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Choosing a DNS Hosting Provider: Best Practices

September 15, 2021
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Tanya Valdez is a Technical Writer at Constellix. She makes the information-transfer material digestible through her own transfer of information to our customers and readers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Finding a DNS hosting platform to provide an optimal online experience for your clientele may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This resource will help you know what to look for to make the decision that suits your organization’s needs. 

Best DNS Service Provider

There are many DNS providers and some even offer their services for free, others are strictly paid, and some offer a combination. Aside from speed and infrastructure, each company has its own unique services and these will help determine which is just right for the user or business. 

Here are five things to keep in mind when choosing a DNS host for your domain:

1. Free vs. Paid Authoritative DNS Vendors

There are many host options to choose from when choosing an authoritative DNS vendor for your domain.  Some offer free authoritative service that seems appealing. Unfortunately, things aren’t always as they seem when you hear the word “free.” To be able to offer a service, there must be some type of gain for the provider. It is important to look into the details because “free” agreements usually come with strings attached. While some prices and associated services may seem appealing, usage amounts may be restricted and advanced features and customization options can be minimal to none.

Take time to analyze the security of having a “free” service, not to mention hidden costs and overage fees. Free accounts are typically limited in usage and if you go over that allotment, you are billed in excessive overage fees. Depending on your needs, the benefits of speed, performance, security, and scalability that you can get through a paid authoritative DNS can ultimately save you more than opting for a free service with restrictions.

See our Free vs. Paid Authoritative DNS blog for a deeper dive into the pros and cons of these types of authoritative DNS.

2. Vendor Lock-in 

Paid providers offer a plethora of services and customizations to consider, but one thing to be cautious of is vendor lock-in. Integrated DNS solutions may seem easier since they are more like a one-stop-shop to do everything you need. However, the DNS aspect is tightly integrated with the products that you cannot use another solution. You are tied to one company because your solution is dependent on using all the services from that sole provider. One company might have a seemingly enticing catalog of products and services that might have you ready to commit—but don’t. Take time to look over how these services will work directly with your domain’s needs and be mindful of contracts that you may be locking yourself into before accepting their terms. Price increases are a major concern when it comes to vendor lock-in, especially since they are usually outrageous. 

It is ideal to find a company that will allow you the flexibility to work in a multi-cloud environment. When you establish your database and APIs to work on a provider’s platform, it can be an arduous process to migrate when the time comes. After all, you should be creating a service based on your end user’s needs, not those of your cloud provider. Evaluate their quality of service because if the overall quality of their service suffers, you will too. Take note of any termination or migration fees and beware of auto-renewals. You definitely don’t want to be stuck even longer with a DNS host that you’re not satisfied with. Find a provider secure enough in their services and businesses practices that they don’t feel the need to lock you into an extensive contract—or any contract if it can be avoided.

3. DNS Contract and Service Transparency - Honesty is Key

One of the first things you should be mindful of when shopping around for various providers is pricing. Some companies don’t have their pricing listed. This can lead to a disparity in rates for the same services. Uptime is another key factor when it comes to transparency. You want to sign up with a company that is honest about any downtime that they have experienced. Studies have shown that the average cost of downtime is about $5,600 per minute. This is equal to approximately  $300,000 per hour. In addition to lost revenue, it can lead to a negative impact on a domain’s reputation, which can have long-term impacts.  

It’s essential to look for transparency in all aspects. Pricing should be made clear to potential customers. A pricing structure that scales with your volume is beneficial because you are incentivized to grow your business. Most importantly, settle for no less than 100% uptime, and read the fine print. 

If a company cannot be open and honest about these key points, it begs the question of how promising a lasting “work relationship” will be. 

4. DNS Uptime History

While we are on the topic of outages, it is important to note that the security of your brand reputation is at stake when a DNS provider experiences downtime. These occurrences can have long-lasting effects that can be hard to overcome and it only takes one outage for an organization of any size to lose customers. Few DNS hosts own their own infrastructure. In fact, most DNS providers lease the resources they use to provide customers with their services. This may help cut down costs for the DNS host, but at the expense of the quality of service they can promise their customers. It is important that they own their own infrastructure so that they are in complete control of their service quality and uptime, rather than let it be in the hands of the vendor. Constellix utilizes the same network as its sister company DNS Made Easy. With its company-owned global network, they are able to eliminate any points of failure—down to the nuts and bolts. 

5. Prevent DDoS withDNS Analytics Tools

While the heart of redundancy starts at the company’s infrastructure, it is extended to customers through tools and services to secure points of failure on both sides. With DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks on the rise, it has become increasingly important to be vigilant in choosing services and products that provide a safety net for your domains. 

DDos Prevention with analytics - Fact there has been a 31% increase in attacks from 2020 to 2021

Did you know?: There were 2.9 million DDoS attacks recorded in the first quarter of 2021. That makes a 31% increase from the same period in 2020.

Another priority to be mindful of when choosing your DNS provider is their analytics tools. It is key to look for smart monitoring tools that will analyze and record your DNS traffic to allow for machine-modeling enhancements. With services like Constellix’s Real-Time Traffic Anomaly Detection, you can configure contacts so that your team is notified if unusual spikes in traffic occur in real time. Since this can be a warning of an oncoming DDoS attack, it allows you to make proactive decisions, rather than reactive ones by rerouting traffic to healthy resources. 

DNS Service Providers and Lasting Connections

While there are many DNS providers to choose from, it is helpful to keep these key strategies in mind: the difference between paid and free DNS, avoid vendor lock-in, and look for transparency. Infrastructure plays a large role in the delivery of fast and reliable service. It may seem more cost-effective for a DNS host to lease part of their infrastructure, but a provider that invests in its own foundation shows that they make performance and security a priority. Find a DNS provider that looks out for your best interests rather than their own vendor agendas.

If you found this useful, why not share it? If there’s a topic you’d like to know more about, reach out and let me know. I’ll do my best to bring you the content you’re looking for!

Here are some other related resources:

What is DNS Hosting?

5 Instant Benefits of Constellix’s DNS Analytics Tools

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