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How to Change DNS Settings for Your Domain

All About DNS

If Webstix is going to take over the hosting of your website (and possibly email), then the best course of action is to have us host your DNS (domain name service) as well (look up DNS on Wikipedia to find out more about what it is - in short, it translates domain names into IP addresses).

Where to Host DNS

You might not want to leave DNS hosted with your old website host because they could, one day, decide to clean up their DNS and they might remove the records for your website, bringing it down. Also, if you close down your account with your old host, you may lose access to DNS, which could make your website difficult to manage.

You typically want your DNS hosted with your website host. Another good place is with your domain name registrar (in our opinion and from what we've seen, GoDaddy is a good DNS host but Network Solutions is not as they've had some pretty large outages - others may be fine but we know about these two the best).

If your DNS host or your website host goes down, your website will not work - you need them both working. When you separate the two, you may be increasing the potential for things to go wrong because you now have to points where failures could happen instead of just one. This isn't always the case but something to consider.

Webstix DNS

With our DNS, we host it at Rackspace since it's very reliable. The downside is that you will not have any way to access it and change it yourself. Now, this may be fine for most clients but others might want that control to make changes, so it's up to you. We do not charge you if you need changes done - all you do is email us and we'll make the change as soon as we can. Again, the DNS we use is really reliable (no outages that we've ever seen).

Use a CDN for DNS

Another option we have used and some clients are using is a CDN, which is a content delivery network (see CDN on Wikipedia). What a CDN will do is speed things up as they have servers all over the United States and even the world. You can manage DNS there usually. The one we suggest is CloudFlare. You can set up your DNS there and then point your domain (at your domain name registrar) to the DNS servers that CloudFlare assigns to you. You should see an increase in website speed by using a CDN. We have seen a few, minor outages with CloudFlare but they have been in an acceptable range and we assume they're always working on making their system more reliable.

DNS TTL

One sort of technical thing to think about is the TTL ("time to live") on your DNS records. In short, if you plan on moving your domain name, then set it lower (10-15 minutes or 1 hour) a few days before you plan to move your domain name or website or email. This way, the changeover is relatively quick. If you do not plan to move your website or email for a while, then you want a high setting here because this will help your website load much faster. We've seen a lot of clients with their DNS TTL settings wrong and their websites load slowly and thus, their rankings suffer since Google wants to give results of websites that load quickly.

What Needs to be Done to Change DNS?

When we ask you for your username and password to change DNS, what we need is your username and password for where you registered your domain name - your domain name registrar.

If you forgot to write down where that was, then there are some ways to find out who your domain name registrar is. People very often don't have to worry about their domain names for years, so the information about where it's registered and what the login is can often get lost. Maybe the person who set it up isn't even at the company any more or, worse yet, your old website developer did it and either didn't give you your login and they've registered it under their own account (very bad) and you don't have access to it anymore.

Needless to say, there's no "one way" to figure all this out, unfortunately - but we've listed some tips here to help you. If you need us to further investigate this for you, please let us know. As it does take some time, we may have to charge for doing this service for you.

Do a "whois" Lookup

No, I did not misspell "who is" - in geek terms, it's a command you run at a Linux prompt and it's a program called "whois" so that's why it's called that.

Here are some places to do that:

Registrar Name
What you want to look for is the name and URL (web address) of the registrar.

There are some domain name registrars (like Melbourne IT and Wild West Domains) that have resellers. When this happens, you might have to find the reseller you originally used in order to retrieve the username and/or password for your account.

Who is the Contact?
Next, look at who the "Administrative Contact" is. Hopefully that's you and hopefully it's using an email account that you still have access to since any username or password reset emails are going to have to go to that exact email address.

Private Registration
If the contact information seems strange, then you might be using private registration where this information is hidden. In this case, you essentially have a proxy in the middle and the email address listed there should go to the one used to register the domain (but these private registration services vary in how they work, so it might not work exactly this way). By using private domain name registration, you might get less spam email or junk snail mail but this could make it much more difficult to track down the actual account information.

Retrieve Your Username and Password
If you do not know your username and password for your account at your domain name registrar, then go to that website and look for ways to retrieve each one - look for links like "Lost Your Password?" Like we said, they're typically going to send that information to the "Administrative Contact" used with the domain name. Do what those emails say and, soon enough, you should be able to login.

Send Us Your Username and Password / Your Options

To get DNS changed, you have some options:

  1. We can host your DNS
    1. Get us your username and password for your registrar and we'll do it. You can change your password once we're done if you want.
    2. We can give you the information on which DNS records to change and what to change them to. This would only be for people that are familiar or are experts with managing DNS.
  2. You can have your DNS hosted at your domain name registrar.
    1. Get us your username and password and we can change it.
    2. We can get you the information to do it yourself.

Let us know which option you prefer.

We will also know where to login - the URL. Please do not forget to include that information.

More Resources

Domain names and website hosting is a huge topic which cannot be covered in just one article - nor would you want to read that one, long article if we wrote it. Here are more articles that you might find helpful:

 

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