DNS management is a crucial aspect of website management. To manage, plan, move, redirect your domains, you need to understand the ins and outs of DNS configuration. Before we talk about DNS management and configuration, let’s talk about the basics – what DNS exactly means.
What is DNS?
DNS or domain name system is what allows the domain owner to point the domain name to an address, more specifically an IP address. For example, Ilmigo.com consists of a domain name “Ilmigo” and a top-level domain “.com”. The job of DNS is to resolve the domain name to the IP address when someone tries to access it through a browser. Basically, DNS lets you use and access your website with the simple alphanumeric domain name instead of a complicated numeric IP address where your actual site is hosted.
In the following, we will discuss the things that you must know for managing domain & DNS.
The domain name system offers a number of tools that help you configure manage and control where the domain you purchased points to. You can access the DNS from your Host’s platform or Control Panel. From there, you can manage and configure the following attributes –
Nameservers’ job is to keep the track of the DNS entries. Usually, every domain comes with 2 nameservers so that somehow if one doesn’t function, the other can take over and let users access your website.
2. A Record
A record is used to point where the website will be pointing when attempted to access through a browser. It basically points your domain, say, example.com to the IP address where your site is hosted. Without altering any other records, you can point your domain to a website hosted elsewhere using A record.
3. CNAME record
A CNAME or Canonical Name record is used for aliases for your primary domain. Where an A record points your domain, for example, “Ilmigo.com” to your server IP address, a CNAME record is used to point “www.Ilmigo.com” to your main domain “Ilmigo.com”. The advantage of a CNAME record is if by any chance you need to change the IP address, you can simply change it into the A records and the CNAME subdomains will point to the new IP as it redirects or points to your main domain instead of the IP itself.
4. MX Record
MX records are basically used for email management. It governance how email is received and where it comes from. MX records or Mail Exchange records specify the server where you’ve hosted your emails. This particular DNS resource helps you add the email servers so that you can handle email through domain-based email accounts effortlessly. When you set up the MX record, you’ll be able to create and manage custom email accounts with your domain name.
A TXT record holds information such as network, domain, platform, etc. in an alphanumeric/natural or human-readable format.
Add-on domains at the secondary or optional domain names for your primary domain. You can also use them as individual sites in which case you won’t have to manage several hosting accounts, making it more convenient to manage several interrelated or non-related sites.
Pointing a domain name
Pointing the domain name is one of the basics of WordPress DNS configuration. After all, you wouldn’t want your visitors to end up on a blank page when you update the DNS records.
You can point a domain name to your website’s IP address using the cPanel.
After logging into your cPanel, find zone editor. Look for manage or change option decide the domain your name you are pointing. Click on add new. Put the domain name, your IP along with TTL and record type. By default, TTL or Time To Live is set to 14400. But you can change it to define how long before the server refreshes your DNS details. As for the type, choose A since your pointing to your IP address. Once you have set then you set the new record, you can delete the record containing the old IP address.
Domain redirecting process may differ from one host to another. However, the basics are the same. You’ll need to use the CNAME record to redirect to a domain name and A record for pointing to an IP address. For cPanel users, here’s how you can redirect the domain – At first, log in to your cPanel and look for “Redirects” under “Domains”. Choose whether you want permanent or temporary redirect, that is 301 or 302. Pick the domain name that you want to redirect. You can use forward-slash (/) if you want to redirect a specific file. Lastly, you’ll need to specify where you want your domain(s) to be redirected to. You can also choose whether you want all your web pages from the old domain to redirect to your new domain or not.
If you have several domains for different locales and want them to direct to one particular website, you can enable the “Domain parking” feature from the cPanel or using WordPress DNS configuration. Once you enable domain parking, traffic from all your domains will be redirected or pointed to your main or primary website, regardless of their location, device or network.
To change the nameservers for your website or domain, log in to your domain name provider or domain registrar. Then click on manage DNS or configure DNS or DNS settings under domain management or domain settings. The option may differ from host to host. Make sure you have entered the DNS or domain management settings of your desired domain. Look for the section named nameservers. Now replace the existing nameservers with new nameservers and save.
Please note that changing the name service will allow the other provider to make DNS changes. Also, depending on your nameservers, the change could take up to 24 hours. During this transition period, you won’t be able to configure the DNS parameters.
As you know already, MX records manage the emails for your domain. Since changing the nameservers can affect the DNS configuration, it’s likely that your MX records will be overwritten when you change the nameservers. So, make sure to keep the DNS settings unchanged when changing the nameservers. Or you could just fix the records once the name servers are updated.
The DNS configuration tool is a sensitive aspect of a website and even the slightest error can prevent visitors from landing on your homepage. So, unless you know what you are doing with records or other adjustments to the DNS, we would suggest you leave it to the professionals. Then again, for lack of a better term, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to learn these handy adjustments and make necessary changes without hiring a web developer or WordPress assistance.