DNS record types: Popular examples

In the Domain Name System, there are different DNS record types. Their primary function is to supply information about the domain and its IP address. So, if you want to learn more about them, you are in the right place. In this article, we will consider one of the most popular record types.

DNS record – what does it mean?

But before we see the different types, let’s explain what a DNS record is. They are text instructions kept in zone files that allow domain names to be resolved to IP addresses. They’re lightweight and straightforward to update, and their size varies based on the query type. However, because PCs aren’t human, they have to rely on records to understand and decode text. That is, they convert the text file into numbers that machines can read.

DNS record types

We mentioned above that there are many different types of DNS records. Each of them is strictly individual and has its specific characteristics and purpose. And here are the most fundamental and necessary DNS records you need to know:

SOA record

Every DNS zone requires a Start of Authority record or SOA record for short. Its purpose is to display the authoritative DNS zone’s principal source. So, the SOA album is an absolute must-have. Your DNS network will not be able to function correctly without it. It specifies which DNS server is the primary (master). It contains contact information for the DNS administrator. In addition, the SOA record contains important DNS zone characteristics such as the domain’s serial number and refresh rate. It’s also worth noting that each DNS zone should only have one SOA record.

A record

The A (Address) record is probably the most common of all DNS record types. The explanation for this is simple: it serves an exact and vital role. The A record connects the domain name to the IP address it corresponds to (IPv4). Therefore, people will only remember domain names instead of IP addresses in this case.

AAAA record

The AAAA record does the same task as the A record, except for connecting a domain name to an IPv6 address. The sixth version adds a slew of new IP addresses and a slew of other improvements. The AAAA records collaborate with the A records and are saved in the same zone.

PTR record

The PTR record, often known as a Pointer record, is another crucial DNS record. We use it for backchecks and perform the reverse of the A record. In addition, it connects a hostname to an IP address (IPv4 or IPv6). It’s essential because the rest of the servers in the globe may require proof that an IP address corresponds to a hostname before accepting a service, communicating, or taking any other action. As a result, we frequently use it in the host’s authentication.

MX record

The following essential DNS record type is the Mail Exchanger record. The primary purpose of MX record is to point the email server to receive emails for a specific domain name in the right direction. It contains the domain name that means the hostname of the incoming mail server. This type of record must point to a hostname rather than an IP address is extremely crucial.

CNAME record

And we come to the last necessary type of record. A CNAME record, also known as a Canonical record, is a means to make subdomain management easier. For example, you point a subdomain like www.example.org to example.org (without the www. portion), and you won’t have to add any additional records for that subdomain. So when a user wants to access your website, he types in the address bar only example.org. Instead, all subdomain queries will be directed to the main domain.

Conclusion

Congratulations, you are already familiar with the fundamental DNS record types. This is one small step towards successful and easy management of your Domain Name System. 

List of DNS Terms You Need to Know

Here is a list of some DNS terms that are essential for you to know and understand. They are going to help you manage your network more easily and be familiar with the terminology. So, let’s explain a little bit more about each one of the DNS terms!

DNS

The Domain Name System, or DNS for short, is a worldwide naming database. It translates domain names to IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6). DNS is created with several levels in hierarchical order, and it is entirely decentralized. Thanks to it, we are not required to remember long and complex numbers (IP addresses) for each website. Instead, we use the domain names. 

DNS server

DNS servers are two different types – authoritative name servers and recursive name servers.

  • Authoritative name servers – They store DNS zones with zone files for the domains and answer DNS queries. Examples: TLD (Top Level Domain) servers and Root servers.
  • Recursive name servers – They travel and ask different servers for an answer to the DNS queries.

DNS zone

The DNS zone is a small segment of the DNS namespace. Every zone could be maintained by a separate DNS administrator. That is why the Domain Name System is decentralized. Domain and zone are not the same things. A domain could hold a single DNS zone, or it also can have several. 

DNS record

A DNS record is a simple text file that indicates an instruction for a domain. There are various DNS record types that have different purposes.

For instance, one shows the IP address (A or AAAA record), another shows a service, such as an email server that receives emails (MX record), and so on. 

DNS query

The DNS query is the behind-the-scenes process of obtaining different DNS records of a domain, such as searching for the IP address (A or AAAA record). Users generate DNS queries when they want to visit a particular website.

Anycast DNS 

Anycast DNS is a routing mechanism that speeds the DNS resolution process. It performs by setting an identical IP address in multiple name servers placed in diverse geographical locations. As a result, when a user makes a DNS query, it is going to receive an answer from the closest and available name server. 

Dynamic DNS 

Dynamic DNS is implemented for automatically updating your IP address every time it changes. In the most common scenario, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) switches your IP address to a different one. The reason for that is simple. They hold extensive networks, and such action helps them for easy management. It is a great idea to implement Dynamic DNS in case you have CCTV cameras for surveillance. 

DNS cache

DNS cache is a useful mechanism for storing DNS data (DNS records) of domain names that are previously queried. A lot of different devices use such cache memory mechanisms, for instance, mobiles, computers, tablets, and DNS recursive servers. The main goal of DNS cache is to reduce the needed time for resolving a domain name. Due to the implementation of such a mechanism, DNS recursive servers do not perform the entire DNS lookup process each time a specific domain name is requested. 

DNS propagation

DNS propagation refers to the amount of time that is needed for your new DNS changes to spread through the entire global network – the Internet. For instance, if you modify a DNS record (A or AAAA record) and change the IP address for a particular hostname. Usually, the DNS propagation process takes a couple of hours up to 72 hours to spread the new information in each server all around the world.