I moved this site from Wordpress to GitHub pages a few months ago, and when I got to redirecting the domain, I punted and put an .htaccess file on the old site and 301’ed it over. That almost worked, but after each redirect happened, any old URLs were sent to jkonrath.github.io/, which broke all of my old links. I needed to properly point my hostname to the right place, and this was a bit maddening.

Here’s what I did to get it to work. My domain is registered at Pair Domains, and my old site was running at Pair. This assumes you have created a GitHub account and a repo for your GitHub pages stuff, and have an address like I have jkonrath.github.io.

Disclaimer: I’m not an IT professional, and you could mess up everything by listening to me. You probably shouldn’t listen to me about anything, let alone something involving data loss. You’ve been warned.

The Pair part:

  1. Log in to the Pair ACC site. Back up the old WordPress site. Don’t forget to back up the database, too.
  2. Go to Domains and select the domain from the list.
  3. Select Delete Domain From Account.

    I only needed to do these three things because the domain was pointed at an IP and subdirectory of another host I run there. If you only registered a domain at Pair Domains and don’t host the site there, you don’t have to do this.

  4. Log in to the Pair Domains site, and select your domain name.
  5. Go to Domain Address Settings. This may be disabled by default; I had to accept terms and turn it on first.
  6. If you have Website Forwarding set, turn that off by deleting the forwarding URLs.
  7. From the Add New Record dropdown list, select CNAME (Parking).

    1. In the left side under Alias, put www.
    2. In the right, under Points To, put yourusername.github.io.
    3. Select Add Record.
  8. Go back to Add New Record, and select A (Round Robin).
  9. Under Host Name, put @ and under IP Addresses, put these four IP numbers:
  10. Select Add Record. You will now have a CNAME for www pointing to your GitHub Pages domain, and four A records pointing to the IP addresses above.

Note: Double-check this nine times. The CNAME is www >> yourusername.github.io and there are four A records that are @ >> 185.199.x.y If you get the www and @ backwards, this won’t work.

After you do this, you have to wait. It could be a minute; it could be a day. A good way to test it is whatsmydns.net, which shows how your changes have propagated around the world.

Once that sorts itself out:

  1. Go to GitHub, and open the repo for your blog.
  2. Select Settings, then Pages. It will say your page is being hosted at yourusername.github.io. If it isn’t, you’ve got bigger problems. Sort those out first.
  3. Under Custom Domain, enter the custom domain and select Save. You’re putting in www.my-host-name.com. There’s no protocol in front of it (http://) but don’t forget the www.
  4. This will churn away and check the DNS for you. It will also kick off a request to Let’s Encrypt to make a certificate for free. You do not have to pay for anything at Pair or do any other legwork to get this done. The catch is that if you messed up the first part, or if GitHub’s feeling grumpy, that creation step will get botched, and you won’t get any helpful information, except it won’t work.
  5. Leave it alone for an hour or a day, and then you can select Enforce HTTPS and it will (eventually) enable HTTPS.

On the last step: it may give you a byzantine error message, like “Unavailable for your site because a certificate has not yet been issued for your domain.” If that happens:

  1. Make sure your CNAME and A records on Pair Domains are correct.
  2. Wait a bit.
  3. Under Custom Domain in the GitHub Pages config, select Remove, then add it again. This will redo the request for a new certificate. Or not. I think I did it five times before it took.

You may need to clear your browser cache or wait a bit more until this works, but test it with and without HTTPS and www.