DNS Habits Set to Expire in 2018

#1 Using Your Registrar’s DNS Hosting

We’ve talked a lot about this in the past. And yet, we still see people asking “why can’t I just use my registrar?”. DNS registrars (where you bought your domain name) will sometimes offer free or discounted DNS hosting. Most times, these are bare bones services with no additional features or perks other than knowing that your DNS is hosted somewhere.

Bundling web services is inherently risky because you now have two crucial parts of your website behind a single layer of security… a password. DNS registrars are also not known for their DNS hosting. If you want fast and reliable hosting, you want to look to a specialized provider. They also offer more advanced features like DNS Failover and better global performance.

#2 Single-Homed DNS

Last year, we reported that over half the of the largest domains on the Internet were¬†only using one DNS provider. A year later, there has only been a 5% change in the number of domains that have added a secondary DNS provider. You’re probably wondering why we are still harping on this.

Because it’s common sense!

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If you have something that is central to your business, whether it’s for revenue or communication or what have you… you need to have redundancy. The same goes for your DNS provider.

Actually, when you set up a secondary DNS provider, that provider is just as authoritative for answering queries as your primary provider. This comes with some pretty cool performance benefits. If one of your providers is faster at answering queries, resolving name servers will remember that and actually start to prefer the faster provider. Over time, this can reduce load times for your site.

#3 Not Caring About TTL’s

TTL, Time to Live, is a setting used when you create DNS records. TTL’s determine how long a record will be cached at resolving name servers. The longer the TTL, the less often your authoritative provider is asked for record information and the less you’ll have to pay.

But you can’t just use the longest TTL for every record. If you ever want to make a change, you have to wait for the record to expire and (if you’re human) you won’t want to wait a week.

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When you know ahead of time that you want to change a record, lower the TTL and wait for the cache to expire. When you’re done making your changes just turn it back to the original TTL. But this is just the beginning… check out this blog to learn more about the different recommended TTL settings¬†and how to change DNS records safely.

#4 WWW Addresses

Naked domains are in! Gone are the days of typing three W’s and a dot before a domain. If you want to use a naked domain, you’ll need to get friendly with A and ANAME records. These records operate at the root of the domain and let you point to IP addresses and hostnames, respectively.

In the past, when we spoke to admins that were reluctant to change to a naked domain it was because they were using a CDN. When you point a domain to a CDN you use a CNAME record, which can’t be used at the root of a domain. A few years ago we developed a new record type called ANAME records, which act like a CNAME at the root level.

Check out this blog to learn more about setting up a CDN with an ANAME record.

#5 Not Using a CDN

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Speaking of CDN’s…. nice segway there, am I right?… If you’re still not using one, then 2018 is your year to start. CDN’s (Content Delivery Networks) use a technology similar to the one we use to power our network. It’s called Anycast and it allows us to store copies of your DNS information at dozens of different locations around the world. CDN’s do the same thing for your website content like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

#6 Forgetting to Monitor Changes

Whenever you do a migration from one provider to another, you want to make sure you are using a network monitoring service. In the event that something goes wrong, monitoring your domain before and during the migration will lessen troubleshooting time.

You can use a simple DNS check and set up alerts so you’ll know the second your domain isn’t resolving. Just be sure to increase the check frequency during the migration or you could be waiting minutes before an alert.


Also published on Medium.