Local Machine (Computer) May Not be Pointing to Your Newly Propagated Site

May 15th, 2019

Note: DIG, aka Domain Information Groper, which I used to find out the new IP address for my newly propagated web site, is built into my Mac. According to ns1.com,

(DIG) is the best tool for quickly diagnosing and understanding DNS responses. - Carl Levine, July 13, 2016

And

DIG provides a wealth of information about how a zone is configured, whether or not it’s working properly and can even be queued up with multiple queries at once. - Carl Levine, July 13, 2016

I have added the link to this great and highly informative article at the end of this post.

The other day I moved my business site, interglobalmedianetwork.com from Github gh-pages to Netlify, where this site resides as well. mariadcampbell.com immediately propagated, and immediately showed up correctly on my computer, as well as everywhere else. However, this was not the case with interglobalmedianetwork.com. For a while I couldn’t figure out why it kept on pointing to my former gh-pages hosting. I decided to check what IP address my computer was pointing to and compare it to the new Netlify IP address.

First I typed the following command in Terminal to find out what IP address my computer was being directed to:

host interglobalmedianetwork.com

The host command returned the IP address my computer was redirected to to reach interglobalmedianetwork.com. Then I used DIG to find out what the NEW and ACTUAL IP address for interglobalmedianetwork was. I used the following command:

dig interglobalmedianetwork.com @dns1.p01.nsone.net

I am using a dummy domain nameserver (@dns1.p01.nsone.net) thanks to nsl.com’s great article on the DIG command. Replace it with that of the hosting service you are using.

The following (example) results are returned to Terminal:

; <<>> DiG 9.8.3-P1 <<>> example.com @dns1.p01.nsone.net a
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 60796
;; flags: qr aa rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; WARNING: recursion requested but not available
;; QUESTION SECTION:
;example.com.            IN    A
;; ANSWER SECTION:
example.com.        3600    IN    A    104.20.48.182
;; Query time: 8 msec
;; SERVER: 198.51.44.1#53(198.51.44.1)
;; WHEN: Fri Jul  8 10:55:40 2016
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 45

Using my actual dnsnameserver for Netlify (not dummy content here), I achieved success, and saw that the IP address was different from the one returned from the host command. The internet, my Google Pixel 2 smartphone, and my HP laptop were all seeing the newly propagated (and completely newly built) site, but not my Macbook Pro, where I do all my developing.

I thought a bit about this, and realized that PROBABLY I had added an IP address for interglobalmedianetwork in my local machine’s hosts file which still points to the previous IP address associated with my previous nameserver.

I remember adding IP addresses often back in the early days of WordPress development when site propagation seemed to take forever, and I wanted to be able to see changes to my site in development before propagation was complete. I added the appropriate IP address(es) to whichever site(s) I was working on at any given time. The file which is responsible for this functionality is the hosts file on our local machine (computer). Just remember that if you are having problems viewing your site after successful propagation, that the old IP address might still be residing in your hosts file.

In order to edit the hosts file, you first had to run the following command in Terminal:

sudo nano /private/etc/hosts

If you have a more recent Mac than me (late 2015 Macbook Pro), you might have to run the following command instead:

sudo nano /etc/hosts

Because we are using sudo here, you will be prompted to enter your system password. Be sure to have it available!

The command will take you into the hosts file via your Nano (Command Line Text) Editor. For example, there I saw a whole bunch of my sites’ IP addresses, including those for various variations of interglobalmedianetwork.com. Since I didn’t need any of them anymore, I simply removed them. The hosts file has instructions as to what you can edit and should not. Read them carefully.

Next I had to save my changes and exit Nano, so I first typed the following on my keyboard:

control-o + enter (return)

This saved my changes in the hosts file. Then to exit Nano, I typed the following on my keyboard:

control-x

This command took me back to the Terminal window.

Then I typed https://www.interglobalmedianetwork.com in the Chrome address bar and my site appeared! Of course this step can be reproduced in the browser of your choosing.

Happy site propagation!

Related Resources:

How to Edit your hosts File on a Mac

Decoding DIG Output

Tagged in: dns local-hosts-file ip-address site-propagation
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