Simple guide to Domain Name System (DNS) settings

One of the most complicated bits of getting a website and email sorted can be setting up the domain name to point to the right places. There are many options and it gets a LOT more complicated than this, but here are some of the most common scenarios our clients use.

Domain name registration

We don’t offer domain names just in case something happens to us! Having complete control of your domain is vital as it’s often business critical. We recommend you buy your domain from a reputable domain name registrar (not necessarily one of the ones you see on TV..) so it’s all registered in your name and you receive the renewal notices.

Once the domain is registered, you will have access to a control panel for the Domain Name System (DNS) settings.

Everything in one place

If you already have a domain and hosting, everything may be in the same place with the company that registered your domain and provides your emails/website hosting. In this case all the settings will already be configured in the background and you don’t need to do anything!

Domain name at registrar, email and website on our green hosting

In this scenario, email and website are handled on our green web hosting. To direct the domain to our server, the “Nameservers” are changed in the DNS settings to the ones that match up with our server. After a few hours, the domain then points at our server and we can set up email and the website. Easy!

cpanel dns zones

DNS settings in cPanel – tread carefully!

Domain name at registrar, email with Office 356 etc, website on our green hosting

Many clients use Office 365, Google Apps or another email service for their emails but want to host the website with us. The DNS setup is slightly different for this – instead of “Nameservers” being changed, other settings called an “MX record” (where your emails are handled) and an “A record” (for the website hosting) are updated.

You may need support from your email provider to add all the correct MX records. The A record is an “IP address” for our server, which is a series of four numbers like 123.456.789.123

Again after a few hours, the email traffic will be directed to your email provider and the web traffic then points at our server so we can set up the website.

Summary

Here are three common scenarios that we see with Domain Name System (DNS) settings while setting up websites for clients. It can look complicated but we’re here to help if we’re designing you a website and/or hosting it for you, and once it’s done it rarely needs to be updated!