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Which DNS Server Should I Use?
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When the internet was in its infant stages, users had to know the IP address of a website to visit it. However, that quickly changed with the emergence of Domain Name Systems. A DNS ensures that computers can understand human-readable domain names by associating them with IP addresses.

Today, internet service providers offer their own free DNS servers. They are a viable option for many enterprises but still do not solve the issue of the ever-looming cyber threats. However, this cybersecurity issue can be tackled with the use of a custom DNS server.

What is a DNS Server?

A DNS server is a database of IP addresses and domain names. There are various types of DNS servers, each one with varying functionalities. Where some servers exist to match domain names with IP addresses, others serve the purpose of caching frequently visited websites to make IP correspondence more efficient.

DNS Servers and IP Addresses

The domain name, on its own, it’s enough for an internet browser to provide the desired results. Devices connected to the internet depend on the use of IP addresses to function properly, and DNS servers are the backbone of their functionality. These servers work based on a process known as the DNS lookup.

This process doesn’t require user interaction once a domain name query is entered. These servers take the query from the web browsers, translate it into an IP address and provide the user with a matching result. The DNS lookup process continues to repeat as users surf the web.

DNS Failure

A DNS failure occurs when a domain name system cannot locate the corresponding IP address to a domain name. This failure arises from malfunctions with the user’s browser or internet service provider. Some easy fixes to such a failure include

  • Restarting your device
  • Clearing the cache
  • Switching browsers

How Does A DNS Server Work?

DNS Servers operate based on recursive and authoritative servers and help users reach their desired website by identifying and matching IP addresses with domain names.

Authoritative Servers

The two main responsibilities of the authoritative server are to keep a record of corresponding domain names and IP addresses and to respond to requests from the recursive servers. There are two main types of authoritative servers, primary and secondary.

Primary servers perform all administrative tasks and are responsible for storing a domain name zone file. This is a text file containing all the information about a domain name, such as its IP address and domain administrator.

Unlike primary servers, secondary servers contain zone files that can not be modified and are received from the primary service in a zone transfer process.

Recursive Servers 

Domain names entered into the browser go directly to the recursive server. Instead of identifying corresponding IP addresses with the domain name, the recursive server searches its cache memory to see if a matching IP address is already stored.

If the IP address is found, the server takes the address and sends it back to the browser, allowing the user access to the desired query.

However, if the desired result is not found in the cache memory, the server continues to look for the corresponding IP address for the user’s query. After this, the recursive server stores the IP address for a specific time. This time period is referred to as Time To Live (TTL) and is defined by the owner of the domain.

Choosing a DNS Server

Choosing a DNS server for your enterprise can be tricky if you don’t know your DNS requirements. To understand which DNS server is the best option for your business, it’s important to look at some differences between free and custom DNS servers.

Free DNS Servers

These servers are a great starting point to getting visibility on the internet, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Most free DNS servers now provide a variety of features, such as firewall policies and filtering. These features are critical to online safety. However, they’re not all that’s required.

Free DNS servers are a simple option for small websites that don’t have a lot of traffic but can prove to be troublesome for commercial websites regarding cybersecurity. 

Custom DNS Servers

On the other hand, custom DNS servers are tailored and optimized solutions for websites that have frequent search queries and drive massive traffic. These servers are the best possible options for websites with a large online presence and help drastically improve online visibility and performance.

Custom DNS servers have many features, such as simple and intuitive management interfaces and administrative controls. These features allow businesses to configure DNS dashboards conveniently and easily delegate admin privileges.

These servers also improve online security, improve server reliability, and process queries quicker than free DNS servers.

Configuring a Custom DNS Server

Configuring a custom DNS requires changes to a device’s internet protocol properties from the operating system’s control panel.

To configure a custom DNS server, users need to change the internet protocol address of either the ethernet connection or their WiFi connection.

To change the IP configurations:

  1. Select the “TCP/IPv4” or “TCP/IPv6”
  2. Go to “Properties” > “Advanced”
  3. Remove current IP addresses
  4. Enter the IP address of the custom DNS provider.

Final Thoughts

DNS servers help improve IP correspondence. Although numerous free DNS servers are available, custom DNS solutions remain the most viable option for businesses that operate in the commercial industry or have massive web traffic.

Besides providing increased security, custom DNS servers help businesses improve their request processing speeds and website uptime resulting in improved performance and reliability.

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Avatar of Claire Anderson

Not a green elephant! Part-time blogger in technology, gaming and gadgets.

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