If you’ve read our article on what DNS is, you have a solid understanding of the backbones of the internet. DNS records are stored on DNS servers and provide important and useful information about domains and hostnames. You can see them as business listings, providing the opening hours, location, and more crucial information. Most importantly, they make sure things work the way they should and keep everyone safe when used properly.
When you try to change something in your DNS for the first time, you might get overwhelmed by the many types of records available. Today we’ll take an up-close look at what the most commonly used DNS records do.
What types of IP addresses exist?
Early on you might get a headache when you see “IPv4” or “IPv6” – worry not, the V just means “Version”, and the number that comes after it is the version number. When you read these as “IP Version 4”, and “IP Version 6” it becomes a lot easier to wrap your head around the concept of which one is newer than the other. V6 came about for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons is the same reason we now have 10-digit phone numbers – we would eventually run out if we didn’t add more options.
Without getting deep into the specifics of these differences, IPv4 is older, shorter, and just uses numbers. It’s probably what you would think of if you’ve ever looked up “what’s my IP address?”. It would look like this:
IPv6 is newer, longer, and can have numbers AND letters. but not fully adopted across all platforms. If you have a VPN and looked up your IP address, you might see something like this:
What are the most common DNS records?
- A record – This record is most commonly used to map a domain name to an IPv4 address. Simply put, enter your site’s IP address in the A record for your domain name to lead visitors to it.
- AAAA record – This record contains your site’s IPv6 address (as opposed to A records, which contain the IPv4 address).
- CNAME record – This record allows you to map one domain name (an alias) to another. When a DNS client requests a record that contains a CNAME, the process repeats itself with the new domain provided in the CNAME record. For example, you could have jobs.company.com which would lead to domain.com
- MX record – A “Mail Exchange” record (MX) does what it says, it helps an email server (“communication bridge”) to exchange messages between your domain and other domains.
- TXT record – These records can do a few different things, but you’ll mainly use them for security purposes. The TXT records can be used to validate that the email and website ownership isn’t being hijacked by someone else.
- SPF record – ”Sender Policy Framework” is another security option for your emails. Previously systems would have this as its own option, but you should consider an SPF record as a type of TXT record.
- DKIM record – ”DomainKeys Identified Mail” is another security option for your emails that focuses on preventing people from impersonating you. It works hand-in-hand with your SPF record to accomplish this – so it’s important to use both together.
- NS record – The “nameserver” (NS) record describes a name server for a domain. It specifies a specific authoritative name server and provides the address of the name server. You’ll need to change this if you decide to switch your DNS away from the Domain Host where you purchased your domain from.
The internet couldn’t function the way it does without DNS records. They continue to evolve as the internet grows increasingly more complex, incorporating new practices and supporting legacy systems. While fully mastering all DNS records (there are over 90 officially recognized DNS records!) is a tough ask, luckily you’ll only need a handful to get your site up and running. Getting to know the basics of DNS records is well worth the effort, particularly those directly related to email security and preventing domain spoofing. The DNS records above are a good start on getting to know the essentials.
Our system takes care of email validation (for better deliverability), help you avoid spam filters, and we’ll provide you with resources to help your emails make it to your reader’s inbox!
Want to see for yourself? Start a free 14-day trial and learn first-hand why we’re the #1 CRM for small businesses!