Podcast Episode

039 – Understanding Your DNS Servers

Today’s episode features Sean and Randy from beAutomated.com. These guys always have great topics to discuss on the show and today is no exception.

Today’s topic is understanding Domain Name System (DNS)
* Probably the biggest cause for confusion has been the routine push by web hosting companies to get their customers to move their name servers along with their website files and database.

  • One can use their registrar’s built-in DNS hosting to simplify the process and make it faster and easier to switch hosting companies when necessary as well as to divert other services such as email to separate hosting providers.

Levels of DNS:
* Registrar: Who you pay for reserving the domain
* DNS hosting name servers: Usually included for free by both the registrar (#1) and the
website hosting service providers (#4)
* Settings: Authoritative IP (A) and canonical name (CNAME) pointers are settings for the
domain name within the name servers in (#2) above
* Various hosting services for website and email: Provides given IP addresses or host names
from which your service is served that get set in (#3) above

  • So it is possible to have a variety of different hosting services (#4) for different applications you use with your domain name. The service that hosts your DNS (#2) is where you go to change the various A, CNAME, and MX records for these services (#3).

  • There is no need to switch the DNS hosting (#2) to your website host (#4). Hosting companies
    strongly prefer to host your DNS because it puts more control within their system and makes it easier for them to close out support tickets. However, this is not better for users who desire flexibility, ease and speed of migration jobs.

Here’s the different types of DNS record settings you should be aware of:
* ‘A’ records point the root of the domain or subdomains that you may add to numerical IP
addresses. These generally points to your web host server IP not their name servers.
* ‘CNAME’ records point aliases like www. to the root of the domain, or point subdomains
that you may add to other name based addresses.
* ‘MX’ records work more like ‘CNAME’ records except there are different priority numbers
and you usually need more than one entry as provided by your email host.
* ‘TXT’ records are used for SPAM prevention rules (see SPF).
* ‘TTL’ is the timing setting in seconds for each of the above records. You want to set this low (say 1 hour or 3600 seconds) a good day or so before launching a migration.

    • Randy Sandberg Reply

      Hey Dustin,

      We’re such NERDS aren’t we?! LOL, thanks as always for allowing us to be on your show. Sean and I always have a Great time discussing topics with you! 😉



      Sep 24, 2011
    • michaelszapkiw Reply

      In terms of DNS, is it safe to say you recommend purchasing a domain through a registrar like GoDaddy (that’s who I use), and just leave the DNS with GoDaddy for all domains I purchase through them? So whether I have 1 domain through them or 50, keep the DNS for all domains with them and don’t change them? 
      If that’s the case, I was convinced (like many others) that I needed to change my DNS to be with my webhost. This gets tedious if you have 30 domains to change over! But it would be a relief if I can just buy all my domains with one company, and just leave the DNS alone permanently. And then only change the A, Cname, etc. with the host, as needed.

      Nov 30, 2012
      • dhartzler10 Reply

        @michaelszapkiw I keep all my DNS settings with hover.com. This is mainly for ease as I don’t want to have to try to remember which host to login and change.
        I also like registering a separate account for the client for the domain name (either with GoDaddy or Hover) so that they can have a copy of the login credentials, in case they no longer want to work with me, or whatever. I want to make it as easy as possible for the client.

        Dec 3, 2012

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