Add a domain to Office 365 and keep its website hosted where the site is hosted now

You can add a custom domain, like fourthcoffee.com, to Office 365 Small Business by signing in to the Admin portal, and then under Domains, choose Manage your website and email domains, and then Add a domain. (If you’ve already added a domain, you can add additional domains by following the same steps above.)

If you already have a website that uses the domain you’re adding, like www.fourthcoffee.com, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to make sure that customers can still get to the site at your current web hosting provider. In this article, we walk you through the process for doing this. Because each hosting provider is a little different, you may need to contact your current provider for additional help.

 Important    You have two options for making sure people can still get to your website after you add a domain to Office 365.

  • If you decide to keep your DNS hosted outside of Office 365, you don’t need to follow the steps in this article.
  • If you do want Office 365 to set up the DNS records for your services and manage your DNS, read through this article and follow the guidance here.

What do you want to do?


Prepare before you add a domain

Before you add a domain to Office 365, keep the following in mind:

  • To add a domain, you must have already registered the domain and have the sign-in credentials needed for your domain name registrar.
    • You can buy a domain from a domain name registrar.
    • If you already have the domain you want to add but you don’t have the sign-in credentials at your domain name registrar, contact the person who registered the domain.

For more information, see Locate your DNS services.

  • If you are currently using custom domains in another Microsoft cloud service, you cannot add the same domains to Office 365.
  • When you verify your domain ownership to Office 365, you add a DNS record at your domain registrar and have to wait for the record to propagate through the DNS system. The process usually takes about 15 minutes, but can take up to 72 hours.
  • Please remember! After you set up a domain to work with the Office 365 services, don’t let the domain expire by not paying your domain name registrar. If you don’t renew your domain registration, your Office 365 services set up with that domain won’t work. For example, email messages won’t be delivered and Lync Online won’t work. Your domain name registrar will notify you when your domain registration is about to expire.

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Add your domain to Office 365

You can add a domain to Office 365 and keep a website that uses the domain name at its current hosting provider. To keep the website hosted where it is after you add the domain to Office 365, you have to create a DNS A record in Office 365. This record points to the IP address for your website; for example, 172.16.140.1.

If you don’t know your IP address, contact your current hosting provider and explain that you need the IP address for your website so an A record can be created to route customers there. Then, add the domain in Office 365 by doing the following.

  1. On the Admin page, under Domains, click Manage your website and email domains, click Add a domain, and then click Start now.
  2. On the Add a domain page, type the domain that you want to add, and then click Next.
  3. Follow the steps in the wizard to verify with Office 365 that the domain you’ve added belongs to you. You’ll confirm with Office 365 that you own your domain, and then, to complete the process so that you can use your domain in Office 365, you’ll either change your name server (NS) records to point to Office 365, or create the necessary DNS records yourself at your DNS hosting provider.
  4. If you choose the first option, the NS records direct domain traffic, like email messages, to your Office 365 account. After you update these records, Office 365 automatically sets up your email and other services for you by creating the required DNS records. To keep your website hosted where it is, you’ll need to take extra steps (described below). First, after your domain is verified, click Cancel in the Add a domain wizard. Then take the steps in the next section, Set up email accounts and website redirection.

 Important    Don’t continue to the page where you update name server (NS) records for the domain to point to Office 365 name servers. You’ll do this later.

If you choose the second option, you won’t see the option to change your NS records and you don’t need to follow additional steps here. Your DNS will still be hosted at your current DNS hosting provider, and you create the DNS records for Office 365 yourself there.

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Set up email accounts and website redirection

If you chose the option where you’ll switch your NS records to Office 365, the next step is to add user accounts and email addresses for the domain, and set up the A record redirection for your website by doing the following.

  1. Add user accounts and email addresses:    Create Office 365 email addresses with the domain for your users who use that domain (such as ben@contoso.com) so that your users won’t lose email messages when you update the domain NS records to point to Office 365.

 Tip    After you add a domain to Office 365, you can change the default domain for new email addresses.

  1. Set up an A record for redirection:    In the DNS manager, create an A record to redirect traffic to your website, using the IP address that you got from your current web hosting provider.

We recommend that you also create a CNAME record to help make sure that your customers will find your website whether they include www together with your domain name. Add the CNAME record in Office 365 in the DNS manager.

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Update the domain name server (NS) records to point to Office 365

Now that you’ve got email accounts and website redirection set up, you can update your domain name server (NS) records for the domain to point to Office 365. By setting up email addresses and the A record ahead of time, as described in the previous section, users will have email accounts that use the domain address, and your website will still be available at your current website hosting provider after you change the NS records.

 Note    When you change your domain’s NS records as described here, you change the destination of domain services, such as email, to point to Office 365. Remember—if you’re already using the domain for email outside Office 365, make sure that you have created Office 365 email addresses with the domain for your users (like ben@contoso.com) so that they won’t lose email messages when you update the NS records to point to Office 365.

  1. On the Admin page, under Domains, click Manage your website and email domains.
  2. Select the domain name that you want to edit.
  3. Click Troubleshoot.
  4. Select the first option, and then click Next.
  5. Follow the steps provided on the page to update your NS records, or follow these step-by-step directions.

After you’ve updated your NS records, email will begin to be routed to Office 365, but traffic to the website address that uses the domain will continue to go to your current hosting provider.

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Applies to:
Office 365 Small Business admin