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DNS Record Types and When to use Them

June 10, 2020

What is DNS? The Domain Name System maps domain names to IP addresses, much like how phonebook maps names to phone numbers. DNS Records provide information about your hostname, domain, and/or current IP address. Sounds simple right? There are several different DNS Record types. Here, I will take you on a journey to understanding the top 7 most commonly used DNS Record types, and when to use them. Using these DNS record types will eliminate downtime, and drive ROI (who doesn’t want that?).

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Are DNS Records Confusing you? Use this Cheat Sheet on how to Utilize them

What is DNS? The Domain Name System maps domain names to IP addresses, much like how phonebook maps names to phone numbers. DNS Records provide information about your hostname, domain, and/or current IP address.  Sounds simple right?

There are several different DNS Record types. Here, I will take you on a journey to understanding the top 7 most commonly used DNS Record types, and when to use them. Using these DNS records types will eliminate downtime, and drive ROI (who doesn’t want that?). DNS Records are the settings of the domain configuration and DNS records keep internet traffic moving.

A Records

A Records are most commonly used to map a fully qualified domain name (FQDN) to an IPv4 address.

Example: A records can be configured in a domain for a specific host such as www.example.com or for the root record such as example.com.

AAAA Records

AAAA Records are similar to A records but point to IPv6 address instead of IPv4 address.

Example: IPv4 addresses are finite, while IPv6 was created to allow for an abundant amount of unique addresses.

CNAME Records

CNAME Records are alias record mapping FQDN to FQDN, multiple hosts to a single location without having to specifically assign an A record to each hostname.

Example: CNAME records are commonly used to point multiple hostnames to a single location. This is useful when you have multiple records pointing to the same location (usually a web server at the root of a domain). If that location changes, all you have to do is change the endpoint in the record you’re pointing all those CNAME’s to. CNAME records can also be used to point a hostname to a location that is external to the domain.

ANAME Records

ANAME Records allow you to map the root of your domain to a hostname or FQDN. ANAME Records were developed by DNS Made Easy as a combination of CNAME and A Records, both RFC compliant and saving the extra DNS lookup. This is important because this allows you to have the functionality of a CNAME record at the root/apex of your domain.

Backed by years of practice, our legacy product DNS Made Easy is the industry leader in providing IP Anycast enterprise DNS services. Embracing that legacy, Constellix ANAME records prevent downtime and increase performance. For every hostname or FQDN, there is a corresponding IP address that will be resolved in the end.

Constellix caches the IP address(es) that the hostname resolves to and creates A record(s) with it. This functionality has allowed ANAME records to work consistently with CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) which enables multiple dynamic updated IP addresses to be authoritative for a domain in numerous locations.

Example: Unlike other providers, Constellix ANAME has no limits and acts just as a normal CNAME would, but at the root of your domain. ANAME resolution happens in real-time at the moment your client queries our nameservers for your domain. Learn more about ANAME on our knowledge base.

SOA Records

SOA Records (Start of Authority) are used to records are used to direct how a DNS zone propagates to secondary name servers. An SOA record is created by default for each domain added into the Constellix DNS system.

Example: The authority for constellix.com is ns11.constellix.com.

NS Records

NS Records (Name Server) specify which name servers are authoritative for a domain or subdomain. NS Records are used in the event that another external DNS provider will be used in conjunction with Constellix DNS. They can also be used if a subdomain delegation takes place to external name servers.

The zone’s apex is where the SOA and NS (and commonly MX) records for DNS zones are placed. In order to achieve redundancy out of the NS record, hosting on a different network segment is recommended, if not and a network segment goes down, your DNS can go down.

Example: all “.com” subdomains such as “www.example.com” are delegated from the “.com” zone.

MX Records

MX records use mail servers to map where to deliver emails for a domain.  If no email is sent or received from a domain, then there is no reason to have MX records configured.

MX records are ordered based on MX priority. The lowest priority MX record is the first destination for the email. MX records should only map to A records in a domain (not CNAME records), or other external mail servers to the domain.

Example: If email is sent to a domain with no MX records, mail delivery will be attempted to the matching A record. MX records map to domains and not IP addresses.

With the 7 most commonly used DNS Record types and how to utilize them covered, you now have the tools to keep your internet traffic moving by eliminating downtime and driving more revenue. Read about the other records types on our knowledge base and learn how to configure DNS records here.

Woo wee that was a lot of information! Are you craving more? Share this with your friends and let us know you what you think @Constellix or on our Facebook. Constellix has changed the way we monitor DNS by immediately eliminating downtime, driving more revenue, and understanding your website analytics. Learn more about how Constellix can benefit you and your organization by scheduling a demo here.

Free DNS Record Cheat Sheet

DNS Record Types
DNS Record Types

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The Constellix Team


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