Understanding DNS Records and Key Domain Terms


We know you’re busy running your business and don’t have much time set aside to learn new things about internet technology, besides, isn’t that why you hired someone to run your IT for you? The truth is, if you’re a business owner online running a website, it’s great to familiarize yourself with key terms about hosting and internet technology. We’re not saying you need a degree or to be as high tech as those bros in Silicon Valley, but you should know a little bit just to help you run the back end of your website.

Today we’re going to teach you about DNS records and key terms associated with them. DNS Records are super important to the running of your website and the internet by extension. They even help you to connect to your WIFI at home. We’re breaking it all down for you in simple and easy to use terms so that you don’t feel bogged down by too much information.

Let’s get started.

What is a DNS record?

DNS records (aka zone files) are instructions that live in commanding DNS servers and provide information about a domain including the IP address associated with that domain and how it should handle requests for that domain.

These records simply consist of a series of text files written in a language known as DNS syntax. DNS syntax is merely a string of characters. They are used as commands which instructs the DNS server on what to do. All DNS records also have a ‘TTL’ attached, which stands for time-to-live, and specifies how often a DNS server will refresh that record.

Consider a set of DNS records like a business listing in an online business directory, much like Yelp. The listing has useful information about a business, such as their location, hours of operation, services offered, etc.

It’s obligatory for all domains to have at least some essential DNS records for an end-user to be able to access their website using the domain name, and there are several optional records that serve additional purposes.

What are the most common types of DNS record?

A record – These records hold the IP address of a domain. All domains have a record associated.

CNAME record – These records forward one domain or subdomain to another domain, crucial information is they do not provide an IP address.

MX record – Essential to direct mail to an email server.

TXT record – These records allow an admin store text notes in the record.

NS record – These records store the name server for a DNS entry.

SOA record – Specifically stores admin information about a domain.

SRV record – These records specify a port for specific services.

PTR record – Helps to provide a domain name in reverse-lookups.

What are some of the less commonly used DNS records?

These DNS records are specifically used for particular tasks and normally employed by skilled IT personnel.

AFSDB record – This is a specific record used for clients of the Andrew File System (AFS) developed by Carnegie Melon University. This record specifically functions to find other AFS cells.

APL record – This record stands for address prefix-list is an experimental record that specifies lists of address ranges.

CAA record – It stands for certification authority authorization record, it permits domain owners to choose which certificate authorities can issue certificates for that domain. When no CAA record exists, then anybody can issue a certificate for the domain. Additionally, these records are also inherited by subdomains.

DNSKEY record – The DNS Key Record comprises a public key used to verify Domain Name System Security Extension (DNSSEC) signatures.

CDNSKEY record – The C stands for child and it’s a copy of the DNSKEY record, meant to be transferred to a parent record.

CERT record – The certificate record simply stores public key certificates.

DCHID record – The DHCP Identifier specifically stores info for the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), a homogenous network protocol used on IP networks.

DNAME record – Stands for the delegation name record creates a domain alias, just like CNAME, but this alias will redirect all subdomains as well and isn’t a child version. For example, if the owner of ‘mysite.com’ bought the domain ‘hiswebsite.net’ and gave it a DNAME record that points to ‘mysite.com’, then that delegation would also extend to ‘blog.hiswebsite.net’ and any other subdomains.

HIP record – This record stands for and uses ‘Host identity protocol’, a way to make a distinction in the roles of an IP address; this record is used mostly in mobile computing.

IPSECKEY record – This record stands for and works with the Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), an end-to-end security protocol framework and an important part of the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP).

LOC record – Is the location record which comprises geographical information for a domain in the form of longitude and latitude coordinates (numbers).

NAPTR record – Stands for name authority pointer record. It can be combined with an SRV record to dynamically create URI’s to point based on a regular expression.

NSEC record – Stands for next secure record and is a part of DNSSEC, and it’s used to prove that a requested DNS resource record does not exist.

RRSIG record – Stands for resource record signature and is a record to store digital signatures used to authenticate records in agreement with DNSSEC.

RP record – Stands for the responsible person. This record stores the email address of the person responsible for the domain.

SSHFP record –  Stands for secure shell fingerprint. This record specifically stores the SSH public key fingerprints. The secure shell uses a cryptographic networking protocol for secure communication over an unsecured network.


We’ve given you a lot to think about where DNS records are concerned. Never fair your hosting provider will ensure that your DNS Records are well taken care of. If you’re a big enough business to have an IT department then they will be sure to use the correct DNS records to keep your website and servers running in tip-top shape. For more on DNS go here and for expert articles on our blog.