DNS Records Explained

Whenever you search for a website on the internet, the Domain Name System (DNS) makes sure you don’t end up with the wrong thing. 

The DNS keeps a directory that lets it match IP addresses to corresponding domain names stored in its database. This database holds tons of updated DNS records and text files associated with handling a domain request.

In this article, we’ll explore DNS Servers, DNS Records, and how they operate. 

What are DNS Records?

Think of DNS records as an archive for domains.

Suppose the DNS is an internet directory for all domain names and matching IP addresses. In that case, DNS records are a system database with specific information on different domain names and IP addresses.

The archive has authoritative instruction on domain locations, type of content hosted on the domain server, how to access it, and the time it’ll expire.

These records consist of DNS syntax, which is a string of characters used to command the DNS servers on what to do. All domains have essential DNS records hosted on DNS name servers that enable users to access their sites.

What are Nameservers?

A name server is another name for a DNS server or Domain name server. It houses an enormous archive, albeit decentralized, 0f domain names and matching IP addresses.

The nameserver is the backbone of the modern-day internet and is responsible for telling your computer what to do when you’re sending an email or looking up stuff on the web. 

When you look up a website, the DNS resolver (which is also a DNS server) attempts to resolve the query by accessing DNS records at the top-level domains such as .com or .org, located at the DNS root server.

It requests specific information on a hostname (website) query from a higher-level authoritative name server. The name server query process ends when the name server returns the correct information on the IP address to the DNS client (your browser ).

How Does a DNS Server Work? 

The idea behind DNS is an accessible phonebook for the internet. Computers on the web access the site you’re trying to reach by sending a request to this phonebook, which receives and answers your query with corresponding feedback. 

Like how you dial and connect a number from your phonebook, DNS connects with this internet directory through a DNS server. The DNS Server keeps information records that resolve domain names to corresponding IP addresses.

For instance, you’re more likely to remember www.scalahosting.com than you would a string of numeric characters. When you assess Scala Hosting, your browser performs a DNS query via a DNS server to get this IP address – 173.237.190.136 your browser connects.

A DNS server resolves three types of queries

Recursive Query

In this query, the DNS Resolver resolves a hostname request from a DNS client.  The resolver starts by accessing records at the DNS root server till it finds an Authoritative name server with relevant records on the IP address and other information on the hostname. 

If the resolver doesn’t find any relevant information on the hostname, it comes back with an error message.

Non-recursive Query

For a non-recursive query, the DNS Resolver already has partial or complete information on the hostname query stored in its local cache.

At this instance, the resolver returns a relevant DNS record to the DNS client or queries an Authoritative name server directly for complete DNS records.

In both cases, the DNS resolver has information on the hostname’s IP address and does not need to run extra queries.

Iterative Query 

The DNS resolver resolves the hostname query via many requests to multiple name servers to return the best answers in the iterative query.

This happens when the resolver has no access to relevant records or can’t find it in its cache. 

To solve this, it refers the DNS client to another Authoritative Name Server or Domain Root Server at the required DNS zone.

Then, the DNS client repeats the entire query process against the new DNS server the resolver referred it to. 

Types of DNS Records

When you buy and register a domain, we host and manage that domain’s DNS records on our servers. The DNS servers edit, delete or create records for the domain assigned to it.

Due to this, we offer a way to manage some of your domain records without the technicalities involved. We’ve listed some of the common and less-common DNS records below.

Common Types of DNS Records

These records provide relevant information about a domain or hostname and its corresponding IP address.

A Record

The A Record is an Address Mapping Record. It stores the IPv4 address of a domain. 

The A records also operate a DNS-based Blackhole List (DNSBL). This list helps email servers weed out and block messages from known spammer domains.

CNAME Record

The Canonical Name (CNAME) Record forwards one domain to another domain through an alias. 

Domains use the CNAME records in the absence of an A record. Because of this, all CNAME records point to another domain, not an IP address.

CERT Resource Record

The Certificate record keeps encryption certificates like:

  • PKIX
  • PGP
  • SPKI.

PTR Record

This record is a DNS Reverse-lookup Pointer. It enables a resolver to provide an IP address and get a hostname as feedback.

TXT Record

The DNS Text record lets a domain administrator store human-readable texts in the DNS.

MX Record

The Mail Exchanger (MX) Record directs outbound mail via an SMTP server to a mail server.

Less-Common Types of DNS Records

We’ve listed some DNS records responsible for other functions not directly associated with a hostname and IP address.

NSEC Record

The Next Secure Record proves that a DNSSEC record is unavailable.

DNSKEY Record

This record verifies Domain Name System Security Extension (DNSSEC) signatures through a public key.

DNAME Record

The Delegation Name Record is similar to the CNAME Record but reroutes subdomains as well.

Final Thoughts

DNS records have other functions that enable users to view your website on the internet. 

While free DNS service providers might host your domain with limited firewall protection, Scala Hosting guarantees 100 percent uptime, a robust firewall, and a fully managed website that caters to all your business needs.

Rado

Author

Working in the web hosting industry for over 13 years, Rado has inevitably got some insight into the industry. A digital marketer by education, Rado is always putting himself in the client's shoes, trying to see what's best for THEM first. A man of the fine detail, you can often find him spending 10+ minutes wondering over a missing comma or slightly skewed design.

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