Managing DNS and MX Zones

DNS zones can be very complicated, but once you break them down and understand each field, you can effectively manage your DNS zones on your dedicated server. Your MX zones are part of your DNS zone file and will be handling where your mail is routed.

If you need to create a new DNS zone or manage an existing one, you need to understand several different fields and what they handle in your DNS file.

(A) Address – This provides name to address mapping for an IP in a decimal format.
(CNAME) Canonical Names – This is used for domain name aliases and nicknames. You may use this if you have registered more than one domain and want them both to resolve to the same location.
(HINFO) Host Info – This field will describe the Hosting company, their hardware and software. It will also include the name and model numbers as well as the operating system of the server.
(MX) Mail Exchanger – This is the address where all of the email for this particular domain wil be sent.
(NS) Nameserver – This field is the most important field for your DNS zone. This field must match the nameserver that is associated with your domain name for your site to correctly resolve.
(NAPTR) Naming Authority Pointer – This handles the URI or Universal Resource Identifier and will produce this URL when a specific expression is performed.
(PTR) Pointer – This is also referred to as reverse mapping. This will allow you to point this DNS zone to another domain name.
(SOA) Start of Authority – This begins the start of the zone. Every DNS zone file must have at least one.
Name of Zone – This field must include the following: The primary server name, the email address of the zone owner, the serial number for the zone, secondary refresh time, secondary retry time, secondary expire time and minimum time to live or TTL.
(TXT) Text – This field must be equal to or less than 256 characters in a string. It will include the name of the host and any other necessary data.

Now that you know what the fields are, you can learn to manage your DNS zones. Many control panels are now featuring auto creation of DNS zones, but it is still useful to completely understand what each field controls, especially if you are experiencing trouble with your DNS zone.

If you need to update an area of this zone, such as the MX zone if your email address, you can simply change this field name to reflect your new email address. Other fields can also be updated and then saved in the same DNS zone file.

Unless you are completely confident that you will be able to manage your own DNS zones, it is a good idea to utilize the automatic creation of a zone file at first. As you continue to learn, you will be able to create your own zone files and customize them for each particular domain name. By following the guidelines above for each field, you will be able to create a proper DNS zone in no time at all.

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Posted on 12/14/05 10:28 PM

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