Setting Up DNS To Make Your Domain Resolves To Your Server. May be you’ve already installed all necessary software like Apache or Nginx, MySQL, PHP5 and an email server. Lets say your server is ready to host your website or blog but the next big question is how to make your server accessible by entering a domain name in web browser? For that purpose all you really need is to setup proper DNS entries for your domain but you’ll also need a DNS Manager app. You don’t have to be a server Ninja to do that. Here in this page I’ll tell you the basic and common DNS settings to make your server (either VPS or Dedicated) connected to your domain so it is accessible easily by simply typing your domain name in the browser.
There are several ways you can do that:
- Using DNS Manager provided by Domain Registrar
Mostly big domain registrar companies like GoDaddy and NameCheap are featured with built-in DNS Manager where users can add, edit and delete records.
- Using FREE or Paid DNS Manager service
In contrary, there are also many hosting companies those are also selling domains are not having such feature leaving its users to look for alternative options. Luckily, there are several free services provide ability to manage DNS entries of a domain name. Some free ones: NameCheap, EntryDNS, Hurricane Electric, YPDNS, CloudDNS, DNSEver, Xname, and many others. But the best one for me is CloudFlare, a free CDN (Content Delivery Network) service with ability to add, edit, and manage DNS records. Shortly it is a DNS manager with a twist, CDN.
- Using Free DNS Manager provided by your server provider
Most trusted server hosting providers are also featured with free DNS server which you can manage your site’s DNS record. For instance, my Playground server that is hosted by Digital Ocean, I can simply use their DNS feature. I’m sure other providers like Linode, SliceHost, Heroku are also having similar feature.
- Using your own DNS Server
This requires you to install a DNS server software like Bind9. I’ve posted a short guide how to setup Bind9 on Ubuntu. You have to adjust the steps if you are on other Linux distro. The catch, your domain will have its own ns1 and ns2.domain.com but downside is Bind9 itself will eat some portions of your server resources.
1. Using DNS Manager provided by Domain registrar
As each domain registrar service has its own UI so the steps you have to do are different. For that reason I only provide you with the link to knowledge base page of each registrar.
Q: How to use GoDaddy DNS Manager?
A: The full guide is here.
Q: How to use NameCheap DNS Management app?
A: The full guide is here and here.
Q: How to use Name.com DNS Manager?
A: The full guide is here.
2. Using FREE or Paid DNS Manager service
I mentioned some free DNS manager services above but if you look for some paid ones, simply googling with keywords: “paid dns hosting”, “premium dns hosting” or “reliable DNS hosting”. You should find services like ZoneEdit, Dyn.com, Zonomi, DNSMadeEasy, and so on.
In this guide I’ll show you how to use CloudFlare to manage your DNS records to resolve to your server.
Step 1 – Open CloudFlare.com, then login using your username and password. Do not have one? Go create a new account with them, it’s free.
Step 2 – Now add a new site. In this case you have to enter your domain name then click the “Add Website” button.
Step 3 – Wait few seconds for CloudFlare to scan current DNS of your domain.
Step 4 – Once done, simply hit the “Continue Setup” button:
Step 5 – In the next page is a section where you can configure your DNS records. Their system has found as many records as possible, but it is important for you to verify they are all listed there.
Step 6 – Edit main A records of your DNS. Right in the A record raw, click the settings icon then hit the “Edit Record” option.
Once clicked, you can then enter your server IP in the Value column.
Once done, click the green “Save” button.
p.s: If you want also CloudFlare to accelerate your traffic, simply turn the Cloud icon ON.
Step 7 – Next, do the same with CNAME record. But this time enter www in the name column then enter domain.com in the value column.
Step 8 – You can also add any other records there. CloudFlare supports various records including, A, CNAME, TXT, MX, TXT, SPF, AAAA, NS, SRV, and LOC.
Step 9 – Once done, hit that green “I’ve added all missing records, continue” button.
Step 10 – Next, select your plan, performance and security level. In this case choosing Free plan is enough. For the other two options you can choose as you need. Once done, hit the “Continue” button.
Step 11 – In the next page, you’ll be provided with nameservers you have to update your domain to. So go to your domain registrar and change your nameservers to what provided there.
Step 12 – Once you changed, go back to CloudFlare and hit the “I’ve updated my nameservers, continue” button.
That’s it. Now all you have to do is simply sit tight and wait for your domain to fully resolve to CloudFlare network
3. Using DNS Manager Provided By Your Server Hosting Company
This point is vary according in which company you rent your server from. However the steps can be also similar as the main points are: add / edit A, CNAME, and MX records. You can also add other records if you are really sure about what you are going to do.
If you are hosting your server at DigitalOcean.com, here’s how you can edit your DNS records.
Step 1 – Login to your domain registrar (e.g: GoDaddy) then change your domain’s nameserver to:
Step 2 – Now login to DigitalOcean control panel and click on the DNS menu in the left pane:
Step 3 – Click the “Add Domain” button.
Step 4 – In the next page, enter your domain name in the “Name” field, enter your server IP address in the “Ip address field”, select the droplet to point your domain to, and finally click the “Create Domain” button.
Step 5 – Click the “Add a new A record” button. Enter @ in the hostname field and your server IP in the next field. Once done, hit the “Update A record” botton.
Step 6 – Next, click the “Add a new CNAME record” button. Then edit as following:
Step 7 – That’s it. You can also add other DNS records like MX, TXT and SRV. MX record is the one that handles email. You can also add Google’s MX records to make use of GMail with custom domain.
4. Using your own DNS Server
Explained. The point is you have to install DNS Software on your server and configure everything in it. You can read more about all available DNS software here from Wikipedia.
Conclusion: There are several methods you can choose to make your domain resolve to your server.
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