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Common DNS records
|A||Maps domain names to IPv4 addresses|
|AAAA||Maps domain names to IPv6 addresses|
|CNAME||Redirects a domain to a different domain|
|PTR||Resolves IPv4 or IPv6 addresses to domain names|
|NS||Provides a list of the authoritative name servers responsible for the domain|
|MX||Provides the domain names of mail servers that receive emails on behalf of a domain|
|SOA||Provides important details about a DNS zone; required for every DNS zone|
|TXT||Provides any type of descriptive information in text format|
The most common DNS record used, the A record simply points a domain to an IPv4 address, such as 18.104.22.168. To set up an A record on your domain all you’ll need is an IP address to point it to.
A blank record (sometimes seen as the ‘@’ record) points your main domain to a server. You can also set subdomains to point to other IP addresses as well, if you run multiple webservers. Finally, a wildcard record, shown usually as ‘*’ or ‘*.yourdomain.com,’ acts as a catch-all record, redirecting every subdomain you haven’t defined elsewhere to an IP address.
AAAA Records, also known as a “quad-a,” operate in the exact same way as A records, except they point to an IPv6 address, which look similar to FE80::0202:B3FF:FE1E:8329.
The AAAA designation is one way of indicating that this DNS record is four times as long as an A record.
CNAME records are very commonly used to link a subdomain to a domain’s A or AAAA record, instead of making 2 A records. For example, you could link blog.example.com with a CNAME record to an A record set on example.com, and they would both point to the same server. Additionally, if you change the A record on example.com, all the CNAME records pointing to it would update to the new server. One limitation to CNAME records is that they can only be placed on subdomains, such as blog.example.com, but not the root domain, example.com.
DNAME records essentially make a CNAME record for every subdomain of a domain, and point it to another. For instance, a DNAME on domain.com pointed to example.com will link blog.domain.com to blog.example.com, www.domain.com to www.example.com, a.b.c.d.domain.com to a.b.c.d.example.com, and so on. It however will not link domain.com to example.com, you would need to use an A, AAAA, or ALIAS record for that purpose.
PTR, or Pointer records are usually described as the opposite of an A record. While A records point the domain to an IP address, a PTR record points an IP to a domain. This is commonly used as spam verification with certain email programs to confirm a mailserver is really authorized to use the domain the email is coming from. PTR records usually have to be defined by the owner of the IP address for your server, usually your server hosts. Many hosting companies will set this up for you when you set up a server.
NS records are usually set with your registrar, and are used to delegate a domain or subdomain to a set of name servers. Name servers, such as NS1, hold all the other DNS records for your domain and tell all the other computers connected to the internet what records your domain holds. Setting the NS record is therefore a very important part of getting your domains and servers online.
MX, or Mail eXchange records are used to direct emails sent to your domain. MX Records, coupled with a mail server can provide you and your employees, clients, etc. with emails on your own domain such as email@example.com. You can also add multiple MX records with varying priorities for redundancy, if you have multiple mailservers configured.
SOA stands for Start of Authority. Records of this type contain zone information, which is organized using the zone file or the DNS server. They are important, among other things, for zone transfer: this transfer consists of replicating a zone from one server to another to prevent possible failures. Zone transfer ensures a faithful replication of the original file. In such a DNS record, behind the administrator’s email address is a serial number. This is incremented with each new update.
TXT Records allow you to contain any textual information on a domain or subdomain. Applications can use this to check information about a service you are running, commonly SPF records, DomainKeys, and DKIM (two other email verification processes). Usage with SPF can be read about above in the SPF Records section. TXT Records may contain any information up to 255 characters.