I’ve setup my VPS with either LAMP or LNMP stack, now what? How can I connect my domain to VPS or how can I make my domain pointing to my VPS?
That’s such a great question. I realize such common question arise in every newbie’s mind for the very first time trying to build a VPS for hosting websites. Shortly, the answer for that question is by using a DNS service: either by installing DNS server (like BIND) on your own server or by using third-party / external DNS services.
However, using third-party DNS servers has its own advantage. The simplest reasons are: 1. They are more reliable, redundant and mostly have several servers located around the globe; 2. It may also save few MBs of RAM, Bandwidth and few CPU usage; 3. and so on. Need a starting point? I wrote a tutorial about how to point a domain to VPS using CloudFlare as third-party DNS service. But if you insist to host your own DNS server, you can try BIND on Ubuntu. or zPanel CP on CentOS that will also install a DNS server with nice user interface.
What is DNS and DNS Hosting?
DNS is the acronym for domain name servers, and refers to the servers that confirm where your domain is located. A DNS hosting service is a service that runs Domain Name System servers. Every domain name is given a series of numbers known as an IP address, for example, the IP address for DigitalOcean.com is 220.127.116.11. When you type a digitalocean.com into your browser, the DNS (Domain Name Server) looks through a huge database to find the IP address you requested and then directs your browser to the correct website content. DNS hosting service more is optimal when the provider has multiple servers in various geographic locations that provide resilience and minimize latency for clients around the world. So, if you have hidden question behind your mind about why should I use third-party DNS hosting service? One of the best answer is this: by operating DNS nodes closer to end users, DNS queries travel a much shorter distance, resulting in faster Web address resolution speed. Source: Wikipedia.
Where Can I Find DNS Hosting Service?
Most of big domain registrar companies like GoDaddy, NameCheap, Name, etc. provide free DNS hosting which usually called Domain Management feature. For you who are not really satisfied with that, there are also third-party DNS hosting providers offering both premium and free service. In this article I’ll go only with the free ones. Why? Seriously dude! Just because I like freebies.
A. Most Favorite DNS Services
I’ll start the list with services which are categorized as my own favorite:
CloudFlare sits in number one of my list because it’s not only free DNS hosting but also has CDN, protection, analytics, and optimizer features to sky-rocket website’s performance. Once a website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through their intelligent global network. They also automatically optimize the delivery of web pages so visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. Do not want to use their CloudFlare CDN and protection feature? Don’t worry as you can simply toggle that off so you’ll only use purely their DNS service. They currently have global network which is powered by 23 data centers around the world.
2. Incapsula (No DNS Management, just CDN)
Incapsula services are just similar to CloudFlare but with their own plus and minus aspects to offer because they are unique. Through a simple DNS settings change, your website traffic is seamlessly routed through Incapsula’s global network of high-powered servers. Incoming traffic is intelligently profiled in real-time, blocking even the latest web threats. Meanwhile outgoing traffic is accelerated and optimized for faster load times, keeping welcome visitors speeding through.
update: Incapsula is a bit different from CloudFlare, they don’t provide DNS server so you still need a DNS server to use Incapsula.
3. Hurricane Electric Free DNS Management
dns.he.net is the most complete, sophisticated, advanced-features and rock solid DNS hosting provider ever. In fact, they also allow low TTL too which not all free DNS services can offer. Shortly, Hurricane Electric free DNS service has really awesome DNS management features. The only downside is the interface which is a little bit old and has not following latest web design trends, or may be yet. Many trusted their domain’s DNS to them because the service is run by known big Internet company.
NameCheap’s free DNS management feature is open for public and you don’t have to purchase a domain from them. Key features they can offer –beside the fully functional DNS– including dynamic DNS, email forwarding, URL forwarding with no ads, advanced records like SRV, and so on. Currently they support A/AAAA/CNAME/NS/MX//TXT/SRV DNS record types. The main reasons I put NC as my favorite are: 1. They have secure and reliable, geographically dispersed name servers so you can increase the speed and performance of your website; 2. They have easy-to-use DNS management console using which you can fully manage your DNS settings.
DNS4.pro is a project co-owned by Prometeus, a well-known server hosting company. Their infrastructure contains an anycasted network (with owned IP space, own ASN as well as BGP Routing) around the world with locations in Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, United Kingdom, New York, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and India which isn’t finished, they’re always looking for new partner datacenters to improve their network. Their main mission is to change the current situation on the DNS market and build a nice infrastructure to host your DNS. Main reason I love them is their nice interface and rock solid platform. Free users get 5 domains to manage, up to 0.5 million queries per month, and DNSSEC feature enabled.
6. Rage4 DNS
Rage4 DNS service features dual stack anycast network, GeoDNS and Failover on carefully crafted network. Currently they have 30+ servers across the globe. The best part, they also support Vanity DNS, a vanity name server allows you to hide the fact your website is using a public name server for DNS requests. But don’t forget they they also have GeoDNS feature which is available for A, AAAA and CNAME records. The feature allows you to serve traffic to users from specific geographic regions using predefined servers. With this feature you can limit latency times and increase download speeds.
7. PointHQ (Point DNS)
PointDNS is a reliable, powerful & affordable DNS hosting. They also say that the service perhaps the most amazing DNS hosting in the world. They stated that they are responsible for more than 220 000 domains worldwide. The main advantage of PointHQ –besides their reliability– is their nice user interface that changes the way how a DNS hosting service should be. But there is a limitation, free users are allowed to manage 1 domain for free with 10 records max.
CloudNS is a well-known free DNS hosting provider having multiple servers in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. What free users get in regard of its features are awesome which including 3 (three) domains to manage, no limits or restricts on the records or requests, support for A, MX, CNAME, TXT, SPF, NS, AAAA, SRV and RP records, Native IPv6 support, and don’t forget there is also Dynamic DNS. Slave zones feature is only available at Premium plan.
Geoscaling is offers FREE managed DNS services with unique features. One of key features offered is geoscaling, a feature allows you to redirect your users by country, AS number, uptime, server load and custom rules, all at the DNS level. Their interface may look old-fashioned but it is simple and easy-to-use. Service’s redundancy and scalability assured by nameservers in 3 countries (in Paris, France; The Netherlands; and Londok, UK). Some other features: low time-to-live (TTL) up to 5 minutes, Dynamic DNS, import records by doing a zone transfer (AXFR), and so on.
10. Afraid FREE DNS
Afraid DNS is considered free DNS hosting service has been serving from years ago (since 2001 – now). Their service is operated from multiple redundant high capacity well connected servers. They offer Free DNS, Dynamic DNS, Static DNS, is operated from multiple redundant high capacity well connected servers, Free subdomain hosting, free domain hosting, free backup dns, reverse IPv6 DNS hosting, URL redirection, Unlimited number of domains per account, 5 free shared hostnames, 20 free subdomains per domain, supports every TLD on the Internet, vanity dns hosts, support for CNAME, A, AAAA, MX, NS, TXT, LOC, RP, HINFO, SRV records, and more other features.
B. Notable Mentions
These DNS hosting providers below also provide Free service:
11. Appnor Free DNS
Appnor is very simple and free. The service runs in either US or Romania using PowerDNS on their machine.
BuddyNS offers the fastest-to-synchronize DNS service on the Internet. Whenever you add or modify records for your domain name, BuddyNS synchronizes within 10 minutes, or immediately with SyncNOW! technology. Free users get up to 0.3 Million queries/month total traffic (per-account).
Division120 is a free DNS service offering powerful and reliable DNS hosting. Users can mManage A, AAAA, CNAME, MX, TXT, and PTR records, use wildcards, domain forwarding, and reverse DNS. The best part, they allows TTLs as low as a minute. Manage an unlimited number of domains and records. No spam, no advertising, no fine print.
EntryDNS delivers a totally free DNS management service for your enjoyment. Their aim is to provide a friendly and caring, yet powerful service for your DNS needs. With their service you can create hosts or host your own domains, manage them from the web application or use easy-to-use API’s (simple API and complete REST API) to automate tasks as you wish. The service gives you a total control of your DNS records without any restrictions.
DNSExit features DNS Tools allowing you to manage all of your domains from their easy-to-use web interface. You have the power to manage your domain’s complete DNS record; set and change the domain’s corresponding IP address (A Records); have e-mail forwarded to your specified mail server (MX Records); configure name aliases (CNAMES).
DNSPod is totally free! Self-developed DNS Servers guarantee the users a 99.9% SLA; instant DNS update; unlimited records and self-defined regions. DNSPod DNS Protector will protect your websites from most known or unknown attacks.
Dozens is a free DNS hosting in Japanese. The service has very nice interface to manage 12 records for free.
EnableDNS has the prettiest interface ever so editing DNS records will be more easy, more fund and comfortable. Sign up in 1 minute and start editing your DNS records, whether you are sitting at your desk or on the run.
FreeDNS.ws – Easy to use, user-friendly interface. Convenient records management for considerable quantity of domain names.
LuaDNS offers free DNS management service for 3 domains per account with 30 host records, low 5 minutes TTL, No Vanity NS, and unlimited queries per month.
MyDNS.jp is also worth to try. Supports Dynamic DNS.
MyDomain Web-Based DNS Management allows you to use nameservers located at MyDomain for your domain.
23. Puck Nether
Puck is free secondary DNS service.
24. Roller DNS
The Roller Network offers a Secondary DNS service that load zone files (through AXFR/IXFR) from your master DNS server. This allows you to control your DNS records directly. Their slave servers run BIND, support DNSSEC and have IPv6 addresses.
System-NS is offering free manage, dynamic and secondary DNS but there are only limited free slots available.
SiteSolutions – another DNS service provider.
Xname can provide you primary and secondary name server for free. All zones hosted as primary or secondary on their main server – ns0.xname.org, are automatically replicated on their secondary servers, ns1.xname.org and ns2.xname.org. It is recommended to always use the 3 together for better redundancy.
Zonomi DNS Hosting allows free users to manage 1 domain name / 1 DNS zone with up to 10 DNS records.
4FreeDNS service uses multiple servers to ensure the availability of your DNS needs. 4FreeDNS service uses servers spread geographically, using different internet connections and being placed in safe and professional data centers administrated by different providers, thus ensuring perfect functioning even in extreme situations (natural disasters, etc.).
YPDNS (Your Personal DNS) is a web based DNS management tool. Using YPDNS you can easily manage your dns records. Free accounts can manage up to 10 domains.
DuiaDNS is a free DNS hosting that has ipv6 support and a friendly web account interface where users can add/delete hostnames, change ipv4/ipv6 addresses, modify the default subdomain or view logs. Users can also download any gui or console duiadns client for Windows, Linux, MacOS, FreeBSD, OpenWRT, Tomato etc.
That’s it! However we can not guarantee all the services are still up and open for free registration. So go ahead notify me if you notice the changes. Also, there will be few others new free DNS hosting providers in the upcoming years (at least I hope so), and if you do know such services, go ahead tell me so I can add them to the list above. Enjoy..