Creating/Migrating your website? Things to Know Part 2

The second critical item to creating / migrating your website that you need to know is DNS. What is DNS? DNS is an acronym for "Domain Naming System" and points names to IP addresses. It is the one critical service that makes the internet work yet everyday surfers are mostly unaware of.

DNS Service
So, who manages your DNS? Many times I just get a confused look. There are several typical scenarios for DNS services ...

  • DNS Hosting Service was purchased with domain registration. Often the simplest and most convenient solution to work with.
  • DNS service is with a DNS hosting company such as Enom, DNSMadeEasy, EasyDNS, etc. Hopefully you have the credentials for the DNS management portal. Often times one portal may manage DNS for many domains.
  • DNS is provided "in-house" on corporate systems and you just need to find the IT person. If you have the proper infrastructure and expertise, no big deal and it is FREE! However I do believe the small monthly / yearly fee to pay a service to specifically manage this is a worthwhile investment. All major DNS providers have redundant systems and networks to avoid an outage that would bring down DNS which may affect your website and email delivery.

One of the biggest misunderstanings regarding DNS is that a change to DNS is not instant. A DNS change may take minutes to days. Tyipcally you will see a change take affect in 4-12 hours. An analogy I often use to explain DNS is the "tree".

You make a change at the root and then it must move up through the branches until it reaches the leaf (aka the user). Each "branch" caches DNS information for a period of time, typically several hours. For examlple, you change your "www" DNS entry, it will take several hours for your ISP's primary server to update. Several more hours for the ISP's regional server to update. The time is all cumulative.

When you "migrate" your website, the actual migration is tyipcally done by changing your DNS to point to a new IP address or hostname. I recommend changes should be made after hours to allow the update to propagate across the internet. Remember if you make a mistake, it could take even MORE time for the correction to flow through the system.

Look for more posts disussing DNS and some useful tricks.