Which Are the Important Configuration Files for DNS Server?


Scott Campbell

In the world of DNS (Domain Name System), configuration files play a crucial role in managing the behavior and functionality of a DNS server. These files contain important settings and parameters that determine how the server operates and resolves domain names to IP addresses. Understanding and correctly configuring these files is essential for maintaining a stable and secure DNS infrastructure.

1. Named.conf

The main configuration file for the BIND DNS server is named.conf. This file serves as the entry point for the DNS server and contains global options, zone declarations, and various include statements.

Global Options

The global options section in named.conf allows you to define general settings for your DNS server. This includes parameters such as the server’s listening interfaces, logging options, query control mechanisms, and more.

Zone Declarations

Zone declarations are used to define authoritative zones handled by the DNS server. These declarations specify various zone properties like zone name, file location, type (master or slave), and other related options.

Include Statements

The include statements in named.conf allow you to split your configuration into multiple files for better organization and manageability. You can include additional configuration files that contain specific settings or zone definitions.

2. Zone Files

In addition to the named.conf file, each authoritative zone has its own corresponding zone file(s). These files hold resource records (RRs) that map domain names to IP addresses or other types of data.

Forward Zone Files

A forward zone file contains mappings from domain names to IP addresses. It includes records such as A (address) records, AAAA (IPv6 address) records, CNAME (canonical name) records, MX (mail exchange) records, etc.

Reverse Zone Files

Reverse zone files are used to map IP addresses to domain names. They contain PTR (pointer) records, which associate IP addresses with corresponding domain names. Reverse zone files are primarily used for reverse DNS lookups.

3. rndc.conf

The rndc.conf file is the configuration file for the rndc tool, which is used to manage and control the BIND DNS server remotely. It contains settings related to authentication keys, control channels, and other options required for secure communication between rndc and named.

4. resolv.conf

The resolv.conf file is not directly related to the DNS server’s configuration but plays a vital role in DNS resolution on a client machine. It specifies the DNS servers that the client should use for name resolution, along with other settings like search domains and resolver options.


Understanding the important configuration files for a DNS server is essential for maintaining a reliable and efficient DNS infrastructure. The named.conf file serves as the main configuration entry point, while zone files contain specific mappings between domain names and IP addresses. The rndc.conf file enables remote management of the BIND DNS server, and resolv.conf influences DNS resolution on client machines.

By familiarizing yourself with these configuration files and their roles, you can effectively manage your DNS server and ensure smooth operation of your domain name resolution process.

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