Getting familiar with the Domain Name System (DNS) is not easy. But it is a must if you plan to have an online business. This brief introduction to the most popular DNS records can be one of your first steps into the DNS realm. Take it easy! Here we go.
What are DNS records?
Shortly, DNS records are text files with different information and instructions for DNS servers (name servers). Based on the DNS record, the information it will hold. It can be the IP address of a domain, аn instruction to manage DNS requests for that domain in a certain way, etc.
Most popular DNS records
- Address or A /AAAA records
The two are address records. The difference between them is that A records work with IPv4 (32-bit address) and AAAA records with IPv6 (128-bit address). IPv6 is the latest version, and it is superior compared to IPv4, but still, both work. They have the same objective, to link a domain name with its corresponding IP address. They have a key role in the DNS resolution process that makes it possible for users to reach your website.
- Canonical name or CNAME record
The CNAME record points out that a hostname is the alias of another. It helps a lot to manage subdomains because by adding it, you don’t need individual records for every subdomain. A DNS request to a subdomain using a CNAME record will redirect the request to the canonical domain to obtain the proper answer.
- Nameserver or NS record
The NS record points out the DNS authoritative server for a specific domain. The authoritative server is the one that holds the original DNS records of the domain. You will need it, for instance, to inform other servers where they can request the associated IP address of your domain. It is not rare that a domain uses many NS records. This can be a sign that it has primary and secondary nameservers. NS record is, without a doubt, one of the most popular DNS records.
Configuring is a delicate task. A single typo in the configuration of the NS record will cause users can’t load your domain.
- Pointer or PTR record
The PTR record points an IP address to a domain name. It is an essential record for communication between machines. Humans work much better remembering domain names, but machines’ communication language is numbers. Again, a small mistake configuring PTR records can cause e-mails you send to go directly to spam.
- Mail Exchange or MX record
The MX record holds the information to know the mail server that must receive the e-mails sent to a specific domain name, yours, for instance. An error in its configuration and you will not receive the e-mails people (potential clients) send to your domain.
These are the most popular DNS records but not the only ones. As you see, they are essential for different processes to happen. Small files with a big job!