Jan Leow's Press Blog

Playing Around with DNS Zone

I’ve been tinkering and fiddling with my domain DNS zone. I tweak my website a lot. This is one interesting hobby, making website, experimenting with a feature here and there and trying something new and see whether it will be useful widget or just some red herring. DNS zoning is about NS nameservers, A Records, CNAME, PTR, etc and having learned about it, found it to be very useful.

I tend to make simple things complicated. It is rather engaging and when I show it to friends they start to feel faint and cannot understand what I’m doing or trying to do. I should have studied computer science and make full use of my devious web intertwining. Would have made a good programmer, no? Alas no, but I still have the knack for playing around with techie stuffs once I discovered it.

My current website domain does not just reside in one server now. With the DNS zone ability, I have spread out my domain to a few website. Mostly just experimental just to see what it can do. It can be very useful too, and in case you want to try another web hosting company without having to purchase another domain, you could plug in your sub domain into it using either A Record or CNAME. You could also latch on to various services like Google Blogger by plugging in your sub domain. Doing so actually improves your main domain standing as you create content for your own website rather than for other people while making use of their free website service.

The main DNS zone is nameserver and this one you cannot really fiddle with it too much once you have set it on your main webhost and start using the other DNS zoning tools, it will be a lot of work to get them to point to the right service if you plan to change web hosting. So make sure the web hosting company you choose is a good and reliable one before taking on the DNS zone to the other services. A good recommendation is Bluehost [update: can’t recommend Bluehost now, giving me a lot of trouble, so I shifted to other web hosting servers] but if you don’t want a web hosting company that is too far from you live, you can look around your local country for a suitable affordable hosting with this DNS zoning feature. Some web hosting company don’t allow you to fiddle with it because the wrong settings might bring down your entire website!

Here are some useful DNS Zone features that you can play around. And don’t worry it won’t mess up your main domain as long as you don’t touch the NS nameserver, and touch the other DNS Zone settings. Making new ones should not mess up the old ones technically.

A Record – is a simple IP address mapping. It converts the IP address into a readable format, eg to sub.domain.com. Several website services use this such as Bravenet, Yola, Tumblr, PhotoShelter, etc.

CNAME – canonical name for an alias. This is like saying an address such sub123.domain123.com is equals to sub456.domain456.com. This is used by Google for its various services like Blogger, Sites and Google Apps.

Since I’m just experimenting with this DNS Zone, I have mapped one of my subdomain web.janleow.com to other web hosting company. And why pray tell do I have several web hosting company? Actually no two web hosting companies are alike. Besides one is located in the other side of the world, and I wanted a faster access, so I decided to get one locally too. So now my domain could be found on both ends of the world! At the same I have another web hosting company for comparison about the services offered too!

Another DNS Zone that you could possible try is the MX or mail exchange. This is related to the mail services hosted in your web server. Its purpose is to handle the various mail servers for backup and etc. If you have several mail servers, MX is to give preference to which server to be used. If you have one mail server such as the one given by your web hosting company, you don’t need to fiddle with it. I did find something interesting from Google Apps, where you can have Gmail functionality using your very own domain name rather than having a gmail as your email address. And this is where the MX DNS zone comes in handy to switch your mail servers from your web hosting company to that of Google’s Gmail service.

Just a note, I wanted to create a subdomain from a subdomain that was map to another webserver. Well it didn’t work. So don’t bother trying to make it work it just won’t work. You can only do a sub-sub-domain within the same server. I spend the better part of a day wasting my time trying to fix it. But it was a learning experience.

So play around with DNS zone and make your website into something a little more by plugging in the various services around the World Wide Web!

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