How Do I Configure an External DNS Server?


Heather Bennett

Configuring an External DNS Server

Setting up an external DNS server is an essential step in managing your domain’s DNS records and ensuring smooth accessibility of your website. In this tutorial, we will walk through the process of configuring an external DNS server to ensure your domain functions efficiently. Let’s dive in!

What is a DNS Server?

Before we begin, let’s quickly recap what a DNS server is. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it acts as a phonebook for the internet. It translates human-readable domain names (like into machine-readable IP addresses (like that computers use to communicate with each other.

Step 1: Choose a DNS Server Software

The first step in configuring an external DNS server is to choose the appropriate software. There are several options available, such as BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain), PowerDNS, and NSD (Name Server Daemon). Each has its own features and capabilities, so select one that suits your requirements best.

Step 2: Install the DNS Server Software

Once you have chosen the software, follow the installation instructions provided by the vendor or community documentation. It typically involves downloading the software package and running the installer.

Step 3: Configure Zone Files

A zone file contains information about a specific domain and its associated records. To configure your external DNS server correctly, you need to create and edit zone files.

Note: Ensure that you have administrative access or consult with your hosting provider to perform these steps.

To create a zone file:

  • Create a new text file with a .zone extension.
  • Add essential directives like $TTL (Time to Live) and SOA (Start of Authority).
  • Define the domain’s name servers using NS (Name Server) records.
  • Add A (Address) records to map domain names to IP addresses.
  • Include other necessary record types like CNAME (Canonical Name), MX (Mail Exchange), and TXT (Text).

Once you have created the zone file, save it in the appropriate location specified by your DNS server software.

Step 4: Set Up DNS Server Configuration

The next step is to configure your DNS server itself. This involves specifying various settings and options to ensure proper functionality.

BIND Example:

  • Edit the named.conf file located in your DNS server’s configuration directory.
  • Add a new zone entry pointing to the location of your zone file.
  • Specify options like listen-on, forwarders, and allow-transfer based on your requirements.

PowerDNS Example:

  • Edit the pdns.conf or pdns.local.gmysql.conf file depending on your setup.
  • Configure backend settings, database connection details, and other necessary parameters.

Step 5: Test and Verify Configuration

After completing the configuration steps, it’s crucial to test and verify your external DNS server’s functionality. Use command-line tools like dig or nslookup to query your domain’s records and ensure they resolve correctly.

Dig Example:

$ dig

The output should display the queried records along with their corresponding IP addresses.

Nslookup Example:

$ nslookup

Similarly, the output should show the resolved IP addresses for the queried domain.


Congratulations! You have successfully configured an external DNS server.

By following these steps and understanding the fundamentals of DNS, you can ensure that your website remains accessible to users worldwide. Remember to regularly monitor and update your DNS records as needed for optimal performance.

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