Unraveling IP-based host mapping for Zendesk Support Follow

When you first start your Zendesk Support subscription, the URL for your Zendesk Support web portal is some variation on mycompany.zendesk.com. Since all companies take great stock in managing their brand, Zendesk Support offers you a feature on our Team, Professional, and Enterprise plans called host-mapping that allows you to show your own branded URL to all customers.

You can choose IP-based or SNI-based host mapping. SNI-based host-mapping is supported in the Team, Professional, and Enterprise plans, while IP-based host mapping is only supported in the Professional and Enterprise plans. For more information, Setting up host mapping in the Zendesk Administrator's guide.

This article covers IP-based host mapping.

Modify Your CNAME Record

To get this working, you’ll need to make a few changes to your subdomain’s DNS . When dealing with DNS changes like CNAME records, Time To Live ( TTL ), and Secure Socket Layer ( SSL ) certificates, things can get complicated. Here’s a walk-through that should make this easier to understand.

Assuming you already have your desired subdomain ready to go (ie. support.mondocameras.com), you’ll need to make a DNS change. This is done through the host where your domain resides. The change you will be making is to the CNAME record.

As shown above, point the CNAME record for your subdomain (shown in the “Host Record” field in this example) to your subdomain, as shown in the “Points to” field. The end result should look like the following:

Once this has been done, allow some time for DNS propagation. DNS changes typically take anywhere from a few hours to a day – depending on your Time To Live (TTL) settings – to reflect the changes. In the meantime, you may see some redirects. TTL can be altered at the host level if you have access to this.

Enable Host Mapping

Next, log in to your Zendesk. Go to Settings > Account > Branding , and under the Host mapping field, add your custom subdomain; ie. support.mondocameras.com. This enables the host-mapping to occur.

If you don’t do this, your subdomain will point to an error page, rather than your page.

Host Mapping and SSL

Keep in mind when host-mapping your subdomain, Zendesk provides a free SSL certificate for all *.zendesk.com domains. Now that you’re using your own subdomain, our SSL certificate will no longer apply, and you may experience a certificate error. Or rather than seeing your subdomain map, your customers will be redirected from your support.mycompany.com URL to the mycompany.zendesk.com URL.

Use Hosted SSL in order to enable HTTPS (encrypted communication) for your custom subdomain.

  1. Go into your Zendesk Support under Settings > Security > SSL . Below Hosted SSL , you'll see a Generate a request button. Clicking this link will download a certificate signing request file (CSR) to your computer.
  2. Provide the CSR to an SSL Certificate Authority, who will then generate a certificate for your custom subdomain (ie. support.mondocameras.com) and provide you with a certificate bundle. See Preparing a SSL certificate to upload . Before paying for the certificate, make sure the certificate authority supports SHA-2 encryption. The CSR uses SHA-2 encryption.
  3. After obtaining or preparing the SSL certificate, return to theer Settings > Security > SSL page and click I have a certificate , then Upload certificate .
  4. Next, simply upload the certificate. The installation process on our end takes up to five business days, at which point our wonderful Ops team will reach out to you with next steps. You will be given instructions to make an additional CNAME record change for your subdomain, to a new CNAME record URL reference which is created when your SSL certificate is installed.  (ie. support.mondocameras.com to mondocam.ssl.zendesk.com).

If you're a Team plan customer, IP-based hosted SSL is not supported, but you can use SNI-based hosted SSL instead. For more information, Setting up host mapping in the Zendesk Administrator's guide.

Hope this helps you customize your Zendesk URL and continue providing your users with great support, branded to match your company! If you have any additional questions, you can contact our customer service team at support@zendesk.com

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  • 0

    Hi there,

    I'd like to set up a domain based entirely on Zendesk. I.e. not a support sub-domain, but the whole website hosted as a Zendesk site.

    I don't believe it's acceptable to have just a CNAME in the DNS records - you must have an A record, too. Is there a recommended IP address to use to map the domain, and will this work?

  • 0

    Hi Paul!

    Just to clarify, are you asking if you can host your entire website on Zendesk's servers? We don't provide webhosting as such; we only provide tools for a Knowledge Base and Community. Any other web presence you wish to have will need to be hosted elsewhere.

    As far as the hostmapping goes, it's not necessary (and I think not even possible) to set up both a CNAME record and an A record pointing to the same site. When you set up your CNAME record with your DNS provider, Zendesk actually takes care of pointing that CNAME in the right direction so everything resolves correctly. You don't need to set up the A record yourself.

    Hopefully that answers your questions! Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  • 0

    Hi Jessie,

    Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear. What I want is for the whole domain name (example.com) to be mapped onto my Zendesk, not a sub-domain (support.zendesk.com). I'm pretty sure DNS rule dictate that you can't just have a CNAME entry - you must have at least one A record (with an IP address). So I need to create an A record for the example.com domain.

  • 0

    Hey Paul! Thanks for clarifying.

    Your root level domain (ie: www.example.com) is hosted with the domain registrar you bought it from, or with whatever web hosting services you're pointing it toward. In order to be able to use that root level domain for your Help Center, Zendesk would have to actually be your domain host and, as we talked about above, Zendesk isn't set up for that.

    So to answer your initial question, it's not possible to host map www.example.com to your Help Center. What you can do, however, is forward traffic from www.example.com to support.example.com. You'll set up your host mapping as described in the article above, pointing support.example.com to yourdomain.zendesk.com. You'll then do some additional set-up with your domain registrar to forward or redirect visitors to www.example.com to support.example.com.

    When you set up your host mapping with Zendesk, we take care of pointing your visitors to the correct IP address so you don't need to set up any of that on your own. When setting up forwarding from your root URL, though, the settings may be different. Your domain registrar will have instructions on how to get that set up!

    Please let me know if you have any other questions!

    (First paragraph edited for clarity.)

  • 0

    Sorry, Jessie, but that's wrong. The www. sub-domain can be mapped to Zendesk with a CNAME record.
    The root-level domain is 'example.com'. Only an A type record can be used with the root, according to the DNS specification. This requires an IP address, and it sounds like Zendesk can't provide/support that, which is a shame.

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