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What is DNS Hosting?

September 2, 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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Even if people know the basics of what the Domain Name System (DNS) is, people often get confused as to what DNS hosting means. In this resource, I’ll explain what DNS hosting is and what it isn’t.

What is DNS: Crash Course

DNS is what facilitates the internet usage we’ve grown to rely upon today. Any device that connects to the web uses DNS—without it, no one could find your website. The main function of DNS is to translate domain names into machine-readable numerical addresses and to answer internet users’ queries. This is all done via DNS servers (recursive, root, top level domain (TLD), and authoritative) that are positioned around the globe. The lookup process always starts with a recursive resolver, and then depending on what’s in a user’s browser or resolver’s cache, follows a specific sequence to receive an answer for the query. The final answer is given by the authoritative nameserver.

DNS Hosting Explained

One common misconception is that web hosting and DNS hosting are the same. Whereas a web host provides the online space in which your actual website is hosted, a DNS host is a network service that provides the authoritative nameserver for your domain’s queries. The confusion comes in because web hosts sometimes offer free DNS as part of their packages. But they are two completely different services. 

DNS Hosting Provider

As mentioned above, some web hosts include DNS as part of their package. But just because it’s included doesn’t mean it’s the best option—especially for corporate and enterprise-level businesses. A fast and reliable DNS hosting provider is crucial in today’s digital climate. For example, online spending in 2020 totaled $861 billion, which shows a 44% increase year over year. Even without the pandemic in the mix, e-commerce has seen significant growth throughout the years, demonstrating that consumer buying behaviors are evolving.

Cheap Hosting vs. Premium DNS Hosting

Cheap or free authoritative DNS hosting may be okay for personal and hobbyist websites, but businesses that rely heavily on their web presence would be better suited with premium options. Free hosting generally offers limited functionality and features. Premium DNS hosts provide a plethora of customization options and usually have stronger infrastructures, faster performance, and higher uptime.

What to Look for in a Premium DNS Provider

One of the first things you should do before choosing a DNS hosting provider is to check their outage history. A google search can quickly reveal what providers don’t advertise. Infrastructure is also critical. Peering and transit capacity play a significant role in query resolution speeds and the amount of web traffic a provider can handle. Customization options are also important. DNS isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. While every domain needs authoritative DNS to operate and be found on the web, organizations have different needs that often entail complex configurations. Some feature examples include GeoIP and GeoDNS services, IP filtering, Traffic Steering, and Multi-CDN management. Also, look for creative workarounds to RFC rules like ANAME records and options that will allow you to fully tailor your DNS to your business. 

DNS Monitoring and Analytics 

Another vital, but often overlooked DNS feature is monitoring and analytics. In fact, many people don’t realize this option exists. With robust monitoring and analytics services, you can take your DNS to the next level. These features allow you to view traffic in real time, analyze query logs and patterns, spot misconfigurations, prevent DDoS attacks, and more. 

DNS Hosting Checklist Numbered

DNS Hosting Checklist

1. Uptime history

2. Infrastructure

3. Speed

4. Customization options

5. DNS Monitoring

6. Query analytics  

7. Scalability

8. Customer service and support

The TL;TR of DNS Hosting

A DNS host provides the authoritative nameservers that answer queries for your website. Without a DNS host, your domain couldn’t be found on the internet. There are free, cheap, and premium DNS providers, all of which offer a different customer experience. The important thing is to research several providers beforehand, to ensure your current and future needs can be met. Once you realize the power a strong DNS hosting provider can offer your domain, you’ll never look at DNS the same. 

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’d love to hear your thoughts!

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