In the first part of this series, I have introduced you with different types of Domain Name System (DNS) records and explained the terms.
In this part, I will help you in learning how to manage and configure the DNS records for your domain.
What you learn in this section will help you in managing your domain and connecting the domain to a website. Furthermore, you’ll learn DNS record configuration for other purposes, like setting an email account or verifying ownership of a domain.
If you are yet not familiar with the DNS record types and their meaning, you should read the previous part first.
Concepts and Types of DNS Records
Although a domain name system primarily helps in connecting a domain to a server, many other functions can also be performed by DNS configuration and settings.
DNS record management help in determining how a domain will work.
A DNS can have many records, but most prominent are – A (or AAA), CNAME, NS, MX, SOA, and TXT. These records are kept in the zone files of a DNS.
A DNS can be partitioned in multiple zone files depending upon the subdomains associated with a primary domain. In other words, for each subdomain, there will be a separate zone file.
The important records in a DNS can be defined as –
- Address Mapping Record (A record) is a primary record in a DNS zone that corresponds to a domain or subdomain to the IP address.
- Canonical Name Record (CNAME Record) is used to alias a host name to another host name.
- Nameserver Record (NS Record) provides the address of the specific nameserver to which it is delegated.
- Start of Authority Record (SOA Record) specifies the authoritative nameserver for the DNS zone, the contact details of the domain administrator, domain serial number, and information on how frequently DNS information for the zone should be refreshed.
- Mail Exchange Record (MX Record) is used used to route outgoing emails to an email server that specifies an SMTP email server for the domain.
- Text Record (TXT Record) – typically carries human-readable information about the network, opportunistic encryption, sender policy framework, DKIM, etc.
How Find the DNS Records for a Domain
In order to find the DNS records for your domain, follow the steps –
- Login to your account in your domain registrar or hosting service provider’s portal. Note that if your domain registrar and hosting service provider are two different businesses, you need first to point the domain name to the server. Jump to this link for instruction.
- Find your domain under my products or my domain tab. Note that if you have many services or products, such as domains, hosting plans, SSL certificates etc., purchased from a single vendor, you can find your domains under the category ‘My Domain’ or simply, ‘Domain’.
- Click on the option ‘Manage DND under the Domain or My Domain Menu. Now, you can see and configure your domain for the purposes you need. Your DNS panel will look like the following image.
DNS Record Fields
You can find four fields of records in a DNS. The first field is ‘Type’ that is for the type of the record. The second field is for the Name or Host of the record. This field informs about the name of the domain or sub-domain. If your domain doesn’t have a sub-domain, you can leave the field blank or add a ‘@’ symbol or type your domain name while adding DNS records. The fourth field is for the value of the DNS records. For each record, the value will be unique. The fourth field is for the Time to Live (TTL) set up that is how much time you allow to a certain update take place before it expires. Depending upon your service provider’s setting, you need to keep TTL to minimum possible while configuring the DNS records so that the updates will be effective shortly. After the updates taking place, you may increase the TTL.
How to Manage and Configure DNS Records
In your DNS panel for a specific domain, you can find all the records associated with the domain and its configuration. You may need to modify any record or add new records as per your requirement in the processes of using your domain. It is crucial to note that a wrong configuration will lead towards non-functioning and malfunctioning of your domain. So you need to careful in modifying and adding properties of your domain. Here is the complete guide that can help you in managing your domain. In order to be able to modify or configure your DNS records, you need to follow the guidelines for each requirements or specific case –
Case 1: Configuration requirement while your domain registrar and hosting service providers are two different companies
Normally webmasters prefer that their domain registrar and the hosting service provider will be the same. However, there may be cases where you have to choose two different companies for your domain and hosting services. This is the case when you have to –
- update the nameservers (NS records) of your domain
- update the A record of the DNS
Note that you have to modify the name servers with your domain registrar and that will be automatically applied to the DNS of your domain. You can’t update the NS records in a DNS. The primary NS record will automatically create SOA record. Like NS records, you can’t modify the SOA record manually. The following image can tell you on how to modify your nameserver with your domain registrar.
Once the NS records are updated, proceed further to update the A record. The default A record name field is ‘@’ symbol and value field is ‘Parked’. Do nothing with the name field. Just update the value field with the IP address of your website. An IP address is a string of numbers that points to the server where your website is hosted. You can find the required IP address for your website in the setting page. It’ll look like:
. Just copy the IP address and paste it in the Value field for a A record. Change the TTL to 600 seconds and save the setting. It may take time to the A record to be functional. So, you need to wait few hours.
Case 2: Configuration requirements in verifying the ownership of a domain
There can be many cases when you need to verify the ownership of a domain or a website. For example, if you are going to manage search engine indexing and ranking of your pages through Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster tools, the portal will ask to verify that you own or manage the domain. In such case, the ownership can be verified through TXT records. A domain can have many TXT records for different purposes. All the TXT records are provided by the third parties.
In the above image, you can see the TXT records to verify the ownership of the domain. Copy the TXT record and paste it at the value field for the record in the DNS.
Case 3: Mail Server Configuration
You need to add some DNS records to your domain in order to configure mail server to create business email accounts, such as, your_name@your_comapany_name.com. There are multiple configurations so that your domain can properly able to send and receive emails. The basic types of configuration you require are:
- TXT Records – Text Records
- MX Records – Mail Exchange Records
- SPF – Sender Policy Framework
- DKIM – Domain Key Identified Mail
You know that TXT records are the most common types of records that you need to add to your domain property by adding those to the DNS. In case your domain registrar and email hosting service provider are two different companies, you need to put some TXT records in your domain so that the owner can be verified for the email hosting service provider. In other cases, you need to put TXT records are SPF and DKIM configuration.
Your mail hosting service provider will provide you the MX records for your domain. Each email hosting service provider has unique set of MX records that you need to add to your DNS property. The following is an example of a set of MX records:
While adding XM records to your domain, copy the addresses one after another and paste the same in the value field of your DNS for this specific type of records. With each MX record, add priority as it is specified by your email hosting service provider. Keep the Host Name field blank or add @ symbol. Create separate record for each address.
SPF and DKIM
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a type of DNS record in the form of TXT record that verify whether a mail server is permitted to send emails through a domain. If you don’t configure SPF in your DNS property, you can’t send emails through the mail server. SPF also help in delivering your email to the intended inbox instead of spam folder. Like SPF, Domain-Key Identified Mail help you in getting your email properly delivered to the intended mailbox with additional security. Its also a TXT record in your DNS property.
In order to configure SPF, you need to get the TXT record values from your mail hosting service provider. Just copy the value and paste in the value field of for the specific TXT record of your DNS and apply other settings.
In order to configure DKIM, you need to create Host Name like owner._domainkey.example.com. Note that in the entire string, the first entry before the first dot [.] is the selector that you can manually create with any text. The following is an example of DKIM in the TXT record format.
There are many other cases, where you need to update or add DNS records to your domain. In such cases, if you find any difficulty, kindly don’t hesitate to let me know by commenting on the post. I’ll respond you with possible solutions.