What Is External DNS Server?


Scott Campbell

An external DNS server, also known as an authoritative DNS server, is a critical component of the Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure. It plays a crucial role in translating human-readable domain names into IP addresses that computers can understand.

What is DNS?

DNS, short for Domain Name System, is like the phonebook of the internet. It translates domain names, such as www.example.com, into their corresponding IP addresses, such as 192.168.1. This translation allows users to access websites by typing in easy-to-remember domain names rather than complex IP addresses.

How does DNS work?

When you type a domain name into your web browser, your computer sends a request to a DNS resolver (typically provided by your internet service provider). The resolver then queries the DNS infrastructure to find the IP address associated with that domain name.

The DNS infrastructure consists of multiple servers organized in a hierarchical structure. At the top of the hierarchy are the root servers, which have information about top-level domains (.com, .org, etc.). Below the root servers are authoritative DNS servers responsible for specific domains.

What is an External DNS Server?

An external DNS server refers to an authoritative server that holds and manages DNS records for a specific domain or set of domains. It provides responses to queries from resolvers by returning the necessary information about the requested domain name.

External DNS servers are typically maintained by domain owners or managed by third-party providers.

Key Features of External DNS Servers:

  • Authoritative: External DNS servers are considered authoritative because they hold accurate and up-to-date information about specific domains.
  • Zone Management: They allow domain owners to manage various DNS records, such as A records (for mapping domain names to IP addresses), CNAME records (for creating aliases), MX records (for email routing), etc.
  • Traffic Distribution: External DNS servers can be configured to distribute traffic among multiple servers using techniques like round-robin or geolocation-based routing.
  • TTL Configuration: Time-to-Live (TTL) is a value set on DNS records that determines how long resolvers should cache the information. External DNS servers allow domain owners to configure TTL values for better control over caching behavior.

Advantages of Using External DNS Servers:

  • Reliability: External DNS servers are built for high availability and provide redundancy, ensuring that the domain remains accessible even if one server fails.
  • Performance: By distributing traffic among multiple servers, external DNS servers can help improve website performance and reduce latency.
  • Security: External DNS servers can implement security measures like DNSSEC (DNS Security Extensions) to ensure the integrity and authenticity of DNS responses.
  • Flexibility: Domain owners have full control over their DNS configuration, allowing them to make changes quickly and easily as needed.

In conclusion, an external DNS server is an authoritative server responsible for managing and providing accurate information about specific domains. It offers various features and advantages that make it an essential component for maintaining a reliable and performant online presence.

If you are a website owner or administrator, understanding external DNS servers can help you make informed decisions about your domain’s infrastructure and ensure a seamless browsing experience for your users.

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