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What are zone records?

When a domain name is entered, your browser looks up the DNS zone file for your domain in order to locate your web site. Once your browser has the zone file, it connects to the server your site is hosted on via the IP address. Every web site has an IP address, and it, along with other information, is listed in the zone file.

Each domain name has its own zone file, and each zone file contains your individual zone records. Editable with any plain text editor, these files hold the DNS information linking your domain name to your IP address. Zone files usually contain several different zone records and organize these zone records for domain names in a DNS server.

NOTE: Although domain names might have subdomains, the zone files for subdomains are not considered sub-zone. All zone files are separate entities and do not have a hierarchical structure. In plain english, this means that a subdomain is considered unique and equal to a domain, as far as DNS is concerned.

The most common records contained in a zone file are:

Start of Authority (SOA) — Required for every zone file, the SOA record contains caching information, the zone administrator’s email address, and the master name server for the zone. The SOA also contains a number incremented with each update. As this number updates, it triggers the DNS to reload the zone data.

Name Server (NS) — The NS record contains the name server information for the zone.

Mail Exchanger (MX) — The MX record provides the mail server information for that zone to deliver email to the correct location.

Host (A) — Uses the A record to map an IP address to a host name. This is the most common type of record on the Internet.

Canonical Name (CNAME) — A CNAME is an alias for a host. Using CNAMEs, you can have more than one DNS name for a host. CNAME records point back to the A record. When you change the IP address in your A record, all CNAME records for that domain name automatically follow the new IP address.

Text (TXT) — This is an informational record. Use it for additional information about a host or for technical information to servers.

Service Records (SRV) — SRV records are resource records used to identify computers hosting specific services.

AAAA — AAAA records store a 128-bit Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) address that does not fit the standard A record format. For example, 2007:0db6:85a3:0000:0000:6a2e:0371:7234 is a valid 128-bit/IPv6 address.

Confused? Don't worry about it. AmeriWeb Hosting automatically sets up all zone files and records for you. It's part of our service and costs you nothing!

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