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Snappy’s ProTips, pt. III

Written by Sean Valant

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Today’s ProTip from Snappy is going to be the one-two punch of accessing your website via a “temporary” URL and then applying that knowledge to accessing your webmail as well.

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What is a “temporary” URL, and why do we keep enclosing it in quotation marks?  Let’s answer the last part first: it’s not actually temporary, in fact it’s very much permanent.  We can elaborate on that by addressing what exactly is this thing to which we refer as a temporary URL.  First things first, here is the associated KnowledgeBase article: https://support.hostgator.com/articles/hosting-guide/lets-get-started/temporary-url

A temporary URL is simply a means to access your website’s files without invoking the use of an actual domain name.  There are multiple circumstances where this might be beneficial, one of which would be while your domain name is in propagation.  As you can see in the KB article, the actual syntax of a temporary URL varies dependent upon your hosting platform.  For our purposes, we’ll stick with cPanel for our lesson here today, but the same logic applies across all platforms.

Let’s use the following information:

Primary Domain – ninjas-are-awesome.com
Username – ninjas
Server – gator1337
IP address – 172.192.226.44

Assuming that my domain name is not yet propagated, I can still access my website via both of the following “temporary” URLs:

http://gator1337.hostgator.com/~ninjas

http://172.192.226.44/~ninjas

Note that in both instances, we simply declared a server (either by hostname or IP address) and then used a tilde (~) followed by our cpanel username, which then will deliver us to the contents of the primary domain on our account (logically this would simply be the public_html folder).

What if we want to access an addon domain, or a subdomain?  The same logic applies to both; simply continue down the file structure within your account in order to arrive at the desired location.  In other words, if we have an addon domain called pirates-are-awesome.com and it is located in /public_html/pirates-are-awesome.com, then we would access that website via either of these URLs:

http://gator1337.hostgator.com/~ninjas/pirates-are-awesome.com

http://172.192.226.44/~ninjas/pirates-are-awesome.com

We now see that “~username” will deliver us to our primary domain (or public_html) and we can then expand from there to literally access any file or website within our hosting account simply by exercising logic and following the file structure that we created anytime we upload a file or created an addon- or subdomain.

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How does this then apply to accessing our webmail accounts?  Any email address created within your cPanel will result in a corresponding webmail account.  Before we proceed, here is the related KB article: https://support.hostgator.com/articles/specialized-help/email/how-to-log-into-webmail

Again, using cPanel as our example, the actual webmail service resides on port 2095.  Ports are accessed by using a colon in the URL, directly before the port number:

http://ninjas-are-awesome.com:2095

Instead of using the port, we can also simply use /webmail:

http://ninjas-are-awesome.com/webmail

We would use our email account credentials (including the full email address) in order to log in at the above URLs.

Let’s apply what we’ve learned about temporary URLs in order to access webmail via URLs other than those presented above.  Keep in mind that you can any domain pointed to your account in order to access webmail (or cPanel, for that matter), it does not have to be the primary domain, but it does have to be a domain that is pointed to  your hosting server.

Back to the question at hand.  Here are all the ways to access webmail, via temporary URL, using our same example account from above:

http://gator1337.hostgator.com:2095

http://172.192.226.44:2095

http://gator1337.hostgator.com/webmail

http://172.192.226.44/webmail

We now see that that there are a total of six unique URLs that can be used to access webmail, via domain name and temporary URL.  We also understand that “temporary” URLs are actually quite permanent, and only referred to as temporary because, generally speaking, you will only need to use them temporarily.  By and large, you will simply use your actual domain name to access your files.  It’s always good to understand the use of temporary URLs though, as they can be utilized for a broader scope of purposes than what we’ve covered in this article.

Just for fun, access your website via temporary URL.
Remember: http://servername_or_IPaddress/~cpanelunsername

As always, please leave a comment with any questions or suggestions.

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