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Free vs. Paid Authoritative DNS

April 29, 2021
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Heather Oliver is a Technical Writer for Constellix and DNS Made Easy, subsidiaries of Tiggee LLC. She’s fascinated by technology and loves adding a little spark to complex topics. Want to connect? Find her on LinkedIn.

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Why should I pay for DNS if I can get it for free? Is premium DNS worth it? These are common questions that we hear a lot—especially from people who don’t fully understand what DNS does. But even if you do know the gist of the Domain Name System, it’s not always clear what service is best for your organization.

Luckily, there’s at least one easy decision to be made: If you own a business that has any type of online presence, you need authoritative DNS. Why? Because doing business online is like a never-ending boxing match. Someone, whether it’s your competition or a hacker, is always throwing punches at your domain. Without rock-solid, authoritative DNS, your domain is going to keep getting “knocked out” of the fight.

Tip: If you’re unfamiliar with the basics of DNS, watch our DNS Explained video, which will get you up to speed in no time.

What is Authoritative DNS?

As soon as a person searches for a website from their device, a DNS query journey begins. This process starts with the recursive nameserver or service and one of 13 root servers dispersed across the world. The root servers receive the original query and either reply with what they know or more likely, refer the resolver to the appropriate top-level domain (TLD) server. The process repeats itself until eventually, the recursive nameserver receives an answer from an authoritative nameserver for the original request. 

You can think of root servers as the Lineal Champions of DNS—they hold all the world championship belts, albeit by default. While they may only forward queries, DNS can’t function without them. 

Unlike recursive resolvers that rely on cached information or other servers for answers, authoritative nameservers provide the final answer that internet users require. In this way, authoritative servers are the Unified Champions of DNS Lookup.  

Just as there are multiple unified champions in boxing, there are many different authoritative DNS servers. Some of these nameservers are provided by a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Namecheap, while others are managed by specialized providers like DNS Made Easy and Constellix. 

No two DNS companies are exactly alike. Some offer free authoritative DNS, others only paid, and some offer both. Features also vary significantly between companies, and this can make choosing a DNS service a challenge. 

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. We’re here for you! Keep reading to see just how free and paid authoritative DNS match up.

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The Differences Between Free and Paid Authoritative DNS

Let the fight begin! In the blue corner, we have Free Authoritative DNS. In the red corner, we have Premium Authoritative DNS. Gloves are on and the bell is about to ring! 

On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be many differences between the two. DNS is DNS, right? Well, not really. 

While both free and paid authoritative DNS both answer queries for the resolving/recursive nameservers, it is the features and the underlying infrastructure that is going to determine who ultimately wins the battle between which solution is best. 

Free authoritative DNS is typically a basic service with limited functionality. Premium versions, on the other hand, tend to offer more features and customization for their users, thus allowing them to optimize their web traffic to the exact needs of their business. Furthermore, premium DNS providers usually have stronger infrastructures, faster performance, and higher uptime.

On the flip side, many companies that provide free authoritative DNS also afford customers the convenience of keeping everything in one place. While this certainly has its advantages, this isn’t necessarily the best option for businesses, as it can lead to vendor lock-in. 

That doesn’t mean every paid DNS service is automatically better than a free one, though. There are several premium services being offered that fall well short of some of the free authoritative DNS providers out there. 

The Hidden Costs of Free Authoritative DNS 

Every business, however large or small, has a budget and wants to keep overhead as low as possible. Because of this, free authoritative DNS may be an enticing option. 

But as the saying goes, nothing in life is free. 

Many “free” DNS services come with strings attached, especially providers who offer paid versions as well. 

Free accounts are often restricted to a low usage amount and are hit with exuberant overage fees for exceeding their limits. Or, features are purposefully limited so that a company can upsell you on services you may or may not need, but will definitely cost more money. 

Another point of consideration is privacy and security concerns. Many providers are able to offer a free version of their service because they sell your data to other companies. Think they aren't selling data just because they say so on their website? Unfortunately, there are more than a fair share of companies that like to hit below the belt.

It is crucial that you have a strong understanding of what DNS solutions your organization really needs. Scour the fine print and make sure you know what you’re getting into before making a final decision. In both free and paid services, there can be hidden costs that go well beyond the scope of just the price of the actual service.

DNS Outages and How They Affect Your Businesses

Another hidden cost is outages. Regardless of whether a service is free or paid, DNS uptime is critical. Outages affect both home users and businesses. The difference is that an outage for most home users is a huge inconvenience, but even a brief outage can cost organizations millions of dollars when you factor in the cost of downtime, productivity, and staff costs, as well as the loss of customers due to a hit in brand reputation. 

Of course, many people are working or learning remotely, especially since COVID-19, so outages have a greater impact on home users than ever before. This makes uptime even more important to your organization. 

For example, a recent Google outage affected millions of users worldwide and was confirmed to be a DNS-related issue. Around this same time, Network Solutions experienced a multi-hour outage that had their customers in an uproar. Dyn, a premium SP, also went down earlier that week, causing millions of domains to go dark. 

Don't just take my word for it. It's easy enough to find outage histories online. You'll see that plenty of companies who claim they'll keep you online can't really back that up. Do your own research and make informed decisions.

Did you know?: Constellix and DNS Made Easy are the only providers in the industry that have a 10-year+ track record of zero outages. And we support secondary DNS options—no business should have to suffer an outage!

Unanimous Decision: The Authoritative DNS Matchup Results Are In

DNS is more important than you may realize. The online marketplace is wildly competitive, with billions of sites vying for the attention of consumers. If your website or application is slow, or worse, suffers an outage, the backlash is costly. 

Your DNS strategy should be built around uptime, speed, performance, customization, and scalability. Because of this, a robust, paid authoritative DNS wins the match against the free contender. 

But there’s one more champion to discuss—The Undisputed Champion. This DNS champion holds all major belts in its weight class. Who is this mighty champion, might you ask? 

Constellix. And here’s why.

Tiggee LLC provides two DNS platforms for consumers, DNS Made Easy and Constellix. Both specialize in DNS, have industry-leading speeds, a 100% uptime guarantee with a 10+-year track record to prove it, and best-practice DNS solutions. The DNS Made Easy platform has dominated the industry in performance and uptime since 2001. These same best practices have been implemented into our Constellix traffic-management solution. 

Constellix is an advanced platform with highly sophisticated features, such as proprietary, in-depth DNS analytics, Real-time Anomaly Detection, Multi-CDN decisions, IP filtering, GeoDNS, weighted load balancing, and more. 

No other authoritative DNS provider has such a powerful set of features, consistent, lightning-fast speeds, and such a long outage-free history. 

Again, don’t take my word for it. Schedule a demo and see for yourself!

If you liked this, you might find these helpful:

https://www.techradar.com/news/best-dns-server

https://www.g2.com/categories/managed-dns-providers

https://www.lifewire.com/free-and-public-dns-servers-2626062


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