Domain Name System (DNS) records are very important. They contain vital information about your site such as what IP address it uses, what subdomains it contains, and much more.
Some DNS records are absolutely necessary, while others are merely helpful. It can be hard to know where to start with DNS – and you want to get it right the first time, of course!
This guide will tell you about CNAME and A records, and what you need to know about them!
About These DNS Records
A records are an important DNS record because they create a link between a website‘s IP address and its domain name. CNAME records are also very useful as they allow us to connect subdomains to the main domain.
“CNAME” stands for Canonical Name, and it refers to the name of another domain or subdomain. This means that if you go to example.com, your browser will automatically be redirected to www.example.com.
This helps reduce traffic because most browsers already know how to handle this type of redirect.
An A record is used to point to a specific IP address. For example, when you go to example.org, your browser will actually send a request to 192.168.1.2.
An A record is also used to tell other computers about the location of a website.
What Is An A Record?
The Domain Name System allows us to easily access websites without typing in their IP addresses. We can simply type in the domain name instead. This makes it easier to remember the website’s address.
The DNS A record serves exactly the same function as the IP address. It tells you what IP address is associated with the domain.
In our example, the zone file for example.com has an A record specifying that example.com lives at 93.184.216.*. Without an A record there would be no way to access the site using its domain name.
When a user types in a specific domain name into their web browser’s address field, the appropriate server returns an IP address for that domain.
This allows the user to access the site. A records will only function with IPv4 addresses. They are not used for IPv6 addresses.
What Is A CNAME Record?
A CNAME record is a type of DNS record that provides an alias for a website (Also check out What Is PTR?). The CNAME record tells the web browser what the real website is called.
For example, if I wanted to create a new site called www.example.com, I could add a CNAME record to my DNS settings pointing to example.com.
This means that when someone types www.example.com into their browser, instead of going to example.com, they go to www.example.com instead.
A CNAME record does not always result in the same web page appearing. In this case, the CNAME record links the subdomain blog.example.com to example.com.
This means that if someone types www.example.com into their browser, they will be directed to the blog.example.com site.
Users are redirected to the correct pages.
CNAME records are very useful. If you want to change the IP address of your website, you only need to update the DNS records for the main domain.
They only need to change the Domain Name System (DNS) settings for the main domain name.
DNS And CNAME Records
A DNS client (such as an internet browser) requests www.example.com, but gets back the CNAME record instead. This means that www.example.com points to example.com.
The client understands that www.example.com is only an alias for example.com and issues a new DNS request for example.com.
The process is repeated until the resolver returns the correct A record for example.com, containing the IP address of the server. The client then connects to example.com using its IP address.
CNAME from subdomain is used to redirect traffic to other subdomains. CNAME from sub-subdomain is used to redirect to other sub-subdomains.
A CNAME cannot be placed in the root zone, because the root domain must point to an IP Address.
A hostname defined by a CNAME record must not have any other type of resource record, except for DNSSEC-related records like RRSIG or NSEC.
A CNAME record should always be an alias for another domain name. This is because DNS does not allow you to create aliases for your domains.
So if you want to use a CNAME record, make sure that it points to another domain.
Other Record Types
The difference between an alias and a CNAME record is that aliases point to a different address than what the name points to.
For example, if you had a website called www.example.com but wanted to use a different domain such as www.example2.com instead, you could create an alias by using the following command:
CNAME www.example.com www.example2.net
This means that when someone goes to www.example.com, they get redirected to www.example2.com.
A record is used to map an IP address to a different IP address. An alias record allows you to map a host name to another host name. You can use this feature to create subdomains or subnets.
ALIAS is faster than CNAME because it doesn’t require resolving another name. ALIAS records also need to do recursive look-ups behind the scenes which can affect performance.
How Important Are These DNS Records?
Both these DNS records are quite useful, but A records are absolutely necessary!
Even if your website consists only of a single page, it’s quite likely that you’ll need to create a CNAME record for pointing to the parent domain.
Additionally CNAME records connect domain aliases and subdomains to their parent domains.
It’s through the A record of their parent domain that users can directly access the site’s content. CNAME records cannot be used for creating direct connections with IP addresses.
DNS settings can be a little confusing. There’s so much to learn – and getting it right is crucial! Hopefully this guide has helped you to learn about these important DNS records, and how you can best use them!
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