How To Understand What DNS Is In Less Than 10 Minutes!

Oct, 25, 2018 | Tips for Hosting, Web Hosting | 1 Comment

Understanding what DNS is, and what role it plays for your website, is a crucial part of being a self-sufficient website owner. It can also greatly open your doors in terms of getting the most out of your hosting, as well as help you manage your online business when things go wrong.

We’ve put together a super quick, nutrient-dense article to help you get a full understanding of DNS is less than 10 minutes!

Alright, start the clock!

We find the “house” analogy the best. Basically, your website and your emails live in a “house”. They might share a house, or they might live in different houses, depending on where you put them. In this analogy, a “house” is referring to a server, sitting on a rack somewhere in a big data centre. It looks a bit like this.

A server is basically a piece of equipment that contains hard drive storage space, and various other computing parts. This is where your website’s files, coding and images are stored. Likewise, the data that makes up your emails is also stored on a server.

Each server has its own unique address, and there is a big record keeping system for documenting which servers everyone’s website and emails live in. It’s a bit like the white pages (rest in peace) if you remember using those.

This record keeping system in the online world, however, is called DNS. Essentially, your domain (www.yourwebsite.com.au) will have its very own set of DNS records. These records are publicly available and will be shown to any computer that looks up your domain.

You may have 10 records, or you may have 50 records assigned to your domain – it depends how many you have created. You may run a lot of different services, or have a lot of sub-domains or addon domains in your hosting account. All of these things will lead to more DNS records.

Each record has a specific purpose, like saying which server your emails should be delivered to. While another record will be responsible for saying which server people should go to when they are trying to find your website.

When someone tries to visit your website or send an email to you, the first thing their computer will do is look up your domain and check to see what your DNS records say.

It will then look for the relevant record, depending on what is trying to be done, to find out where it needs to go to get the website visitor or the email to the right place.

There are 3 main parts to most DNS records (though some do have extra parts). A sample DNS record may look like this:

Record Type: A

TTL: 1800

Record Name: digitalpacific.com.au

Record Value: 202.130.44.27

What this record shows is that first of all, it is an A record type. There are many different types of records, and they each relate to different types of services or purposes. MX records, for example, relate to email services. You’ll also come across AAAA, CAA, CNAME, SRV and TXT records.

The A record is the most important record of them all as it is responsible for converting the human-friendly domain address into a server address. In this case, the human-friendly address is digitalpacific.com.au, but when converted, this converts to a server address of 202.130.44.27. These are referred to as IP addresses.

The other piece of information you will see in that record is the TTL. TTL stands for “time to live”. The TTL is always in seconds, and it says how long a record should be stored for before a user’s computer should check again in case the record has been updated. Setting your DNS records reasonably low is often more advisable, just in case something goes wrong with your hosting. You would not want people to be stuck with an old record for too long, should you ever need to quickly move your services to a new server.

To summarise, DNS records can be thought of as traffic conductors. If your domain is floating around in the cloud, think of it having a dedicated little traffic-conducting gremlin standing beside it, holding a list of records. When anyone approaches your domain with a delivery, your little DNS gremlin tells them where to go to find your website, or deliver your email. Understanding this concept is the foundation of being able to properly manage your DNS.

And we’re done. Stop the clock!

You can check out your domain’s DNS records through your cPanel account. Simply log in to your cPanel hosting, then find the icon that says “Zone Editor”. Once you’ve found it, click on “Manage”, next to the domain you wish to view.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or your services, simply call us on 1300 MY HOST (694 678) during business hours, or submit a ticket through OnePanel and one of the crew will be in touch!

Digital Pacific has a wide variety of hosting options available, with Basic or Business Shared hosting, VPS and Dedicated server plans, for all of your hosting needs!

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Comment Posted By: dsfdsf

good post

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