DNS Records | A Beginner’s Guide

There are numerous factors to consider when selecting the perfect domain name. You must also ensure that the domain extension matches your needs, in addition to finding a name that reflects your personal or brand identity and is easy to remember and type.

GoDaddy is a good option if you want to register a domain with one of the most popular extensions. They have a large domain marketplace where you can find the perfect environment for your new website. What’s the best part? You can also use their WordPress Website platform to host your website, set it up quickly, and promote your business using their Digital Marketing Suite. You can also use our free Domain Name Generator to come up with a new domain name.

What are DNS records used for?

DNS was created to address the problem that computers are better at working with numbers than people are. Its primary function, similar to a phone book, is to map names to numbers. Every device or host that connects to the internet is identified by a number in the form of an IP (internet protocol) address that looks like this: 123.456.98.22.

The network for websites is the entire internet. A resource record in DNS is an individual mapping that connects an IP address to a resource. Zones are created from resource records and stored on nameservers.

DNS terminology

Here’s some more information on the key DNS terms:

Resource Record (RR)

A resource record is a single-line text description of a specific resource. It is the DNS system’s fundamental unit. Multiple fields separated by whitespace or tabs make up a resource record, which takes the following generic form:

name TTL class type data

Name The hostname for the record.

TTL: In seconds, it’s time to live. This is the maximum amount of time a record can be cached. The record will update every hour if the TTL is 3600. A TTL of 86400 indicates that changes will take a day to update.

Class: This value represents the protocol family being used. The most common setting is IN, which stands for “internet protocol.”

Type: The resource record type, an abbreviation for the type of data stored in the following data field, is identified. An (address) and MX (mail exchange), for example, are two examples.

Data: The data payload required for the specific record type. White spaces in this section may separate one or more elements.

Later in this article, we’ll go over the different types of resource records you might encounter.

Zone file

A zone file is where your domain’s resource records are stored. A DNS zone is a subset of the domain name system that usually consists of just one domain. In individual resource records that point to different aspects of the domain, a zone file contains the mappings between IP addresses and names within that subset. It can also include comments and directives. The zone file for your domain is kept on the nameserver.


A nameserver is a specialized server that answers questions about the location of services associated with a domain name, such as your website or email. By assigning nameservers to your domain’s DNS settings, you can “point” your domain to them. Your nameservers are usually those of the company you registered your domain, but this is not always the case. There will be at least two nameservers, a primary and a secondary, in a site’s DNS settings. If the primary server fails to respond, the request will be forwarded to the secondary server.

Commonly modified DNS records

There are more than 30 different types of DNS records that can be used. Fortunately, only a few of them are useful to most web admins. The following are the ones you’re most likely to come across:

CNAME record

The canonical name is abbreviated as CNAME. A CNAME record is used to redirect from one domain name to another automatically. If you wanted store.yourdomain.com to redirect to your eBay store, for example, automatically, you could use a CNAME record. Consider the following scenario:

86400 IN CNAME store.yourdomain.com ebay.com/yourstore

A record

One of the most common record types is the A or Address record. It enables the mapping of a domain name to an IP address. The domain name is automatically appended to the name you enter when adding an A record. So, if you want to create an A record for www.yourdomain.com, all you have to do is add www to the name value. The part with yourdomain.com is assumed automatically. Consider the following scenario:

123.456.78.90 www 86400 IN A

TXT record

You can add text data to your DNS records using a TXT record. Ownership verification is a common application. If you want to use Google Webmaster Tools, for example, adding a TXT record containing a randomly generated string provided by Google is one way to prove you own the domain. Google then confirms that you own the domain by checking if the record exists.

Consider the following scenario:

www.yourdomainname.com IN TXT, a random string of 86400 characters

Read: Who Hosts This Website? Tips And Tools For Finding IP Address, DNS Details And More

MX Record

Mail exchange is abbreviated as MX. An MX record specifies the mail server that should be used to deliver SMTP mail for a domain (simple mail transfer protocol). MX records are always associated with a domain rather than an IP address. A sending server will attempt to deliver mail to the domain’s A record instead of the domain that does not have an MX record. Consider the following scenario:

IN MX 10 mail.domain.com 86400

It’s worth noting that an MX record doesn’t start with a hostname. This is due to the fact that it applies to the entire zone. If multiple mail servers are defined, the 10 is an additional number that determines the priority of this record. Priority is given to lower numbers.

NS record

An NS record, as previously stated, indicates which server is in charge of processing queries for a domain. If you move your domain’s hosting to a different location than where you registered it, you’ll need to update the NS records.

Example: 86400 IN NS ns1.yourprovider.com yourdomain.com

PTR record

A reverse DNS record, also known as a PTR (pointer) record, resolves an IP address to a domain name. This is the polar opposite of what an A record accomplishes. PTR records are primarily used to determine whether or not a server name is associated with the IP address from which a connection was established. Many mail providers will reject or mark spam messages received from servers that do not have a valid PTR record, so PTR records are commonly used for outgoing mail servers.

Because a reverse zone must be set up first, this is a little more complicated than simply adding a DNS record. Administrators at GoDaddy set up reverse DNS on all of their email servers. If you use a different provider, ask your IP address provider for help configuring reverse DNS.

Adding or changing DNS records in cPanel

If you have a cPanel hosting plan and want to point your domain to your host’s nameservers, you’ll need to manage your DNS records through cPanel. Under the Domains section of cPanel, you’ll find an icon for the DNS Manager. By selecting that option, you will be taken to a page where you can edit the records.

As a result, it’s a good idea to go in and temporarily reduce the TTL time before editing DNS records. You can make your final edits after that change takes effect. This way, your change happens faster, and you won’t have to wait hours or days to fix a mistake you made when entering your final record.

Editor’s note: Should you use your domain registrar, or should you use your hosting provider to manage DNS records? 

It’s entirely up to you, and both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. You can manage all domain configurations in one place by using your registrar’s nameservers. Your host’s nameservers will automatically configure the corresponding DNS records if you use a lot of addon domains or subdomains in your hosting plan.

Recommended: What Are The Five Most Common Domain Extensions and Which One Should I Use?

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