DNS Records

DNS Records are Domain Name System Records. These both translate domain names to IP addresses (i.e. where the website is actually hosted) and list the mail exchange servers that accept e-mail for each domain. DNS Records act as a redirection service for a website and associated email addresses.

DNS Records include the following:-

  • A records - these map hostnames onto IP addresses
  • CNAME records - these allow one domain to be an alias of another. DNS records and subdomains of the original are inherited by the aliased domain
  • MX records - these are Mail eXchange records and map a domain name to a list of mail servers. These need altering if you have your own email server. It is usual to have several MX records as a backup in case email cannot be delivered to the first one. MX records have different priorities, with the lowest number being the highest priority.
  • NS records - these are Name Server Records which map a domain name to a DNS server. When you "change the nameservers" from within a domain registrars control panel, you are changing this record and allowing the other dns records for this domain to be dealt with by the the hosting company to whom you are transferring the nameservers.

What are Nameservers?

Nameservers are the NS records. There are normally two (or more) nameserver records. These are required to map the domain name to a particular host. Many domain name registrar allow access to a control panel from which you can alter the nameservers. This is straightforward and requires entering the primary and secondary nameservers. Some domain registrars also ask for the IP address (strictly not necessary as this could be obtained automatically).

Changing the DNS Records

This is not the easiest of tasks for a beginner, and if a mistake is made your website will be invisible for a while, and emails not accessible. Some domain name registrars do not provide access to the DNS records, and all changes must be made via FAX. In theory this is great, as only well qualified people make the changes. BUT if they make a mistake, it can take an age for this to be corrected. We are aware of this happening twice recently with well known and respected companies such as Claranet and Demon. So, for most people having access to your dns records is advisable.

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