The custom domains feature allows you to link your own domain name to the forum. This will allow you and forum visitors to access the forum with a domain name like yourdomain.com or forum.yourdomain.com rather than have to use the default forum address that was provided with the forum. Custom domains can be setup by the main forum admin, as well as any other staff member on the forum that has the appropriate forum permissions to modify custom domains. To see if your account as appropriate permissions, visit the forum's admin area and then navigate to Upgrades > Custom Domains. If you are able to access this page, then your account has the permissions in place where you can add a custom domain name to the forum. Otherwise if you do not see this option, you'll want to notify another staff member that handles the member group permissions for the forum.
After you have verified whether or not you can add a domain name to the forum, in order to link your own domain name to the forum you'll first need to have a domain name purchased from a domain registrar. Keep in mind that the custom domains feature is a paid service, and the fee issued by ProBoards is separate from the fee that you paid to purchase the domain name from a domain registrar. The fee to link a domain name to a forum is a yearly fee, for $13.99 per year. Once you have a domain name purchased, you can go through the process of getting it setup by visiting the admin panel on the forum, then navigate to Upgrades > Custom Domains. On the next page, you'll see the following option:
"I have an existing domain name" - When this option is clicked, more options will expand to give you some fields to continue the setup process for the domain. Once here, you'll see two more options available depending on how you want to setup the domain name to link it to the forum:
"I want ProBoards to manage my DNS" - This is the recommended option if you plan to use the full domain name for the forum, and do not plan on having the domain name link to a regular website as well as the forum. An example for a full domain name would be yourdomain.com. Once this option is clicked, further instructions will expand letting you know how to setup the DNS on your domain name to point to the forum that you want it to link to. Once you have the DNS setup for your domain name using this method, please allow up to 24-hours for the changes to take place and then proceed to the "I'm ready, let's continue!" part of the Custom Domains page on the forum.
"I want to manage my DNS" - This option is for advanced users, and is best used if you want to link a sub-domain to the forum. An example of a sub-domain would be forum.yourdomain.com. Once this option is clicked, the page will expand with some instructions including an IP address to setup the DNS A-Record for the domain name that you want to use. Once you have this IP in place for the A-Record, continue on to the "I'm Ready, let's continue" part of the custom domains page to continue.
"I'm ready, let's continue!" - Once you have the DNS setup for the domain that you want to link to the forum, type in the web address for the domain that you want to use with the forum. The http:// is already included for you here, and the www isn't required. Simply type in your domain name in the box provided like: yourdomain.com or forum.yourdomain.com depending on the type of domain name you plan to use with the forum. Once you have the web address in place, use the drop-down menu provided to select the amount of time that you want to have the domain name link to the forum. This ranges from 1 to 5 years. Once this is set, click the "Continue" button.
After you click the continue button, the system will do a check to ensure that the DNS is setup properly with the domain name that you provided. If everything is correct, you'll be brought to the checkout page where you can provide your payment info to complete the domain name linking process. Be sure to return to Custom Domains page of the admin area when the domain name linking process has been completed as you'll have a couple of other areas of interest appear for you.
Otherwise if you get an error message after clicking the "Continue" button, that means the forum was not able to verify the DNS settings for the domain name that you provided. Check the DNS settings for the domain name to ensure that everything is setup correctly and saved properly. If everything looks good, then it's possible that the DNS changes have not yet been able to propagate fully and may need more time. If over 24 hours have passed and you're still unable to continue on with linking the domain name to the forum, visit the Support Board on our Support Forum and a ProBoards staff member will be able to verify any issues.
After you have the domain name setup, revisit the Custom Domains page found in your admin panel and you'll see a couple of different areas open up that weren't present before:
Existing Domains - This table will show the domain names that you have linked to the forum. This table hosts the following columns:
Domain Name: The domain URL that is linked to the forum will be displayed here (ie. yourdomain.com).
Status: This lets you know the status of the listed domain name. If it says "Active", then that means the domain name linking has not expired and the domain name can be used to visit the forum. If this lists "Expired", then that would mean the domain name linking to the forum has expired. Keep in mind that if this lists "Expired", then it is strictly to do with the domain name linking to the forum. Your domain name my still be current with the company you originally purchased the domain name from.
Expires: Here you'll see the date and time for when the domain name linking is expected to expire on the forum.
Extend Expiration Date: This last column will allow you to extend the expiration date of the listed domain, or renew an expired domain name linking to the forum. Simply select the amount of time you want the domain name to be used on the forum, then click the "Continue" button to renew the domain linking.
Default Domain - If you want to have multiple custom domain names linking to the forum, you can set which domain is actually used as the default domain name that will be used after a member logs into their member account on the forum. You can also select your previous ProBoards hosted URL as the default in case you plan to let a domain name expire.