In this article we will outline some of the common DNS record types that you may encounter while managing your website or email accounts. This information is important for ensuring that your website and email accounts remain accessible and functional.
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What are DNS Records?
All websites and email accounts rely on the Domain Name System (DNS) to route internet traffic to the correct location. To facilitate this, all domain names have associated DNS records that indicate where different types of internet traffic are routed to. The process of setting DNS records to direct traffic to a specific location is commonly referred to as pointing the DNS. To ensure that your website and email accounts remain online, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology and common records used in DNS management:
- A Records: Also known as an address record, this type of DNS record simply associates a domain name with a specific IP address. This is what tells internet traffic where to go in order to access a given domain name. Most commonly this type of record is used to connect a domain name to a server that contains website and email data. A records can also be used for a Hosts File Modification, which allows users to force their web browser to view a domain name on an alternate IP address. This can be useful when transferring your site between servers as it allows you to compare the original and transferred versions without needing to modify your DNS records. How to add an A Record.
- CNAME Records: Also known as a canonical name record, this type of DNS record provides the ability to direct multiple domains to the same location without needing to create separate A records. Most commonly this is used to route traffic for both the www and non-www versions of a given domain name to the same location. CNAME Records can also be used to connect services such as Shopify to your domain, giving you greater flexibility in how you direct traffic to your website. How To Create a CNAME Record.
- MX Records: Also known as a mail exchange record, this type of DNS record tells the DNS service where to route email traffic for a given domain name. This record can be used to route traffic to the same server as your website or used to direct traffic to a different server entirely. The most common use for this type of record is to direct mail traffic to services such as Google Apps or Office 365. How to Set MX Records Using the Advanced Zone Editor.
- TXT Records: Also known as a text record, this type of record can be used to attach a line of text to a given domain name. The most common use of TXT records is for Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain-based Message Authentication and Conformance (DMARC) records that authenticate the email being sent from a given domain name to check for potential email forgery. These records are used to prevent malicious users from “spoofing” your email address and sending unauthorized emails from your domain name. Strengthen Overall Email Authentication.
- NS Records: Also known as a name server record, this type of record is used to tell the DNS service where to look for the domain name and its associated records. Name servers are essentially giant phone-books with IP addresses instead of phone numbers. Name servers are usually only modified when the domain is moved to a new server or a DNS service like CloudFlare. This is different than a domain transfer as it does not modify the domain registration itself. How to Update Your Domain’s Name Servers.
Knowing the different uses of DNS records is important to ensure that your website and email addresses are properly configured and remain accessible to the public internet. In the unlikely event that there is an issue with your DNS records, this guide can serve as a handy reference for troubleshooting.
For more information on DNS Records and their various uses, we recommend reviewing the following resources:
Take control of your web hosting experience by familiarizing yourself with DNS records!