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Domain Masking

Posted on 2011-05-07
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
We have some domains that we need to mask.  There are several that point the same place and we are trying to keep the re-direct from being obvious.  Masking seems like the best way to resolve this.  I good example is one at www.tedpenner.com/forum .  This redirects to a domain used to set up the pages.  However, if someone clicks on a link to www.tedpenner.com/forum I don't want users to necessarily know or be confused by seeing another address in the address bar.

My web guy tells me that we may run into problems doing that on the primary domain tedpenner.com because the name servers are bluehost.  

Is there any way to set masking at the level of the hosting company as opposed to letting the registrar handle it?
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Question by:rtod2
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35715955
Some hosting companies support multiple domains in a single account, so you can have several domains all pointing to the same content. Search your web site hosting control panel for "Add-on domains", or "Virtual domains", or just ask the hosting provider how to point multiple domains to a single content directory.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35716460
We do have that.  Masking is different.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35716477
Add-on / Virtual Domain = letting your domain and all it's pages point wherever you want it.
  drawback:  it doesn't 'mask' the URL.

Masking = letting your domain point to another location and mask the URL.
  drawback:  it must use the nameserver of the registrar

Q:  Is there any way to do masking at the host instead of the registrar.
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Expert Comment

by:coreybryant
ID: 35716910
To answer your quesition: Yes, you can do it at the hosting level.  Have you asked your hosting company if they support this?  
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Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35717013
OK, we started with masking domains and moved on to masking URLs.
What is it exactly that you want? Let's suppose that your main web site is www.yyy.com and that you want to mask it with www.zzz.com. Please give 2 examples of masked URLs: what is the real URL and what do you want the user to see.

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Expert Comment

by:Michael Worsham
ID: 35717145
You could possibly do what you are looking for with mod_rewrite / mod_proxy as well.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/156315/mask-redirect-to-temporary-domain-with-mod-rewrite

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Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 35717269
Why do you want to do this?  Why not let your brand name be known?  If we could understand that we might be able to offer more concrete advice.  Thanks, ~Ray
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35717300
I think the brand name "tosreport.com/forum" or "forensici.com/forum" has a place, but often, I want the people to also know me, hence the reason I would use "www.tedpenner.com/forum" even though they all work.  That is to say that

1. Ideally, if a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match.
2. If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match.
3. If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match.
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Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35717950
So, your main web site is called www.tedpenner.com/forum 
but you also want to use www.tosreport.com/forum  and www.forensici.com/forum and you want all 3 domains to use exactly the same content ?

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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35718180
Yes but only show the URL of whatever the person linked to.
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Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35718282
In that case see if your hosting plan supports add-on domains. This is exactly what you need.
You will add another domain to the plan, and point it to the same directory where your current content is.
The DNS of the redirected domain needs to have a CNAME pointing it at the original domain.

You may experience problems if you use some kind of CMS that is sensitive to the domain name, or that creates absolute link references.
 
An inferior alternative is masking via HTML frames. This works even for picky CMS.

In website zzz.com you put an HTML file called index.html with code similar to this

<frameset>
<frame name="mask" src="http://actual-url.yyy.com/page.html">
</frameset>

You could also add some javascript to modify the masking page title, like this
 top.document.title=top.frames['mask'].document.title;

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Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 35719393
Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet today, but I am confused now.  From this post last night:

1. Ideally, if a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match.
2. If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match.
3. If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match.


My questions for each example is what comes after the word match.  What URL do you want to show in the address bar in each of those three cases? Thanks.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35721238
Ray, thank you.

I would want the URL to take on whatever name the person links to or types in...

If a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match tosreport.com/forum.

If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match forensici.com/forum.

If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match tedpenner.com/forum.
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Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 35721718
Got it, and if you want the output of each of those to be the same, then maybe a good way to go is to create a "canonical" version of the site and let the other two versions do something like echo file_get_contents("path/to/canonical");

If you want subtle variations among versions, you can substitute some variable string after file_get_contents() and before echo.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35723259
I am the owner but not the developer.  You are loosing me in the terminology.  I was looking for a simple solution :)
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LVL 111

Expert Comment

by:Ray Paseur
ID: 35723986
Good grief!  Get the developer involved in this question; it's not rocket science for the developer, but I can certainly understand how it would be confusing to someone who was not at least somewhat fluent in PHP.
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Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35724696
configure secondary domains for your hosting plan, this is as simple s it gets.
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Expert Comment

by:coreybryant
ID: 35731960
I have ran into something pretty similar with a few of my domains.  This is what I did - I emailed the hosting company, explaining them what I would like.  In about 10 minutes, they had it set up.  Most of the sites are 301 re-directs with the exception of one domain that I want to be www.a.com and not www.b.com

If your hosting company cannot accomodate you, consider moving.  I use TechEvolution.  

Of course this might change once I get the SEO guys to look into this because I don't want to be blacklisted.  
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Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35732697
301 is not masking... It is redirecting...
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Expert Comment

by:coreybryant
ID: 35748574
Yes I understand, that 301 re-directs were are not domain masking.  I was trying to provide you a bit more information.

You need to get your developer on board to help and let us know what your hosting company says.  Some will support it and some will not.  
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35766238
My question is still as follows:  

ex1.  If a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match tosreport.com/forum.


ex2.  If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match forensici.com/forum.


ex3. If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match tedpenner.com/forum.

I use Bluehost and they say that it is possible but do not provide any particulars on how to get it done.
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:coreybryant
ID: 35766530
If I remember properly, this is one one the server in IIS.  
How do i "mask" domain redirect?? is from their forums.  I have only used four hosting companies in my life - I can't emember the first one, but they were bad.  I moved to Hostway for about 4-5 years before I started my hosting company.  I sold the company to TechEvolution.  Before I even started the process, I gave them all the information that needed (meaning which ones I want masked or just a 301 redirect).

Google (or search for domain masking in iis) - I came up with a number of options.  Honestly though, it if they don't know how to do it - it might be time to move to another hosting company.  
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35805795
I need something more concrete than "change hosting companies".  They have been very good to us.  I really like bluehost and they have great ratings.  They say that what I need CAN BE DONE there but can't support us with specifics.  What I need are specific steps for how to obtain the following behavior?

1.  If a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match tosreport.com/forum.
2.  If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match forensici.com/forum.
3.  If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match tedpenner.com/forum.
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Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35806918
rtod2,

I am not sure that I follow you.
You got good advice from many people that covers just about any option there is. Virtual domains, reverse proxies, and frames. Either will work, although there are implementation differences.
You consistently refuse to take it up to your hosting service to find out what is the option they support.
IMHO this question thread is dead until you take some action.
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LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:coreybryant
ID: 35807775
How does Bluehost support its customers - email, telephone, live chat?  Nevermind, I found their number: (888) 401-4678.  Now you should have a previous ticket number in which you were told:
I use Bluehost and they say that it is possible but do not provide any particulars on how to get it done.
Call them and give them that reference number.  And don't hang up until they tell you how or they fix it like you want.  

Besides the other answers here and as stated previous by the others, this is sometimes done via the domain registrar or the hosting company.  You need to have the company get this working on their end.  If they don't know how, ask to speak to a supervisor or request your phone call to be escalated to Level 2 / Level 3 support.  

The only reason you want to hang up on this call - if the previous rep did not know what you were talking about and gave you incorrect information.   If that is the case, it will help us to help you.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35807805
What I need are specific steps for how to obtain the following behavior?

1.  If a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match tosreport.com/forum.
2.  If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match forensici.com/forum.
3.  If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match tedpenner.com/forum.

What I have so far:
Mention of using either virtual domains, or reverse proxies, and/or frames.  Since I have never done this, I don't know which one to choose, much less the specific steps.  There also seems to be some disagreement here over what method does what.  My question states exactly what I am trying to do.
I also have the suggestion to talk to Bluehost (888) 401-4678.  Thank you for that suggestion.

I still need more assistance in figuring out what to do to obtain the output stated at the top of this reply.
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:shalomc
ID: 35807919
I don't know what software bluehost uses to manage their customers, or whether a customer (you) can do these things without their intervention. Different hosting providers have different user portals, different control panels, and different procedures, even if eventually on the server side it comes to the same thing. If you were hosting with Godaddy.com, or with Webmasters.com, or with RapidSite, or if you have your own server, I would have been able to give you detailed instructions. As it is, you are doomed to wait until someone familiar with Bluehost operations reads this thread.

Your best bet to resolve your issue is to actually get in contact with Bluehost and insist that they not only tell you that it's possible, but also give you the procedure and instructions. Then you can come back here and someone will match their solution with one of the suggestions.

BTW, you can try the frame trick immediately. This is what DNS providers do when they sell you domain masking. and there is an example in a previous post.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 35908397
That's why I am asking here.  Bluehost has been less than forthcoming.  If anyone has done this with them, I would like to know what specific steps they took.

What I need are specific steps for how to obtain the behavior in the following examples using bluehost?

1.  If a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match tosreport.com/forum.
2.  If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match forensici.com/forum.
3.  If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match tedpenner.com/forum.
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Accepted Solution

by:
coreybryant earned 1500 total points
ID: 35908540
Cloaking or masking an URL redirection in IIS does not help in some parts, but it might help a little.
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Author Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 36040570
That's why I am asking here.  Bluehost has been less than forthcoming.  If anyone has done this with them, I would like to know what specific steps they took.

What I need are specific steps for how to obtain the behavior in the following examples using bluehost?

1.  If a person puts in tosreport.com/forum, the URL would match tosreport.com/forum.
2.  If a person puts in forensici.com/forum, the URL would match forensici.com/forum.
3.  If a person puts in tedpenner.com/forum, the URL would match tedpenner.com/forum.
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Author Closing Comment

by:rtod2
ID: 36040605
can't get a straight answer, still lost on this one
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