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How to run a website in a Subdomain in Digital Ocean

Posted in Hack, Tutorial, Technology

If you have a website and a single domain and a Digital Ocean's droplet and if you want to run the other website on a subdomain, then congratulations you are at the right place.

I started my blog about 3 years ago using NodeJs, AngularJs and a bunch of other technologies. I used Heroku free account to host it. But the bootup time for a free account in Heroku is so long that it used to annoy me, let alone the visitors on my site. So I shifted my blog on Digital Ocean and the load time of my blog reduced drastically and now my users are happy (That's what I hope they are).

But the problem came when I wanted to run my other projects on the same domain and on the same Digital ocean account (means on the same Droplet. Who wants to pay more, just to test things up.)



  • Digital Ocean Droplet : If you don't have a Digital Ocean account register from here and get $100 in cloud credits.
  • You will also need a domain name. You can get it from Godaddy or Namecheep.
  • We will use Nginx for our reverse proxy. Make sure you have installed that on your Droplet.
  • Since this tutorial is for running your second Website on Nginx, make sure, your first website is working fine. (Check out this article for installing and running your Node app.)

We will use example.com for demo, make sure to update this with your website name.

First of all, we need to create a subdomain of our domain name. To do that go to the DNS control Panel of your domain name provider. There you have to create an "A record" for your subdomain.

We will name this A record as subdomain, so that we will have subdomain as subdomain.example.com. It should point to the IP address of your domain (eg. 145.87.XX.XX). This way you are setting as the destination for the host

Check out the tutorial to create an A record in Godaddy or Namecheep.

Log into your Droplet using Putty.

If you have followed all the prerequisites you must have a folder with the same name as your domain at a location /var/www/example.com here you will find all the file used to build your website.

We will create a new directory (or a folder) at /var/www/ by typing cd /var/www/ the sudo mkdir subdomain.example.com (provide password whenever asked by console) to create a new folder. After that if you have a Node app copy the files there and start the application or if you have a static website, just copy the files into subdomain.example.com folder.

For Node App: If you have a NodeJs app copy your files at /var/www/subdomain.example.com using Filezilla. Use npm start or pm2 start (I recommend using PM2 to run apps on droplet) to start your node apps. Let's say your app starts running on port 3000. Then type sudo ufw allow 3000 because we need to set permission to allow port 3000 to be accessed by outsite world. To check that go to example.com:3000 and check if it is running correctly.


For Static webpages: If you want to server a static website copy your files at /var/www/subdomain.example.com using Filezilla. Make sure you have an index.html at /var/www/subdomain.example.com folder. This is the page which will get rendered on hitting subdomain.example.com.

Now we will set a new server block in Nginx to call our new app. Go to /etc/nginx/sites-available/ here we will create a new file by typing sudo vi subdomain.example.com then press "i" to get into document edit mode. Type the following code:

For Node App:

server {
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;
        root /var/www/subdomain.example.com;
        index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

        server_name subdomain.example.com;

        location / {

                proxy_pass http://localhost:3000;
                proxy_http_version 1.1;
                proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
                proxy_set_header Connection 'upgrade';
                proxy_set_header Host $host;
                proxy_cache_bypass $http_upgrade;


For Static webpages

server {
        listen 80;

        root /var/www/subdomain.example.com;
        index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

        server_name subdomain.example.com www.subdomain.example.com;

        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ =404;

Press Esc then :wq to save and exit the file.

Now you need to enable the configuration, make a symlink to the enabled sites:

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/subdomain.example.com /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/subdomain.example.com

To check the syntax of code in the server block is correct:

sudo nginx -t

You will see a success message if the syntax used in the server file is correct. 

To restart the Nginx server:

sudo systemctl restart nginx

If everything works fine you will be able to see your new website at subdomain.example.com.

If it works for you comment "Hell yes!" otherwise mention any issue you faced. 

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