Using a HostGator (paid) domain for a Netlify hosted (free) website

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I’ve built a react app and deployed it here: https://incredible-chimera-e51350.netlify.app/

I am on the free netlify plan, and I just built it for a comedian I like. His old site was hosted on HostGator. I am trying to transfer his domain (www.iankarmel.com) over to point to the site I made for him. I went through this before, but it was giving me errors. On my laptop, it would show my netlify site showing on the domain iankarmel.com (awesome), but it was saying certificate isnt valid and all sorts of other stuff. On my phone it wouldnt load at all and said too many redirects. So I returned everything back to its original state.

How can I do this properly so there are no issues? I’m a decent dev when it comes to actually building stuff, but this deploying stuff is totally new to me. Appreciate all your help!

Netlify don’t offer a free plan, they offer one that starts at $0 known as the Starter. Subtle, but important, difference.

The name servers for iankarmel.com are the HostGator servers. The IP address for the apex domain and www subdomain are not configured to use Netlify. The current site redirects to Squarespace via a 301 redirect.

You have two options.

The first is to use Netlify DNS. This means you would change the name servers to those provided by Netlify and the domain DNS is then controlled at Netlify and not HostGater.

The second option is to use external DNS. This means you configure an A for the apex domain and CNAME for the www subdomain on HostGater as per the documentation and assign iankarmel.com as a custom domain to the Netlify site.

Is one easier / better than the other? Are there any pros and cons to this?

Thank you for your reply!

There are certainly pros and cons to both setups. Some of these are listed in [Support Guide] Should I use Netlify to manage my DNS?

A con for Netlify DNS is the lack of support for DNSSEC (see DNSSEC support on Netlify and DNSSEC on Netlify)

A con for using external DNS is the lack of AAAA record support for apex domains (see AAAA (IPv6) record for apex domains? )

If you are undertaking design work and not managing the domain for the client, I suggest using external DNS configuration. If you are managing the domain as well then whichever suits you best.