It’s pretty wild that DNS is what controls where everybody’s emails and websites point to, but many people have no idea what it is or how it works. The point of this article is to sum up what you are going to need to know when it comes to this stuff.

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System and it is basically the phonebook for the internet. yourdomain.whatever = some random set of numbers (aka IP address) which is hidden from plain sight. It’s kind of like the Matrix.

What are Name Servers?

Name servers are the frontline of your DNS, it defines who is managing your DNS. We like to use CloudFlare but there are a ton of providers to choose from. When you buy a domain from a registrar (a company that sells domains) they will use their own name servers by default meaning you can manage your dns there too.

What are the types of DNS records?

While there are more types of DNS records than this, here are the ones you are going to need to know.

A Records – These are used to define where web traffic points to. It can encompass your whole domain with an @ value or you can define a sub domain such as something.yourdomain.whatever
CNAME Records – These records are used to redirect traffic to an A record. Commonly done with www.yourdomain.whatever, it will just redirect it to yourdomain.whatever.
MX Records – These are used to define where you email points to. Some providers may have one record, others may have 5.
TXT Records – These records are used for everything else you will encounter which I will explain next.

What are DKIM, DMARC, SPF records and do I need them?

Yes you need them. The internet gods that be (AKA Google) needed additional measures to combat the amount of spam that is produced on a daily basis so they put additional checks and balances in place to make sure that [email protected] is actually you. They have you put these measures in place by way of a TXT record. Here is a brief synopsis of what each does…

DKIM – Domain Keys Identified Mail is a way of detecting forged sender addresses. It allows the receiver to check that the mail came from who it should.
DMARC – Domain message authentication reporting and conformance is designed to give domains the ability to protect themselves from spoofing (aka faking an email).
SPF – Sender Policy Framework is email authentication method to ensure the sending server is allowed to send via the domain.

So what is the problem?

The challenge for some businesses or organizations is that they may have multiple domains, from multiple providers, that are hosted with a different company, get email from somewhere else (typically Google or Office365) and don’t have time to figure this out for just one company. Most of the providers for this services have different control panels to access the same information but most users cant make heads or tails of it and are afraid they are going break stuff.

Conclusion

Have someone in your organization document where your domains are registered, make sure you own them as I discussed here and know how to manage your DNS. If you don’t have someone to manage this for you, we can do it at our regular hourly rate. Reason we don’t quote on this service is that it could range from minutes to hours depending on number of domains, if you actually have access (people often send logins that don’t work), number of providers involved (i.e. email, web, dns) and if you actually have the info you need.