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Hosting Multiple Sites on a Single Instance of DotNetNuke

One of the great strengths of DotNetNuke is the fact that you can host as many sites as you’d like, from a single installation of DNN.  Did I confused you?  Imagine that you are currently managing 5 or more websites, each with its own web hosting plan.  If they are each DNN, or otherwise a .Net and database enabled website, you’re easily spending over $7,000.00 just in hosting fees.  Imagine being able to spend a fraction of that amount by consolidating all of your websites into a single instance of DotNetNuke – leaving you to manage just a single hosting plan.  You can!

Just so you know, I am just going to talk about how to add new sites to an existing DNN site in this post.

The Web Host

The first thing to consider when planning to host all of your sites into a single installation of DNN, is your web host.  While DNN places no restriction on you in terms of how many sites you can host, and the number of domain names that those sites have, your web host may. 

Check with your web host immediately to see what limitations you might have.  For example, your web host might tell you that you’re only able to have up to 5 domain names associated to a single site in your account.  There are ways around this, but it’s a common and real-world example.

The Steps

There are three (3) basic steps to adding a new site to your instance of DNN.  They are outlined below:

  1. Update DNS
  2. Update IIS
  3. Add a New Portal in DNN

Update DNS

When you have a new or existing domain name, you need to point that domain name to a server.  This is what the Domain Name System (DNS) does for you.  It allows you to have a domain name that people can easily remember, but point it to an actual address on the internet.

The exact method of how to do this varies, as web hosts use a variety of different methods to add or edit a DNS entry to your domain name.  In general though, you want to make sure that you have an Host or A record in your DNS settings.  Simply specify the IP address of your web server to tell the DNS where to point requests to that domain to.

DNS: Host or A Record

Update IIS

Internet Information Server (IIS) is the web server that allows websites to work on the Microsoft platform.  It accepts requests from the internet for a website, and then responds with the requested web page and files.  In the world of DNN, it also is the final link to allow you to host multiple websites in DNN, before adding a new portal.

In order to add your new setting in IIS to accept requests for new domain names, you need to add an entry for the website called a Host Header.  This tells IIS all of the domain names that a single site will respond to. 

Once again, if you’re doing this through a web host, there could be any number of ways that they have you do this.  In IIS 7 though, it’s easier than ever. 

  1. Select your website in the list of websites.
  2. Click on Bindings in the right pane.
  3. Click the Add button.
  4. Add the new domain name into the new window that appears.
  5. Click OK to save the new domain name.
  6. Click Close to exit the Bindings dialog.

IIS: Host Headers

That’s it!  IIS is now all configured.

Add a New Portal

Most of you already know, but the word “portal” and “site” or “website” are interchangeable in DotNetNuke.  When we speak of adding a new portal to DNN, we’re also saying that we’re adding a new site.  It’s easy to do this in DNN. 

  1. Login using a Host or Superuser account.
  2. Go to the Portals page in the Host menu.
  3. Click the Add New Portal link at the bottom of the module, or in the actions menu.
  4. Fill in all of the information in the form on the next page.
  5. The Portal Alias is your new domain name.
  6. Click Create Portal to create your portal.
  7. Visit your new website!

DotNetNuke: Add New Portal (Site)

It’s really that simple to add a new portal to your site.

At this point, you technically should be able to see, access, and log into your new site.  However, you should note that DNS settings take time to spread across the internet.  For this reason, you and other may not be able to get to the site using it’s URL for up to 24 hours.  People in different regions of the country and world will also be able to use the URL at different times.  For example, you might be in Orlando, FL, and be able to see the site immediately.  In contrast, someone in the state of Washington might not be able to see the site for two more hours.  Additionally, someone in the UK might not see the site for 6 hours after that.  It really does vary.


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