DNS lookup

Discover how DNS records are used and explore its various types.

What are DNS records?

The domain name system (DNS) is the heart of a website. The DNS is a set of records that determines how each domain is comprehended by computers. While humans tend to remember domain names more easily than IP addresses, a DNS lookup helps the user convert a domain name into its corresponding IP address. Whenever a user enters a domain name in the browser, the DNS resolver initiates the first step of checking its cache for the required information. If it fails to get the info from its cache, then it pings its authoritative name-servers, and the process repeats until the domain name gets resolved into its IP.

Forward and reverse DNS lookup

There are two types of DNS lookup: forward and reverse lookup. In a forward DNS lookup, the domain is resolved into its IP. Like its name suggests, a reverse DNS lookup does the opposite of what a forward DNS lookup would do. This lookup helps us get a domain name for a specific IP.

Types of DNS records

  • MX record

    Whenever a domain is involved in email activities, such as sending and receiving, the domain must have its MX record configured.

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  • CNAME record

    The canonical name record (CNAME) record acts as an alias and points to another DNS record. If a user wants to map www.abc.com to its actual domain abc.com, they can use the CNAME record to create an alias and point it to its corresponding DNS record.

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  • A record

    Using a domain name instead of the IP address is possible only with the help of the A record. The A record of the domain associates the domain name with the IP address, and helps domain owners in controlling which specific action needs to be addressed by each host.

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  • AAAA record

    When a domain/sub-domain points to the IPV6 addressing version, the Quad A record is used. This is similar to the A record, with the only difference being the version of the IP used. A records are used where version 4 of IP addresses are pointed.

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  • NS record

    An NS record acts as the connecting bridge between a domain and its IP address. With the help of NS record, one can find the server on which its IP resides. If the domain has more than one name server associated with it, then NS has to list them all.

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  • SRV record

    The service record helps us identify the host name, port number, and other specific information related to a domain. The SRV record plays a crucial role when the domain deals with services like instant messaging or voiceover IP.

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  • SOA record

    Whenever a new domain is created, a zone file is automatically registered to its name. A DNS zone file helps us translate the domain name to its specific IP. The start of authority (SOA) record gives you a complete picture of your zone file.

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  • TXT record

    The text record, as the name suggests, is used to store all sorts of textual information about a domain.The popular authentication methods like SPF, DKIM and DMARC which help us in validating domain ownership, preventing spam etc are also defined using TXT record.

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  • Reverse IP record

    A reverse lookup, or a pointer lookup, helps us get the domain name for a specific IP address. This helps us identify and validate a legitimate email user and can blacklist spammers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need DNS records?

    DNS records are the means by which a user is directed to the desired website on the internet. Without a DNS record, anyone would find it difficult to remember random IP numbers for each website.
  • Can I delete DNS records?

    DNS records can be deleted from your zone file, but once deleted, they cannot be recovered, so it’s recommended to delete the records judiciously.
  • What is a DNS cache?

    A DNS cache is a mechanism in which the DNS temporarily stores information from the previous lookups for quick retrieval. Though caching can make the process easier, sometimes it can also result in an outdated or corrupted copy. To avoid this kind of DNS failure, it’s always advised to flush the DNS cache once a while.
  • What is DNS failure?

    DNS failure happens when DNS makes a request but is unable to connect to the server.