DNS records explained

DNS records act as instructions, mapping different aspects of your domain name to various associated IP addresses. This makes everything easier for us, the users, because we can type DOMAINNAME.com instead of a string of numbers such as 179.34.27.650 to reach a website. The DNS records read the domain name, then read the associated records for that domain, and know which IP address to route your request to.

Let’s break down the most frequently used records:

A records

Point a domain name to an IP address. You can point the host @ to an IP address, and the domain name will then load website files from that IP. This is a useful record to use if you want to point a domain name to a host without changing the nameservers and affecting other existing DNS records. Pointing the A records will launch a site and leave existing records intact.

Nameservers

Nameservers determine where your domain DNS is managed. Wherever the nameservers point, that is where the rest of the DNS records can be maintained. Additionally, if there are no A records in place for @, then the domain will load website files from the location of the nameservers.

MX records

Specifies where email for the domain should be delivered. Should your domain name send mail to GSuite? To Outlook? To a custom mail server? You will need to direct this function with MX records.

CNAME records

CNAME records will point the domain name to another host name. Commonly used to direct subdomains. For example: you might want mail.yourdomain.com to redirect to a private mail server. You would use a CNAME in this instance, pointing “mail” to a URL.

CNAME records are similar to A records. The difference is A records point to an IP address, and CNAMEs point to a URL.

TXT records

These store text-based information for your domain. Often used for SPF data and domain name ownership verification.